what should I do when a see a coworker’s fly is down, can I review a rude interviewer, and more

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

1. What should I do when I notice a coworker’s fly is down?

What should I do when I notice a coworker’s fly is down? A colleague stopped by my office to chat, and I noticed that his fly was open. I felt too awkward to say anything in the moment, yet later I agonized over whether I should have addressed it. If he had a piece of spinach between his teeth, I’d have no problem mentioning it, but since it was the zipper on his pants I didn’t say anything. What do I do? Pretend I don’t notice? Tell him to “XYZ” (examine your zipper)? Should my approach change based on the gender and seniority of the coworker? Or am I totally overthinking it, and a simple “Hey Zach, your fly is down” will do every time?

In this particular case, he is a peer, we’re friends, and it was in the semi-privacy my office. I wondered if it would have better for me to casually advise him to zip up in case he happened to meet with the managers in our office before he noticed, but I couldn’t bring myself to say anything.

Additionally, the other day I bled onto my dress while I was on my period and no one mentioned it. I was mortified when I found out, but I can understand why my coworkers would shy away from alerting me to my wardrobe malfunction/leaky tampon (even though I wish someone had said something). Is that the same or different?

As long as you’re matter of fact about it and don’t make it a big deal, most people will be grateful for a quick, straightforward “Hey, I think your zipper is down.” I think you can do that regardless of gender and regardless of seniority — people will generally appreciate the heads-up regardless, as long as it’s not accompanied by leering or blushing or staring or anything else that makes it weird. Use the same tone you’d use to say “Watch out, there’s a mosquito on your arm” and it should be fine. (That said, some people will just never feel comfortable telling someone like the CEO that her fly is down. That is part of the price of being the CEO.)

With the bleeding, ideally someone would have discreetly told you about it, but yeah, more people are going to be weird about that than about zippers. But bless the kind people who have it in them to discreetly say, “Hey, I’m not sure if you know that you have a stain on your dress.”

2. Can I get blackballed for posting a negative review on Glassdoor?

Is it possible to get blackballed for posting a negative interview review on Glassdoor?

In this situation, the hiring manager called me at 6 p.m. on a Monday without notice. I said I couldn’t speak then because I was about to run out the door. She asked if I could call her back and I said I didn’t have availability the next day (due to having to travel five hours for another interview and the interview itself — but why do I have to explain this to someone? It’s perfectly rational to be busy), but I did have availability Wednesday morning. Here she kind of cut me off to say, “Actually I think I’m going to pass on this, we’re looking for someone actually interested in getting a job.”

I was so stunned that a professional said this to a potential candidate that I just said “Okay, thanks” and hung up the phone. And, I mean, I guess it was good for being so direct, but calling me at 6 p.m. after working hours when I would obviously be caught off-guard by an employer, and then getting frustrated with me when I’m busy because I’m actively interviewing other places is a bit insane. Or am I overreacting and maybe It’s my fault for being so flustered when she called? I just felt so angry about her telling me I wasn’t serious about getting a job when obviously she doesn’t know me or anything about what I’m doing. I’m just nervous about posting it on Glassdoor even thought I think the company should know an employee is speaking to people like this.

Wow, she was wildly out of line. You weren’t saying you couldn’t speak for weeks and weeks. You said you couldn’t speak at that exact moment (totally fine) and that you were fully booked the following day, but offered to speak the morning after that. That’s not necessarily ideal if they’re looking to fill interview slots quickly, but if it posed a problem for her, she could have just said, “Unfortunately that won’t fit with our timeline, so it sounds like it won’t work out this time.” Instead she chose to be an ass.

You should be fine posting this on Glassdoor. She may figure out who you are, but it’s highly unlikely that she’s going to blackball you from other employers for it. (It does mean, though, that you may never get an interview at that particular company again — so if you care about that, proceed with more caution.

3. My coworker’s students told me she doesn’t teach them anything

I work for a welfare-to-work program, running a job readiness program. I recently started handling more of the case management aspects of the program while a new coworker took over the instruction portion of the program. The coworker called out for the past week and I went back to instructing class. I was amazed to discover that the students hadn’t actually been taught any lessons for the past three weeks; this is significant because the class runs in four-week cycles. I crammed as much possible in the four days that I covered.

I am extremely bothered by the fact that my coworker apparently, per the students, doesn’t actually teach them anything but rather sits around watching YouTube with them four hours per day. I don’t know how to approach my manager, who is also new, about this. My concern is that we are grant funded and will not get future financing if the the students don’t reach the progress marks they’re required to. How does one approach their manager about a coworker who doesn’t do their job, being that it affects my job greatly, and about fearing that our program is being seriously jeopardized?

Just be direct and matter-of-fact: “I covered classes for Jane four days last week, and something happened that I need to pass on to you. The students told me they hadn’t been taught any lessons for the previous three weeks. They said that Jane watches YouTube with them instead of teaching lessons. I obviously don’t know if this is true, but I felt like I needed to flag it for you.” You could add, “Based on my time with them, it does seem like they hadn’t learned X, Y, or Z, which is a requirement of our grant funding being renewed.”

In other words, just the facts. No conclusions about Jane, just “here’s what I was told and what I observed, and it could have serious ramifications because…”

4. How can I avoid telling people where I’m going when I resign?

I work in an industry niche that really worries about trade secrets and proprietary information and such. Old job and new job are in the same niche. To be emphatically clear, I will not be bringing anything — anything — proprietary to my new employer. All the same, I worry there might be people at my current employer who are just crazy/vindictive enough that, if they knew, or could guess, where I was going, might do something to spook my new employer and/or jeopardize my offer. (I know what tortious interference is, but I’m not sure they do, is what I’m saying, and I don’t want a lawsuit, I want a job!)

Any advice on how to handle my resignation to minimize my risk? Can I resign without telling people where I’m going? I realize I could just say “it’s between me and my rabbi” or whatever, but my niche is small enough that the folks I’m worried about might see it as code and start guessing or sniffing around. I don’t want to flat out lie and say I didn’t know where I was going, or name another company. Is there an ethical way to throw people off the scent, at least until day one at new job?

Some options:
* “I don’t want to jinx it until the details are finalized, but I’ll let you know as soon as I’m allowed to talk about it!”
* “I’m not quite ready to announce it yet, but I’ll let you know when it’s finalized.”
* “I’m still working out the details but should be able to share it soon.”

5. Should I re-contact this reference?

A few months ago, I received my first post-grad school job offer, after more than a year of job hunting. Once I accepted the offer, I emailed three people I’ve been using as references to let them know. Two responded right away with congratulations, but I haven’t heard from the third, and it’s been nearly three months. He receives a truly enormous amount of email and I know in the summer he does field work in places with spotty internet, so I’m not offended! But I was wondering at what point I should send him a second email? I’ve known him for five or six years at this point, so I’d like to think he would be interested on a personal level — but also I’d just like him to know that my long (looooooong) job hunt is over, and how much I appreciate the several times he gave a reference for me in that period.

I’m horrible at “networking” — or any casual contact with a person who is/was in a position of authority over me. So I’m unlikely to do the casual keeping-in-contact emails I know others do, which means realistically, it’s entirely possible that I’ll never see or talk to him again. (I know this is a whole separate problem.) But even so, I’d absolutely hate to leave things like this after I know (because I’ve been told so by interviewers!) that he gave such a glowing reference!

He may not think any response is required! Yes, ideally he’d send back a quick congratulations email, but it’s very likely that as a busy person with a lot of email, he saw your message, thought “that’s great news,” and moved on to the next email. He probably has no idea that you’re waiting to hear back from him! I’d just assume he saw the email and this particular interaction has been completed.

{ 388 comments… read them below }

  1. Not A Manager*

    #5 – Another option would be to send him an email, or even a letter, saying how much you like your new position and how much you appreciate his help or mentorship. You could do the same for the other references too. I don’t think it’s pestering people to let them know how you are and that you appreciate their role in your life.

    If the reference saw the first email, this won’t be weird because it’s different. If he didn’t see it, this is also a thank you. Or you could reference the previous email, if you want to in some non-awkward way.

    1. TCO*

      I had the same thought. Send an email after a month or two just to update him on how well it’s going (or even wait until the 3-6 month mark). He’d probably love to hear it and it’s a way to sustain your relationship with him.

    2. Woodswoman*

      I sent handwritten cards to my references who helped me get my job. I think it not only assures that they see a message that might otherwise get lost in email, but it makes people feel good to receive personal notes. They all appreciated getting these cards, and one reached out to me in response.

      1. Talia H*

        Oh, that’s nice! I get so little physical mail (and what I do get is generic promo crap) that I never check my actual work mailbox these days so I would never see such a card, but it’s a sweet rather old-fashioned approach that clearly works in your field. Good job!

        1. JessaB*

          I think I’d check it at least once a month, you never know what you might be missing that could just for once be important to you.

    3. LW 5*

      I think I might try this, even though it’ll make me feel super, super awkward! Because while it’s of course possible that the situation is as Alison says, I think it might not be the case simply because he has been enthusiastic in his responses to me landing internships in the past — and because I was his GRA, so I know how often he loses track of emails!!
      And I guess the awkwardness I’ll feel trying to send an update email will be better than wondering if he thinks I’m ungrateful for his help?

      1. Mookie*

        One thing I’d keep in mind as a salve to this uneasiness is that he gladly acted as your reference when you were still looking during that year-long period but hadn’t updated him directly about your present prospects, so there’s no reason for him to think you of as “ungrateful.” You’re not expected to thank him for each reference he provides in a row, especially when they don’t pan out because that’s how job-hunting goes. Providing references for former employees / students / interns is such a conventional, regular duty for managers / sponsors / advisors that it doesn’t loom large in their minds. Unless you developed a rapport with him that suddenly went dark–and, as you say, you didn’t, because like me you find banal dialogue with higher-ups a little uncomfortable–he was not expecting anything more from you (and it’d be understandable if you went a little dark after getting a new job, anyway–you’d be swamped!).

        He may have missed out on your good news the first time round. It’s a great idea to give him an update now that you’ve settled into the new role, especially if not doing so is giving you anxiety. You really are fine here, I think!

        1. Cassandra*

          Yep. I actively recommend a couple dozen of my students and graduates a year for things, and serve passively (e.g. on someone’s resume as a recommender) for even more.

          I can’t keep a tally in my head of how folks respond. I CAN’T. My head has many more immediate things I need it to do!

          I do tend to remember people who go the extra mile to thank me — a card instead of an email, for example (and I keep the cards in my raise-my-spirits file). But that doesn’t mean I’m more active or passionate on their behalf. All the students and graduates I recommend, I recommend because they earned it and I want to help them.

          So relax, OP, it’s all good.

      2. Sciencer*

        No need to feel awkward about this at all! He will be happy to hear that you’re doing well, and if he missed your first email (as it sounds like he did) he’ll appreciate knowing how things ended up. The academic job market is so god-awful (as you know :)) that everyone in the community enjoys hearing some good news from that realm once in a while.

      3. gladfe*

        In case this helps with the awkwardness: This sort of message can be pretty brief and still be meaningful! Just a few sentences is fine.
        Congratulations on the new job!

      4. T. Boone Pickens*

        Call and leave a voicemail. He’ll be able to hear the excitement/enthusiasm/appreciation in your voice.

      5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        OP, truly don’t feel awkward. I’m a reference for folks, I don’t expect to be thanked for each individual reference I provide, and I love hearing from them—even years later. I still contact my faculty reference from undergrad from time to time to catch up, and even when years have passed, he is lovely and happy to hear from me. I suspect the same will be true for your reference.

      6. TootsNYC*

        If he’s been enthusiastic in the past, this kind of note won’t feel that awkward to him.

        Want to make it less awkward? See if there’s something somewhat substantive you can tell him.
        “My project made me think of that reading from your class.”

  2. Goldensummer*

    OP 1 I once had to tell a fellow manager (retail) that she was walking around with an OBVIOUS stain from sex on the back of her very black dress. Direct, non judgemental wardrobe advice is key. Someone should have been brave enough to tell you about your outfit and a fly down should be no big thing. This is a situation where if they’re offended that’s on them not you.

      1. epi*

        In this specific case, most likely location and color. Plus even if it wasn’t from sex, it’s still just as embarrassing if it would look that way to most people.

        1. Qosanchia*

          Back when I was a caterer, I managed to get splashed by what I assume was some manner of ranch dressing. It hit my black pants at the zipper, in a distinctive directional splatter pattern. That was a very long walk across a college campus to my apartment.

      2. Goldensummer*

        Color, location, shape. It was unfortunately very obvious and afterwards confirmed by the stain haver (we were peers and social and she told me over drinks)

    1. BeenThere*

      I absolutely will tell another woman (whether I know her or not) if she has a stain or other wardrobe malfunction especially if it’s potentially embarrassing to her. I always appreciate it when someone discreetly tells me as well. A guy’s zipper… well, that’s really more embarrassing for him! But yes do casually tell him.

      1. Random*

        Yes, I am really bothered by the fact that no one told OP about the blood stain, if indeed anyone saw it.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          a) Discomfort, probably enough on its own.
          b) The rule about mentioning things that can be fixed (spinach in teeth) but not those that can’t (ambiguous space because some people do have extra ties, stockings, and entire outfits stashed somewhere; lots don’t).

          1. Sciencer*

            I don’t understand rule B. If it “can’t” be fixed I’d still want to know about it. I might be able to minimize how many people saw it by adjusting how I sit or stand, or if it was bad enough and I had an important meeting or something, I might choose to go home and change or go buy something to cover it with.

            To me the only gray area is when you can’t quite tell if a malfunction is actually unintentional (I work with college students so… sometimes you really just can’t tell :)).

            1. The Original K.*

              Right. If someone told me there was a stain on my clothes, my first step would be to go in the bathroom and assess the damage, and if it’s bad enough, my second step would be to run out and buy something so I could swap out the stained item. Or maybe I have a work friend who could lend me something to cover the stain (sweater wrapped around the waist, etc.). I would be mortified if I were changing my clothes at the end of the day and realized I’d been walking around all day with a stain that no one mentioned.

            2. Parenthetically*

              Rule B, in my mind, is always about things like physical characteristics that either can’t be addressed at all or can’t be addressed TODAY — like that you have acne, or a big bruise, or… are fat or have a prosthetic limb.

              1. stump*

                Yeah, that’s how I’ve always seen Rule B used. More of a “Okay, why are you telling me this since I can’t do anything about it?” Or, really, “Why are you being a judgmental jerk about something that’s not actually a problem to be fixed to your liking?” I’d definitely tell discreetly tell somebody about a possibly embarrassing wardrobe malfunction so they at least have a chance of mitigating it.

            3. JB (not in Houston)*

              The reason for the rule is because if you can’t fix it, what’s the point of saying anything except to make sure they know that, yes, other people did notice it. If nobody says anything, you can tell yourself that maybe nobody saw it, and at least it’s not an awkward point between you and someone else (I know, they know, I know they know, they know I know they know, but we aren’t going to talk about it, it will just hang there and be awkward). Of course, in this kind of situation, it’s not a definite “can’t do anything about it” kind of situation, which is why Falling Dipthong mentioned that it’s ambiguous. It really depends on what the “it” is that can’t be fixed. But there’s a good chance that the people who didn’t mention it did so because they were trying to be kind and considerate toward the OP, even if it’s not ultimately how the OP would have preferred them to handle it.

            4. AnnaBananna*

              Me too. I’m actually wondering if I’m totally sexist because I would immediately tell a woman if she was bleeding but would shy away from telling someone of the opposite gender that their fly is down. Unless maybe its totally my peer, and then I’d be like ‘yo, the barn door is open, ahem’ and that’d be the end of it. But even if it was the CEO I would tell her if she was bleeding. I’ve been there and it really sucks to find out later what happened, and I would hate for any other woman to have to deal with that themselves if I could help it.

          2. JessaB*

            Yes but for all the person knows depending on the industry or storage space whether office, desk or locker, it’s possible the person has another item to wear or a cardigan or something they could tie about their waist.

            I had to tell Mr B’s doctor, that when she was bending over him to check something with a stethoscope, she was um accidentally flashing us. Her top had a ruched neckline and it was stretching, there was *no* way I was going to walk out of there and not let her know that she was showing a way way too large amount of cleavage to people, but boy was I trying to figure out the wording for that sentence. I managed it though. It wouldn’t have been fair to her not to. And honestly I didn’t care if she thought I was a bit of a lookie lou, because she deserved to know especially since she was the only female doctor in the practise. That sort of accident can often be parsed as an on purpose by people who think badly of women.

            1. LPUK*

              I was wearing a v neck jumper which looked Ok when I was standing up, but in a meeting I was fiddling with the projector prior to presenting and my lovely male colleague said ‘ do you know I can see right down your jumper.’. Jumper was immediately retired to rag bag.

            1. Random*

              Right, there’s also the issue that maybe she can wrap something around her waist to cover it up and also tend to it to keep it from getting on her chair. there’s no reason not to tell someone as long as you don’t make a huge deal about it.

            2. Blerpborp*

              It actually was quite comforting to see the LW had a period stain issue at work because, despite menstruating for over 20 years at this point I had an extreme issue today and despite the stain not being really visible to others, it was very gross so I luckily was able to run to WalMart and buy a new pair of pants!

              1. AnnaBananna*

                Sorry Blerp. I’ve been there too. That’s why we ladies have ‘period panties’. ;)

              2. SimonTheGreyWarden*

                Shoutout to Thinx; I wear them as backup for those kinds of malfunctions. 100% would recommend over and over.

        2. Labradoodle Daddy*

          I can understand male coworkers not wanting to wade those waters, but I’m disappointed no ladies helped her out. What happened to girl code?!

          1. JokeyJules*

            yes! i’ll tell a stranger on a train if i think she doesnt realize her skirt is see-through or theres a “mysterious” stain. how could you not? I like to think it’s some sort of lady-karma for the inevitable day it’ll happen to me

            1. Sally*

              Once when I was walking down the sidewalk to work, and a man stopped me and told me that my wrap skirt had gotten wrapped up in my underwear in the back. I couldn’t feel it, so I was very thankful that he told me. Fortunately, the sidewalk wasn’t very busy at that point, so I don’t think too many people noticed. That man saved me from a lot of embarrassment.

              1. uranus wars*

                I once had a wonderful stranger in a parking garage stop me and tell me my dress has split at the seam and my bright yellow underroos were showing through. I was so grateful – especially because my next stop was an interview for a new job! I ended up buying a nice enough dress from Old Navy on the cheap that looked good with my blazer – and got the job, too!

            1. Michaela Westen*

              Yes, if it was relatively small or in a more hidden spot, it might look big to OP when she’s undressing, but others would have had to look closely to see it or realize what it was…

            1. AnnaBananna*

              Ahhh. That does make more sense. Especially if it’s also a quieter office where most folks keep to themselves during the work day.

        3. Random*

          Here’s a tip for women and men: if you see someone with a stain, just discreetly say, “Hey, I think you need to go check the back of your skirt / pants.”. That’s all you have to do.

      2. AnonEMoose*

        I will, too. It’s uncomfortable sometimes, but I’d feel worse not saying anything, especially if the problem is something that can be fixed.

        I also keep an emergency sewing kit in my purse. It’s not big, but it’s got a needle and a couple different colors of thread. And I have a large silk scarf in my desk. Useful for wrapping up a bit if it’s chilly, or could be wrapped around to cover a stain or tear if necessary.

    2. Youth Services Librarian*

      I’m laughing hysterically at this question b/c recently I had a patron that I was helping for about 20 minutes, including walking them through the library, and it was only as they were leaving that I realized he was naked from the waist down! things were dangling in the breeze…

        1. OhNo*

          I’m also deeply curious, but as someone who works in a library… yeah, I probably wouldn’t have noticed either. You get all types in libraries, and I learned long ago to focus on a patron’s face rather than anything else – at least until they’ve turned away and can’t see my reaction anymore.

        1. Youth Services Librarian*

          Sadly, it was one of our elderly patrons – I believe they are in the early stages of dementia and had had a bathroom issue (which we didn’t discover the full extent of until later…). They had a walker and had tied their jacket around their waist, but it… didn’t really cover anything. Why I didn’t notice their pants draped over their walker, I don’t know… Sometimes you have to laugh or you’ll cry! (I did have middle school boys who decided to change their clothes in the glassed-in lobby instead of the bathroom, five feet away…)

    3. Em*

      I actually had to do this for someone I know but wouldn’t call us friends (we’re friendly, but outside this one activity we wouldn’t run into each other). There were a couple other people around, so as soon as they left, I actually said in a just over a whisper voice “Hey, [name], XYZ” and I don’t think I even looked at him, then I turned around and busied myself with what I had been doing. He just kind of went “oh”, turned his back (other people could see into the area where we were), adjusted himself, and we never spoke of it again. I did avoid eye contact with him until the activity we were there for started, but since we didn’t normally chat it up, that was fine. I felt very awkward BUT I know the rule — if it’s fixable, say something, if it’s not, politely ignore it. Also since there were other people there, I was thinking more about how I can say something to him discreetly than whether I should say anything, so as soon as they stepped out I did it. If they hadn’t left, I’d probably have stood beside him like a bad spy and whispered “psst, XYZ”.

      1. Em*

        One time I was at a play or symphony or something and the lady in front of us (me and my aunt) on the escalator had her dress tucked into her pantyhose in the back (washrooms were on the floor below). So I called up to her and at the top of the escalator my aunt and I fixed her up before she got back to whoever she was with. I still look back on that day as a day when I was a hero!

        1. TootsNYC*

          you were! I had a massive unexpected stain once, decades and decades ago, and to this day I bless the lady who walked up to me and told me about it. My “doing something about it” was pretty involved, but I could do something about it!

      2. JustaTech*

        I tried this with a coworker once (who was standing next to me while I was sitting, so his waist was at eye level). Unfortunately English wasn’t his first language and there were a lot of idioms he didn’t understand, so then it turned into a awkwardly long conversation. When he *finally* got what I was talking about he was so embarrassed! (That was also the day that I learned that this coworker wore two pairs of pants.)

        1. Anne of Green Gables*

          Um, like, one pair over the other?? I mean, I’m impressed that someone is that prepared, but it sounds uncomfortable. And Hot.

        2. Michaela Westen*

          Was the underneath pair more like underwear or lounge pants, or were both pairs dress slacks with zippers and button? :o

          1. JustaTech*

            It was a pair of windbreaker-type pants under a pair of jeans.

            He would also wear two shirts (generally a normal activity) but the under-shirt was often another polo, or a dark-colored printed T under a white polo.

            He was … very vague on social norms.

  3. Julia*

    If that lady would also be OP2’s boss, I guess she dodged a bullet there. Inflexible and condescending are not really my favorite attributes.
    I see this a lot now that I’m job-searching, though. Recruiters pestering me to do interviews on a specific day I said I was busy because “it only takes an hour” – sure, if I teleport to the interview site, magically make my face and hair look interview-appropriate (stupid frizzy hair) and am such a genius that I never need to prepare for interviews, then it “only” takes an hour.

    1. DJ Roomba*

      While I agree that the hiring manager handled this poorly, I hate to admit that I sort of related to her in this situation. We’ve been going through an arduous recruiting process and sometimes our talent acquisition team drops the ball (and I agree to an interview but find out when I call the candidate that TA forget to schedule that side of it). Obviously since we’ve had several hiccups I know that this could happen and try to be super understanding and flexible, but IF there was a mix-up somewhere I could understand the hiring manager’s response – though she did go overboard.

      I recently had a phone screen with a candidate and called at the scheduled time. He asked me to push it back 30 mins and I agreed (slightly annoyed) and then when he called back, he was very obviously eating lunch and he told me that he was actually more interested in a different role at my company as my role wasn’t challenging enough for him. I was pretty pissed off and told him “ok well, let’s not waste my time or your time then. Since you’re clearly not interested, best of luck in the other role at Company X (my company).” It doesn’t sound terrible, but I was so flabbergasted and annoyed it probably came across rude/condescending.

      Anyway, moral of the story is, before taking to Glassdoor I would reach out to the recruiter and provide feedback and if it isn’t well received THEN feel free to vent about their recruiting process. Best of luck in finding the right role!

      1. Femme D'Afrique*

        I have to admit that I don’t get this: if someone on the recruiter’s side forgot to schedule something, or dropped the ball in some way, why take it out on the potential hire?

        1. DJ Roomba*

          My thought was if there was a miscommunication and the hiring manager didn’t realize and thought the candidate was blowing her off and making rescheduling difficult after blowing her off. Again, it is hard to know exactly how that conversation went based on the details provided.

          1. Femme D'Afrique*

            I don’t know, the recruiter sounds completely unreasonable to me. Calling without notice (ok, following your train of thought maybe she thought the time had already been set up and agreed on), but then following with a request to be called back, and THEN going straight to ““Actually I think I’m going to pass on this, we’re looking for someone actually interested in getting a job.”

            After the potential employee said she couldn’t speak the next day, that’s when the recruiter should have inquired whether the phone interview had even been set up and confirmed. She didn’t, and went straight to the dismissive condescension. I can’t find anything excusable here.

            1. Fact & Fiction*

              And what strikes me as particularly ironic is that employers very often want to hire people who are already employed rather than those who are unemployed so could theoretically have more open schedules (but even they could STILL have valid plans you can’t expect them to drop on short notice). And most currently employed people definitely can’t just arrange to interview at the drop of a hat, even if it’s “just” a phone interview. So the price of placing such high value on already employed people is that you’re (general you) going to have to be more flexible in your hiring schedule.

          2. Micklak*

            It wasn’t clear to me that this was meant to be a phone interview. That would be easy to clear up by saying “Oh, I didn’t know we had a call scheduled and I’m running out the door, can we schedule it for Wednesday?”

            It read more like a general call to talk a little. The caller was rude but I don’t know why a call at 6:00pm would cause a tailspin.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I think your case is a bit different:
        – candidate was not ready at the time they’d previously agreed to
        – candidate did not bother telling you ahead of time they wouldn’t be ready
        – candidate was still not ready at the time that he had asked you to reschedule to

        Yeah, I’d pass on him, too. Unless, like you said, the recruiting team dropped the ball and the candidate did not know you were going to call at that time, but I see no mention of that in your story of the phone screen.

        In OP’s case though, the hiring manager called her with no notice, at a time of day when people are typically on the road, running errands, or trying to wrap up a workday, then got upset when OP was not available at that time, or at a different time that she’d suggested to the OP, again with no advance notice. Honestly I think the manager in OP’s story is being just as inconsiderate as the candidate in yours.

        1. JB (not in Houston)*

          Yeah, these are two very different situations. No matter what frustrations the person the OP spoke with might have been having on her end, they weren’t anything to do with the OP, and there was absolutely no excuse for taking it out on the OP.

      3. Jadelyn*

        I mean, I get being frustrated because someone dropped the ball – but the one to be upset with here is the TA team, not the candidate. And the example you describe doesn’t sound like that kind of case, anyway – more that he wasn’t actually interested in your role and was kind of a jackass about it. I can understand being snippy in response, even if it’s not the best look. But that’s still different from being angry *at the candidate* about a scheduling mix-up caused by someone on your end.

        1. Julia*

          But did the guy she talked to on the phone know that he’d be interviewed for a job that’s not the one he’s interested in?

      4. Smarty Boots*

        DJ Roomba: Well, but your situation is not the same as the OP’s. The fellow you were trying to schedule was being kind of rude. OP was not — the rudeness was all on the recruiter’s side. I would not reach out to this recruiter — what would OP say? “Why were you so pushy and rude?” Nah, if the recruiter can’t behave professionally, let the Glassdoor chips fall where they may.

        1. DJ Roomba*

          I think people are getting recruiter and hiring manager confused…and to be fair, I don’t know that there was a difference in OP’s situation, but as she said the hiring manager had called, I would recommend following up with the recruiter.

          Also, I totally agree our situations are different, but my thought was IF the hiring manager called thinking it was scheduled and felt like they were getting blown off, they may act defensively. No, absolutely does not make it right. But I empathize because as soon as I read the headline I thought of my situation from the other day (where I would have been considered rude as well).

          Sorry, maybe I’m not communicating my thoughts clearly enough :/

    2. Le’Veon Bell is right*

      Yeah, I mean, the hiring manager was rude in this case. Absolutely, no question. But I do feel like I would have been frustrated by OP, in that if I called at 6pm, and they said ‘I can’t talk now, I’m about to run out the door’ and I asked if they could call me back ‘later,’ I meant in an hour or two (I’d presume they were leaving work, and am basically asking if they can call me back when they get home). To default to saying you don’t have any availability the next day is not only mismatching the urgency I feel I’m communicating, but might feel, in the moment, like a brush-off.

      Don’t get me wrong, the hiring manager was rude and in the wrong, but an unannounced 6pm call from a hiring manager indicates a certain urgency, and the manager might have just been frustrated that OP didn’t seem to pick up on that and immediately soured on them? Which might well be a bullet dodged!

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Good point, it might be! Thinking back to my work history, the previous three jobs before my current ones all had the “we need you to start with us asap and are not going to tell you why” vibe. In all three cases, they ended up needing a warm body to throw at an ongoing task that either no one else wanted to do, or the person that had been doing it had just run out the door and needed to be replaced immediately. Naturally, none of that was ever mentioned to me at job interviews (except for one OldJob, where they were honest in telling me they needed to replace someone on their on-call rotation, I was just too inexperienced to know what that meant.) Why cannot the hiring manager spend the next day talking to the other candidates; unless there are no other candidates? Why does she have to talk to a candidate that very evening? What is going on there that is making this so urgent?

      2. Jadelyn*

        Genuinely asking here – do you ordinarily take work calls at 7 or 8pm? Because if the initial contact isn’t until 6pm, calling back “later” that same evening is going to push it fairly late, well outside of regular working hours when I’d expect the hiring manager to try to schedule a call. I don’t think it’s a mark against a candidate to say, hey, my evenings are non-work time, let’s consider schedules during or closer to business hours.

        1. pinky*

          I do occasionally take work calls in the evening, depending on what else I’m doing and what I am guessing about how urgent the issue is and how senior the caller is. (“Can you go on a site visit at 7 am?”) for example.

          But if I was looking for a job, for sure I’d be taking calls from recruiters and hiring managers in the evening. I’m not able to every single evening, but I’d rearrange for it if possible.

        2. NotAnotherManager!*

          I’ve been asked to do phone screens with candidates outside of business hours to accommodate their work schedules, so I wouldn’t find it odd to offer a candidate an evening time (but also would not be offended by their saying no to it).

          I would find it a little off-putting if a candidate told me that they couldn’t talk to me because their evenings were their non-work time. Even if that is the case, the phrasing is off, and I’d rather have someone come back with what will work for them not what won’t.

          1. Observer*

            Sure, but that’s not what the OP said. The simply assumed that the recruiter meant the next day, and it’s not an unreasonable assumption.

      3. TootsNYC*

        ” I asked if they could call me back ‘later,’ I meant in an hour or two (I’d presume they were leaving work, and am basically asking if they can call me back when they get home). To default to saying you don’t have any availability the next day”

        If I’m walking out the door at 6, I’m not going to be free to call you back for an hour (or, depending where I’m going, maybe much later!). I would NEVER assume that the person calling me is still going to be at work at 7. If your “later” is “in an hour, because I’ll still be at work,” you need to tell me that.

        (I went to see the original wording; here it is: “She asked if I could call her back and I said I didn’t have availability the next day”)

        But the big thing is, this is all still negotiation on “when is good to talk?” and this woman’s reaction is, “if you’re not available right now, or there’s the tiniest thing I don’t like about your word choice, I’m going to insult you by implying that you don’t really want A job.”

      4. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        In my field 6pm would be very late. Most of us are home, running errands, or travelling at that time. Also it seems unreasonable for anyone to expect a person to drop all their evening plans for an unannounced phone interview. The OP could have been on their way out to dinner, picking up children, who knows what.

        I’d consider it to be a red flag for an employer to be so inconsiderate of my time that they would demand that I drop everything for their convenience with no explanation or apology.

        (I would note, though, that the OP didn’t need to explain why they weren’t available the next day. Something like “I’m sorry I can’t talk right now and I’ll be busy all day tomorrow. Could we talk on Wednesday morning?” would be OK, I think.)

      5. Observer*

        In other words, you’re expecting someone to read your mind. 6:00 is the end of the work day, so if you are expecting someone to call you back “later” the same day you need to be explicit about that. There is no way for the person to know that, much less know that you called then because there is a high urgency. It’s not that they “minimizing”, it’s that they simply have no idea that this is an issue.

        1. Kaps*

          By no means am I saying the recruiter was in the right, but one thing I have never understood is why people answer the phone when it’s not convenient. Just let it go to voice mail and deal with it when you aren’t flying out the door.

          1. Julia*

            But you never know who’s calling. I just had the exact same situation yesterday, where I was just about to leave for an interview and got a call from an unknown number, so I answered it thinking they were cancelling or postponing. It was a different recruiter calling about a different job, and I said I was sorry, but I couldn’t talk right now.
            She ended up emailing me and we arranged to talk after my interview ended, problem solved. It’s not that hard.

          2. Eric*

            There are a ton of reasons. Some people take care of aging parents, kids, etc. and have their phones on for that reason. They could be working from home waiting for a package to be delivered, or getting food delivered to the office.

            I always wonder about recruiters who complain about candidates who hang up. Everyone else has a life, too.

      6. Eric*

        The level of urgency of the candidate may not match the level of urgency of the hiring manager. Unless we’re talking about the military, good bosses don’t expect their employees to be constantly and completely subordinate to them.

        When I’ve encountered places with weirdly strict interviewing practices (i.e. “we only do interviews at 2:30-3:30, even though the interviewer missed your calls”) I’ve politely declined with “I understand your constraints on your time, but I will be looking elsewhere.” I wasn’t desperate because I didn’t know where my next paycheck would come from. I’ve done this in the past, I’ll do it again in the future if the situation comes up, and everyone who can should do it. A manager’s role is to manage, not be a dictator.

        In the original question, the hiring manager was definitely wrong. But in the comment posted upthread, the candidate was wrong.

    3. Michaela Westen*

      The times I’ve seen that (or done it, before I learned how to behave) it was a control issue.
      She was focusing on what she wanted – OP2 to come in right now. She didn’t care/wasn’t concerned with what OP was doing. When she didn’t get what she wanted, she lashed out. I agree OP dodged a bullet if she would have had to work for or with this woman.
      I recently learned about co-washing – conditioner-only washing. Good for dry, frizzy, gray or extra-curly hair – you wash your hair with conditioner instead of shampoo, and it doesn’t strip your hair. It has to be silicone-free conditioners. The info is out there. :)
      I started trying it this week. I’ve only done it once and it made a big difference! I had to use a clarifying shampoo to get the silicone out of my hair on Sunday, then I co-washed Tuesday. Not such a frizzy mess anymore! :)
      When I went to get the silicone- and chemical- free conditioners there were “cleansing/washing conditioners”. Sigh. Manufacturers are trying to sell us shampoo disguised as conditioner. Be sure to check ingredient labels and keep your receipts, return them if they make your hair dry and frizzy!

  4. RG*

    OP #1 – honestly, if you told me to XYZ I wouldn’t have any idea what you meant. You might need to speak a bit more clearly here.

        1. Videogame Lurker*

          Ladybits warning!

          I remember XYZ from elementary school, but my first thought as an adult would be Pokemon games, biology, math, or musical songs before my zipper.
          “Heads up, Videogame Lurker, your zipper. [Changes topic back to work stuff.]” That worked the one time I missed my fly before school started after I had used the restroom.

          Period overflow stain? A discreet person telling me, quietly would be enough. Wouldn’t embarrass me, though I can understand why others may be more nervous about that (because “eeeewwwww, period, lady bits doing stuff!” or whatever the cultural norm is). I might wear my coat around my waist, and on my first break, call and ask someone at home to bring me a spare pair of pants, if possible. Though I usually wear black pants during that week, just in case. And leggings under pants. But I’m like half lizard or something, and always cold.

          1. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

            Here’s a question – I’m a bloke, should I mention possible period stains, or would that be too weird?

            1. wherewolf*

              I think if you’re casual in tone and don’t mention that it’s a period stain (just a stain) then it should be fine. Let her save face that you think she sat on some spaghetti.

              1. BadWolf*

                Yes, always go with vague. “Oh, I think you might have brushed up against something.” Or “I think there might be a small stain.”

                One time, I had a panty liner folded in half in my pocket and it accidentally fell out in the hallway at work. A female coworker said, “Oh, I think you dropped a paper.” I swooped it up and that was that. Maybe she really thought it was paper, maybe she just thought fast and called it paper. Good for me either way.

              2. Birch*

                I like the ever-vague “oh I think you’ve got some dirt on your pants.”

                Works no matter what the stain is.

            2. Novocastriart*

              Zaphod, if you quietly said ‘there is a stain on the back of your skirt/pants’, I think most of us ladies would correctly assume what you were referring to, and be very grateful to you for pointing it out!

            3. Liane*

              Woman here. Please do, it’s fine, and I can’t imagine anyone thinking you were doing anything wrong, as long as you’re discreet. Many, many years ago my dad told me that he had quietly told 1 or 2 women about stains and they were just grateful that someone had let them know. (Yes even in a time when periods weren’t mentioned and certainly not to or by men.)

            4. Akcipitrokulo*

              Please do! you don’t need to say what you think it is – just “i think there’s something on your skirt?” and we’ll take it from there :)

            5. Mookie*

              Definitely do so. There’s nothing sacred about it and stains are a pox on everybody’s house and wardrobe.

            6. JSPA*

              For minimum awkwardness, you say, “I think you sat in something.” Regardless of color and size and placement.

            7. AKchic*

              Vague and discrete.

              “Smudge”, “stain”, “brushed up against something”, “bit of something on you”, “may have sat in something” (that one will really clue us in, especially if it’s a *big* stain).

              Be calm. Nonchalant. You’re just telling a coworker in passing about any other potential debris/wardrobe contaminant (like doghair sticking up out of the collar on an otherwise immaculate suit, or a half a crouton sitting on a pocket top, or the dreaded mustard squirt on the tie/shirt).

              How did you *see* this stain? Well, they were walking and passed your line of sight. Nothing more. You weren’t purposely looking at that particular section of them, they wandered into your line of sight and you *think* you saw something and felt it prudent to let them know in case it was something that needed to be taken care of before a stain set in. That’s all.

            8. OP - #1*

              I agree with previous commenters. I work in an office with mostly men, so I’m relying on kind men to give me a heads up.

        2. PB*

          I went to high school in the 90s. XYZ was definitely a thing, but I hadn’t heard it since. Until reading this post, I’d completely forgotten about it. XYZ would totally go over my head!

        3. JD*

          I’m a child of the 60’s and I instantly know XYZ or XYZPDQ. It’s been around forever and I perceive it to be commonly known.

          1. Jennifer Thneed*

            I admit, I had utterly forgotten the “PDQ” part. But yeah, XYZ in the early 70’s…

        1. Liane*

          Another 70s child. I still use XYZ. It comes in handy when you have kids. I still use it with husband and now-adult son.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          Child of the 70s, and it was BCYZPDQ. (Better check your zipper pretty darn quick.)

          I think we have established that there is no universally understood acronym here.

        3. teclatrans*

          Child of the 70s, I think I heard this once or twice on a TV show or other media in the early 90s and never retained it.

      1. Taryn*

        Hah! I’m a child of the 90s and I very much know XYZ, but I can’t recall ever having heard XYZPDQ.

        1. Tisme*

          Also 80s child from the UK and this is the first I’ve heard of it.

          I’d be happy for a discreet warning re both issues.

          1. EvilQueenRegina*

            80s child from the UK and I think I read it in a (US) kids book but don’t remember people using it here.

            1. Marion Ravenwood*

              UK 80s-90s kid here. I know the phrase, but only because Marge once told Homer to ‘XYZ’ on an episode of The Simpsons.

      2. PantsExploder*

        I’m in a very rural area, and XYZ doesn’t fly (HA, see what I did there?), but “your barn door’s open” works every time.

        1. Gandalf the Nude*

          Context: Someone in my high school graduating class brought a bunch of animals from her mother’s petting zoo and put them in the senior courtyard as a prank.

          Friend 1: Friend 2, there’s a donkey in the courtyard!

          Friend 2: Oh, sh*t! (checks his fly)

        2. it's-a-me*

          I’d be looking at the doorway, or worse thinking someone has broken into my home.

          And all of these letters would have me staring blankly, or possibly saying ‘ABCD to you too? *finger guns*’ with a confused look on my face.

          Why don’t people just say ‘check your pants’???

      3. Former Computer Professional*

        In Pittsburgh we say “Kennywood is open.” (Kennywood is a local, fairly well-known amusement park.)

        1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

          Stopped by comments to see if any added this. My first thought! True story, someone said that to a new kid. She was quite confused, “in February???”

        2. Ellex*

          I haven’t used that one in years! But nearly everyone around me would know exactly what I meant.

      4. The Original K.*

        Older millennial here. We just said “XYZ.” I chuckled when I read it in the letter – I haven’t heard it since I was a kid. Nostalgia!

      5. Cruciatus*

        As I was reading, before I even got to XYZ, it was my first thought! “Just say XYZ!” Ahhh, memories. Sometimes you’d say XYZ just to then say “made you look!” Yes, I’m a child of the ’80s.

      6. smoke tree*

        I grew up in the 90s and I’ve heard it before but I don’t think I ever realized what it actually stood for. The more you know.

    1. Alton*

      I grew up in the 90’s and this is the first time I’ve heard this XYZ expression. I definitely wouldn’t know what it means if anyone said it to me.

      1. Jack Russell Terrier*

        Back in the UK growing up in the Seventies we had a habit of saying ‘you’re flying low without a license’. I don’t know if that was just local or more widespread.

          1. JM in England*

            Same here!

            My mam had her own version which was “You’ve got egg on your chin!” which made me reflexively wipe said body part! :-)

  5. Greg NY*

    #2: If a Glassdoor review accurately describes this interaction and it results in a blackball from the company, there is something royally wrong with the company. While such a blackball can happen, anyone working at that company (whether now or later) with half a brain won’t hold that review against you. Who does she think she is making a comment as condescending as she did? This is exactly the kind of thing Glassdoor is meant for! Otherwise, anyone leaving any negative review of any type would be at risk of being blackballed.

    1. Snickerdoodle*

      Exactly. Who cares if you get blackballed from THAT company? They don’t sound like you want to work there anyway.

  6. HannahS*

    OP1: “I think your fly’s down.” Practice saying it in the mirror a few times, along with “Hey, you’ve got something in your teeth,” and “Oop, sorry, you might want to go blow your nose!” Or, as I wish someone had told me after I’d (privately) licked a bowl clean, “Hannah, you have chocolate ice cream on the end of your nose…and a little bit on your forehead…and your chin.”

    1. Elizabeth W.*

      My sister once told me about a nose thing, “You’ve got a bat in the cave.” I promptly stole that one.

      1. Amber T*

        My coworker once said that to me and I had no idea what she meant. Then she told me to wipe my nose, so I thought I managed to get ink on it or something. Then she gave me a mirror, and realized I had a boogie. Now I get it, but couldn’t you just say it??

    2. Arjay*

      I frequently have people tell me I have dirt on my forehead on Ash Wednesday. Yes, yes I do. Sometimes I can tell they’re hesitating about whether to mention it or not too.

      1. HannahS*

        Hah! “Arjay…um…you’ve got a little…something?” Reminds me of how my mom would sometimes try to wipe my freckles off, thinking they were smudges of dirt.

      2. Slartibartfast*

        And depending on the church, some folks don’t speak until sundown after being anointed. I’ve explained that a few times for the vow of silence folks. They all expressed gratitude.

    3. OP - #1*

      Honestly, I think practicing it in front of a mirror will help. I was too wrapped up in the moment and having a little presence of mind would’ve helped. Thanks for the tip!

  7. TL -*

    OP1 – you can also say “you might want to run to the bathroom and check your zippers/pants” if you want to phrase it a little less directly but still let them know there’s an issue. (Same with teeth/shirt/whatever). Gives everyone a little bit of plausible deniability and you don’t actually have to say the words “your zipper is down.”

    1. Stormfeather*

      Why dance around “your zipper is down” that much? I could see it for the bloodstain, but is there any reason to send someone running to the bathroom just to check that yes, their zipper is down?

      1. TL -*

        Depends on the person! Some people are more comfortable with saying one thing than another. And most people will just look down to check automatically and then can take care of it with whatever they think the appropriate level of discretion is.

        1. Mookie*

          It does depend on the person. If you said that to me, I’d instantly get paranoid and ask you to clarify what you mean and where’s the fire. I’d hate to go into the washroom, not find the problem, and then have to approach you again for the answer. Or adjust what I think is wrong, only for you to shake your head and tell me to give it another go. Some people [me] really overthink these things, get flustered or panicky, and briefly feel like we’re the butt of some joke. (My apologies on our behalf, by the way. It’s exhausting, but it’s on us.)

    2. Gen*

      I once told a colleague (standing by my desk while I was sitting) that his fly was open. But when he tried to zip up it turned out to be broken so he was jigging about trying to fasten it, still two feet away from my face, then he asked me to staple it shut for him. I gave him my stapler and told him to go deal with it himself. Once he’d gone another colleague in our open plan office said it looked like a bird performing a mating dance and getting a consolation prize. -_- I was mortified, at least if I’d sent him to the bathroom the whole jig bit could have been avoided

      1. Airy*

        The awkwardness of that situation was not on you. I understand him wanting to zip it immediately rather than delay while finding a private place but when he found it was broken he shouldn’t have asked you to staple it, or have anything to do with it. That was actually pretty creepy of him.

          1. Jadelyn*

            Either that or he’s into The Weird Stuff. Cause yeah, asking someone to use a stapler anywhere near your nether bits is mildly terrifying imo.

      2. SigneL*

        He asked you to staple it? I once stapled my thumb! And once it’s stapled, how is he going to pee later in the day? This doesn’t seem like a good plan to me.

        1. AnonEMoose*

          The pants might be loose enough that he could still slide them down enough to take care of business if needed.

      3. teclatrans*

        Kinda gross that he wanted you to staple it for him. And why oh why wouldn’t he have turned away for privacy to zip it up? *Was* it a mating dance of sorts, or is he just that clueless?

        (Thanks to your coworker for the “consolation prize” bit, I needed a good laugh this morning.)

      4. Jadelyn*

        Okay now I’m thinking about that one video that someone did hilarious voiceover for a male bird doing a mating dance and the female flying off uninterested. Too bad it’s not remotely SFW so I can’t just pull it up and watch it right now.

      5. Elaine*

        I am sorry you were mortified. I hope it seems funnier to you now. But I actually have a few tears in my eyes. A stapler!

      6. Chinookwind*

        And here I thought what I walked in on this week was weird. One of the welders was having issues with flying sparks on his coveralls and I walked into the front office to him duct taping his fly smooth.

        The best part was I walked by the only female welder right after and mentioned she had strange coworkers and she looked at me weird. I said that there was a thing with duct tape that I don’t dare describe. She smiled politely, walked out on to the floor and burst out laughing. I guess she saw the duct taped crotch too.

    3. Alianora*

      That seems weirdly indirect, tbh. It’s better than saying nothing but I would be confused if someone said that to me, because it sounds like something more than just the fly being down. I do tend to be a very literal person, though, so maybe it wouldn’t be confusing to most people.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        It’s a variation on Miss Manners’ advice for this situation, the line between “There is a large dark blob between your front teeth” and “You might want to check your teeth in the bathroom.” Creates a thin veneer that there’s something subtle off but no one but the speaker has yet noticed, and it’s not too bad. (I am surprised by all the people chiming in about the indirect version making them paranoid–the value of the blog to learn where your obvious answer isn’t.)

        This was in response to someone sitting next to an elaborate glued punk rock hairstyle in which I spider was busily constructing a web.

        1. AnonEMoose*

          I’m something of an arachnophobe. I don’t think I’d be capable of discreet on that one. More like “SPIDER!! IN YOUR HAIR!!! KILL IT!! KILL IT WITH FIRE!!!”

        2. Alianora*

          I didn’t say it would make me paranoid? I said it would be confusing because of the indirectness. “You might want to check your teeth in the bathroom” is less confusing, but I also find it unnecessarily indirect. “Hey, you have something in your teeth,” is fine so long as you say it discreetly to the person instead of blurting it out loudly.

          And if I had a spider in my hair I would definitely rather be told immediately.

        3. Collarbone High*

          The setting: a high school cafeteria in the early ’90s, when everyone’s hair was highly flammable.
          Boy aimlessly flicking a lighter accidentally sets fire to the very large hairdo of a girl sitting nearby.
          The (not popular) boy attempts to alert the (popular) girl to the situation, but she wrinkles her nose and says “I. Do not talk. To people like you.”
          Boy shrugs, says “OK,” and just walks away.
          (The girl’s friends noticed a few seconds later, and chaos ensued, but to this day I still laugh thinking about that boy’s perfect response.)

          1. Sue Wilson*

            Perfect? Because it sounds like he was being petty about his own fuck-up. It’s not like he was doing her a kindness when he’s the one who set her hair on fire.

            1. Collarbone High*

              If someone tells you your hair is on fire and your response is that their lower social status makes them unworthy of basic human interaction, I think their obligation to you is done.

              1. Courageous cat*

                Yeah – well put. One of these things is by far worse than the other, being that the first is, you know, an accident.

            2. Courageous cat*

              I’m perplexed by this response. He did the right thing by telling her immediately, and she was a piece of shit to him? She deserves no further action.

  8. Sami*

    As a middle school teacher, I’ve had to do the XYZ thing frequently. (Note: they don’t ever mention this in college :)) It’s even more excruciating when I (a woman in her 30s/40s) have to say it to a boy (age 11-14). But I do it. I either use a hand signal (zippering sign) or call him over to my desk, facing away from the class so he can take care of business immediately. They’re usually a bit embarrassed but also definitely grateful.

  9. Elizabeth W.*

    The zipper one reminds me of something that happened way back when I was in music college at Pitt State. The person in question was my English professor, a short round guy with a wild beard and a high-pitched voice and the most hilarious laugh. Near Rosh Hashanah the year I was in his class, he brought honey cake his wife had made and shared it with us. Everyone thought he was weird, but I thought he was one of the most awesome teachers I ever had.

    One day, he was standing in front of the class delivering a lecture. His fly was down. We all saw it, and nobody said anything, but there were glances. When he realized the problem, he just turned around, zipped up, turned back around, and kept going like nothing was amiss.

    I wanted to applaud.

    1. AnotherJill*

      I was once in a class where the prof walked in and started to lecture. Not only was his zipper down, but his shirt tail was sticking out of it. Another student just called out “your fly is open”, he zipped, still talking all the time.

    2. HannahS*

      I was once singing in a choir and our conductor (in his 40s), in a black suit, came onstage with his fly down and his white shirt poking out. His mother was in the front row and alerted him to it. It definitely broke the seriousness of the concert, but in a good way. He just went “Whoops that’s embarassing! Guess you always need your mom,” zipped up and carried on.

    3. ErinW*

      I did this once as a graduate student instructor! I was wearing a scoop-neck blouse, and I carry my purse crossing my body, and as I walked the purse strap just sort of shifted the neck so that when I was standing in front of the classroom, my bra was half showing. Not just my strap, mind you–significant amount of lace and cup on one side. So I’m talking to my students, none of whom said a word, and one of them asks what’s going to be covered on our next test. I start talking, notice the bra situation, and casually begin maneuvering my shirt back into place all while calmly covering the material. I was quite proud of my response, all told.

      I also brought it up in a pedagogy class later and discovered that almost everybody who has taught for any length of time has at least one story of inadvertent exposure.

    4. LPUK*

      I was in a lecture once when the old male lecturer, sat down casually on the desk in front of us. His trousers stretched out and it became incredibly obvious that he wasn’t wearing underwear at all – it was all on show. It was an engineering school for apprentices and we were the only glas with women in, so I don’t know whether he hadn’t realised the implications ( or worse, and it never occurred to me until just now, that he had!). Anyway, none of us mentioned it to him but there was quite the conversation afterwards!

  10. Anonymous Coward*

    Weird question, maybe: is it worse (more embarrassing) to tell a man that his fly is down than it is to tell a woman hers is? Maybe it’s because I associate a man’s fly with urination while it’s somehow as plausible that a woman could have missed it while dressing as after using the toilet. Or maybe it’s because, uh, “outie” genitals might be more visible than “innie” with an unzipped fly? Am I the only one who sees it that way? (Or is it because I am a woman, and have been socialized to address wardrobe issues with other women more easily than with men?)

    1. Not A Manager*

      I think it’s the last one. Many men would be more comfortable saying this type of thing to another man than to a woman.

    2. Indigo a la mode*

      I think most women would feel awkward about pointing out a man’s zipper issue, and vice versa. You don’t want to accidentally come across as if you were **looking** at someone of the opposite sex’s crotch. It feels different than pointing out, say, the tag of their shirt hanging out.

      1. Iden Versio*

        Exactly. I once discreetly pointed out to a male acquaintance that his zipper was down, and he loudly responded, “why are you looking at my dick?!” Trust me, I was not interested in whatever goods he was packing. Although, he was a jerk, and most normal people will appreciate having something like a malfunctioning zipper pointed out to them.

    3. Myrin*

      I mean, I don’t think so, but then again I seem to be especially unbothered by stuff like this apparently, because my only thought reading the letter (and some of the responses) was “So much overthinking!”. There’s really no need to be shy or hesitant or embarrassed about this or beat around the bush in any direction as long as you’re not giggling wildly and making this a bigger deal than it needs to be.

      1. TootsNYC*

        me too, but it’s a fun term to use w/ genitals.

        Also, it would be fun w/ things like electrical plugs, or USB ports/cables.

    4. Mookie*

      The difficult ones are the button flies. It’s kind of a production to fix them quickly in public–a lot of people have to start by undoing the button at the waist and then ascend from the bottom which tends to be the worst of the buggers–so it’s a touch more difficult for me to point them out. But that’s gender-neutral, I think.

    5. J3*

      I also have this as an ingrained association, but let’s not forget that there are women who have “outies” and men who have “innies”, and the specific, uh, direction of a coworker’s genitals is something you generally won’t have occasion to ever discover!! :)

  11. Villanelle*

    I really wouldn’t say XYZ…It’s something we used to say when really young, like aged 10 or so. I am sure as adults we can find better wording.

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      I think if it’s a coworker that you are friends with it would be okay. Definitely don’t say XYZ to the CEO!

    2. Canadian Natasha*

      Haha, if you think that acronym is too childish you probably wouldn’t want to use the one I heard as a kid:
      “Are you afraid of heights?”
      “Well your fly is!”

      Joking aside, I’m definitely one if the people who’d prefer that the noticer would just be (quietly) direct about it. Having to try and guess what they are talking about would make things even more awkward.

      1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

        hahaha… I remember that one!

        And why were kids fly’s always open in the first place. There seems to be a higher concentration of zipper openings in kids vs. adults.

        Although, anyone ever have the little tab of their zipper get caught in the seam, so the teacher had to pry it out with something to be able to zip? For some reason that was a common occurrence too in elementary school, common enough it wasn’t a big deal or embarrassing to have to stand at the teachers desk with your fly open while they fixed it.

    3. Grapey*

      I don’t want to find better wording for “at first I thought you were crazy, but now I can see your nuts”

      (It doesn’t work in text for obvious your/you’re issues, but still)

    4. Wine not Whine*

      With so many of us carrying and constantly checking our phones for email/Slack/what-have-you, if you’re not comfortable about saying something out loud about someone’s wardrobe dysfunction you can often just message them and avoid embarrassment for all parties. (I’ve done this regarding a zipper. He appreciated it.)

  12. Traci Dickson*

    How about a simple “you may want to pop into the restroom for a quick wardrobe check”? This suggests something may be amiss without seeming too personal or invasive, and gives the individual a chance to preserve their dignity.

    1. Wild Bluebell*

      This would really alarm me, like “OMG! What is wrong with my wardrobe???”
      Whereas if someone just tells me “your fly is down” or “you have a stain on your skirt” that won’t freak me out that much, because I’ll know exactly what the problem is and how to fix it.

    2. soon 2be former fed*

      “Check your zipper” or “check your skirt/pants/dress”, that’s all that’s needed. I have done it and had it done for me, and it is much appreciated.

    3. Me*

      I’m dense so I would be very confused and most likely question you.

      I’m in the just tell me camp but then I’m baffled by the level of weirdness people seem to have over unzipped pants.

    4. AnotherKate*

      That would annoy me for the same reasons getting an email saying “This content your team produced has a mistake” does. Tell me what the damn issue is so I can fix it; why am I being asked to pore over something (a graph, my outfit) looking for the one thing that clearly jumped out at you right away?

  13. PantsExploder*

    For LW#1: I recently split the back of my pants open at work. In an office of 100. In the kitchen, a women I didn’t know discreetly sidled up to me while I was getting coffee and said, “I could be wrong, but I think the back of your pants are torn.” I was super embarrassed but grateful that she’d found a way to point it out without bringing anyone’s attention to it.

    1. Cat wrangler*

      I used to work in an office which held around 35 people in my particular department (no cubes). I came back from the ladies once with my dress caught in the back of my tights. I was relieved that someone took the trouble to get up from their desk and tell me before I got too much further into the office.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I left the bathroom once like this and was exceptionally grateful to the lady who called out to me in the empty hallway before I walked past 100 cubes of people.

      2. Lily*

        I once walked through my home town like this (from my parents’ to the main station), when at the station a young girl got up and run behind me to tell me. I was very grateful (and choose not to be embarassed retrospectively because there was nothing I could do to change anything. Did cost a lot of willpower though.)

      3. Mookie*

        I did that at school one time, all the adult proctors laughed at me, and I tried to spin it later to people who weren’t there at the time as though it had happened to someone else who looked a lot like me. I gossiped about an imaginary person to save my own reputation. Really dumb kid. Also, it didn’t work.

      4. MCMonkeyBean*

        Thankfully there was someone else in the bathroom to tell me that time I tucked my skirt into my underwear at the office. Now we’ve moved and our new bathroom has a full length mirror which I greatly appreciate to help catch things like that!

    2. LKW*

      I have told complete strangers if they have a stain on their pants or skirt, very discreetly. We’re all in this together. Plus, the quicker you get that out, the better.

  14. wherewolf*

    OP3, if your coworker was able to skip out on her job for 3 weeks and you only happen to find out because you’re covering for her, this might be a good time to check whatever policies your organization has in place for checking that students are actually learning/being taught the material. If this is such a big deal that you could lose your funding, it might be a good idea to ensure that you catch this kind of thing earlier (and who knows how many other classes failed because she didn’t teach them anything!)

    1. Woodswoman*

      Yes, that’s important not only for your funding, but of course there’s the issue that your agency may not properly be serving your clients, a big deal affecting people’s lives.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      This is a good point. Having entire classes be unsuccessful could harm your overall program.

      Plus, it just makes me angry that your coworker is basically taking advantage of disadvantaged people.

      1. Chinookwind*

        My first thought was for the poor students who have been ripped off of the opportunity to learn, especially since this type of class is often a one time only deal.

        Part of me thinks that there needs to be a way to check up on what is going on in the room but, at the same time, you have to be able to trust whomever is in charge of the classroom to do the job. At the very least, students need to be be given a way to contact another person if there is an issue with the class.

        From an educator’s point of view, your coworker needs to be fired because she did actual harm to the students by stealing their time and opportunity from them. As well, they should be given the opportunity to re-enroll in the program if they felt like they could use the 2nd chance to get the information.

    3. LKW*

      Agreed, I contribute to a program like this and I’d be furious if I found out that the program didn’t have checks in place. Things that you could do to prevent this:

      1. Entrance and exit exams. No risk exams that only demonstrate that the participants gained knowledge.
      2. Exams/checks proctored by different people
      3. Mid-course switch -two classes, two instructors, switch in the middle. You’d have to toss a few different folks into the mix to make it really work though.
      4. Open and honest feedback from the participants. Did you get something out of this? Do you feel more prepared? What do you think would improve the course?

      1. Observer*

        #1 would work, but they don’t really catch stuff early enough to help the group having the problem. #4 Same – assuming that your cohort is willing to speak up.

        #3 Not a reasonable option unless you have a lot of classes covering the same thing at the same site. And even then, it’s often a bad idea because it’s disruptive to students.

        1. TootsNYC*

          If a group is getting shorted their instruction, your company could sign them up for another class, free of charge. That’s what businesses often do when their product arrives broken–they send a new one.

    4. Mookie*

      Yes. The emphasis should not be on saving the LW’s job or avoiding getting caught or penalized by an outside governing and financing body, but on serving the clients they’re being paid to provide substantive and meaningful assistance to. I’m not angry at the LW herself, but this makes me really mad. These people are being failed. They deserve more than the four days she worked hard to give them and I hope, LW, you’ll advocate on their behalf for some kind of restitution.

      1. Anonny*

        Unfortunately sometimes avoiding a negative outcome for the organisation is the only thing that gets through people’s heads. Once had to proofread a piece about handling bullying in schools, and there was so much emphasis on “this will affect childrens’ academic outcomes” and such, and much less on “bullying is a horrible experience for a child and will likely cause mental and physical health issues” and “seriously, bullying is morally wrong”. It made me very angry to read it, but I understood from personal experience that there are too many teachers (especially in management positions) who don’t care what happens to the kids as long as it doesn’t reflect badly on the school.

        Hopefully LW’s organisation is staffed mostly by decent people (Youtube Watcher excepted), but it’s useful to have “we might lose funding/contracts” in one’s arsenal, just in case.

        1. Observer*

          Even if the place is staffed by the best sort of people this is useful. Because this kind of thing can cause expense to the organization and lots of auditors and funders (even the ones who will yank your program for failure to perform!) will give you a hard time about “unnecessary expenses”. Having this explicitly stated shuts that down.

    5. Spero*

      Also, a manager or colleague observing sessions to check for fidelity of program delivery is pretty common and a best practice! It should happen occasionally for any staff, but for a new staff I’d say at least half of her first run through the curriculum should have been observed.

      1. Hallowflame*

        Yes, this! It is standard practice for public school teachers at all levels to have their administrators sit in on classes and observe. It’s how they conduct performance reviews, and it can also be used as a cover for checking out complaints against the teacher.

      2. Barbara Lander*

        I was going to suggest this. I have taught at many tutoring/test prep centers and having a manager step in and observe, without advance notice, is quite common.

    6. BadWolf*

      And are the students aware of who or how to contact someone if something in the class is going bad? Maybe that needs to be explained to the class as well. Sure some students are probably like, “Woot, easy class.” But I’m sure others thought it was fishy and maybe didn’t feel like they had any recourse to report the pointless class. Especially if the last schooling they were in was high school.

      1. BadWolf*

        I think I didn’t really finish my thought, if the last schooling they had was high school, they might not really feel like they can report the class (or how). They might not have done other education where you fill out surveys, have someone you can contact to give feedback on the class, etc.

      2. Observer*

        I think that this is an excellent idea. Especially since in many cases, these kinds of classes are being provided to people who have reason to believe that they “can’t” complain. Telling them that they CAN, and how to go about it can be a game changer.

    7. Justin*

      Yeah this stuff is really upsetting.

      You need to say what you heard to whomever manages the program. And see if you can make sure they will observe upon her return, etc.

      I teach adults myself and some folks really don’t think they’re worth caring about, I swear.

      1. bluephone*

        It’s the horrible, real-life version of Kimmy Schmidt’s burnout GPA teacher, who just wanted to be suspended with pay until he could retire

    8. bean*

      Late to commenting on this, but is there a specific plan for what topics/lessons should be covered at what point in the class? Not sure if students get homework, but even if they don’t, students could (should?) be handed a syllabus on the first day of class, with a listing of the topics they can expect to be covered and during which class sessions (or even during which weeks of the course). I’m guessing, since this is grant-funded, that a framework like this already exists somewhere, as someone had to approve a plan for the class.

      As a way of just tracking, surveys could be handed out at the end of each class to have students complete and then hand in on their way out, having students respond to just a few questions by checking off/circling numbers on a Likert scale: “how clearly did you feel [topic] was covered today?” (“very clearly/I feel I understand well” to “not clearly at all/I’m still very confused”), things like that. Just a few questions like that, plus room for comments (plus, this would help to maintain documentation of who attended each class if everyone had to hand one in to get credit for attending each day). Require the instructor to hand out these surveys at the end of each session, and require students in attendance to hand in a completed survey as they leave, and have the purpose of the survey be to just check the students’ perceptions of the clarity/coverage of that day’s topics. Then add in a question on “which of these topics do you feel comfortable with / which do you feel require more review/discussion” and list the topics previously covered so students can check off how comfortable they feel in each area. Then use those to track course progress as well as planning: incorporate more review of those topics based on that feedback, and/or adjust the time spent on each topic in future classes based on that feedback.

  15. Bowserkitty*

    I absolutely think you should point out the zipper thing if it happens again in the future! Much like the food in the teeth thing, I’ve heard a saying that a good friend will notice you have the food in your teeth, but a GREAT friend will let you know because they’re watching out for you. It’s not a super embarrassing thing for the zipper; it would be more embarrassing to walk around all day like that.

    Case in point (sort of): I found out during lunch recently I had a hole in my pants just below the zipper and I couldn’t run home to change! Luckily I was wearing a longer shirt that I could maneuver down a little. I wonder if anybody had noticed and not just said anything. I would have appreciated it. :(

  16. EvilQueenRegina*

    #2, if that manager was that rude on your call, it’s entirely possible she’s spoken to other candidates like that too. Lots of people aren’t going to be able to make next day interviews for various reasons, or be able to talk at the exact moment she calls, and yet still be “actually interested in getting a job”. So she might not even necessarily recognise you if she did see a review on Glassdoor.

    She’s the one in the wrong here. If it really was a problem with the timescale she could have worded it like Alison did.

    1. HannaSpanna*

      Oooh, yes, didn’t think of it like this. If she is expecting next day availability (when calling at 6pm) then there is no way your the only one who had this convo wih her. Very little risk of being identifiable.
      I was frustrated that my recent job interview emailed on Tues afternoon for a Friday morning appointment. An invitation to an interview with less than 24 hours notice – massive red flag for me!!
      If she starts complaining to other professionals about your reaction to this, she’s the one whose going to sound, well, not great.

      1. HannaSpanna*

        Adding to say, reread the letter, it was a phone call not an in-person interview. My mistake.
        But main point still stands. Even if she works out it was you, she is going to sound a bit batty if she tries to blackball you.

      2. Julia*

        I’m guessing you mean Thursday afternoon? But yeah, a lot of people couldn’t even get time off their current jobs with such short notice.

        1. HannaSpanna*

          Sorry, didn’t word that well. I meant it was a red flag for the OP that they wanted to arrange an interview within 24 hours, which I now realise they weren’t doing.
          In my situation I was a bit put out that they only gave me 2 and a bit days notice, especially in my line of work you’d be letting clients down at the last minute. (So went into the interview with questions to check this wasn’t how they typically acted to service users, and talked with friends I knew at the company which reasured me.)

    2. Mookie*

      This is very true. I think the LW would be doing people a service to describe the situation as it happened on Glassdoor. There are a lot of desperate, hungry, maybe uninformed job-seekers out there who think this kind of interviewing behavior is professional and acceptable, or that they’re not worthy of anything better. It isn’t and they are. I’m glad you pushed back on it, LW 2, and I’d be grateful if you’d share the experience and reinforce, publicly, that this isn’t okay.

    3. Snickerdoodle*

      I agree. I once had something similar occur where I was told I needed to be available at a moment’s notice “if I were actually serious about the job.” Surprise; I was no longer serious. Much like somebody who’s rude to restaurant staff on the first date, who knows how they’re going to behave a few months from now.

      1. HannaSpanna*

        This always surprised me, as if interviewees were happy to drop everything (ie current job responsibilities) at the last minute, that doesn’t speak to the kind of employee companies would want!
        They are really shooting themselves in the foot (or at least severely limiting their pool of applicants to those unemployed or very unhappy at work.)

    4. why not*

      But the manager wasn’t looking for a next day interview. She was trying to find a time to speak to LW2, who said said she couldn’t speak right then or the next day.

      I do think the manager was rude, but would it be unheard of to speak later that evening, even?

      1. TootsNYC*

        Then that should have been her response!!

        “What about later tonight–will you be free by 7?”
        “What about later tonight–even if it’s 9pm.”

        Or, “Not even for 20 minutes? I’d really like to get you into the process quickly.”

      2. Smarty Boots*

        Not unheard of, but not reasonable to *expect* it. The recruiter has no way of knowing what the OP needs to do that evening. Here’s what I might be doing after 6 pm on a weekday: volunteering, evening work event or meeting, medical appointment, vet appointment, other hard-to-reschedule appointment, go out to dinner with spouse and/or others. (Or I might “just” be going home to fix dinner, do chores, and relax with my family.) All of those are things that may not end until 9 pm or later, and then I am not ready to have a phone interview. It’s completely reasonable to ask, as OP did, to reschedule for a different day, and it’s reasonable for that day not to be tomorrow. What’s not reasonable is the recruiter’s rude response.

    5. Chatterby*

      I felt this was an interaction where the “at-fault” could easily swap based on how things were said or intended.

      What I mean:
      The calling at 6pm doesn’t sound egregious to me. It’s within normal work hours for a lot of people, and even if it weren’t, the recruiter could be trying to be courteous by not calling the LW while he’s at work. If it were 7pm or later, or anytime on a weekend, I would understand the LW’s level of huffiness.
      Not being able to speak right at the moment also depends on the way that info was delivered, and what she was calling about. If he was upfront and apologetic about the time constraint, then assessed the amount of time needed and offered a new call time, then he’s in the clear, and she behaved poorly. If he was blunt “I can’t talk”, audibly annoyed, didn’t let her say something that would take 10 seconds to relay, or required her to ask about rescheduling, then he’s the one who behaved like a yellow flag.
      Not being able to take a call the next day comes across as slightly weird, because everyone is always connected, and 10 minutes isn’t too hard to find. If the LW had said, “I’m traveling tomorrow, but how about Wednesday?” then he behaved well. If he told her he was attending other interviews, just said “I can’t”, continued to sound annoyed, or shot down her suggested times without seeming cooperative, well, then the yellow flag would turn to red, because he’d come across as belligerent, uninterested, and not a person others would like to work with.

      So, it easily be a case of crazy, privileged recruiter with boundary and entitlement issues, but it just as easily been an instance of cutting a rude, annoying applicant loose.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I didn’t think the LW was huffy about being called at 6–I think the huffiness came after the recruiter was so rude.

        And was it 10 minutes? Also, while you’re traveling, you don’t often have that much control over your schedule, or you can’t talk while you’re driving or on the subway.

        But saying, “tomorrow won’t work, but the day after is good” is completely reasonable!!

  17. The Doctor*


    The hiring manager inadvertently gave you a very accurate sense of what working there would be like (“How dare you have a life outside of our company?”), so you dodged a bullet.

    Go ahead and post on Glassdoor, and good luck with your job search.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      This was my initial thought too. If they are that impatient about setting up a call and cite disinterest, I can only imagine what working there must be like. Though it could just be that recruiter trying to make a quota or something. Either way, it does not make a good first impression.

  18. Cosette*

    #2… I think hiring manager needs to go eat a cookie! She sounds hangry. Which I might be also at 6 pm if I’m still working!

    1. HannaSpanna*

      I wonder if she had dropped the ball a little, and needed to get the interviews sorted super quick. Because not having availability in the next 24 hours is not odd (for me anyway) and her reaction was so rude!

      1. The Original K.*

        I had a woman call me on a Saturday morning out of the blue for a phone screen right that second. I was in a fitness class and running general errands like I always do on Saturday mornings so I didn’t see it until a little while later. I called back and she said straight up that she was calling everyone that day because she was behind – but she also told me that the next step was a call with the hiring manager, and it would also be a “when she calls, that’s when the interview is” situation. No scheduling at all.

        1. HannaSpanna*

          What!!! That’s sounds just crazy to me. Maybe I’m just in an odd field where you are just not available for ad hoc stuff for maybe around two thirds of the day.

        2. designbot*

          That’s totally normal in my field. We don’t do formal phone interviews, but it’s normal to just call and be like, “do you have five minutes to answer a few questions?” And the timing of the original call is one actually preferred by many candidates, as they can take the call walking out the door or in their car and don’t have to duck into a conference room where their current employer could get suspicious.
          So, I guess what I’m saying is, yes her reaction was super rude but I don’t think I’d hold the timing of the original call against her.

          1. The Original K.*

            The recruiter who called me on a Saturday morning conducted a 45-minute formal phone interview though, and that wasn’t made clear until I spoke with her on the phone. Her voicemail didn’t give any indication of how long I’d be on with her – it was just “Hi, this is HR Lady from Company calling about the Rock Candy Mountain Climber position. Please give me a call as soon as you can.”

            I wondered if candidates who were, say, on a weekend trip or dealing with family stuff all day had lost out on the opportunity because the HR person was playing catch-up on a Saturday. I regularly go for hours-long bike rides on weekends, during which I have my phone but don’t check it. Last Saturday I was completely tied up from 6 AM to 7 PM. Like, if you waited until Monday to call back (which IMO isn’t unreasonable- I wouldn’t expect to call someone at work on Sunday and expect to get them; I’d reason “I’ll wait until Monday when she’s back in the office”), were you just out of luck?

  19. RVA Cat*

    #1 – I keep cardigans at my desk because the office is freezing, but I just thought how if I noticed someone had bled through, I’d tell her while offering the sweater for a tie-around.

    1. OP - #1*

      This is a really sweet solution! I was fortunate enough to have a spare dress, but if I didn’t, I would have really appreciated someone offering a cover-up.

  20. Labradoodle Daddy*

    That hiring manager was a rude jerk. Write the Glassdoor review and know she has only herself to blame if it causes trouble for her.

  21. Labradoodle Daddy*

    OP1- If you can, I had them a post-it. Most people seem to appreciate the subtlety. Maybe that could work?

    1. Liet-Kinda (nee Snark)*

      Oh good god, no, a post-it would make it super weird. That’s not subtle, that’s making a giant awkward deal of it. No. Just say it. “Hey, Dweezil, fly’s down.”

  22. SigneL*

    A thought: it’s pretty easy to remedy an unzipped fly. It’s not easy to remedy a stain on your skirt. And I’m not a big fan of euphemisms (NO idea what XYZ meant, for example). Unless you’re making an announcement to an entire room of people, I can’t imagine any reason not to say, Jack, your fly is down. I’d for sure tell a woman that she has a stain and ask if there was anything I could do. But I wouldn’t use a euphemism, and I’d be as discreet as possible.

    1. soon 2be former fed*

      I offer to share my shout wipes for wardrobe mishaps. Those things are miracle workers.

          1. Rachel B.*

            It’s my understanding that YOUR saliva will get YOUR blood out, but not someone else’s, usually. Enzymes. Cold water works well on proteins such as blood: pat, don’t scrub if you can help it, and keep moving the wet paper towel around so you are patting with a fresh place all the time. Never use hot water on any protein stains as that is likely to “cook” them into place (blood, egg, milk, even ice cream, if it is real dairy.)

        1. all the candycorn*

          I’ve had surprisingly magical success with that nasty handsoap they provide in public restrooms.

          I got bubblegum frozen yogurt and red wine out just with that soap.

      1. Marion Ravenwood*

        I swear by cold water and washing up liquid (dish soap to non-Brits) as an emergency stain remover. The trick is to apply it to the back of the stain as this is where it’s set least (so for a period stain you’d apply it to the outside of the fabric). I once got chilli sauce out of a dress at a wedding this way and was irrationally proud of myself.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      I agree. Just tell the person there’s a stain or their fly in unzipped. Really, just come out with it or hand the person a Post-it note (as someone else mentioned). No big deal. I’d be much more embarrassed if I had a stain in a weird spot, I was unzipped, my hem was stuck in my pantyhose or anything else and no one told me.

      1. Liet-Kinda (nee Snark)*

        Nooooo god no, no post-its. If you take the effort to find a post it and scribble a note, you’re making it this big awkward thing. Just use your words – “Hey, your fly.” “Oh shit, thanks.”

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Well, I personally wouldn’t actually use a Post-it note, I’d just tell the person. I just meant if someone is really struggling to get those words out, a note could be an option. I agree that saying, “Hey you’re unzipped,” is easiest and reasonable.

        2. FaintlyMacabre*

          I dunno, if someone is in a group of people, a note is pretty darn discreet! I don’t see why it’s at all weird.

          1. Liet-Kinda*

            Because discretion to that level is not called for in a situation that all of us have been in, which is not actually all that distressing or embarrassing, and treating it as if it’s a Really Awkward Thing is disproportionate.

  23. Melanie73*

    Letter writer number 1. Yes I always discreetly let the guy know by saying the barn door is open and the stallion is trying to escape. Think it’s only right to help someone out with a possible wardrobe malfunction and hope that they would return the favor if/when it was me.

      1. Partly Cloudy*

        It’s not just you. The barn door part seems a little too familiar to say to a co-worker, but the stallion part – just no. Save that one for friends (outside of the workplace).

      2. Lily*

        Yes, I think it’s too sexual. Stallion??
        Also it’s weird to imply that any man has a penis (as you wouldn’t know if the person was trans, for example, or has needed some medical procedure that costed it). Think if the man in question doesn’t have a penis and you say your bit with the “stallion”? Weird and unnecessary.

        1. Liet-Kinda (nee Snark)*

          Weird and unnecessary, given that “Yo, fly’s down” is a perfectly serviceable way to tell them the thing? Yes. But c’mon, we don’t need to perform the ritual of wringing our hands about gender/racial/disability/mental health issues when they’re as tangentially related as this is.

    1. SuperAwkwardSituationsRUs*

      I’ve heard “left the barn door open” and it might not go over badly here, but…I’d definitely leave out the part about the stallion.

    2. TootsNYC*

      That’s crude. Especially the “stallion” part (since stallions are specifically used for mating, and there’s a strong “rampant sexuality” tone to the word.

      Just avoid crudeness. It’s by far the safest course.

      1. tmyk*

        nope, stallions are just intact male horses and thus are used for all the many other things than just mating that horses are used for.

        But there’s still no reason to mention them in this situation.

  24. Bingbong*

    #3- That type of thing just steams my buns. How selfish do you have to be to just not teach people whosearch lives could be improved by your lessons?!? That happened to me as well. I learned nothing during the first year of music theory because the guy was more interested in YouTube than imparting basic knowledge. I mean, do as Allis on says, but I hope that person gets fired tbh. Trashy teachers like that make people lose respect for the whole profession.

    1. CoveredInBees*

      Sadly, this is fairly common. I used to help people with hearings when their benefits were wrongly denied, reduced, etc. They whole system in NYC is a horrible, horrible mess. I talked to them about their job readiness training (which they had to attend 100% or lose their benefits) and at least half said it was mostly fooling around and getting handouts of what they thought was basic common sense. The ironic thing was that more than one client was having problems with their benefits because they’d gone to an interview instead of the class and the system was too inflexible to handle that. Seriously.

    2. T*

      Well, let them research this. Sometimes there is content accessible via YouTube and the trainee may have over-stated their experience and not mentioned retention strategies.

      Ideally all who are reading along got the whiff of LW stating that the norm is for specific learning to occur. These are people, not a bushel of apples. Pump the brakes, it’s being addressed, yay?

  25. Yep, me again*

    #2 is the EXACT reason why I hate job searching. 5 times this year I’ve ran into (not as caustic) but similar persons. I know people are people and everyone makes mistakes, but it’s like Damn! The recruitment part of your business is supposed to be a friendly face of the company, your candidates first impression! Instead it is given over to someone who doesn’t have interpersonal skills (or a functioning calendar) and probably couldn’t spell those two words if their job depended on it. (Wish I could insert rolled-eyed emoji here. Just pretend.)
    Thank you for letting me rant. Signing off now.

    1. irene adler*

      My boss is of the notion that if a candidate really wants a job, then they will bow to the will of the prospective employer and make themselves available pretty much on demand.

      My boss is a jerk.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        My former HR manager had that same opinion, and it drove me batty. She was also of the mindset that people needed to show commitment by coming back at least two to three times to interview. I could not have disagreed more with her philosophy, and I lost out on several good candidates who got offered another job before HR lady’s dance was complete.

        I do not miss that HR manager AT ALL.

        1. Observer*

          Commitment? To what? It’s not like they have been offered anything to commit TO.

          This is not just jerk-ish, it’s just stupid.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            She was one of those HR people who felt that candidates should be slavishly vying for an employer’s approval whereas I felt her process was disrespectful of our candidates’ time and that the people we’d most want to have join the team would likely accept an offer that hadn’t required pointless hoop jumping. She dismissed my opinion because I was a new manager and clearly didn’t have the sharp managerial acumen that she did.

            1. Jennifer Thneed*

              And she clearly didn’t care how much of the company’s money she was spending (in terms of people’s time) in the process. It’s like my wife says: too many companies are in business in order to have a hierarchy.

          2. ToS*

            My theory is that this is a flavor of dysfunction/scarcity mentality in the workplace, and it perpetuates the culture of dysfunction. People seeking healthier dynamics will tread very, very carefully or note the “There’s Your Sign” display and move on.

  26. Charlotte Gray*

    OP3, I manage social services grants–please tell your manager right away! You may be able to mitigate the issue by showing your funder that you took action as soon as you realized there was a problem. Are your outcomes based on all cohorts over the year, or individually? You know the funder best, but if they are annual outcomes, this 3 week blip might not tank everything. I know funders don’t like to see turnover (hi, ask me how I know) but better to get someone in the position who understands what it means to have to report to a funder and have outcomes to meet than risk the funding by keeping someone in the position who doesn’t understand those things.

  27. Marthooh*

    OP#2: “The hiring manager at Mordorco told me I’d have to be desperate to work there.”

    Because that’s almost literally what she said.

  28. Ellex*

    If someone is condescending or negging before you even get to the interview, that’s probably a good indication that you’ve dodged a bullet by missing it. If someone is condescending or negging IN the interview…well, the last one I had where that happened (fortunately I’ve only encountered it a few times), I actually stood up halfway through the interview, said, “I don’t think I’m a good fit for your organization” and walked out. I was being interviewed by one of the founding partners, too!

    1. moodygirl86*

      Good for you.

      I once had a similar situation to OP. I was called by a recruiter who told me about this fantastic customer service role he had available (it paid over the local living wage and was only one tube line from where I lived). Fantastic. He then said “Just one requirement, you’ll have to start Boxing Day!” He was calling me on 19th December, when I had already made personal plans – FOR THE OBVIOUS REASON! I explained I had already agreed to spend the Christmas break with my family, and he asked whether I couldn’t just go and see them after work. I told him that wasn’t possible because they live 80-odd miles from London, and there wouldn’t be any trains running. He then demanded – word for word – “What’s more important? Work or your little family get-together?” How rude! I politely excused myself from the process at that point, telling him “To be honest, if your company doesn’t offer a work-life balance to its staff, it’s probably not going to be a good fit, but thanks for your call.” He declared that I was making a “big mistake” and hung up. That was two years ago and I haven’t regretted it yet. But then he probably hasn’t got to worry about juggling work and personal life, as he probably hasn’t got any friends with his attitude.

      This being a rather long-winded way of agreeing with you and others that if someone can’t be civil during the interview process, what would they be like to work for?

      PS. Cute kitty by the way.

      1. Ellex*

        Thank you! Rory is endlessly…helpful. Or at least adorable.

        I’ve met too many people who think that female/short/polite = easy to manipulate. It’s better for me to walk out before my inner Hulk bursts out.

  29. MechanicalPencil*

    Regarding OP2:
    Literally as I was about to read this post, my coworker asked me to check her back. In the past, she’s come to me frantic because she’d bled through her pants and didn’t know what to do, so I assume this was in the same vein. I do have the benefit for her (and others?) of being near the restroom; I guess I’m the de facto watchtower for these situations.

  30. SuperAwkwardSituationsRUs*

    Gaaaah #1 reminds me of a super awkward situation in a meeting once. The woman presenting had one of her blouse buttons undone and I (and the woman next to me) were sitting there trying to figure out how to let her know without drawing attention to it even more (I’m not sure how obvious it was to people who weren’t on our side of the table–it was a 30sided table). Since she was presenting I couldn’t just shoot her an IM and the table was too big for any sort of nudge that might make her look down and notice and she’s one of those people that gets a head of steam and doesn’t really stop talking so there was no chance to catch her eye while someone else was talking and…gah. We would have had to to interrupt her to point it out pretty obviously and that seemed worse somehow? I dunno.

      1. SuperAwkwardSituationsRUs*

        Sorry, saw that typo after I posted it! 3-sided table, it was. Two of us were on one side, presenter and a couple other people were on the opposite side, and a few people to my left on the 3rd side. Given the cut of her shirt, I’m not sure if it was as obvious to the people to her right vs. the two of us across from her.

      1. SuperAwkwardSituationsRUs*

        She noticed after a few minutes and fixed it. She chided us a bit for not pointing it out, and the woman next to me and I both spoke up that we were sorry but we didn’t know how to call her attention to it without CALLING EVERYONE’S ATTENTION TO HER BRA.

        After that we all pretended it never happened, as you do.

    1. Lucille2*

      This is why I always wear a camisole under a button-down. I work with mostly men. No one is going to tell me about a wardrobe malfunction.

      1. Decima Dewey*

        I once had a job interview where I could see the interviewer’s bra. Not a glimpse of a strap, but the whole bra down to the band below the cups.

  31. Random Commenter*

    #1 I’ve had a similar situation where my boss started to bleed a little bit out of his front gums during a meeting with a manager from another area. I didn’t know whether I should mention it because I didn’t want to embarrass him by bringing more attention to it. Also I was concerned it might have to do with a medical condition he has*. So while I was agonizing over that the other manager simply waited for my boss to stop talking and casually mentioned it so my boss could wipe the blood and that was it. This post confirms these are the type of situation one makes more awkward in their head than they need to be.

    *I asked later, it didn’t.

  32. Sciencer*

    On the topic of wardrobe issues, my husband works with a woman whose pants slide down too far when she’s bending over or crouching (they’re in a lab so this happens fairly often, and has happened in front of a higher-up who came for a tour). We both feel confident she would want to know and figure out a fix, but he’s mortified at the thought of saying the wrong thing. (Also, as a woman who has worn many a pant that does this, part of me thinks she must know and has decided not to care?? It’s usually a noticeable feeling, especially in a cold lab…)

    “Hey, I think your zipper is down” seems easier to say without awkwardness than “Hey, I think your butt crack is showing”… so does anyone have a better heads-up script for this particular issue?

    1. SuperAwkwardSituationsRUs*

      I don’t know, I feel like a person has to know that, right? I feel like if my pants start creeping down a bit when I’m crouched I can feel that the waistband is lower and there’s a bit of a breeze where there normally wouldn’t be.

      I tend to wear mid-rise pants with belts, though, so this doesn’t happen to me a ton, but maybe folks to who tend to wear low-rise pants can comment on how they address those issues.

    2. JSPA*

      “Watch where you crouch, those pants have belt-gap.”

      1. Doesn’t say how much was exposed–let her ask a close friend about that.
      2. It’s about the pants, not about her body–always a plus.
      3. If she doesn’t care, no problem.

      Apparently “belt gap” was such a regionalism that it’s not a phrase on the internet, so maybe there’s a better, equally innocuous term. (I avoid “plumber’s gap” as making it too clear what’s showing…but maybe that’s the only current term.)

    3. Lily*

      I once needed to tell a coworker and while it was embarassing, I think she had a right to know. (The whole conversation, in the hall with another coworker present: “Can I have a word?” “Uh, I’m pretty swamped. Later?” “Uh, now?” “What do you need?” “Your pants…” “do I have a stain?!” “no, too low…” “TOO LOW?!” *grabs pants and corriges it*)
      I don’t think many people notice it when their pants go the wrong way. I guess they think the cold feeling is still on their back (which wouldn’t be terrible) and not on their butt!

    4. NotAnotherManager!*

      I see so many bare asses and thongs at school drop-off/pickup because someone’s leaned down to tie a shoe and their pants went with them. That’s literally part of my pants try-on routine – put on pants, squat down, check crack.

      1. BeenThere OG*

        Another squat checker here. However I find low rise really comfortable and high rise may as well be a corset, so I wear longer shirts to handle all bending situations :)

  33. Lily Rowan*

    For #2, I might wait a few weeks before posting on Glassdoor, just to add to your chances of not being easily identified by the HR person?

  34. DottyBlue240*

    #4, Proceed with caution if you are in an industry that prizes trade secrets. Are you sure you didn’t sign a confidentiality, non-disclosure, non-compete agreement upon your hire? I realize that you are primarily concerned about

    Even if you do manage to keep your new employer’s name under wraps until your first day on the new job, your current employer can (and likely will) come after you for breaking your agreement. Saying that you don’t plan to bring anything proprietary to your new employer will not be enough to protect you.

    You may need to work with your current employer to obtain a release to pursue the new position without legal action.

    1. DottyBlue240*

      Didn’t finish my sentence at the end of para 1: *primarily concerned about employee retribution in your question to Allison, but don’t overlook the company-level impact.

      1. Amy B*

        Yes, I had a similar thought. If the specialty is really as limited and niche as described, it seems like a non-compete clause in employment agreement would be likely.

  35. boop the first*

    2. The only hesitation I’d have over Glassdoor is what the ultimate goal is in leaving a comment about the condescension. Does the message get to the correct people? Who is your intended audience? Isn’t Glassdoor meant to give outsiders some insight into whether or not it is a good place to work? If so, how does this help them at all? If the goal is to inform someone higher up what their employees are doing, why not just send an email?

    1. Phoenix*

      As a candidate, receiving mild rudeness during the process is a yellow flag. Receiving mild rudeness when I have seen their Glassdoor reviews suggesting it’s a pattern? Giant red flag. It’s helpful to know the experiences of others, to spot patterns.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      Glassdoor has reviews specifically about the interview process at a company, to help people know what to expect at the interview. The rude caller might not reflect on the company as a whole, but it’s helpful to candidates to know this type of reaction is possible at this company. I’ve also seen reports of ghosting as well as general descriptions of the process, so there is negative and positive information, not just complaints.

    3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      If I were looking for work and considering applying to this company, I would absolutely want to know.

    4. AnonReviewer*

      I’ve had negative Glassdoor reviews pulled before. It’s not a great source.

      The review that got pulled was pulled for the line “their talent acquisition person was very condescending to me over the phone for my big company experience.” That was considered a personal attack. Take Glassdoor with a grain of salt.

  36. Labradoodle Daddy*

    Girl code dictates that period-wise you help out *all* period havers, up to and including your worst enemy!!!!

  37. Bacon Pancakes*

    Ha! I have the flip of letter#1… A (female) co-worker had come to me woth a complaint that a (male) co-worker was unzipping his pants when they were alone in the duty station and told her he “needed to” because his pants were too tight. I told her to tell our boss because that is WHOLLY INAPPROPRIATE but as she was leaving soon, she didn’t want to make waves.
    A few weeks later, while sitting in my office talking to my boss who was standing in my doorway, Male Co-worker stops by and starts chatting… with his zipper fully down. This Male Co-worker ALSO likes to “hang out” and talk with his arms around head level, making his shirt raise up to just above his belt line. No belt. No zipper up.
    I stared at my boss in abject horror the entire time because, as I was sitting, his zipper was in DIRECT EYELINE with me. My boss kept glancing at me, utterly confused at my horror, and when Male Co-worker left I sputtered out “His zippper… IS DOWN. His zipper is down IN THE OFFICE.” I explained to him that Female Co-Worker had told me of this previously but still…. HIS ZIPPER WAS DOWN IN THE OFFICE!!!
    Boss spoke with Male Co-Worker at the end of the day (we recieve a $400 annual clothing stipend. There is no way he could claim that he can’t afford clothes that fit). Male Co-Worker, rather than being horrified that this made his two female co-workers uncomfortable doubled down on his action and blamed us for bullying because he had gained weight and didn’t Boss think that made HIM uncomfortable that we would “comment” on his weight.
    Nope nope nope nope nope nope nope.

    1. SuperAwkwardSituationsRUs*

      That sounds like someone testing out being an exhibitionist. Unless your “weight gain” went entirely to your junk, the zipper wouldn’t relieve much, as it’s the waist band itself that’s the problem.

      At least for me. I’ve been guilty of using the hair tie trick with the button on my pants when not pregnant, but only when wearing a shirt long enough to hide it, but in that case the button is undone and the zipper just does its thing–it usually stays half+ zipped on its own.

    2. Temperance*

      He should have been immediately terminated for that. He was doing it on purpose for some sort of creeptastic sexual thrill.

      I’ve worked with pregnant women who unbuttoned their pants to get them to fit, and only knew because they told me how uncomfortable they were.

      1. Bacon Pancakes*

        I wish but my other co-worker was gone at this point so there was no one to corroborate her story that he had done this multiple times to her as well.
        Also, unions.

        1. tangerineRose*

          Frustrating that the union would back the “flasher” co-worker instead of all the other co-workers who would be offended by this.

        2. Observer*

          I can’t speak to the union aspect. But the “proof” aspect is bogus. Firstly, even ONCE is way too much. Even a 10 year old knows better than that. Also, he didn’t deny it. And he ALSO defended the action.

          That should have been enough to be told that if he does it again, termination proceedings would be started.

          This is also why it’s important to report misbehavior, though.

      2. LeahS*

        Yes, there are ways to make sure this isn’t noticeable! I have gained weight… very quickly recently. Something is up with my thyroid, and I’m in purgatory between things getting kind of bad and my Endocrinologist appointment. I can’t afford new pants right now, but I’ve been very carefully selecting my clothing and bought cheap shirts to at least cover the fact that my pants are unzipped. Especially the way men’s shirts are made… this guy can be choosing to look a little less professional over exposing himself (!!!).

    3. Moose*

      Ahhh! Nope! No way this is okay! And his defense that they were bullying him, oh my goodness. Guys like this have no consideration for other’s feelings, or self-awareness.

  38. Emi.*

    I always thought you should let someone know about something they can fix, like a zipper, but not about something they can’t, like a stain (unless they could blot it in the restroom, I guess?).

    1. SuperAwkwardSituationsRUs*

      With a stain like that you may not be able to fix it, but you may be able to go home & change or throw a cardigan around your waist or dial into meetings from your desk or something.

      1. Alton*

        Plus, in the case of a possible period stain, the person might not realize that their period has started or that their form of protection is leaking. It’s the type of thing that can get worse if left alone.

        1. SusanIvanova*

          And leak onto chairs too, and then you’re left wondering how to report that to the cleaning crew.

          1. Chinookwind*

            I have had the chair thing happen to me. I brought hydrogen peroxide in the next day which helped to remove the stain. I wish there was a way to get it cleaned, though, without being embarrassed.

    2. Temperance*

      I always think about what I would want to know, so I’ll let someone know about a stain or spot, especially if it’s something like period blood which is super noticeable.

  39. Marty*

    #3 – Oh. my. goodness.

    I am an instructor in a similar program (work readiness for newcomers) and that is really outrageous. I will say, however, that this is likely a result of two main factors: instructor incompetence *and* poor processes for vetting instructors, providing curriculum/planning resources, and supervision of program standards. In these kinds of programs, professionally prepared curricula should already be in place. For non-professional instructors (not uncommon in these programs), professionally prepared lesson plans and a go-to source should be available – as well as ongoing human contact support (such as a supervising instructor or curriculum specialist). In our organization, the program length plans are pre-approved in advance and daily/weekly objectives are to be met. Supportive walk-throughs and weekly base-touching should have made this clear. This really shouldn’t have happened at all if proper processes were in place.

    Now, none of this is to criticize you but to give you an example of the sort of things that should have been happening in order to prevent such an outrageous situation. Alison’s advice is spot-on but these are some suggestions if/when it is discussed and ideas need to be put into place to prevent this from happening.

    1. JSPA*

      Watching videos in place of teaching from text reminded me of John Corcoran (who got help for his illiteracy after 17 years as a classroom teacher). This isn’t a diagnosis; just pointing out that there are reasons besides being a run-of-the-mill lazy jerk, that someone might do this, and that the organization might find a way to employ them, temporarily, in a non-teaching capacity while they work on their own literacy, if so.


  40. Moose*

    #1: I love the etiquette rule that if they can fix or cover it up in a minute or less, tell them; if they can’t, let it go. If there’s lipstick on their teeth, for instance, or a leaf in their hair, tell them. If you think their shirt doesn’t fit correctly, don’t say that. This gets into weird territory with stains, though, especially the one mentioned here. If they might be able to blot it out some, or might have a sweater to tie around their waist…but if I didn’t, and I had to just walk around knowing that and doing nothing, I’d be so mortified.

    Not to say that you shouldn’t tell someone. Just contemplating the situation. Maybe the rule isn’t as foolproof as I thought.

    1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      I really disagree with this. Please for the love of green apples tell someone if you notice something. Let the person decide how they want to handle it.

      There is always something that someone can do to minimize embarrassment if they know. It might be as simple as taking less populated routes for the day, going home over lunch to change, nipping out to buy a replacement item, or not standing in a crowded break room having a long conversation with people.

    2. Lucille2*

      I think if it’s something the person may not be aware of, then it’s ok to tell but very tactfully. If I have a coffee stain on my shirt, in all likelihood it happened at work that morning and I’m well aware of it. Having it pointed out to me numerous times throughout the day will get old.

  41. Gumby*

    #4: I think Alison’s phrasing sounds good but it is a fine line because, as you note, if you sound too coy it will raise red flags. Not just that you are going to a direct competitor but “she’s hiding something, she must be planning on doing something sketchy.” I definitely has suspicions when a former co-worker left because of their answer to “where are you going?”; they turned out to be true (not illegal, probably, but counter to current-company’s best interests, not that they owe current-company any loyalty after leaving but it did burn some bridges).

    I am fortunate in that any knowledge I would have of my company’s IP is not at all related to my work so I would never have a reason to say anything about it. But if you have technical knowledge gained at one company – you don’t just forget it because you changed jobs. If company A has figured out how to make widgets that are 10 times as effective as the best commercially available version, an employee moving to company B doesn’t just forget what they know and even if they don’t hand over the design wholesale how do they avoid suggesting a small tweak here or there based on knowledge they gained designing the widget at the former company? Or even “don’t try that method, it won’t work” – thus saving company B the effort and expense based on company A’s investment. I assume people who work in R&D have some sort of training in that.

    1. DreamingInPurple*

      The short version is that when you go to commercially produce a widget, you should perform an IP search to make sure you aren’t infringing on someone else’s patents or other IP (defensively published, etc), or you will be open to being sued. Often, it’s not that Company B doesn’t understand how Company A produces their super-effective widgets (they can also take one apart and try to reverse-engineer it, after all) – it’s that they can’t market their own while Company A’s design is under patent. Given that, a good employee moving from Company A to Company B wouldn’t suggest anything that infringed on Company A’s IP even if it would help the product, because ultimately it would open up the possibility of getting their new employer in trouble.

      Another point related to this is that at many companies, you’d be security-walked out of the building as soon as you mentioned you were planning to leave for a direct competitor. OP needs to refrain from sharing any information if they want to be able to finish out their notice period.

  42. Noah*

    Obviously the recruiter in OP#2’s story is awful. It does sound like OP#2 told the interviewer she wasn’t available the next day because she was going to a different interview. While that shouldn’t affect anything, it’s not great judgment to give that as a reason you can’t schedule an interview.

    1. TootsNYC*

      I don’t really know why; this isn’t dating or something, where someone might say, “oh, if you’re invested in that guy, I’ll leave you to it.” But even then, if you’re “interviewing” to date, as w/ OKCupid or something, what do you think is going to happen?
      Because “I have a date with someone else tomorrow” isn’t “I have a boyfriend.”

      1. TootsNYC*

        also, the woman said ““Actually I think I’m going to pass on this, we’re looking for someone actually interested in getting a job.”

        “A” job. Not “this” job.

        And I took the parenthetical to mean that she hadn’t told them why, and was annoyed that she would think somehow she was supposed to have.

    2. Femme D'Afrique*

      I’m curious as to why you said that. Do employers take a dim view of potential hires having other job interviews?

  43. Lucille2*

    #2 – I think you should leave a review on Glassdoor. This is something that potential candidates should aware of as well as the company. It’s not clear if this was a recruiter or the hiring manager who was so rude, but I think Glassdoor is the way to go regardless. Bad attitude from a recruiter may not be an indication of company culture, but it’s definitely going to leave a bad taste for job candidates.

    If you want to remain anonymous and not risk any chances of being blackballed, you could wait until after you’ve gone through your other interviews or have started a new job somewhere. After some time has passed, it may not be as obvious who wrote the review. You can also keep some of the terms a bit vague, like “Contacted after business hours for a next day interview. Very inflexible in interview dates/times. Recruiter was very rude.”

  44. Richard*

    One more consideration for #3 is student expectations. I’ve been a teacher for many years in a lot of different situations, and there are a lot of situations where students will say they’re not learning or that you’re not teaching if you’re not giving them the kind of classroom they expect. For some people, if you don’t have a teacher standing at the front of the class reading a powerpoint to silent students, there’s no teaching or learning going on. For some classes, watching YouTube and having discussions is a good way to teach, especially in a field where the teacher isn’t necessarily an expert in the field (like may be the case in this class, a social worker isn’t necessarily an expert in getting a job as a mechanic), or if part of the goal is getting students aware of how to find more information online on their own.

    1. Observer*

      I agree that YouTube videos can be a useful teaching tool. But, any program that is putting unqualified instructors in the classroom deserves to be shut down. “Qualified” does NOT mean “having a degree”. It means having the appropriate expertise. So asking a social worker to instruct students on job search techniques is professional malpractice.

  45. HRJ*

    Honestly, I probably wouldn’t say anything about the zipper. (I’m a woman). I mentioned it to a male RELATIVE once, and subsequent comments/jokes from him and others were along the lines of *raised eyebrows* “hmm, why were you looking -there-.” And while of course no one has to be focusing on another’s crotch to notice an unzipped zipper and I would hope a coworker would be more professional than my relatives and friends, I would still be concerned that sort of thing (why was she looking at my crotch?) would be going through his mind.

  46. Courageous cat*

    #4 – I don’t think these answers pertain to your question, as it reads (to me at least) that you’re asking how to not tell them when you’re giving your two weeks. So saying the “details aren’t finalized” wouldn’t work because they clearly had at that point. I don’t have a great answer for you here but thought it was worth mentioning in case anyone did.

    #5 – Confused as to why you think you need to follow up with him again? This is very much a “no response needed” type of deal. I’d let it go.

  47. Nobody Special*

    Re #1: Years ago I was meeting with a new company attorney in my semi basement office when an abnormally HUGE spider came crawling over her shoulder toward her neck… trying not to startle her I calmly said “excuse me, but you have a large spider on your left shoulder” and she stared at me and said sharply, “is that supposed to be funny?” I grabbed some papers, leaned over and brushed it to the floor, and when she saw it she screamed. Altogether an awkward encounter…but I don’t know how else I would have handled it.

  48. MissPettyAndVindictive*

    OP #1 – I feel lucky that we have a really great team where I work, and there have been many instances of “Hey, MissPetty, did you know there’s like a metre long thread hanging off your skirt?” or “You’ve smudged your mascara when you rubbed your eyes before. Do you want a coffee?”, or my favourite (from a good work friend) “Your boobs are trying to escape. I’m not saying you have to stop them, but you might want to.” (female coworker with equal boobage. She understands the struggle with buttondowns)

    OP #3 – I just wanted to thank you for the effort you put in with helping your colleague’s students. I am sure they appreciated it

  49. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

    OP#4: I work in an industry where confidentiality and intellectual property are big concerns, and it is normal for companies to require employees sign agreements protecting the company’s confidential information, assigning employee’s inventions to the company, and even–yes– containing non-competition provisions.

    All that being said, it is common in my industry to see departing employees refuse to say what their future plans are–they won’t name their new employer. I do not name my future employer, and I personally think it’s a good practice. You are not obligated to tell everyone where you are going, but if you are subject to a non-competition provision, you may be asked by company officials for the name of your new employer, with respect to the non-competition agreement. Whether you respond to that official request will depend on you, the circumstances, the exact terms of the non-competition agreement, etc.

    But for general inquiries, this doesn’t have to be difficult: simply say that you are not sharing the name of your new employer with anyone at this time, but that you will update LinkedIn in the future (if you use it). The last time I switched jobs, I remember saying this over and over, and didn’t feel one bit awkward about it.

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