ending a looooooong-term business trip, ensuring a religious new hire won’t proselytize at work, and more

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

1. Ending a looooooong-term business trip

I am the assistant manager for a store on the west coast. About three months ago, I was asked to be the interim general manager for a sister store on the east coast while they recruited a new permanent GM, and my answer was hell yes! It’s been an incredible experience so far. I’ve been put up in a super fancy resort (an incredible view, king sized bed, and bath tub so deep I’ve almost drowned multiple times), I get an incredibly generous per diem, my Uber’s are totally covered, and I’ve been bumped up to a pretty great temporary wage while I’m in this role — and they even let me stay hourly, even though general managers are salaried, because they wanted to make sure I was compensated for the oodles of overtime I’ve been working. And boy have I been working — I have been busting my butt, accomplished some great things, learned a ton, and have gotten huge amounts of great exposure. I’m now on friendly speaking terms with many high level managers and executives who I barely knew existed in my permanent role, and I’ve been offered the GM role at the store I’m currently covering, as well as a few other new locations that will be opening across the country over the new year. I turned these opportunities down, because I really have no interest in leaving my hometown, and am hoping something will open up closer to home eventually. Anyways. That all sounded like the ultimate humble brag, but I really wanted to emphasize how supported and appreciated my company has made me feel in the last couple of months, and how I am truly happy with my current situation and how things have played out so far.

That being said. I’ve now been living out of a hotel, away from my husband, ferret, and friends for a quarter of a year. When I came out here, I knew it would be for an unspecified amount of time, but I was also under the impression that I would be gone for one to three months tops. And yet the three-month mark officially passes tomorrow, and (as far as I know) we don’t have any real leads for the position I’m covering. While I strongly want them to find the right candidate, even if it takes time (because the wrong candidate could mean I’m out here again in six months!) I also need to know that I will actually get to go home to my own bed, where I have a husband and a car and friends and a life.

I’m zero percent involved in the search for the new GM, and while I am happy not having any real say or sway, is there a tactful way to ask HR if I can be kept more in the loop on the progress of this search so I can have a real idea of when I might get to go home? And if it does go on much longer … while I really don’t want to leave before a new GM is found, at what point do I open up the conversation that I really need to go home? I could definitely survive four months … I would be incredibly antsy at five months … but six months is where I think I would draw that line. At what point to do I tell someone that I can’t be out here forever? And how do I even approach that, knowing what a massive headache it would be to establish another temporary manager? I don’t want to spring this on them last minute if it comes down to that, but I also don’t want to damage the stellar reputation I’ve gained by appearing to not be a team player.

Not only can you asked to be kept in the loop on the progress of the search, but you can tell them right now (or whoever you want) that you are approaching your limit for how long you can stay. You can say, “We’d talked about one to three months and since we’re now at the tail end of that, I’m hoping to set a timeframe for heading back home.” Or, “I can stay one more month if you need me to, but would want to head home at that point.” Or pretty much anything else you want! A reasonable company (and this sounds like a very reasonable company, based on how well they’ve been treating you) is going to understand that you won’t want to stay there forever and that you might be itching to go home by this point. They might be hoping you’ll stay longer, and they might be disappointed that you can’t, but they’re absolutely going to understand that it is a very normal thing that you’re ready to go home. So this isn’t something you need to dance around; you can come right out and say it, and you can set whatever limits you want, including “I need to start packing up in the next few weeks.” This isn’t going to damage your reputation; you’ve already gone above and beyond by uprooting your life for as long as you have.

Speak up right away, though, so that you’re giving them the maximum possible notice.

Read an update to this letter here.

2. How to ensure a religious new hire won’t proselytize at work

I am a hiring manager with a retail chain. My company is a national brand that is very diverse and I am proud to be a part of that! I have a tricky situation that has come up. I just completed a second interview with a job candidate who is looking like a great fit. Which is awesome! However, she doesn’t have much recent job experience, so has utilized her very demanding and rigorous volunteer work with her religious organization very heavily to highlight her strengths and flexibility. While I am impressed, some of our fellow managers have reservations about whether she might either proselytize at work or be intolerant of her coworkers (i.e. we have associates who are gay, we have others who are atheists, etc). I haven’t seen evidence that that would be the case with her. Plus, people who don’t talk about religion during interviews can still turn out to be zealots, so her candor isn’t something that is a red flag to me.

I know that it is absolutely illegal and wrong to consider her religion or religious activities during hiring. That being said, if she passes the last interview with my boss and we make her an offer, is there a discussion we should have preemptively (i.e. here is your employee handbook, which by the way states that [store] is a diverse workplace and respect and dignity in the workplace for all employees is taken seriously) or would the right/legal/best thing to do be wait and see what happens? ALL of my employees deserve to have their workplace be one of respect and dignity, and that will include her if she is hired. I want her to be happy and feel welcome, and I know that singling her out for her religion is not the way to do that. Am I overthinking this?

Unless she said things in the interview process that sounded intolerant or you’ve seen other evidence of that from her (like a Twitter account that’s full of bigotry, for example), you shouldn’t assume she’ll proselytize or be intolerant at work. It doesn’t sound like she was bringing up religion inappropriately in the interview; it sounds like she appropriately referred to volunteer experience, which just happened to be for a religious organization. (You also didn’t note that the religious organization itself is known for intolerance, so I want to flag that the mere fact of it being religious in nature is not equivalent to it being one that promotes intolerance.)

So absent something specific that she has said that gave you pause, I wouldn’t bring it up with her preemptively. If you see or hear anything concerning after she starts working for you, definitely address it swiftly at that point, but I wouldn’t assume you need to preemptively fend it off.

3. Should I warn someone away from the University of Phoenix?

I’m a very recent graduate and recently had a networking meeting with someone I hadn’t met before. She’s a very nice lady, and we chatted for a bit about ourselves after finishing the business talk. She mentioned she plans to get her master’s from the University of Phoenix. I know this is a terrible idea, but I just nodded and smiled at the time.

It’s too late now, but should I have said something? Is it possible she doesn’t know the university’s bad reputation? I’m about 15 years younger than her and very new to the work world so it might come across as arrogant, but if I were about to make a very bad career/education/financial decision, I’d want someone to give me a heads-up. If I should have said something, what would be a good way to say it?

This is complicated by the fact that you’re new to the work world and she’s more experienced than you, because that changes the dynamic. Without that context, I’d say yes, please do warn her — because many, many people who got degrees from for-profit schools wish that someone had warned them about how poorly those schools are perceived, and feel cheated and scammed. (I have literally heard people say, “Why didn’t someone warn me?”)

It’s worth saying something for that reason, but the difference in age and experience means that you probably need to be especially thoughtful about how you go about it. One option is to refer her to other sources. You could say something like, “I hope this isn’t overstepping, but I’ve read a lot about how many employers are skeptical of degrees from for-profit schools and won’t give them the same weight they give nonprofit schools. You may already be well aware of this, of course, but I’ve heard so many people say they wish they’d known that beforehand that I felt it might be helpful for me to speak up!” And then, if you’re doing this in an email since the conversation is in the past, you could attach a couple of links about the problem. She might ignore it, or she might bristle at you advising her when you’re straight out of school, but given the stakes, I think it’s worth risking the awkwardness to just make sure she doesn’t end up as another “why didn’t anyone warn me?” person.

4. I haven’t heard back about an internal interview, and I think they’ve made an outside hire

I am an intern in a small firm (about 40 people) and have been here for about four months. I am out of college and looking for a job. The entry-level position in the office recently opened and I and one other intern were given the opportunity to interview for the position. Several other interns who would have liked to try for the position were shut out of the interview process because of “time constraints.” So far, the process seemed fine. Not everyone gets an interview even if they have been interning in the office for months.

However, it has been two weeks and we now know that someone from outside the office has gotten the job. We know this because they came into the office to meet people and clearly said to some of the other junior people that they were looking forward to working together and would see them Monday. It was clear that many of the other interns saw this happen and thus know I or the other intern were not hired. We are a friendly intern group so it’s clear we would both have been told. It’s now been three days and no one has told us officially that we have not gotten the job.

To me, it seems incredibly unprofessional to not tell us we didn’t get the job and basically attempt to ghost us in the application process despite us coming in to work and working in this office from 9 to 5 everyday. Our last day of our internships is also this Friday so we wouldn’t overlap with this person, making it seem like they expect us to leave the internship without any confirmation either way. Is this unprofessional?

Yep. It’s fine that they didn’t interview all the interns; sometimes it’s clear from working with someone that they won’t be right for a position or won’t be competitive with other applicants who are in the mix. But if they’ve made a hire, they absolutely should have informed you and the other interns who applied and it’s rude that they haven’t. That said, are you 100% sure the the new hire you saw is the person hired for this particular role? Unless they specifically said “I’ve been hired to be the new X,” it’s possible they’ve been hired for something else.

Either way, there’s nothing wrong with you following up with the hiring manager for the job and saying something, “Is there any update on the X job I interviewed for?”

5. Is this job posting warning of terrible hours?

I’m currently job hunting and came across a posting that looks great and fits well with my background. However, under “Requirements,” it includes “Commitment to working beyond traditional working hours and schedules.” Is this a huge red flag? Is it even worth applying if I value my work-life balance? For reference, this is not a field where long hours are the norm, or where salaries are high to compensate for that. However, Glassdoor reviews for the company are generally good, and most mention a relaxed workplace culture. If I did apply for the job and get an interview, what would be a good way of probing into this?

Their wording certainly sounds alarming! But while it’s possible that means “you will be expected to work insanely long hours,” it’s also possible that it means “this is a 40-hour/week role, but some of those hours will be nights or weekends.”

You can ask directly about this in an interview! You’d just say, “The job posting mentioned the role involves working beyond traditional hours — can you tell me more specifically what that entails?”

{ 490 comments… read them below }

  1. Ren*

    Yeah it’s funny how employers who emphasize respect for a diverse workplace and want to ensure tolerance often let that fly out the window and are flagrantly intolerant when it comes to respecting religion.

      1. Manon*

        Nothing the LW said indicates that the interviewee was proselytizing, just that she talked about volunteering with a religious organization. To preemptively have a discussion about tolerance even though she’s given no indication that she would try to convert others in the office would be to assume that the interviewee is going to be intolerant because of religion.

        1. Constanze*

          But that really wouldn’t be far-fetched, let’s be real.

          The applicant talked about her religious organisation in her interview. As far as I am concerned, this is an orange flag (not red per se, but I would definitely be on guard).

          1. Engineer Girl*

            The applicant talked about her religious organization because they were the ones in charge of the volunteer work. And based on what OP said, she didn’t talk about the religious organization as much as she talked about the actual work she was doing. Totally appropriate! Saying she shouldn’t talk about it is like telling someone they can’t mention their company when talking about their job experience.

            You are trying to hold her to a higher standard just because it is religion. That’s illegal for an employer.

            1. Czhorat*


              I’m an atheist, and I would have zero issue with relevant experience in a religious organization coming up in an interview. If this is part of their life and indicative of their skills then it’s fair game.

              I agree that OP needs to wait until they overstep before saying something.

            2. Falling Diphthong*


              Recently discovered a free clinic run through one of our local religious institutions. Whoever runs that certainly has a lot of practical skills that would transfer elsewhere, and they would be reasonable to cite them in an interview.

            3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Agreed, and I appreciate your comments on this thread in particular. (I’m always interested in your comments, but I especially agree with you in this chain.)

            4. Clisby Williams*

              Yes. This is no different from describing her work for, say, a political activist organization. I wouldn’t assume a person who had worked for NARAL is going to be promoting abortion rights in the workplace, any more than I’d assume that someone who worked for a religious organization would promote religion.

          2. Beth*

            So basically, you wouldn’t hire someone because their resume included work for a religious organization.. That sounds pretty discriminatory to me.

              1. Mobuy*

                Well, yeah, several people have. They may dress it up as “orange flag” or “not far-fetched” that the candidate would proselytize, but honestly, people are saying they don’t want to hire her because she is religious. That is indeed discriminatory.

                1. Constanze*

                  No, I actually didn’t say that.
                  What I said was that the fact that she is a member of a religion which is known for proselytising AND that she is such a devoted member that she has worked for them would make me be extra careful in examining how she interacts with others.

                  I stand by my point. This is not discrimination. And by the way, this also largely falls into the “surveillance” you would give to a new employee anyway.

                2. R.D.*

                  @ Constanze
                  There is nothing in the letter that indicates she is a member of a religion which is known for proselytising, unless you are just grouping all Christians into that bucket.

                  Quite frankly there are sects of just about every religion that are “known for proselytising”.

                  *I am not a christian, and I hate being preached at, but I know more christians, who don’t do that, than those who do. I work very closely with someone who is very active in a church that is absolutely known for proselytising and he has never once done so at work, despite the fact that he’s open about spending post weekends going door to door.

                3. R.D.*

                  OK. I see now from the comments that the candidate is a Jehovah’s Witness which is where the “member of a religion which is known for proselytising” was probably coming from. My apologies. Jehovah’s Witnesses are definitely known for proselytizing. The colleague I was talking about is actually a Jehovah’s Witness, so I stand by the rest of my comment.

                4. Constanze*

                  @RD Not in the letter no, but the OP actually said in the comments that the employee is a JW. So my proselytising comment comes from this piece of information.

          3. Falling Diphthong*

            Could we have a moratorium on “It’s reasonable to assume that anyone in group X (gender, religion, ethnicity, address) will also do action Y, because I have heard there are some people in X who do Y.” It’s like the dictionary definition of prejudice.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              It’s kind of astounding that thoughtful adults are still relying on this to justify behavior that’s both illegal and unethical.

            2. Johnny Tarr*

              I think it’s fair to say that a person who *voluntarily* belongs to a certain group will act in a way consistent with that group. For example, a Republican is more likely to do X, a member of the ACLU might do Y, and a person who belongs to a church that requires proselytizing will be more likely to proselytize. It’s not on par with racism or sexism.

              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                I think that’s a real mischaracterization of (and misunderstanding of the laws protecting) religious belief and affiliation. You’re also literally describing stereotypes as a justification for treating people differently before you have any idea of the person as an individual (or their behavior). That’s the textbook definition of prejudice.

              2. Genny*

                The ACLU is widely known for taking on first amendment cases. That doesn’t mean an employee who is a member of the ACLU is going to threaten to sue the company if the manager doesn’t give them a chance to share their views during a staff meeting. It would be wrong to preemptively try to head that off before the employee/ACLU member has even done anything. The same is true of every other group. The NAACP member isn’t necessarily going to see racism everywhere, the Republican isn’t necessarily going to spout off about immigration, etc. The vast majority of people understand the boundaries between their personal life/believes and their work life.

            3. Alton*

              I think it depends. Religion differs from things like gender and race in that religion is inherently ideological and belief-based. So there are things that are reasonable to anticipate, such as that a devout Muslim might not drink alcohol or eat pork.

              It’s harder when we’re talking about beliefs that are not inherent to a religion, like assuming that someone will be homophobic purely because they’re religious. That’s not an assumption you can make. But when you live in a culture where it’s common for places of worship and their members to espouse certain views, I think it’s understandable to prepare yourself for the possibility that someone you meet who is affiliated with one of those groups will share those views.

          4. RoadsLady*

            Orange flag is a bit much. I might raise an eyebrow if the church was overly mentioned, but it’s still meaningless.

            Don’t get out a radar too early. People are allowed to volunteer with their passions.

            1. Alton*

              I also think there can be a difference between a personal orange flag (“People with this religious affiliation have treated me poorly in the past or have discriminated against my community, so I’m cautious”) and a professional orange flag (“There are things in this person’s resume or interview that indicate there could be a conflict with their ability to perform the job well”).

              It doesn’t sound like there’s any indication of the latter, and the former isn’t something that can or should be used as a basis in hiring.

              1. OhNo*

                Agreed, and a very excellent point. Especially when you’re hiring, and have limited information about the candidate, it’s very easy to mistake a personal flag or response for a professional one. It’s really important to be able to distinguish the two.

        2. Michaela Westen*

          The LW was asking if she *should* have a preemptive discussion. She was thinking about how to ward off a potential problem.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      That’s really not what the OP is saying at all. She’s wondering if she should be concerned about proselytizing; it’s pretty clear from the letter that if there’s no proselytizing, there’s no problem.

      1. Observer*

        She’s wondering if she should take actions based on the assumption that the applicant will proselytize and / or be disrespectful or intolerant of others. And some of the other manager actually have “reservations”. Not because of anything she has said, but simply because she is religious.

        1. Artemesia*

          Her work for a religious organization was noted as rigorous and demanding; which suggests one of the groups where volunteers do heavy proselytizing. If so — if they were doing missionary work, or door to door recruitment or are in a sect that is known for aggressive proselytizing which this phrasing may suggest, then it is reasonable to have that concern.

          1. Engineer Girl*

            As reasonable as expecting a black person to misbehave simply because they are black? That’s bigotry.

            The person could be working in a soup kitchen, a homeless shelter, at risk youth, etc.

            The issue is making assumptions with absolutely NO evidence of those assumptions. The assumptions are based on stereotypes. That’s what makes it wrong.

            1. LW2*

              I gave a very, very tailored down version of what I learned from my candidate in her interview. Partly because I didn’t want my letter to be overlong, and partly because I don’t want to give too much identifying information. I gave a bit more info in a comment below that may help you understand why those assumptions came up.

              That being said, I agree with you, it IS wrong to make assumptions! And I want to help my team grow away from that. Which may be a process, but it’s a worthwhile and necessary one.

              1. Observer*

                I looked for your later comment. Your colleagues are wrong and intolerant. I applaud your instinct to step back and say “wait a minute”.

                Yes, proselytizing is a core tenet of JW – I’ve been at the receiving end of their work. But these people also work is secular workplaces and by and large understand the difference. So, no, it is NOT reasonable to assume your JW candidate is going to proselytize at work to her coworkers. And there is nothing in the JW that would make them more likely to be more intolerant of gays, atheists, etc. than any other religious person.

                For any person to use “respect and diversity” to make assumptions that are based on factually baseless stereotypes is stupid and comes off as really hypocritical. What your coworkers need to think about is the fact that lots of people ARE stupid, intolerant and tend to proselytize in the workplace. But that if someone actually looks at the facts, it turns out that there is not much of a correlation between religion in general or particular religious traditions, and this behavior.

                1. LJay*

                  This. I went to school with and have worked with Jehovah’s Witnesses. I was never proselytized to in those environments by them.

                2. Clisby Williams*


                  There are plenty of religious groups who proselytize. That doesn’t mean they do it in the workplace.

              2. Michaela Westen*

                This reminds me I worked with a Jehovah’s Witness in the 90’s. She was a very nice middle-aged lady, I was in my 20’s. I never saw her proselytize or behave inappropriately.
                I remember someone told me she was coming to work on Christmas Day, and I was surprised. JWs are Christians, right? My colleague told me they think Christ was born on a different day so they celebrate that day. Interesting!

                1. ThatGirl*

                  My understanding, actually, is that JW’s don’t celebrate Christmas or Easter because they think they’re based on pagan rituals (they kinda are) and that Jesus should be celebrated every day. I had a JW manager at an old job. (And, she never did proselytize at work, though she did make a bit too much fuss over not celebrating her birthday.)

                2. Clisby Williams*

                  That’s incorrect. Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t celebrate Christmas (aka Christ’s birthday) because nothing in scripture says that should be done.

                3. Scmill*

                  One of my team members was a Jehovah’s Witness, and I didn’t know it at all. The only way I found out was because our small office had organized a Christmas luncheon and he offered to man the phones. I asked if he was not going to join us for lunch, and his reply was that he was a JW and didn’t celebrate holidays. It was never mentioned again.

              3. Junior Dev*

                You’re catching a lot of flack here but i think it’s great that you reached out to a third party to check your and your colleagues’ assumptions. I wish more people would do that when there’s some sort of stereotype going around the office. I’m not sure why people are lashing out at this letter so much when it’s clear you’re trying to solve the problem.

                1. Michaela Westen*

                  People are very, very reactive about things that cause prejudice. Where I live even mentioning race in a good way can cause a fight.

              4. Aiani*

                So I grew up as a JW and I think I can add to this conversation a bit. Not all JW’s are really as into the proselytizing as you might think so it might never come up with this candidate at all. But even if she is big into the proselytizing usually JW’s are pretty used to being told that there is a time and a place and work is not the place. Basically it’s a core tenet to preach but JW’s are used to the idea that they shouldn’t proselytize absolutely everywhere.

                If this candidate seemed otherwise reasonable there is a very good chance you won’t have problems with proselytizing from her at all.

            2. Traffic_Spiral*

              “expecting a black person to misbehave simply because they are black?”

              Uh, wtf? “Black” isn’t a belief structure. It’s reasonable to assume that a Hindu doesn’t eat beef and a Muslim doesn’t eat bacon – because those are some pretty major tenets of their religions. Now, that doesn’t mean all of them abide by that, but if you were hiring a judge for a cooking contest, it’s be reasonable to give a quick “hey, just so we’re clear, you gotta occasionally eat bacon cheeseburgers – that’s not a problem, right?” just to make sure you’re all on the same page. On the same terms, if someone comes from a religious group that demands proselytizing, it’s reasonable to want to make sure that religious obligation doesn’t conflict with their work duties.

              Personally, I’d try and re-route the issue. Something like “I see that a lot of your experience is church-based, but don’t worry. We’re a very diverse office and we have a pretty strict “no religion in the workplace” policy, so it shouldn’t be an issue. You won’t have to worry about anyone telling you that you should go to the church down the road instead, or trying to argue with you about how you should convert to something else.”

              Also, I think it’s fair to note that she’s got a good reason for highlighting the church stuff – that’s where she got the experience. Sometimes the church is really the only community center that helps with certain things, so it’s not a given that the people using those services are overly zealous.

              1. Engineer Girl*

                I’ve heard this argument many times – that race is different than religion. Reality is that culture, geography, race also create belief systems. The problem comes when you assume that belief simply based on external factors. And it’s even worse when you act on that assumed belief without any other indicators.

                1. Femme D'Afrique*

                  “Reality is that culture, geography, race also create belief systems.” I realise that this is probably location (and history) specific, but as a non-American, and as a “black” African who lives in a country where 95% of the population is the same “race,” I find it really difficult to relate to. Where I live, race and religion ARE different. Very much so.

                2. BluntBunny*

                  That’s because it’s true, you can’t choose to be a certain Race. It’s not an organisation that you can join or leave. The only shared experience between black people is discrimination and racism for example your previous comment. The LW’s colleagues are worried that they could be intolerant to gay people because some people of that religion claim it is a sin. How strongly someone feels about that will determine how they treat others. It’s true that non-religious people can be homophobic and that you wouldn’t necessarily think about it when hiring a non-religious person. I have had interviews where they have asked questions about “a time I worked with someone with different views” or “worked with a diverse set of people”, I think they are good questions to ask in general and can be out race, nationality, sexuality etc they aren’t accusatory or difficult questions to answer and you interviewees should have many examples.

                3. Engineer Girl*

                  You can’t choose which religion you grow up in either. Yet it partially shapes your world view.

                  My point is that you can’t assume behavior based on high level external criteria.

              2. TL -*

                Religion is a protected class just as much as race and part of that is because religion can be a deeply ingrained part of identity, as much so as race (and people have been persecuted for it just as much as race.)

                I think the phrasing that you offer is pretty….condescending, almost? I think starting from the assumption that adults will behave professionally in the workplace, absent any evidence otherwise (and this isn’t evidence, she was drawing on her most recent and relevant experience), is the best way to go, then correcting as necessary.

                1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

                  Religion is a lifestyle choice, not inborn. You can’t leave off having brown eyes or dark skin although you can conceal them. You can walk away from religion.

                2. Zillah*

                  Someone’s religious beliefs can change, but that’s not the same thing as those beliefs being a choice. If it was that simple, there are a number of atrocities that would have been easily avoidable.

                  That’s not to say that religion and race are the same thing, because they’re not – but neither are race and sexual orientation. But intolerance is a problem without equating them.

                3. Mpls*

                  Eh…I’d say religion is a protected class (in the US) because it’s been pretty well demonstrated that people will discriminate on that basis and that sort of discrimination is antithetical to the first amendment. And the first amendment is about freedom to practice the religion of your *choice*. Not because it’s a deeply ingrained cultural choice that has been made for you.

                  Which is different from being a protected class based on an immutable characteristic like race.

              3. Observer*

                Actually, most experienced HR people will tell you that instead of getting that specific, you are better off asking about possible issues. Rather than “You do know that you sometimes need to eat pork?” it would be “Are there any potential issues that you see with this job?” If you’ve done your job and accurately described what is involved, the Moslem (or Jew, for that matter) will be aware of the potential issue.

                In a case like this, it’s just silly. You don’t need to go into specific job descriptions to understand that proselytizing might present a problem.

            3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              As reasonable as expecting a black person to misbehave simply because they are black?

              I have nothing against religious people, used to be one myself, but can we please slow down?? Last I checked, people are not born into a religion that they cannot change; unlike skin color. Also, in all my years on this planet, I have never seen a black person trying to convert others into being black so they don’t face eternal punishment after death; unlike some of the religions. It’s apples and oranges.

              1. Kate R*

                I agree. Alison has plenty of letters in her archives about religious people proselytizing at work, and religious organizations have a long history of discriminating against the LGBT community. That has set a precedent for the worry that OP’s colleagues are having. Obviously, not all religious people behave that way, which is why Alison’s answer to not preemptively address a problem that may not even be a problem is spot on. But the comparison Engineer Girl put forth is steeped in racism. That is not an equal comparison.

                1. Engineer Girl*

                  She also has plenty of letters where people are promoting MLM schemes, diets (lots of commenting on foods), exercise freaks, etc.
                  There is a long standing history of discrimination against women, but you are not going to assume that people will discriminate. Should I assume someone from the Deep South will discriminate against blacks? Should I worry that someone from western Michigan will try to convert others to white supremacy? People can’t control where they grow up any more than their skin color.
                  You deal with the issue IF it comes up, not prior. You do not do it based on your personal stereotypes.
                  I’d like you to explain your comment “steeped in racism”.

                2. Kate R*

                  “You deal with the issue IF it comes up, not prior. You do not do it based on your personal stereotypes.”

                  This is exactly the advice that Alison gave. If someone had written in about an MLM rep or a diet fanatic, she likely would have given the same advice. But it is not completely unfounded to worry a deeply religious person would proselytize or that a MLM rep would push their product because we’ve seen a pattern of that on this site, in the news, and probably in real life. It is *unfair* to make those assumptions because everyone is different, but not unfounded. Even when I was a bible reading, church every Sunday, Catholic, I was still pro-LGBT and pro-choice, so I understand that people are complex. But what I mean by your comparison of black people misbehaving is that for that to be the equivalent, it would mean that on some level it’s reasonable to assume black people misbehave more than people of other races. That assumption is not just unfair, it is deeply racist. That’s what I meant by “steeped in”.

                3. Engineer Girl*

                  it would mean that on some level it’s reasonable to assume black people misbehave more than people of other races. That assumption is not just unfair, it is deeply racist. That’s what I meant by “steeped in”.

                  That is exactly what racists assume!

                  You may wonder privately in your mind if someone may say or do something. The minute you act on it without any action on their part you create discrimination.

            4. pcake*

              The religious soup kitchens, shelters and so on that I’ve personally talked to, visited or known someone who used do proselytize – every one of them. They probably think that saving your soul is a kind, wonderful thing. Still, people I know who have been helped by such organizations consider having to listen the the religious spiel payment for the services/food/goods they are rendered.

              1. Mary Connell*

                And the set of soup kitchens, shelters, etc. you have visited could be a set of one.

                This is a logical fallacy that is so common that is has a multitude of names: fallacy of insufficient sample, fallacy of the lonely fact, secundum quid, and so forth.

          2. TL -*

            There are tons of religious organizations that rely on volunteers that don’t involve proselytizing but do involve heavy and demanding work – I think that’s a gravely unfair assumption. (Catholic charities, youth ministries, Bible studies, churches with large and active congregations, international aid, the various charitable endeavors Engineer Girl lists)

            My friend’s mother took on organizing food for her moderately sized church (200? people) – just snacks and coffee after services and the occasional large catered event and it was a pretty demanding job with a lot of organization, planning, and communication necessary.
            One of my favorite YouTubers is heavily involved with her UU church and it’s equivalent to a part-time job.

            I think the JW aspect adds some dimension to the LW’s question (if you only know the stereotype, not the religion) but religions organize around all kinds of things that aren’t preaching the word of god at random strangers.

            1. theschwa*

              Slightly off-topic but are you talking about Cindy? She’s a great example of someone who does regular, hard, church work, but she’s not proselytizing!

              1. So long and thanks for all the fish*

                UUs don’t believe in proselytizing pretty much at all though- I’m one, and I’ve asked people if they would be interested in coming to church with me only when they’ve independently expressed interest in finding a “compromise” church with their non-religious significant others. The closest to encouraging proselytizing I’ve ever seen in a UU church was them giving churchgoers reusable water bottles with a chalice on it saying it might be an interesting conversation starter.

          3. Asenath*

            There are plenty of religious charities which require “rigorous and demanding” work from their volunteers which doesn’t involve proselytizing at all – such as practically any group that does on-the-ground work with the poor, addicted, sick, convicts and so on. Moreover, even if she did proselytize in her private life, there’s no evidence at all that she would do so on the job – it’s clearly stated that she only mentioned her charity work in relation to the job-related skills she used there. To not hire someone because of an assumption that every religious person will proselytize at her secular job is completely unreasonable – and discrimination on the basis of religion, which is illegal in most places.

            1. Mary Connell*

              Exactly. Sweeping generalizations are not helpful. Assuming that every religious person is offensively discriminatory is like assuming that every gay person is involved in crimes against children. (Wording is an attempt to avoid moderation.) Both things are patently and thoroughly untrue.

          4. EPLawyer*

            It does not necessarily mean proselytizing. It could be choir director. Let me tell you as someone who has a friend who is choir director, that is incredibly rigorous and demanding. You have to have the right music for the liturgical calendar, you have to organize practice, you have to make sure everyone has the right music and you have to make sure it sounds good at services. Not a bit of proselytizing.

            The applicant did EXACTLY what Alison always recommends, talk about your duties. There is not one word that she made a big deal about religion. She did not have a lot of work history so she took her duties that just happened to be with a religious organization and showed how they fit in with what the employer was looking for.

            If she had worked for an animal rights organization, would we all be worried she was going to make up adopt a pet? No, of course not. But because her volunteer work just happened to be for a religious organization everyone is worried that somehow translates to proselytizing at work. Or being judgmental of others when there REALLY was no evidence the applicant would be that way.

            1. Ace in the Hole*

              Yes, exactly. My partner is considering a secretary position at her church and it’s an intimidating amount of work. And this is for a very small (40ish members?) congregation! The church do approximately zero proselytizing, and definitely don’t have issues with homophobia – partner and I are a same-sex couple.

              Of course it’s possible the candidate is inappropriately evangelical and bigoted, but it’s not like those things are inherent to anyone involved in a religious organization.

          5. Parenthetically*

            “which suggests one of the groups where volunteers do heavy proselytizing”

            This… is absolutely not a logical conclusion from this information.

            Just in my city: a local refugee assistance group is religious in nature and the vast majority of its highly committed volunteers are seriously progressive and most would find the suggestion that their work with this agency meant they were on the verge of proselytizing their clients/colleagues/neighbors really offensive as they don’t believe in proselytizing. A local homeless shelter and job training/placement charity is the same — religiously oriented and staffed almost entirely by progressives and left-leaning Christians. There are lots of progressive religious people in this country just quietly getting on with a lot of grassroots social justice and community work and it’s really unfair to see “person who worked with religious organization” and think “fundie who will tell their coworkers they’re going to hell, best not to hire.”

            1. Jessie the First (or second)*


              My church has volunteers who run a lot of anti-poverty and disaster-relief initiatives. They are a lot of work, and are entirely volunteer based.

              It’s a very theologically liberal church with zero proselytizing.

              The assumption that rigourous = proselytizing, fundie church is not justified.

            2. Observer*

              And there happen to be a lot of not so progressive religious folks who do heavy duty work without a whit of proselytizing.

              Has anyone ever heard of Hatzalah, to take one example? Close to 100% of their volunteers are Orthdoxo Jews, and I think that a majority would qualify as “ultra orthodox”. This is the ultimate in “rigorous and demanding” – 24 x 7, and lives on the line. Not a trace of proselytizing. Anyone trying that would be out so fast they wouldn’t know what hit them.

              1. Parenthetically*

                Definitely. My church runs a literacy/tutoring program and volunteers are NOT ALLOWED to bring up religion with the kids, though most of the volunteers would be in the Evangelical vein.

                1. Observer*

                  That’s not the point. The point is that “rigorous and demanding” work has nothing to do with proselytizing, nor do conservative views. And, Orthodox Jews, especially of the Chareidi variety tend to be socially conservative on many issues.

          6. Falling Diphthong*

            The people who run any number of putting-our-actions-where-our-words-are charities–shelters, food programs, free clinics, mental health outreach, housing–have rigorous and demanding work. It’s weird, illogical–and yes, prejudiced–to assume that any religious work that’s rigorous must involve proselytizing.

          7. learnedthehardway*

            Or, the candidate could have been organizing and participating in running a soup kitchen, building schools in other countries, organizing clothing donations, or a myriad of other things that are not inherently religious, but happen to frequently be done by church groups. (I know people who do each of those things through churches. In fact, my father in law is extensively involved with his church’s charitable efforts – and he’s an atheist. He just happens to go to the church because his wife is a believer, and he enjoys the company and the charitable endeavors.)

            There’s no indication of what the person’s involvement in the religious organization has been, and so no reason to assume it was even proselytizing in nature. To make that pre-emptive assumption IS discrimination based on religious affiliation.

            1. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

              There is also no indication she is actually a member of that faith. I have volunteered with and worked with a variety of refugee relief services, all of which were run by faith organizations and none of them mine

              1. bonkerballs*

                Right? I work for a synagogue. I go to Temple every day for my job, I’ve attended shabbat for my job, I go to high holy days services every year for my job. I am 100% not Jewish.

          8. Observer*

            What on earth are you talking about. That’s far from the truth – in fact, to the extent that there is any relationship, it’s the reverse. “Rigorous and demanding” work, means things like managing teams, bringing complex project in on time and =n budget etc.

            Thanks so much for exposing the level of prejudice at play here.

          9. That girl from Quinn's house*

            I have a hunch that the candidate was Mormon: mission work includes a lot of highly transferable “sales” type skills.

            I worked with two Mormon girls who did their mission year: while they’d happily answer questions about the “strange” rules at BYU that fascinated their college-age coworkers, they only ever mentioned church in passing and were generally all-around good employees that people liked working with.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I don’t think she is though. It sounds like her coworkers are doing that, but her instincts are that that would be wrong. (Although on re-reading the original comment in this thread, I see that Ren wasn’t necessarily talking about the OP specifically.)

          1. pleaset*

            To me the other managers seem like the intolerant ones, raising concerns without real evidence other than the “otherness” of the applicant.

        3. sacados*

          That’s true, but to OP’s credit she seems to recognize that that attitude from the other managers is problematic and is trying not to go down that route.
          But I think having it brought up is probably making her second-guess her first instinct, which seems to be don’t bring anything up unless there is an actual problem. She’s just looking for confirmation.

            1. Belle8bete*

              Yes, I think the LW is saying “hang on a second” which is the right way to go! Also, thank you, Alison, for this sentence “I want to flag that the mere fact of it being religious in nature is not equivalent to it being one that promotes intolerance.” Thank you! I’m starting to get a bit sensitive to the implication that religious=awful right now, and I really appreciated this reasonable reply.

              1. RoadsLady*

                Very true. As tempting as it is for some to jump to “religious organization means rampant proselytizing and hate crimes”, it’s illogical, unnecessary, and overthinking the matter.

        4. Gaia*

          I think it is actually a really good sign that the OP is asking. From the letter they are clearly conflicted (likely because of the feedback from their peers) and want to know what the right path would be. Reading the language, you can even see they are leaning towards waiting and seeing.

          1. Engineer Girl*

            The OP gets a huge amount of credit for realizing that they might be biased and are fighting it.
            Many studies show that someone who thinks they might have a bias are actually more fair than someone that claims they have none.

            1. Zillah*

              It doesn’t seem like the OP is fighting their own bias – just other people’s bias. And, I think that the assumption that the OP is intolerant or biased against religion is leading a lot of people to make some pretty unkind comments.

            2. Falling Diphthong*

              Seconding this.

              Some sort of corollary of “I’m not Xist, but” preceding something Xist. If you recognize you might be capable of unfair prejudice, you’re less likely to act on it while saying “I’m not an Xist, my distaste is rooted in logic.”

            3. MusicWithRocksInIt*

              I personally think that everyone has some unconscious bias, absolutely everyone. Most of us even have some that work against our own self interest. The only way to overcome that is to try to question your own assumptions whenever you can – double check your own thought processes as you go. If you tell yourself you have no bias, then you never really examine your assumptions and you are much worse off.

              Personally, I’ve had several bad experiences with JW’s, including once when some tried to push their way into my house to ‘take care of me’ when I told them I was too sick to stand at the door and chat about god. So when the LW said that was the religion they were worried about my first instinct was “Oh – well yea, I can see that”. But then I read a lot of comments from people who said JW’s were more careful about not bringing up religion at work and were respectful and I realized that while my bias was based on personal experience it wasn’t all encompassing. So I think LW should get mad props for checking in with us, and being willing to stand up to others at their work over this.

          2. Washi*

            Yeah, I’m surprised by all the criticism OP is getting! It sounds like she felt pretty confident that there was no need to bring it up unless it became a problem, but was thrown by the disagreement of multiple other managers. I don’t see any evidence of religious intolerance, just that she wanted to double check her own instincts.

          3. Parenthetically*

            Absolutely agreed. OP doesn’t need to be copping this kind of flak. She’s wisely seeing that it would be unfair to paint this applicant as a potential problem purely based on her religious affiliation.

    2. LW2*

      hm, I don’t understand what in my letter would qualify as flagrantly intolerant. I have worked with people of all sorts of religions (Christians of all sorts including Mormons and Baptists and Catholics, Muslims, Wiccans, etc) and atheists. Some of my coworkers talk about their faith, some don’t. What I probably should have been more clear on is that this candidate is a Jehovah’s Witness. As far as I understand from research, spreading the word and conversion are core tenets of her faith, so it’s not illogical for someone else to raise that as a concern.

      If someone talked about their vegan activism in their interview (which has happened) I might wonder if having meat at the next potluck would be a problem. If one of my employees who is an atheist started degrading the beliefs of another employee who is a Christian, that would be a problem and handled appropriately. When one of our employees started verbally attacking a manager who is gay, that was a problem. I have a lot of respect for this candidate and how she has presented herself, and am voting that we hire her. I don’t think there’s anything intolerant about considering whether there might be issues or challenges with a candidate and trying to get advice before I misspeak or misstep.

      1. Gaia*

        Nothing in your letter is flagrantly intolerant. You weren’t sure of the best next step so you asked. That is, ideally, what anyone would do when they are conflicted about how to protect the rights of sometimes conflicting groups. The fact that they candidate is JW actually makes a lot of sense. They are a faith known for proselytizing. Although, the advise still stands. Many (most, I would imagine) understand it would be inappropriate at work. There is no need to preemptively talk to this candidate unless you would do so with every candidate.

      2. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

        I’m not any kind of expert on the topic but I’ve heard that Jehovah’s witnesses don’t usually proselytize at work. They do their work normally, go home, and go door to door in their free time. I don’t see a problem in hiring one and I don’t think it would be appropriate to talk about proselytizing beforehand because it would be based on a negative stereotype.

        Regarding the volunteer work and bringing it up in the recruiting process, I think that’s understandable. I have volunteer work on my resume and most of it is done for an organization that some recruiters may never have heard of, but some may recognize as religious. I’ve thought about whether or not to include it there, but I’ve decided to keep it because some of my volunteer experience is about things I haven’t done in my paid jobs, and could be relevant in some contexts. I know someone might discriminate but I think there’s more benefit than harm. Having that kind of stuff in my application materials doesn’t mean that I would be inappropriately religious at work!

        1. Erstwhile lurker*

          As a Jehovah’s Witness myself, this shouldn’t be a reason for concern. We are constantly reminded at our meetings how we have to be honest with our employers and work diligently, showing respect to all our colleagues. If someone at work asked me about my faith or about religion in general, I would respond, but wouldn’t start a conversation out of nothing as I know that can make people feel uncomfortable.

          On the subject of bigotry, that’s again very unlikely to happen, we stay out of politics and endeavour to show respect to everyone, even those whose lifestyles we disagree with. Its likely that someone from the LGBTQ community will disagree with our way of life too, it doesn’t mean that we can’t show respect to each other.

          As others have mentioned, we don’t celebrate birthdays, Christmas, Halloween and Thanksgiving.

          1. LGBTQ is not a "lifestyle choice"*

            My only comment here is that you not refer to people who are LGBTQ as having a “lifestyle” you disagree with. Sexuality is not a lifestyle choice; religion is.

            1. Erstwhile lurker*

              I’m sorry if I caused offence, that wasn’t the intention, but just to clarify, what I said wasn’t aimed at a particular group. The next sentence where I mention LGBTQ was by way of an example of someone who may not approve of how I live my life.

      3. Bread and butter*

        I’ve actually worked with a Jehova’s witness and he never ever proselytized at work. He is very well respected and a great resource for training new hires. The only difference is that he doesn’t want his birthday celebrated.

        1. Adalind*

          Same. I’ve worked with multiple Jehova’s Witnesses over the years in a couple different jobs and they never proselytized. Like Bread and Butter said – they just didn’t celebrate the holidays. LW 2 seems to be on the right track. I would just speak up if something occurs.

        2. Bunnies!*

          Same here! She was one of our best employees, and I think her religion only came up when she explained that she doesn’t celebrate holidays.

        3. Neptune*

          I’ve had similar experiences. I think the reason so many people are saying this is that for the most part JWs and other members of small denominations are pretty aware that their beliefs are considered unusual. The absolute worst experiences with pushy religious people that I’ve ever had (and I say this as a practicing Christian) have always been with members of majority denominations who view their beliefs as universal and cannot believe that anyone could possibly think differently.

        4. Decima Dewey*

          I’ve worked with some Jehovah’s Witnesses and encountered a few doing missionary work in my neighborhood. Once I politely explained I wasn’t interested, the missionary types would ask which doorbell in the apartment building was mine so that they wouldn’t ring it again, and we all got on with our lives.

          OTOH my Religious Coworker who is not a Jehovah’s Witness had to be explicitly told not to preach at the library patrons trying to check out books or pay their fines.

        5. nonegiven*

          I knew a woman that I worked with a few feet away for months, she never once mentioned religion. She died from a hemorrhage because she refused a blood transfusion.

      4. beth*

        You don’t see what in your letter would be intolerant because there isn’t anything in there. It’s pretty clear that you’re rooting for this candidate and trying to head off potential concerns before they become an issue.

      5. thisismyusername*

        I’ve been on the receiving end of hard sell proselytizing by a coworker, and it was a very bad experience and definitely not the kind of culture you’d want to cultivate. However, I’ve also had many interactions in business settings with people who belong to religions known for proselytizing, including at least one Jehovah’s Witness. For the most part, the only reason I knew their religious affiliation was because they would mention attending activities related to their faith in the same way someone might mention going to a movie or because they had worked for a religious organization and I knew their professional background. I’ve also seen people answer academic questions about their faith in a matter of fact manner when asked. I’ve rarely seen that turn into proselytizing, although that could be a slippery slope.

        It’s potentially problematic that she brought up her religion, at least indirectly, in her interview. However, it sounds like her volunteer work is her only recent relavent experience and if she had other recent experience she may have left it out. If she only spoke about transferable skills she had gained, like organizing and delegating tasks, she was probably trying to make the most of what she has. If she spoke about “spreading the good news” or something similar, that seems like a red flag that she doesn’t understand professional boundaries.

      6. Jack Package*

        I know you weren’t trying to be intolerant, and I know it can be hard to see, but think how it would look to her. She listed experience to help with her resume, didn’t make a big deal about being a JW and then on her first day someone said “Yeah, we look harshly on proselytising here” without her having done anything.

        That would seem needlessly aggressive, and it would seriously give me a bad impression.

        1. EPLawyer*

          This, so much this. LW, you chimed in with other problems that cropped up and how you handled it. You did not pre-emptively say “hey we are tolerant here.” You waited and if there was a problem, you addressed it immediately. Do the same thing here. Hand her the employee handbook like you would any other new hire. Then IF there is a problem, address it as you would any other problem.

          1. JSPA*

            Yep. If the orientation is what it should be, that information is already there–for everyone. If it’s not what it should be, then fix the orientation material. Don’t single someone out for “potential intolerance.”

        2. Smarty Boots*

          That’s why she asked — would it be appropriate or not was her question. In addition, I think you are exaggerating for effect with “Yeah, we look harshly on proselytising here”, but it pretty seriously misrepresents the LW’s tone and actual statements.

          1. Jack Package*

            Quite honestly I’d feel singled out if it was pre-emptively pushed. I mean, let’s swap out JW for someone who is obviously a Muslim due to religious wear. How bad would that look if you pre-emptively told them not to discuss or push Islam, no matter the tone?

            Like I said, I know LW meant no harm or offense, but it would seriously start things off on the wrong foot.

      7. Ms Cappuccino*

        My manager is a JW. I only know it because I randomly saw her proselytising in the street one day. She’s very respectful of others at work and never brings religion.
        In the past I had 2 JW coworkers. They mention their religion once in a conversation but also were very respectful and didn’t preach at work.
        We can’t make assumptions based on people’s religions. This is discrimination.
        If you turn her down for fear of her religion, you will be breaking the law and she could sue you.
        I think this is wrong and that comes from someone who dislikes religions.

      8. Zip Silver*

        I can speak with some authority on JWs. Although I’m no longer a JW (Lutheran ftw), I grew up as a J-dub. The door-to-door missionary work is basically limited to going out on Saturdays. It’s not really something that is brought up with people you work or go to school with on a regular basis, although she won’t celebrate holidays or birthdays with the team, and won’t stand for the pledge of allegiance or any other patriotic activities (which is what landed them in Nazi death camps alongside Jews and gays). JWs are specifically anti-racist, and while most don’t approve of gays, they also don’t persecute others (really, the Holocaust thing is brought up all the time).

        1. Zillah*

          If I was the OP, I’d find this comment really helpful in addressing the rest of the hiring committee’s concerns. Thank you!

        2. A Born, Raised, and Active JW*

          For a JW like myself working full-time Monday to Friday (or for parents with kids), Saturdays are usually the most practical day to engage in the door-to-door ministry. But as a whole, we are encouraged to engage in the preaching work at times and places that we are more likely to have success finding and talking to people. A weekly share in the ministry is emphasized more so than a specific day.

      9. LGC*


        I mean…you’re right that prosletyzing is a core tenet of being a Jehovah’s Witness. (And I believe Mormonism as well, at least. And I can totally understand your coworkers’ concerns if they haven’t had experience with it other than being stopped on the street and getting handed copies of The Watchtower.

        On the other hand…I totally agree with you that their concerns are overblown, to put it mildly. I think this is kind of related to the letter earlier this week about the new team leader that wanted to talk religion with his employees. His faith in and of itself isn’t an issue, and it’s not even a problem that it sounded like his faith is evangelical (in that he is REALLY eager to spread the Good News). The problem was that he was actually going to discuss his faith with employees, which would have been a misuse of the power dynamics between them. You’re completely on base – unless there’s concrete evidence that she is going to act inappropriately, you can’t assume that she will. (For starters, that’s…textbook discrimination.)

        That said, my personal experience (and the plural of anecdote isn’t data, I know) is that our admin/receptionist is a Jehovah’s Witness, if I remember correctly. The only thing that comes up is that she never attends any holiday parties at work.

        1. Doc in a Box*

          I recently screened admissions essays for my medical school, and several of the applicants were Mormon (we aren’t located in a particularly Mormon part of the country, so IDK) and wrote about their missions — it’s a pretty formative experience especially when you’re young and the rest of your life has been school, school, and then more school. They either mentioned it briefly and moved on, or discussed things like the social or community-based aspects of healthcare in different countries, etc. That’s all fine.

          The only red flag I noted, from that perspective, was an applicant from a non-proselytizing faith whose entire application centered around the role of religion in their lives. One of the letters of recommendation even commented how they would get into “intense discussions” with people of other faiths. Not in an academic religious-studies kind of way, but in a personal, “My Way is the Only Way.” Meanwhile, my mom was heavily proselytized at work by a Presbyterian colleague, and AFAIK that’s not a faith “known” for proselytizing either.

          Really, it’s about how the individual presents themselves, not “things everyone knows” about various faith-based organizations. I say this as a pretty committed atheist, too.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            One of the letters of recommendation even commented how they would get into “intense discussions” with people of other faiths. Not in an academic religious-studies kind of way, but in a personal, “My Way is the Only Way.”

            In a letter of recommendation? Yikes. Was the letter writer a fellow believer that “Our Way is the Only Way?” Or were they trying to subtly warn you, having felt compelled to write a recommendation for someone they didn’t really recommend?

          2. Michaela Westen*

            “but in a personal, “My Way is the Only Way.””
            This is how it was in the fundamentalist city I grew up in. Whenever I left home there would be people getting in my face with this. There was no way to stop them. No matter what I said or did, they kept pushing.
            It’s beyond toxic. It’s controlling, abusive, disrespectful… this is what we all want to avoid.

      10. Boo*

        I realise I am late to commenting but hopefully you will see this LW2 – I grew up as a JW and “witnessing” as it is called is encouraged at every opportunity. For instance, I was expected to witness to my classmates at school if one of them talked about dealing with loss or asked why I didn’t celebrate Christmas. It’s a pretty big deal – I understood that if I failed in my duty to witness and that person then did not convert and died at Armageddon as a result, I would be “blood guilty” and destroyed myself. I still follow the monthly broadcasts despite having left many years ago as my family are all still practising, and witnessing at work has been certainly been pushed on those. However, most JWs understand that this isn’t really appropriate and will quietly ignore this particular teaching, so you should probably be fine. That being said, how devoutly practising JWs undertake their faith will vary by country, congregation culture and indeed individual, so the proselytising is probably something to keep an eye on, just in case.

        Another thing to be aware of as an organisation which celebrates and promotes diversity is that the JWs have become increasingly anti-gay in their messages . The official message is “hate the sin, love the sinner” and again hopefully this is something the new employee will keep to themselves, but it’s probably something to be aware of.

        1. Crivens! (Formerly Katniss)*

          This was my experience growing up JW too, and I was disfellowshipped at 15 and lost my entire network for coming out. Also I experienced it as a cult. Experience will really vary about how much a person feels they must “share the good news/”truth”” at work.

          1. Boo*

            Agreed. I must admit it is rather frustrating to see the well meaning commenters here talking about the JWs as if they were any other normal religion. Regular rules and expectations tend not to apply. Which is not to say JWs aren’t nice people (I love my family) but some of the behaviours and beliefs required of “spiritually strong” followers are extremely problematic.

      11. Jaid*

        I’ve had a coworker who was JW. She never discussed her faith except to explain why she didn’t celebrate the holidays and the occasional mention of a conference.
        Hmmm. Sometimes I’d see a copy of Watchtower in the break room, but I never associated it with her…

      12. MM Back Again*

        LW2, I had a feeling your candidate’s volunteer work was for a Jehovah’s Witness organization.

        I once received a resume where as opposed to relevant experience, (which this candidate had) the top listing was their religious (JW) volunteer work. That concerned me because I felt it was odd for a resume. You should list experience first.

        It was for nothing though since this candidate named a different company, not mine, in their cover letter as the one they were applying to. But honestly I commend you for seeking advice and I probably would have done the same thing. I get it.

      13. Où est la bibliothèque?*

        I think some people are just scanning letters for keywords, honestly. They saw the words “religion” and “singling her out” and immediate scrolled down to make a self-righteous comment.

      14. Murphy*

        I had assumed from your letter without you stating it that you meant Jehovah’s Witnesses or a similar group who is known for active recruitment and that that was the source of your concern. I don’t think you sounded intolerant at all.

      15. OfOtherWorlds*

        I’m a devout Episcopalian. My first chance to do teapot design and development came from taking over my parish’s teapot. I am now halfway through a college degree in the subject and am looking for internships. If I recived a lecture on tolerance because my portfolio and resume fetured volunteer work for a religious organization I would be unhappy.

        However, not all religions are the same. The candidate is a Jehovah’s Witnesses, and that changes things a great deal for me. They’re a socially conservative sect and consider prosetltizing a core tenant of their faith. Yes, I would be reluctant to hire a committed JW, and would preemptively lecture them on appropriate behavior at work.

        1. Mobuy*

          Well, this is discriminatory and illegal. And it further reinforces what Ren said, that “[people] who emphasize respect for a diverse workplace and want to ensure tolerance often let that fly out the window and are flagrantly intolerant when it comes to respecting religion.”

        2. Observer*

          And you would be doing something both illegal and stupid.

          There is really no other way to put it. I’m no fan of JW’s proselytizing, but the assumption that they are going to do this at work is a figment of the imagination, and totally not fact based.

        3. nonymous*

          I’m Episcopalian as well and while I agree with your first paragraph I find your second paragraph ignores the fact that a spectrum of behaviors/beliefs exists, even within a single religion. The analogy would be like me assuming that you have particular views about the 1979 edits to BCP or the rules governing LGBT clergy (aka Anglican realignment), simply because you are Episcopalian, and then treating you as if you have acted on those beliefs in a manner inappropriate to the workplace.

          In general I find that it is important for those in leadership positions to set clear expectations regarding performance standards, and certainly part of that is the affect that staff needs to adopt with coworkers and clients. It stands to reason that staff will not perform as well if they have to fend off someone actively challenging their non-work-related identity. However, it is punitive and condescending to lecture a capable adult before they have demonstrated a need for constructive feedback, so how will that affect productivity? The solution is to have onboarding and refresher material that specifies the organization’s standards of inclusiveness, provide examples of what that looks like (e.g. accommodating scheduling for religious observances in a matter-of-fact manner), and curtail inappropriate behavior if it occurs. Applying company policies differently because of an individual’s religious identity (i.e. presenting them with a different onboarding process) is basically a textbook definition of discrimination, albeit at a low enough level the new staff member is unlikely to take legal action.

        4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          This is the definition of religious bigotry. I think it would be helpful to speak to folks who work with JWs in secular workplaces, because I suspect you’ll find your assumptions are wrong for 99.9% of devout JWs.

          Frankly, you could substitute “JW” with any number of evangelical denominations or other “conservative sects,” and it would underscore why negative stereotypes about other groups should not inform your hiring practices or treatment of those individuals.

      16. Jo*

        For some reason, my area is a big hub for Jehovah’s Witnesses, and I have eight – EIGHT – of them as coworkers at work. It’s kind of amazing.

        I am an open lesbian, and none of them have ever said so much as a peep about any of their beliefs or tried to talk to me about anything. As a matter of fact, they’re among the coworkers I like best. Exceptionally kind, and they treat me wonderfully.

        Now, could we ever be true friends, outside of work? No. I know what they think personally about who I am, and I can’t have a true friendship with that. But in terms of professionalism and understanding that proselytizing is a thousand different kinds of inappropriate at work, they’ve been fabulous. I think it’s kind of a, “if someone asks/shows interest, go for it” type of thing, but nothing in my pretty ample experience at this point has indicated that they’re just going to willy nilly go around trying to convert people.

        That’s just my experience, however. Other’s mileage may vary.

        1. NotReallyKarenWalker*

          From personal experience with JWs, this has absolutely been my experience as well.

          In fact, it’s typically been *me* who’s brought up religion in an intellectually curious way: “Why does the religion eschew birthdays?” etc. The replies have always been in kind – never an attempt to proselytize, but straightforward explanations.

      17. blink14*

        At first read, I did find your letter to be very presumptuous and a bit judgmental. Just because someone has worked for a religious organization (I have actually worked in a regional office for a major religion), does not mean they are going to proselytize in a non-religious work environment. However, now taking into consideration that the candidate is a Jehovah’s Witness, I can understand your concern.

        For what it’s worth, when I worked in property management, our location/company was approached by a local Jehovah’s Witness group who wanted to rent space to promote their literature. Their local organization set ground rules, including that representatives were not allowed to actively recruit anyone, and were only allowed to speak on the literature when approached. This was also part of their contract with our office. When I left that job, they had been continually renting space for about 2 years and the rotating group of volunteers were all very respectful. I’ve had a lot of personal experience as a kid with Jehovah Witnesses coming to my family’s home, but this was really the opposite of that. I’ve seen some other groups around town, and they all seem to be fine.

      18. HarvestKaleSlaw*

        So first off, no worries about your new coworker trying to convert people at work. That’s almost certainly not going to happen.

        You can, however, think about how your company can be more tolerant of the new person on the team. She is not likely to be able to join you for things like the company holiday party, Halloween costume contest, birthday cake in the breakroom, etc. So brainstorm ways to make her feel included – but without cancelling all of the parties and making her the spoilsport! If you usually do birthday parties for everyone in the office, privately but matter-of-factly ask her what she would like when it’s her birthday.

        And don’t make things weird, okay? She’s a Jehovah’s Witness, not the last survivor of Jonestown.

        1. Jo*

          My workplace has a birthday board that we put up in the breakroom so that everyone knows when everyone’s birthday is. I am in charge of it. There’s a note on it that if you’d not like to participate in the birthday board, just let me know and I won’t put you on it. That said, since I knew who all the JWs were in my workplace, I pre-emptively sought them out after it went up and said, “hey, just FYI, don’t stress about the birthday board – I already have you down to not be put on it.” They were very appreciative and it was all very nonchalant and matter of fact.

      19. mcr-red*

        #2 – I think you’re making assumptions without much to go on though. At my desk at work I have a small calendar with pretty photos and then some sort of religious inspirational quote or verse. You’re not going to be able to read it unless you are sitting at my desk. It’s something that makes me feel better when I am stressed. If not for the calendar, no one at work would know anything about my religion because I never talk about it. Also on my desk is Deadpool stuff. In contrast, I think everyone at work knows I love Deadpool and horror movies, because I’ve talked about those things quite a lot. I have Jehovah’s Witness family members (I am not one) and I don’t think they have ever said anything to me ever about their religion and they do mission work and build churches and the like. I know those facts and your other employees may come to know that as well. “What are you doing this weekend Sarah? Oh, I’m helping build a church at a location.”

      20. lazuli*

        I’ve worked with Jehovah’s witnesses (I’m currently UU but consider myself atheist and wasn’t attending any church at that time). They were both lovely, lovely people and religion never came up, even while I was planning a wedding and they were planning a wedding (to each other). I invited them to m wedding, in fact, and sat them at a table with my friends, many of whom are gay, and they all had a lovely time. The only workplace-related thing that ever came up was that they didn’t want their birthdays celebrated. I would hire either of them in a heartbeat.

      21. Dr. Pepper*

        LW2, I think your question is thoughtful and valid. Some people are getting very up in arms over what I consider a very normal thing to wonder about. You state right in your letter that you want to treat her fairly and not single her out and are unsure how to proceed because she is a member of a religious group that is well known for proselytizing and pretty much says so right in the name of their sect. Honestly in your position I would wonder the same thing. As a candidate, you only have so much information to go upon when evaluating her.

        Since the candidate has handled herself professionally and so far has not given you any reason to doubt that she will continue to be professional, I think you’re just fine advancing her candidacy. The truth is that anybody can be an obnoxious proselytizer, and based on my personal experience, that is very much not confined to a particular religion, or to the subject of religion at all. There’s no way to truly know how she will conduct herself at work until you see her at work. But that’s true for literally anybody. It sounds like your company is swift to deal with inappropriate behavior at work, so the machinery is in place should she turn out to be a jerk.

      22. Observer*

        There is nothing intolerant in asking for a reality check.

        There IS something extremely intolerant in the reservations your coworkers have though, because they are not based in reality or the behavior of your candidate. Your candidate did not talk about her religious activism, she talked about the work skills she developed from the work she does. It really is a huge leap to go from there to worrying that she’s going to proselytize. It’s an even greater jump to think that she’s going to be disrespectful of others who don’t live up to her religious standards (eg the gay supervisor or anyone who celebrates Christmas, for that matter.)

        1. Michaela Westen*

          I think we can cut them a little slack. Many people have had bad experiences with proselytizers and JWs coming to their door. If this is the only experience they’ve had with JWs or religious people, their concerns are understandable.

      23. Nerdy Library Clerk*

        It’s only anecdotal evidence, of course, but my department at work has three Jehovah’s Witnesses in it, and none of them have ever tried to proselytize at work. Their religion has come up off-handedly, the way other coworkers’ religions have (and we have quite the assortment). Nor do any of them seem to mind knowing that they work with people who are not religious or people of other religions, or if any of them do, they’ve done a very good job not showing it.

      24. Jehovah's Witness' Witch Cousin*

        Ah, in that case I hope myself and other commenters can be reassuring. Spreading the word is a tenet of the faith, but in my experience it’s in a formal way–organized visitations, distribution of literature, going door-to-door, etc. The friends and family I have who are JWs may mention activities in social conversations and would answer honestly if asked about their faith, but wouldn’t be actively trying to convert anyone at the water cooler.

        My advice would be to be considerate of activities that may be exclusionary–holiday parties and birthday celebrations, though social, tend to play a role in camaraderie and team-building. That’s not to say you can never celebrate anyone’s birthday, just make sure there are opportunities for her to be appreciated and to participate with coworkers that aren’t birthday/holiday related without making it a thing.

      25. Not Today*

        I am wondering what marketable skills your candidate presented that were gained as a JW, that didn’t involve the preaching work. The Watchtower organization is very much patriarchal, and women are not permitted to be in leadership positions. The headquarters organization, Bethel, does have many women workers and marketable skills can be gained there. Only the most devoted “sisters” (and brothers) are invited to work at Bethel. JWs don’t do charity or service projects either, not for non-JWs.

        1. Not Today*

          Oh, FWIW, I’ve worked with JWs and although they may mention Jehovah or the Kingdom Hall in conversation, they absolutely did not proselytize.

        2. A Born, Raised, and Active JW*

          Regarding marketable skills she could have obtained, it would depend on her assignments, but there is a wide range. You don’t have to work at Bethel to assist with local or regional construction projects, for example. My friend and her mom, both of whom had prior architectural training, assisted with a local assembly hall construction project a few years back that involved change orders, CAD work, and other technical tasks. The candidate could have learned anything from audio/visual recording/mixing/editing to pipefitting, heavy equipment operating, translation, graphic design, etc. Even I am surprised sometimes at the range of activities that go on at Bethel.

    3. Wintermute*

      I think there are important differences that aren’t quite captured by “just treat religion like any other protected class” when the interplay of a large, diverse workplace is a factor– it’s a tough area to navigate and respect everyone’s rights equally.

      1. Junior Dev*

        Yeah, especially given that some political groups are now using religion in court yo justify all kinds of discrimation against LGBT people. Doesn’t mean that a given religion guarantees someone will act that way at work but it’s legitimate to gather more information.

        1. Wintermute*

          That’s exactly what I was getting at. It’s not everyone, no, but both here on AAM and the legal advice forum I give advice for have seen too many cases of people trying to use religious accommodation to force a business into discriminatory practices, so you can’t say “it’s just like any other protected class”.

    4. BishopOfMyra*

      Yeah, this is all completely insane. I would rescind with great pleasure and extreme prejudice any job offer or invitation to further conversation that came with a preemptive discussion about how not to be an jerk in the workplace because I’m religious.

      For everyone asserting this level of bigotry is acceptable because the candidate is a JW, it’s not. It’s also not new – JWs have been repeated targets of religious discrimination and on the right side of numerous First Amendment issues in Supreme Court.

      The shaking in boots over the idea that a person might, could possibly! proselytize is just pathetic. News flash: most Christian and Muslim groups encourage spreading the word and are excited about converts. And yet the examples of people bringing this to work are so egregious they make for some of the cringiest AMAs. I’ve been subjected in the workplace to more unsolicited evangelism about crash diets than I’ve ever heard whispers of conversation about coworkers being religious.

      I know it’s hard commentariat, but instead of making knee jerk assumptions about people based on religion, try treating them with the dignity and respect you expect them to deny others.

      1. curious*

        What if the job were in an organization, like, for example, a services org for LGBT youth, who might be put off by encountering a client-facing worker proselytizing for a religion in their free time (assuming the religion was viewed by clients as anti-LGBTQ)?

        I can also see a company being wary of protecting their brand if someone were a member of a group that like, handed out Chick Tracts or similar in public locations. What if the candidate were a member of the Westboro Baptist Church?

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I think it’s fair to assume that someone working for the Westboro Baptist Church would not be working at a services org for LGBT youth.

          It’s not helpful to engage in what-about-ism in this context because it doesn’t help OP navigate the situation that’s facing them. It just gets everyone riled into a derailing minefield about different religious groups, whether those groups are valid, whether those groups are bigoted or terroristic in their behavior toward other minority groups, and whether any of that is valid. None of that is a helpful, here.

        2. BishopOfMyra*

          It’s an even grayer area when you’re talking about what a potential employee might or might not do during their free time, and then throwing in how that free time behavior might be viewed by a client. Neither of the employees were the employer can control how a client might view any activity. The question is what is reasonable.

          Most employee handbooks have some language to the effect that Employees are expected to conduct themselves appropriately outside of work or not engage in conduct that jeopardizes the business or its mission, which would more than cover a therapist who counsels gay teens on Tuesday and marches against gay rights on Saturday.

          Religious organizations often ask employees to sign shared statements of believe as a contingency for hire. The reverse could also be appropriate, for secular groups to have a statement of appropriate conduct or inclusivity that all employees sign. (In fact, I’m pretty sure this was a feature of my last human services job).

          It’s reasonable and fair to say to all employees, “this is what we expect of you.“ It’s wrong to single out people for separate or special treatment based on religious affiliation and assume they will be unable to fulfill their duties as an employee.

          Just because a person participates in a religion doesn’t mean they are 100% on board with 100% of its teachings. They may have complicated feelings about religion they were raised in or are on a journey toward or away from a perceived orthodoxy. That’s not anyone’s business but the individual believer’s.

          1. Not Today*

            I am so not on board with 100% of the teachings of my last denomination, and have moved away from it. Affiliation does not mean strict adherence. Many religious groups have intense internal conflicts over various tenets.

      2. Pippa*

        Well now, ‘shaking in boots’ seems a somewhat over-dramatic description of what happened here.

        A Religion: ‘We proselytize! It’s part of our core beliefs! We require it of our members! It’s even in our name!”
        Person: “Hm, I wonder if a member of this religion would proselytize at work? Not sure, and don’t want to presume, so maybe I should ask others what they think.”
        Bishop of Myra: “That’s completely insane and bigotry and you’re making knee jerk assumptions.”

        Bigotry and stereotyping *are* bad but asking for help thinking through a question like the OP’s is neither of those things.

        1. Zoe Karvounopsina*

          I missed that ‘BishopofMyra’ was a username, and was thinking “…is this something to do with Arianism?”

              1. BishopOfMyra*

                It made more sense in an earlier comment on an earlier post and now it’s prepopulated on the rare occasions when I comment, so I figure I’ll run with it :-)

        2. BishopOfMyra*

          OP was on the better side of this than their colleagues, but the question wasn’t “what do others think about this?” it was “do I preemptively address expected workplace conduct with this person based on their religion?” which is inappropriate.

          The comments in this thread and down from here are nuts and bigoted. Exempli gratis:

          “The applicant talked about her religious organisation in her interview. As far as I am concerned, this is an orange flag (not red per se, but I would definitely be on guard).”

          ” Yes, I would be reluctant to hire a committed JW, ”

          “However, now taking into consideration that the candidate is a Jehovah’s Witness, I can understand your concern.”

          A lot of these comments have a real boot-shaky quality to their fears about how a JW could be at work.

          1. Sandman*

            I agree. These comments, and the lack of self-awareness that seems to accompany some of them, are really problematic.

          2. Fact & Fiction*

            I wouldn’t say “a lot” though…I’d say “some.” I’ve seen a greater number of other people providing counterpoints to those points and giving very good reasons why those actions WOULD be discriminatory.

            1. BishopOfMyra*

              Can we agree to “too many comments encouraging bigotry?” because whether characterized as “a lot” or “a handful” my mind is just blown that a number of people who are otherwise probably very normal live-and-let-live individuals need to be told they’re advancing a discriminatory line of thought.

          3. Perse's Mom*

            That’s 3 people expressing *caution* most likely based on their own personal experiences, who were each countered by literally dozens of other people pointing out their own experience (sometimes with multiple, different JWs) were the exact opposite.

            1. BishopOfMyra*

              I’m not going to go through all the comments and find more examples in the hopes of finding the magical number of pro-discriminatory statements that meets your standard of problematic.

              Urging “caution” about a group of people based on prior experience with other people of that group is discriminatory and wrong. It’s scandalous that any amount of people think that kind of “caution” acceptable.

              1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*


                I find it rather disheartening. There are certainly many problems with people pushing their religious beliefs on others in America, and plenty of people with downright alarming religious views, but it is outright discrimination to go from that to “this specific person will behave inappropriately because they are religious”.

            2. Observer*

              Actually, it’s quite clear that these folks do NOT have experience with JW, and certainly not at work. That’s the thing that’s the most disturbing about it. It’s purely a matter of stereotypes that have no basis in reality.

          4. Michaela Westen*

            Let’s be more understanding of people who have had bad experiences with proselytizers and/or JWs.
            Dealing with a very pushy religious person is *very* unpleasant and can be traumatic. If such experiences are the commenters’ only ones with religious people or JWs, their concern is understandable.

            1. BishopOfMyra*

              I am personally very sympathetic. I know those conversations can be deeply unpleasant and I’m keenly aware that in different parts of the US being pushy about religion is… more socially acceptable than others, which is unfortunate and wrong.

              However. It’s still wrong to say, “I had a bad experience with X type of person, so when I meet another X in the future, I’m going to expect them to treat me badly,” or “so I’m going to give them less benefit of the doubt than Y-kind of person.” Because that next religious person has no idea what unpleasant thing happened before, may not approve of it, and can’t hop in a time machine to compensate for the bad behavior of their coreligionist.

              It’s an understandable impulse, but it’s unfair and wrong.

              1. Pescadero*

                It may be unfair and wrong – but it is human.

                Everyone does it to some extent, and humans have always done it.

                Humans must make judgements based on incomplete information continuously, therefore all humans engage in stereotypes and overly statistically weight personal experiences.

                1. Zillah*

                  But it’s also really important to check those assumptions. That we all do it doesn’t make it okay.

              2. Michaela Westen*

                I’m not saying we should assume one person will be bad because another was. Rationally, we know the next person might not be the same. However, there are two things:
                1. It’s reasonable to be *aware* the next religious person *might* also be bad, and be prepared for it just in case.
                2. A bad experience causes emotional reactions that aren’t always rational. So we can be supportive in managing these emotions even though they’re not a rational response to the situation.

          5. Not Today*

            Actually, JWs are generally very good employees, they are taught to obey authority and consider it a good witness to be punctual, work hard, be honest, and not cause trouble.

      3. Phoenix Programmer*

        I think you are hand waving a lot of prostelyzing that goes on in the office. A lot of it isn’t cringe worthy AAM reads.

        God bless you.
        I’m praying for you.
        It’s by the grace of God these TPS reports are done.
        Thank God you work here!
        Your God given talent is miraculous.
        Which Church do you attend?
        What do you mean you celebrate secular Christmas!? That’s impossible!
        Atheist? Do you have morals? How?
        And literal prayers in meetings.

        Are all things I have dealt with in “secular offices”

        *Note I am not interested in debating Christmas. If you consider it religious that’s fine. I don’t and I like celebrating it that way and the internet is not changing my mind.

        1. BishopOfMyra*

          You celebrate your Christmas anyway you like and I hope you enjoy the one coming up.

          Much of what you’ve described _is_ by and large cringeworthy and I’m aware that in different parts of the US it’s more or less common. Working outside of Washington D.C., I can’t imagine anyone ever asking, “Which church do you attend?” because it’s weird and invasive.

          Some of what you’ve described though is discomfort with people acting like themselves. When a colleague from an Arabic speaking country says, “Inshallah, we’ll get this TPS report done by 3,” it would never cross my mind that they were trying to convert me. The majority of people who say, “Thank God we closed that business deal!” aren’t really big-upping the man upstairs.

          There has to be some middle ground where people who say “Oh my God!” without any religious context and people who say “Phew! God is good, just that package arrived just in time!” can coexist with each other. (Which admittedly would be easier if people stopped asking you about your moral development, which, again, is weird and wrong.)

        2. Observer*

          None of this is at all relevant to the issue at hand which is the assumption by the OP’s coworkers that the candidate is likely to proselytize and be disrespectful of others.

          The fact some people proselytize says nothing about what this candidate is likely to do and claiming otherwise is simple bigotry.

    5. Zillah*

      This is a general reply to a lot of threads in this chain as much as a reply to the original comment, but:

      I think it’s important not to dismiss religion as a choice, because that really dismisses the core of how deeply ingrained that belief structure can be for many people. (I don’t mean ingrained in a negative way, just in a way way.) Religion can change, but that doesn’t make it a choice.

      That said, I think it’s also important to not equate religion with race. That’s not because religious bias isn’t a problem – it’s because it’s just not the same thing, and we need to be able to talk about bad things without treating them as interchangeable. Homophobia and racism are both terrible without being the same thing. By the same token, targeting specific religions has led (and continues to lead) to some of humanity’s most inhumane moments – we can talk about that without equating it to racism.

      The OP also was not expressing any desire to act out some of humanity’s most inhumane moments, so while I sympathize with the baggage a lot of people are bringing to the table, I think it’s important that we keep the question in perspective, because it’s really not fair to project all of that baggage onto them.

      1. SignalLost*

        I am pretty sure that the fact I and many others have actively been religious and then opted out of religion makes religion a choice. I am also pretty sure that most members of minorities have trouble opting out of the physical features that mark them as minorities, which makes race not a choice. Trying to act as though religion isn’t a choice is silly. Points for not equating it with race, though.

        1. Zillah*

          This reply is extremely frustrating, because I don’t think you really read my comment.

          I do not want patronizing “points” for not equating religion with race, nor do I want a lecture about how race is different than religion. I was very, very explicit about religion not being the same thing as race and said that it was important not to equate them. You don’t need to convince me. It is different. I said that.

          That you and many others have gone from being actively religious to opting out of religion is certainly proof that one’s religion can change – it is not proof that religion is a choice. Maybe some people can just choose to stop believing what they believe; I don’t know. But people are literally assaulted, imprisoned, enslaved, and murdered because of their religious beliefs; if religion was just a simple choice, most of them would probably choose otherwise.

          How and where one practices is a choice. How one treats others is a choice. How one chooses to combat one’s internal prejudices is a choice. One’s internal moral code and religious beliefs absolutely change over time, but they are not a simple choice.

          1. BishopOfMyra*

            The Internet: “How can something that isn’t important to me _possibly_ be important to anyone else?”

          2. SignalLost*

            I think you miss the point that in every religion I am aware of (hi, I’ve studied theology) the act of choosing to believe is a tenet of the faith. It literally does not matter what faith one talks about; if you talk about a structured faith, the choice to believe is a component of the concept of faith. I’m sure there are less-represented religions where that isn’t true, and there are certainly religions that overlap with cosmology where not believing in the faith is equivalent to not believing in gravity. In the main, a component of religion, for adults, is the choice to believe. Stating that people don’t choose not to believe when things are bad for that faith is the very definition of fair-weather fandom, and most people of faith would be offended by it.

            Choices can be coerced. Choices can be made that are extraordinarily risky. Choices can be made that are actively life-threatening. We can debate whether children can make choices that are informed. We can talk about whether an immersive culture of practice gives an adult the tools to make a different choice. We can discuss that a fair amount of falling-away occurs when a believer’s environment changes. There’s a lot of qualifiers on what constitutes a choice and whether one is making an informed one. But they are still, at the end of the day, choices. Pretending that believing in a faith is not an act of choice is very strange, precisely because, again, belief as a freely-given gift to an unprovable deity or pantheon of deities is a tenet of many religions.

            You may, of course, choose to ignore that. But it really isn’t as simple as saying that people who believe in a religion haven’t chosen to believe, they just do.

            1. Zillah*

              Stating that people don’t choose not to believe when things are bad for that faith is the very definition of fair-weather fandom, and most people of faith would be offended by it.

              You can say this as strenuously as you would like to; that does not make it anything resembling universal.

              My experience is that many people of faith are not insulted by the idea that their religious beliefs are more significant and more deeply ingrained than deciding whether to have eggs or cereal in the morning, and that they could not turn those beliefs off at the drop of a hat. My experience is also that many people who are not religious feel similarly about their beliefs.

              Either we are defining “choice” very differently, or studying theology is not a trump card you should be pulling out of your pocket to prove someone on the internet wrong. (Hi, I’m close with my very large interfaith family who likes to talk about their faith a lot and work in a field where I listen to a lot of very different people explicitly talk about their religious experiences a lot! It’s not as academic or pithy as yours, but it still counts.)

              I feel like you’ve got more interest in lecturing me than engaging in what I’m saying, so I’m going to leave this here.

        2. Michaela Westen*

          I think when people are saying religion isn’t necessarily a choice, they’re referring to being born into a family that practices a religion and being raised to believe and practice that religion.
          So this makes it a little more complex than something a person chooses to do when they’re old enough to make their own choices.
          However, a person who has been raised in a religion can choose whether or not to continue practicing it, or change the way they practice it, and that is a choice.

          1. Zillah*

            I’m personally not just referring to children when I say that religion being a choice isn’t that simple.

            I’m curious: are you really arguing that a Muslim who prays five times a day or a Catholic who takes communion could simply choose to stop believing that those acts are meaningless and that they no longer hold those religious beliefs?

            If you truly believe that, please understand that there are many, many religious people who do not share that experience.

            1. Not Today*

              I don’t understand your point at all. Many former religious folks have indeed chosen to just stop believing, if not totally, then in certain practices and beliefs. Many folks in shunning religions like the JWs, stay in after they stop believing because the social losses are too difficult to bear. But that is a different discussion.

              1. Zillah*

                My experience – as someone who is not at all religious and never has been – is that it’s often not as simple as choosing not to believe.

                Or, for that matter, choosing to believe. My overarching beliefs have changed over the course of my life – there was a short period where I actively believed in some sort of higher power, a longer period where I actively didn’t, and more time being apathetic about it than both of those combined. That’s a clear change, but I absolutely could not just choose to wake up tomorrow believing in God, let alone in any specific doctrine.

                1. BishopOfMyra*

                  The example I would give is ethical vegetarians. At some point, people come to understand eating meat is wrong, and choose not to do it. A portion of those people will later have a change of views and choose to eat meat.

                  It’s not the same choice as, “what color sweater will I wear today?” That doesn’t mean on any given Tuesday you can roll up to a committed vegetarian and say, “but you could just CHOOSE to eat a steak today.” Whether a persons interior moral life is influenced by religion or a non religious ethical framework, it’s not a light switch. “Yesterday, I thought X was existentially imperative – but today, I think I just won’t believe that anymore.”

                  For people who participate in religion without thinking its existentially imperative, maybe because of habit, social, or cultural influences, it is probably easier to turn the switch off.

                2. Zillah*

                  @BishopOfMyra – That’s a really good analogy, and captures what I’m trying to get at.

                  And there’s absolutely a spectrum. My roommate and I actually are both vegetarians. He’ll eat meat when it’s eat meat or skip meals, where I would skip the meal and actively avoid situations where I might be put in that situation. Am I choosing not to eat meat? I mean, sure, in a way, but it’s not a choice the way other things are choices – there’s something inside me that would just feel off-kilter and wrong if I did. If people want to call that a choice, cool, I guess, but I don’t think that “choice” captures the gut reaction that goes into it.

              2. nonegiven*

                I left organized religion because no matter how much religious education, how many services I attended, how much time I spent with members of that religion, I never really believed it. If I could have chosen to believe then why do I still think it was all bs?

            2. SignalLost*

              As an ex-Catholic, that is exactly what I am saying. It literally does not matter how many times I took communion or went to church or gave confession or said a rosary or did Lent and Advent or that I went to Catholic school for five years. My beliefs changed and I left the church. I no longer chose to believe in a religion that clearly functioned as a gatekeeping device, for its own profit, between me and the mysteries of the unknowable. I could not give my belief to that system. And I have not since given belief to anything that would be recognized as a religion. I choose not to, just like I chose to be baptized (at 10) and to receive first communion and to be confirmed.

              1. Zillah*

                Again, I am in no way disputing that beliefs can change – I’m just disagreeing with the presentation of it as a simple choice. I understand that your experience, and I’m happy for you that you have studied theology. That does not make what you are describing universal. As I said above, my (lack of) religious beliefs are absolutely not a choice, and there are plenty of religious people who are in that position as well. I’m not sure how you square your insistence that religion is just a simple matter of choice with the atrocities that have been committed against people for their faith.

                1. Zillah*

                  I’m also assuming that you could easily choose to go back to the church without facing any internal conflict, because if changes to belief structure are really as simple as making a choice, there shouldn’t be anything deeply ingrained holding you back.

          2. Michaela Westen*

            No, it’s not a simple choice. The times I’ve seen or heard about it, it was described as a process in which the person realized they didn’t agree with the belief system, then a process of understanding what they do believe and how they want to practice that. Don’t you think it’s still a choice to follow through on that process? There are people who have doubts about their belief system and never follow through on them. They are choosing not to make a change.

            1. Zillah*

              Sure – I think that everyone’s beliefs and practices change over time, and there are certainly some choices (along with other things, including environmental exposure) involved in that. But what you talk about in the second line is exactly what I’m getting at – the person realized there was something they didn’t agree with. They didn’t just wake up and decide they didn’t believe that anymore.

    6. Kristine*

      Idk. My (fairly liberal) workplace had a discussion with me about potentially spreading propaganda because I’d openly done volunteer work with a socialist organization. I understood why they had that conversation with me before I started. And no, I do not pass out socialist leaflets at the office.

  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#2, absent other direct evidence, it would be wildly inappropriate (and offensive to the candidate) to have any kind of talk with a new hire about why she cannot proselytize at work. In the same way you would not ask someone who volunteered at an animal shelter not to discuss veganism with their future coworkers, you shouldn’t assume that this candidate would transgress professional boundaries and begin to evangelize at work.

    It’s such a speculative concern that it makes me side-eye your colleagues, hard. They’re relying on pretty bigoted stereotypes about “religious people” in a way that does not reflect well on them.

    1. LW2*

      Honestly, I gave some side eye of my own when I was told that there were concerns. That’s part of why I wanted to reach out, because I knew that we might have to work through our manager’s concerns, and having more information to be able to articulate things with them was important to me.

      1. Sara without an H*

        My advice to LW2: Go ahead with the hire, but check in with the employee periodically. If I were her manager, I’d want to be sure she was settling in well to the culture AND make sure she wasn’t being treated differently because of her religion.

        I’ve known a number of JWs — they’ve all been pleasant, low-key people who did excellent work. It’s a religious group that has historically been subject to varying degrees of harassment and outright persecution. If your organization truly values diversity, it ought to be able to work with your new hire.

        Just be on the lookout for any employees who are fanatical about organizing birthday celebrations.

        1. Michaela Westen*

          Also check with the new hire’s colleagues, just in case there are problems (religious or otherwise).

      2. Sara without an H*

        Hi, LW#2: Personally, I would go ahead with this hire — from your description, she sounds well qualified. I would also make a point of checking in with her periodically during the first few months — you want to make sure she isn’t being treated differently by your colleagues because of her religion. (Of course, if she starts proselytizing, that would also require a conversation, but I think that’s unlikely.)

        Personally, I’ve known and worked with JWs and found them pleasant, rather low-key people who did good work and didn’t discuss their religion unless asked. Just be prepared to intervene if you have someone on staff who is aggressive about celebrating everybody’s birthday.

        And while I wouldn’t go quite as far as Le’Veon Bell is seizing the means of production (below), if you have HR at your company, it might be a good idea to give them a heads up about your colleagues’ remarks.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I agree with this comment.

      Though I also admit that as an LGBT person, I am automatically a bit anxious when I interact with self-professed religious people. I just keep those concerns to myself.

      1. OhNoNotAgain*

        With good reason. Religious people have protection in the workplace–we LGBTQ mostly do not. Religious people scare me because they are the ones with the power to discriminate against us (see all the discriminatory legislation proposed and some of it passed and look at who’s doing it), plus they get the benefit of the doubt–any workplace conflict is weighted to religious people. Religious bigots have way more power than I do as a queer person. We LGBTQ are expected to defer to those with religious belief, even prejudicial religious belief, because religion is regarded as exceptional. We are right to be cautious and on-guard because our safety and well-being depends on it.

        1. Alton*

          There’s also a trend of invoking anti-discrimination laws in order to *allow* discrimination against LGBT people, by posing it as a matter of not forcing religious people to act against their beliefs. So yeah, I’m guarded, too.

        2. Michaela Westen*

          I’m not LGBTQ, but as a girl growing up in a fundamentalist area, I felt like this too. Decades later I’m still very wary around religious people.

    3. Le’Veon Bell is seizing the means of production*

      Honestly, I think this warrants a conversation with OP’s co-workers. If they actually have reservations about hiring this person purely because of their religion, it’s likely to impact how they work with the new hire as well. Are they going to not assign the new hire to prestigious Project A because the lead on that project is gay? Are they going to be reluctant to put the new hire on an experimental team because the team is small and more autonomous and they’re worried that the new hire will use the opportunity for stealth prostelyzation?

      While bias in hiring is bad (and, certainly, taking the candidate’s religion into consideration in the hiring decision is patently illegal), these are biases that your co-workers show strongly enough that they *will* impact how they treat this person on the job. The conversation OP needs to have isn’t with the candidate (until and unless they actually do something unacceptable), it’s with their co-workers. They need to be on absolute high alert that their biases are likely to impact how they treat this person in the work.

    4. Dr. Pepper*

      Agreed. It sounds like the company has a good track record of shutting down inappropriate behavior, so it would be no different should the candidate turn out to be intolerant and/or a proselytizer. So far she has demonstrated purely professional behavior and you have little reason to think it will not remain so.

      Like Le’Veon Bell, I think the actual problem is your current coworkers and their strong reaction to the candidate’s religion. You have the opposite problem on your hands; it is THEY who may be intolerant to HER.

    5. Student*

      Counterpoint: my bachelor’s degree is from a university run by a vocally homophobic church, and I would actually prefer to have an interviewer or boss say, “Hey, are you able to work with people who are LGBTQ? Because that’s a requirement.” It gives me the opportunity to say that I’m completely opposed to the church’s attitudes and beliefs on the topic. It is far better, in my opinion, than having coworkers quietly uncomfortable around me.

      Of course, if I did have a problem with LGBTQ people, I probably would rather not be asked.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I don’t think that’s appropriate, either, but it’s also distinct from preemptively lecturing someone specifically on proselytizing and on appropriate workplace conduct. It’s not appropriate (or legal) to use stereotypes of religious groups against them in hiring or training and then to act on those stereotypes as if they’re the truth.

        1. Student*

          I think there’s a difference between stereotypes and plainly-stated religious tenets. So, in my case, I’d be annoyed by a polygamy question, but the religion’s recent LGBTQ-related high-profile lobbying behavior and policy changes seem like fair game.

          Likewise, a member of a religion with an *explicit public commitment* to proselytizing could reasonable be asked about it. “Hey, I understand that JWs have a pretty strong religious commitment to sharing their faith. We avoid religious discussions here. Is that okay with you?” I would not ask that of anyone who wasn’t a member of a faith that knocks on strangers’ doors to solicit religious conversions.

            1. Michaela Westen*

              Are you disagreeing because it is or may be against the law, or because you don’t think it’s reasonable?
              It seems reasonable to me.

              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                Both. I think it’s unreasonable, and it’s also against the law.

                My view may be skewed by being a religious minority (of a non-proselytizing faith), but in my experience, non-members often don’t understand how religious tenets actually operate for adherents. Instead, folks make speculative decisions based on their misinformed or misguided understandings of other faith traditions, and then they penalize members of those faiths on the basis of those assumptions.

                Asking a JW if they can avoid religious discussions at work is pretty offensive and infantilizing. It’s basically telling someone you (general you) don’t believe they can behave inclusively or professionally because of your personal stereotypes or (possibly misguided) understanding of the practices of JWs. I’ve seen people do this with other members of faiths that are in the minority in the U.S., and it’s always read as bigoted and not reasonable to me.

                1. Michaela Westen*

                  I agree with Student below. It’s much better to have a concern out in the open than to be quietly blackballed. I’ve experienced that and in some cases never knew why. :(
                  As long as it’s done respectfully without getting personal, I wouldn’t mind it. Example:
                  “I know people of your religion knock on people’s doors to spread your faith. You’re not planning to do that at work, are you?”
                  Or something like that, just to make her aware of expectations and clear the air.

            2. Student*

              I’m coming at this from the POV of someone who is from one of these wacky proselytizing religions. I’d rather discuss the concern than be quietly blackballed because it’s a risk to bring in a new employee who might be difficult to work with. Yes, you can discipline or fire an employee who behaves badly towards your LGBTQ clients or employees, but the temptation might be to just avoid that problem. You know, decide it’s a “bad cultural fit” and not risk it.

              And this may be informed by the fact that I know a lot of people who really are difficult to work with because of their religious beliefs. A reasonable employer should be able to avoid my uncle, because he will start handing out religious documents and calling cohabiting but unmarried people to repentance. Also, he wonders why you don’t have children, if you don’t, and why you don’t have more children, if you do. He has Opinions about women wearing leggings or tank tops, or working outside the home if they have minor children. That’s not a stereotype, that’s my blood relative. I have a lot of sympathy for the employer trying to avoid that kind of disruption.

              1. Michaela Westen*

                Yes, I’m still a little scarred by all those men with Opinions. They seem to think their beliefs are law and they know everything necessary to rule their world. They don’t…

  3. Diamond*

    #2 – Definitely don’t preemptively bring up proselytizing or being intolerant! It’s never nice to assume stereotypes about people, which is exactly what this is. She was referencing her volunteer work in an appropriate and relevant way, she hasn’t done anything wrong. As a (progressive, inclusive) Christian I’d be pretty upset if I realized someone was trying to subtly tell me they thought I might be a pushy bigot (plus, if she really was a pushy bigot then tactful references aren’t likely to change that, haha).

    1. LW2*

      Thank you, I agree that she was being quite appropriate in her interview. I’ve done some commenting above that may explain more about why concerns were raised in the first place. I suppose I should have provided those clarifications in my letter, but there were reasons I left some stuff out. I wrote in because I knew what I thought was right, but dealing with the conflicting responses from my team made me want to check with a neutral party on how best to proceed.

      1. Wintermute*

        when dealing with issues of potential bias, a gut check is a great thing, hats off to you for checking your instinct but I think you’re in the right here, it’s not something that should enter into the decision and it’s only an issue you can address reactively, not proactively.

      2. Ali G*

        One option, if you don’t already have this policy is to have all employees sign a statement that they have read, understand and agree to abide by the rules/guidelines in the Employee Handbook. This way, everyone is agreeing to treat everyone equally, etc. and if anyone, at any time gets out of line, you have a clear path for remedies. I.e. “Suzy, I know your religion is very important to you, but I need you to refrain from trying to bring Bob the teachings of The Bible during work. As you recall, the Employee Handbook says X,Y and Z and we all need to abide by it for this to be a safe and harmonious place to work.”

        1. Sara without an H*

          This would also be helpful in protecting the new hire, as well. “Drusilla isn’t proselytizing, so you cannot legitimately keep her off Project High Status just because she belongs to a certain religious group.”

        2. Wintermute*

          I think every business should do this. It just prevents so many issues, not just with religious proselytizing, but MLM “entrepreneurs” violating your solicitations policy, people violating your internet acceptable use policy, people claiming ignorance of your attendance policy. Best to remove ignorance as a potential excuse right off.

      3. Sandman*

        Yeah, at this point I’m more concerned about how your team is going to treat your new hire than about the new hire themself. I’m glad you’re doing some due-diligence on this.

  4. Polyhymnia O'Keefe*

    #5: It’s possible that the hours aren’t particularly long, but they’re very “beyond traditional.” My job has a lot of evening and weekend events, so while we have a base 40-hour week (some weeks more, some weeks less), most of our positions are not strictly inside of “normal” work hours. We’ve definitely had people who didn’t work out because they were better-suited for a traditional schedule. (I had one short-lived, very early-rising assistant who thought he wanted a change in career (he was in his mid-50s) that meant working somewhere between 11-7 and 1-9 3 days/week. After about 4 weeks, he realized he didn’t really want that schedule change, and as that’s an integral part of the job, he didn’t last.)

    1. Willis*

      Yeah, my job involves occasional evening or weekend hours but is typically a 40-hour a week gig. If the job sounds good otherwise, I’d just ask in the interview and see what kind of response you get.

      1. Anita*

        I have recurring calls (as early as 6am and as late as 10pm) since I work with people in Australia, India, and the Philippines (to name a few). Language about outside hours was there to screen people who were looking for a 9-5 with no odd hours. Some recruiters like to throw up screens early in the process when posting externally to winnow the candidate pool because the volume of applicants is so absurd.

    2. Wintermute*

      I second this. In my field it’s known you will work most holidays, and you will probably work weekends at least occasionally, you may be asked to move to second or third shift over the course of your career, because we’re a 24/7/365 support environment.

    3. WS*

      Yes. I work weekends, which suits me perfectly, but is a major problem for, say, people with sports commitments or young children. A previous job started late and finished late because we were dealing with a head office a few hours behind us and they set the meeting times (the part of the company in Germany had much more difficult hours than we did!) I agree that the company is flagging this early so that people who want something close to a 9-5 screen themselves out.

    4. Où est la bibliothèque?*

      It’s also possible that the standard 40 hours is so very much the norm at the company that a position that deviates from that even mildly is going to stand out to them.

      1. CheeryO*

        Yeah, 37.5 hours is standard at my government agency, but there are a few positions that require people to be on-call. The job descriptions for those positions make it sound more serious than it is, since they want to make sure people know that OT is definitely necessary on some level. In reality, those people probably work OT a couple times per month on average and can take comp time for some of it. It’s just something you have to ask about in the interview.

        1. Not a Dr*

          Piling on to this thread! I work between 35-45 hours a week at my job, but seasonally (in the summer) have to work at least one weekend day and at least once a month year round have to work an evening. But if I work a Saturday I get Sunday and Monday as my weekend. And my work is super flexible. As long as I work a reasonable number of hours I can work them where and when it suits me. (Areound obbligations like events and meetings)

      2. Antilles*

        Good point – companies view of what counts as “non-traditional hours” is really affected by the norm at the individual company. I’ve seen it used everywhere on the spectrum from “occasional weekend travel to conferences” all the way to “we’re actually hiring for a position that interfaces with China, how do you feel about working 8 pm to 4 am?”.

        1. LW #5*

          LOL. I love these examples and I have definitely seen this kind of range, too! It’s a very good point. I think I will apply, and if I get an interview, follow Alison’s advice to just ask directly.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      It seems like the sort of thing that you might write to indicate “When we say 40 hour work week, we mean 70” and “We want to avoid another Cersei, who insisted on walking out the door with her phone off at 4:50 pm every day and ensured her weekend was never once interrupted by work.”

      1. Just Employed Here*

        Cersei sounds pretty sensible to me.

        Although I am just about to turn on my computer at 8 pm to get some work done…but no one but me is expecting this of myself. It’s just a busy time at the moment.

        I saw a job as today stating the working hours as “Not 24-7-365 but close to it”. I didn’t apply…

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          If it’s a job where people occasionally have to put in weekends or evenings to meet a deadline–not every day, not every week, but a few hours once a month or so–then the other employees will start to resent Cersei.

          Comes up a lot with “People with families get the holidays off, people without families don’t.”

    6. nonymous*

      I used to work graveyard (and was perfectly fine with it!), but the amount of pushback single me got from my family was just ridiculous.

      As context, working this odd shift left me with a three-day weekend and daytime hours to run errands and do stuff. In exchange I had to work holidays if it was my normally scheduled day (with holiday premium ) so would have to leave any family gathering at about 8PM. In hindsight this was more about my ridiculous family dynamics than anything else (none of the nurses in the family tree got this kind of negative pressure), but I’d say it happened to about half the staff during the five years I worked there.

    7. LW #5*

      Thanks for all the responses! This is a typical white-collar office job (manager level), so I would expect a traditional 9-5 schedule. My experience is that most salaried jobs will require the occasional late night or weekend day, which is fine…as long as it’s not a regular thing, and I can plan ahead for childcare coverage when it does come up.

      My concern was that they want someone to take a job that’s 9-5 on paper, but the expectation would be that you’ll actually work 60-80 hours a week.

      1. zora*

        I work in a white collar office job as well, and as someone mentioned above, some of our higher level managers have to do calls with India or Europe periodically, which sometimes means an 8pm call or a 6am call. Those are maybe every few months, not a regular thing, but it’s something we try to be clear with candidates about.

        Also, most people have to staff a client event 2-3 times a year which means working over a weekend. You get paid well for it, and flexible comp time before and after, but it is a requirement.

        If you want to be absolutely only 9-5 Mon-Fri, 50 weeks per year, than this isn’t the job for you. But, it’s not excessive and we have awesome work-life balance here. So, I would agree to keep my eyes open, but not assume it signals insane hours.

      2. Bulbasaur*

        It very well could be, and I’d keep an eye out for that and possibly ask some targeted questions if you get an interview (it should become more obvious). But there are other possibilities.

        I worked for a company that said something very similar in their description (‘flexible commitments outside working hours’ or something similar). In that case they had a lot of customers all around the world, and it wasn’t uncommon to require online sessions with them which were typically scheduled during working hours in the customer’s time zone. So depending on where the customer was located, you might have to stay late, get up in the middle of the night or really early etc. for anything from half an hour to several hours. This might be several times a week in a busy period, or you might go a month or two without needing to do it at all. But the overall hours for the position weren’t higher than normal, and if you’d been up since 4am and wanted to knock off at noon nobody would be concerned.

  5. Fleur*

    For OP#3 – Another possibility is that she’s being blocked from advancement solely due to lacking a master’s and her work if supportive of her just getting the paperwork done somehow. I know a lot of people who don’t put as much stock into reputation and opt for convenience and speed in getting a degree for that reason.

    So I wouldn’t even send a warning or anything that sounds like I’m giving advice about their choices. But if your conscience really eats at you, you could follow up on the conversation by asking more about what her thoughts were when she decided on the university, like you’re the one asking for advice on getting a master’s in the future. Maybe bring up a few more reputable online master’s programs while you’re there and asking if she has an opinion on them.

    1. Dan*

      I posted separately below (posts crossed paths) about something similar in your first paragraph, but the second is really good advice. Simply stating something like, “You know, I’m considering going back to school. How did you pick UoP? Did you consider other programs?” would be a good conversation opener.

      1. Psyche*

        I think it could be good to mention other online programs as well. “I was looking into doing the online program at X University. It seems to have a great reputation.” Or “My friend got their MBA through the online program at Y University. It is amazing how many traditional colleges are expanding into online degrees.” This doesn’t offer advice but may prompt her to look into the other options.

    2. Honeebee*

      UoP takes a lot of unnecessary criticism. Their class scheduling and accommodations for those that have a full-time job, children, etc., is the only reason I was able to obtain my degree. Back then there were not the choices and opportunities that are now present with many “traditional” universities. I tried going to the state school, but that was geared for people who don’t work 8a-5p jobs. I had my children at a very young age and needed to help support my family. The education I received at UoP was fantastic and did help prepare me for my career choice. I later went on to earn 2 Masters degrees from a traditional university (by then there were many big-name universities offering degree programs to accommodate working professionals). The education I received there was no less rigorous than that of UoP, and both institutions had highly qualified and very respected instructors. Wherever one chooses to receive their education, you can only get back how much you are willing to put in. Not once has my degree from UoP been a hindrance or a cause for concern regarding my experience or knowledge of said degree with any of my employers. In the time since obtaining my degrees, I have only had one job that I interviewed for not work out. Yes, it’s a culmination of your work experience and the quality of your work etc., but it certainly helps in providing the necessary requirements to get said job.

      1. triplehiccup*

        I believe Alison has covered this before – UP got tarred with the same brush as other, truly predatory for-profit schools. Now that there are a great deal of state universities with online programs and night classes (which I’m guessing are probably cheaper, at least in some places), it doesn’t seeem worth the risk. For instance, I got my MS Stats from Texas A&M, at the time ranked 13th in the country, for approx. $20k in total.

        1. Math*

          I’ve considered this program! May I ask if you used it as a career change, or just as a step in the field you were in? Has it been a boost to your career? It would be a change for me

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          No, UP has been truly predatory. It’s been subject to multiple federal and state investigations for its predatory business practice and for defrauding students and taxpayers.

      2. NJ Anon*

        Thank you. I obtained my masters from UoP. It was hard work and I never regretted it nor has it held me back in any way.

        1. HR in the city*

          Thank goodness that people are defending UoP. I finished my bachelors and my masters there and never had any problems. & I worked my butt off for three years where I really had very little time to do other things (I had enough college already that my bachelors only took a year and my masters two) so I do think that UoP is different from other for profit colleges. It did cost me a lot more but my local university didn’t have any online classes back in 2008 that I could take so i really had to look at other options. No my local University has a lot more online classes so now ten years later I would probably make a different decision but sometimes you make the best decision you can at the time.

      3. Health Insurance Nerd*

        Thank you so much for this comment. As a fellow Phoenix who has read a lot of harsh and judgemental comments on this site about folks who got a degree from UoP, and how that degree is essentially worthless, it’s nice to see someone who has a point of view and experience similar to my own!

    3. Blue*

      Ideally, I think OP would’ve asked, “Why the UoP?” and some open-ended follow-up questions when it first came up. She can do it now over email, but it’s definitely clunkier.

      Either way, I agree that opening with, “Maybe you don’t realize it, but that’s not a great idea,” is the wrong approach. It’s insulting because it assumes she’s done no research. And perhaps she hasn’t and would appreciate the heads up, but it’s also possible that she’s very aware of the potential pitfalls and has decided it’s her best option, anyway. Better to ask some probing questions, get a feel for where she’s coming from and how much thought she’s put into it before assuming she doesn’t know her business.

      The other way to approach this is to ask, “Are you worried at all about the reputation for-profit institutions have with some employers?” That way, she says no and explains why, or she asks, “What do you mean?” and OP can provide the context Alison suggests.

      1. Washi*

        I agree with this. I think the spiel about how UoP isn’t always an asset on your resume would really be most credible coming from a mentor figure, not a random acquaintance. I know I would probably bristle at a new grad giving me career advice, even if they were right. I think “Oh, how did you choose UoP?” is a much better conversation starter because there truly are some situations where it might make sense as a choice, and the OP may not have all the context for the decision.

        1. Blue*

          Yes, exactly. Personally, I found asking questions like “Why X?” or “How did you decide on Y?” useful, because you might hear all about their reasoning and thought process and learn how it does make sense, in context. Meanwhile, in some other situations you can almost see the person realize, “Crap, I don’t have answers for any of these questions. Maybe I haven’t thought this through,” without you ever directly criticizing their plan.

          1. OP3*

            OP 3 here. Couldn’t get on during lunch earlier. I appreciate all the replies!

            I do like the idea of asking questions more than sending her articles or warning her. I think people tend to listen to you more that way…wish I had thought of that in the moment.

            1. Blue*

              If you have other follow-up things to email this person about, I think you could still slip in a, “I’ve been thinking more about long term planning, and I’ve been really curious to know why you decided the University of Phoenix program was the right option for you.” I probably wouldn’t email just for that, though. Good luck!

      2. ISuckAtUserNames*

        I was thinking something similar. LW could use her inexperience to her advantage here and pose it more as a question; “I’ve heard that degrees from for-profit schools like UoP have caused perception problems for people in the past, is that not still the case?” Or, have you not found it so in your industry? Or whatever would be appropriate for the conversation.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      This is a good point. My mom wound up in a part-time teaching program where they wanted to be able to market “All our instructors have PhDs!” and so they were requiring the staff to somehow get a degree even though they had been teaching for years. She looked into an online degree before deciding that retiring was probably the economically sensible plan.

    5. HS Teacher*

      I never understand all the hate for U of P. There are fields in which you need an additional degree or certificate, and the organization doesn’t care where it comes from, just that you have it.

      I have two degrees from a decent state university and am using U of P to get my administrator certificate so I can move into a principal or assistant principal role. U of P has great flexibility for working adults, and choosing them was a no-brainer for me. I have several colleagues who’ve done certificate programs there, and they are some of the sharpest educators I know.

      OP should keep her mouth shut. I certainly wouldn’t appreciate someone criticizing my educational choice(s).

      1. OP3*

        I really didn’t mean to criticize her. I just have heard so much about U of P and whether completely true or not, the school does have that reputation. I’m glad it worked out for your colleagues and I hope it does for you too!

  6. Willis*

    #1 – I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re company has been expecting or waiting for you to bring up the timeline. It’s totally reasonable to put a limit on how long you want to be there, and like Alison said, better to bring it up sooner than later, for your sake and the company’s.

    1. Jen S. 2.0*

      This. They probably think that since you haven’t said something, you’re fine — lots of people are very happy to keep making more money, and /or find they like the change more than they expected, and so chug along happily for ages. Conveniently, this belief on the part of your higher-ups means they can take their time hiring, so they’re not about to talk themselves out of having you in the temp role. Absolutely start discussing with the powers that be how to start planning for your transition home.

      Also, I think this is the first time I’ve seen missing a ferret referenced on AAM. Well done. Heh.

        1. TootsNYC*

          However, I do notice that there are no pics.

          I do think that we should have an Unofficial Rule that if one mentions pets, one must provide a link to a pic.


    2. HR in the city*

      I agree with all Alison said but I was also thinking that perhaps based on the answer from the organization that perhaps OP should ask for a paid break to go back home for a couple of weeks. I’m not sure exactly how to ask for this but given how supportive they have been if they say the search for the GM is taking longer than we thought and we think it might take x more months then perhaps work out a way to stay working on the east coast for them but say hey I need two weeks paid off to go home can we work that out. It sounds to me that the organization wants to keep the employee and hopefully will be happy to work something out to help the employee stay in the current assignment.

      1. Designing Woman*

        I used to do long-term travel for work (about 5 months at a time) but my company paid for me to travel home every other weekend. I was hourly and the time I spent at home was not paid (although travel time, like flying and layovers, was). But those breaks allowed me to recharge and it definitely made the months of being gone easier. LW could suggest this too.

        1. OP1*

          Def didn’t even occur to me to ask for something like this, I will certainly be bringing it up. Thanks!

    3. LQ*

      Totally agree. Especially since they’ve offered this and other roles, they may think you’re happy earning the extra money and want to let you do that. (I’m starting to expect that the reason my boss isn’t pushing for a promotion for me is because I’m doing OT and in this role I get paid OT and if he promotes me I won’t anymore, I may actually earn less based on the amount of OT I’m doing, which I will no doubt keep doing once I get the actual promotion.)

    4. TootsNYC*

      they may have actually slowed down because they were hoping you’d say yes to the full-time job.

      One other idea to consider: Would a more intermittent setup be possible, to buy them time, make you look extra valuable, and ease some of that pressure? (You’d have to ponder whether they would be likely drag their feet.)

      1. OP1*

        That’s a pretty good idea actually…like, I won’t mention an intermittent set up right off the bat, but when I talk about the timeline if it seems like it’s going to go longer than I want to be here, I could pull that out of my back pocket as a potential compromise

  7. Dan*


    AAM writes: “…she might bristle at you advising her when you’re straight out of school…”

    Seems to me that recent grads would be pretty good sources of info about schools and what not. I can say that the longer that I’ve been in the working world, and the diminishing interest I have in returning to school, I know diddly squat about schools reputations these days. And things do change — accurate perceptions I may have had 20 years ago have a good chance of not being true any more.

    OP would be on better footing if he could back up his perceptions with some kind of support. That is, saying “I know this is a bad idea” probably won’t get him that far, but some sort of “unbiased” (whatever that means) references very well could make his point.

    That said, there’s a difference between getting a degree to move up in one’s current org (e.g., “checking the box” is a thing at large employers who may have degree requirements for promotions) and trying to use a degree to get a fresh start. These are two very different scenarios.

    Side story: I once was doing a distance ed masters degree from a brick and mortar school that was employer-paid. However, the degree was going to be absolutely useless for advancement at the company and I knew it. While I was in the first couple of semesters of the program, “main campus” had a career fair. I figured it would be a smart idea to fly out, shake some hands, and see what kind of interest I could line up. Here’s the rub: I have a BS in computer science, and that’s all that anybody was interested in.

    I got back home and promptly dropped all my classes. If nobody at the main campus career fair was interested in that degree, then I figured nobody would be, and why waste the time. Had the degree been useful for me at my current company? I would have stuck with it.

    1. Wintermute*

      You raise a good point, but I would give a caveat– depends on the person. Some people are aware of domain competence issues– someone recently in school will probably have more domain competence around educational issues than someone who hasn’t seen a classroom in years. Other people are very hung up on rank and title and think superiors will always know more than their subordinates.

      So if you think that they’re the former type it’s okay to be more of an expert, if they’re more of the latter type it’s best to hedge the conversation more.

    2. Où est la bibliothèque?*

      I think this is very much tiptoe territory. “University of Phoenix? Is that the school I’ve seen in the news?”

      Then you at least find out if she has some awareness of its reputation or not. And if not, you can decide if you want to push a little further. “I’m not very familiar, but I’ve seen some negative headlines.”

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I see your point that recent grads would know about school reputations better than those who have been away for awhile.

      However! Schools don’t matter as much once you’ve got experience to go with your degree.

      What I mean is even if you’re changing jobs, you’ve got say 10-15 years hard experience and bangup references. I’m not going to even flinch that you went back to school at a subpar or for profit institution.

      This advice is still better to get from people with hiring experience.

      I have never worked anywhere that knows the difference between any school in particular. Unless you’re in law or medicine, those two can be an issue as up where you got your education.

      So I would still not be giving out too much advice about where or where not to get your degree.

      I very much do think asking “why’d you choose UOP?” is a good gateway to see if you should mention the fact you’ve heard less than good things about them but still, you risk torching a bridge.

      1. Bigglesworth*

        Perhaps this may fall underneath the medical category for you, but I have a close family member who works in hospital administration. One of his colleagues had a Master in Healthcare Administration from a Phoenix. Their employer told the colleague, “We want to promote you COO. However, if we do so, you need to get another MA or MBA from a ‘real’ university within a year. If you don’t, then we will demote you.”

        The conversation my relative told me about doesn’t surprise me at all. Before returning to grad school myself, I worked in higher ed student services for adults returning to school. The average student age was mid- to late 40s and many of these students had been told they wouldn’t be promoted unless they replaced University of Phoenix/other for-profit schools with a degree from a regionally accredited, brick-and-mortar school. These were people working towards a BA in business. There’s a big stigma around for-profit schools and even with work experience having a degree from one of these schools can inhibit promotability.

          1. Bigglesworth*

            You don’t have to believe, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Nothing I will do or say can change your mind. Again, I personally have worked with adults returning to school to get degrees from a brick-and-mortar university because their company will not promote them because they have a degree from Phoenix. The conversation with my family member began because we were talking about for-profit higher ed schools since my brother-in-law (different relative) just began a program at one. The hospital he works at is a small, rural, religious hospital – hence the initial leniency. But an MA in Healthcare administration from Phoenix and an MA in Healthcare Administration from a regionally accredited state university will be viewed differently in the workforce.

            1. Bigglesworth*

              Also, I am personally going to believe my relative who was a close colleague and friend of the individual told to get another degree from a different institution (I’ve actually met said individual and know he earned two MAs in Healthcare Administration – so it’s not a stretch of the imagination either).

              I think the higher up you go in any system, the more important the type of institution you attend matters.

    4. AnotherAlison*

      IDK, I have a son who is a junior in college. He is a good source of information on university baseball programs, and that’s about it. I would say generally that a recent grad would have information on their degree program and school, but I would not assume someone is more educated about universities than I am just because they are a recent grad and I’m not. OP did her research, but that’s independent of her being a recent grad. (I agree with the OP’s assessment, fwiw.)

      One weird tangentially related thing happened to me. A friend of my son spent two years at CC and is finishing his degree online through Capella University. His parents are our friends. When his mom told me, my reaction was a very loaded, “Oh, that’s good!” Meanwhile, I was horrified on the inside. Like the OP, I kept my mouth shut. His mom is a seasoned HR executive. She’s worked at companies that have partnered with for-profits for employee continuing ed. I still think it’s a weird decision, but who am I to question it?

    5. CM*

      Am I the only one who thinks OP#3 should mind her own business? She definitely should not go back and contact this person about her concerns after meeting her once at a networking meeting, because she’s worried about her life choices. The default assumption should be that if someone says, I’m doing X, they’ve probably thought about it at least a little. In the moment, OP#3 could certainly have said, “Oh, U of P? I’ve heard that some employers don’t want to hire people with degrees from for-profit schools. Are you concerned about that?” But going back later seems incredibly presumptuous to me.

      1. This is She*

        Nope, not the only one. I wouldn’t say contacting after the fact about this matter is *presumptuous* so much as awkward as balls. There are some comments/conversations that are so tricky they can only be successfully manoeuvred in the moment, and once the moment is over, the opportunity is lost. Sometimes they just can’t be pulled off after the fact with any kind of grace or tact.

        I think, good or bad, this is one of those times.

      2. Name Required*

        Agreed. The mixed reviews of UoP are so widely known and available with the most basic of research that it doesn’t look good on OP3 to express concern in any capacity about this person’s knowledge of the UoP reputation. It makes much more sense that the mentor did a cost-analysis and decided for whatever reason that this is the best option for them. OP3, you really have no idea whether this is a good idea or not, so don’t give this a second thought.

      3. Legal Beagle*

        You’re not alone. This is a rare one where I diagree with Alison. You’d have to be living under a rock to not be aware that UofP has a sketchy reputation. If this woman is a successful professional being sought out by new grads for advice, she should know enough to do her research before selecting a master’s program. OP is risking this connection if she says anything now – awkward at best, rude, presumptuous, and intrusive at worst.

        1. OP3*

          Yeah, I really don’t think I should email her now about it. Asking questions at the time would have been perfect if I’d thought of it…

          To clear one thing up: this was not a meeting where I was asking her for career advice. We both work for nonprofits that often serve the same clientele so we were meeting to talk about our respective programs and for her to give me information on an initiative my organization might be interested in joining. So in many ways, we were more like peers in the moment, but it still seemed out of place for me to offer her advice…

  8. Engineer Girl*

    And how do I even approach that, knowing what a massive headache it would be to establish another temporary manager? I don’t want to spring this on them last minute if it comes down to that, but I also don’t want to damage the stellar reputation I’ve gained by appearing to not be a team player.

    I just want to point out that you’re not “springing” this on them. They asked you to take a temporary position with the intent to hire someone else. They’ve had three months. There is no surprise here for any reasonable person.

    While it would be a headache to find another temporary manager, it is less of a hassle than finding and hiring the right manager. And again, they’ve had three months to do that. If they can’t find the right candidate after that amount of time then they are offering the wrong incentives (salary most likely). That’s not your problem to fix.

    1. Psyche*

      It definitely isn’t springing it on them, especially considering she is willing to stay a maximum of 3 months longer. Approaching it as wanting to clarify the timeline and letting them know she is eager to get back home seems like a good approach.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      Agree with what EngineerGirl said.

      I’m in a similar boat right now. I agreed to a year-long temporary assignment out of state, with regular travel back. I’m now 9 months in. We were supposed to hire my replacement a few months in. This type of position takes at least 2-3 months from first interview to start date. We had 3 offers made, and so far no replacement. It’s not my fault. I’m not staying, and I’ve been pointing that out regularly for the last month and a half or so. I’ve also explained to them reasons I think they aren’t getting candidates or acceptances. You might be able to do some of that. You have an inside view to the job market there that the executives might not have.

  9. Greg NY*

    #5: You need to ask for sure, and I have always encouraged people to be assertive on interviews. But given what the Glassdoor reviews are saying (provided there is a large enough sample size), I lean toward the interpretation being “you will work a reasonable number of hours, but they will be in whole or in part outside of daytime weekday hours”. You should ask anything you want regarding those hours, including whether it’s a stable schedule or whether it can vary every day or every week. You should ascertain that it’s indeed a reasonable number of hours, but even a 35-40 hour work week may wreak havoc on your family life if it’s always evenings or always weekends. Keep in mind that there is an upside to non-traditional hours: less (or no) traffic and the ability to accomplish various errands during weekday daytime hours, the only times some places are open. Once you know all the details, you can make an informed decision about whether to accept the job if it’s offered to you.

  10. MassMatt*

    #1 TL, DR yes that was a long humblebrag.

    #2 the candidate brought religion into it because her experience was otherwise thin/lacking, it is legitimate to want to make sure the secular or at least ecumenical values of the company are respected. Claims that this is bigotry are ridiculous.

    #3–don’t be the messenger shot for bringing bad news. There is little upside for you telling her that her plan sucks, and much downside. If she is more experienced in the industry she should not be relying on junior contacts to tell her that her plan is a money pit.

    #4 your workplace sucks and is unlikely to change. They just showed you hw they treat people. Count yourself fortunate you learned this during a short internship and not after investing years of effort for these people.

    #5 the answer to your question is most likely yes. Ask ask ask about hours and expectations not just during your interview with the hiring manager, but with your potential coworkers. And be sure to do that. Tons of letters here from people that found out their job was not at all as described, and not just about hours. No employer describes themselves as having a terrible work/life balance, but they are everywhere.

    1. OP1*

      I mean, fair haha…but I’ve seen lots of comment sections where people tear apart the employer when that’s not really the issue at hand. I wanted to exhaust every angle of the fact that I am in fact being treated well and this has been a great opportunity so far, because I was worried readers would immediately go to “you’ve been abandoned for months, time to get a new job!” When that is 100% not the issue I was trying to address :)

      1. J*

        OP1, you were totally fine!

        Everything you wrote sounded like appropriate context for you question, and I was surprised when you said you thought it sounded like a humblebrag.

        And FTR, it does sound like you’ve been working extremely hard — and doing an AMAZING job. I wish women were more often encouraged to own their accomplishments and just be proud of them, instead of to downplay their achievements and make self-effacing comments lest people think they have an ego problem for knowing their proffessional value.

          1. Triplestep*

            I think the LW might have meant “gloat” rather than “brag”. She knew that in giving context, she was describing a list of perks and amenities that would seem enviable to most people, and wanted to make sure no one confused the reason.

            It was also not a humble-brag because there was no humility in it. That’s not a slam on the LW – it’s just a note about the context delivery, which was matter-of-fact. Humble-brags are overtly modest in tone.

        1. OP1*

          Wow, thank you so much, what a nice comment!

          And yeah, you are totally right- I definitely felt very weird listing out how well I’m doing in my OP and felt like I needed to downplay a little hence the humblebrag comment. So thank you.

      2. TL -*

        I thought it was really good context for how you should push back and it let Alison give a much more focused answer than if you hadn’t included it.

      3. Queen Anne of Cleves*

        Your intro and background gave great context for your question. I did not view it as bragging at all!

      4. Falling Diphthong*

        Nthing the context being relevant. And the concern about a derail into “Your org must be bad, red flag!” founded on actual experience.

      5. Alianora*

        TBH it kinda read as bragging/gloating to me because of the level of detail you went into about specific perks like the resort’s bathtub. Which is fine, I’m glad you’re happy with the company and everything (and yeah, I could see people jumping to “your company is evil!” if you didn’t say that you were happy there). Just offering my reason for thinking that. Can’t speak for MassMatt.

    2. Engineer Girl*

      MassMatt – in general, proclaiming something as ridiculous without a supporting argument isn’t making any points. Perhaps you could tell us why so we can understand where you’re coming from?

      Stating you worked for a religious organization isn’t bringing religion into the picture except in the most minimal way.

    3. J*

      That’s really unkind to LW #1.

      And innacurate: nothing she wrote struck me as unnecessary; it seemed to me she provided all the details she did to established that a) her company has treated her well and b) she’s worked extremely hard and quite cheerfully for these three months. Both of which make sense to provide as context when she’s asking permission to go home.

      Re: LW #3 — I don’t think that this is a situation where the LW is going to suffer for saying something. Alison’s right that she should be tactful, especially given the woman’s seniority, but it would be a kindness for her to say something.

      And i don’t see why a younger colleague can’t advise an older one on education. Depending on how old her coworker is, the landscape may have changed a lot since she was last in school. (Idk how long University of Phoenix has been around, but it can’t be more than about a couple decades, right?)

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        Yeah, are you only allowed to complain about work? You can’t every tell the things you’re happy about?

      2. R.D.*

        Actually, UofP was started in 1976.

        They had a long history before the for profit predatory issues came to light and was at one point well respected. Then they went public in 1994 and the focus of the organization changed from helping non-traditional students to making money. That’s when things started to go down the toilet.

        1. J*

          Whoa, thank you for this comment — that blows my mind! I’ll definitely have to read more about the history there.

    4. Marthooh*

      Tl;dr — all my offhand opinions are exceedingly wise, and anyone who doesn’t agree with me is foolish and probably evil. Just sayin’.

    5. Psyche*

      Why comment if it was so long you didn’t actually read all of it? I think you missed the part where it was relevant background to the question.

    6. Parenthetically*

      Seriously WOW to all of this.

      1 wasn’t a humblebrag. It was context.

      2 wasn’t “bringing religion into it,” they were using their rigorous volunteer experience which happened to be for a religious organization in their interview to demonstrate their skills. Have you seriously never heard of, like, rescue missions or homeless shelters or youth outreaches or refugee assistance programs or community revitalization groups that are staffed almost entirely with full-time volunteers and many of which are religious organizations?

    7. bonkerballs*

      #2 – Your response doesn’t make any sense. I work for a synagogue. That is my full time job. When I eventually leave and I go on interviews, would you expect me to hide the name of my employer so I don’t bring religion into it? Leave out key components of my job duties and experience because they reference the High Holy Days or Hanukkah? Not give out my boss’ name as a reference because my boss is the Rabbi? What utter nonsense.

  11. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

    #3: One thing you can do is create a personal connection with enough distance from you: the cousin of a friend or an aunt’s ex, something like that. It’s hard to do in the moment unless you’re a very quick thinker (which I am not). But if you’re in a position to revisit the topic, you can go back and say, “I remembered afterwards that my friend’s cousin went there and they ended up with a huge debt. I hope this isn’t overstepping …” and continue with the rest of the script.

    It’s good of you to want to help. For-profit schools do a lot of damage. I hope this woman changes her mind about going. Good luck with your job search!

  12. KayEss*

    I’m consumed with curiosity as to the product OP1’s company deals in… I assume it’s some kind of extremely high-end luxury goods because I can’t begin to imagine any other kind of retail business putting a temporary manager up in a hotel for months on end? One of my local shopping malls has a Tesla showroom, and I can’t picture even them doing that.

    Hope you get home to your husband and ferret soon, OP1! In the meantime I’m imagining you managing a sales team for diamond-studded yachts or entire congressional votes or something.

    1. drpuma*

      Based on my own experience in retail, I’m thinking the store would need to be quite large in order to need a “GM” for only one location rather than the more typical store (or non-assistant) manager. There is a US West Coast-based department store that is famous for having fantastic customer service and a forgiving return policy and, from what I’ve heard, treats its employees quite well…

      1. Ali G*

        If it’s the one I am thinking of, I can definitely see them doing this. an old friend of mine married a woman that worked for a large, high end dept store. They moved her to the state where they met to fix some management problems, and then a few years after they got married, wanted to move her back to her home state to work at HQ. The problem was they were deeply under water on their mortgage and couldn’t afford to sell the house without a loss (thanks housing bubble!), and my friend was unemployed at the time. The corporation bought the house from them at a price to make to make them whole and moved their family, and even paid for temp housing until they could settle in.

    2. Traffic_Spiral*

      It’s probably a business that has some connection to hospitality so they’re getting a special deal on the room.

    3. Preschool Teacher*

      When my husband worked for a major grocery chain they had him serve as an interim meat department manager and put him up in a hotel for weeks at a time. He did come home in between, but the arrangement isn’t that far off from what OP 1 described. It does happen!

  13. Constanze*

    LW2, I will advise on you having the talk with your new employee ; what you suggested is good “here the employee handbook, diverse workplace etc…”. It does not put the onus on the religion, underlines your workplace culture and let her know that she can’t proselytise at work.

    She talked about her faith during her interview, which is… well… really weird and inappropriate. And she is a JW. I don’t care what other people might say : you will find respectful and awful people everywhere, BUT proselytism is a pilar of this religion AND she had worked for an religious organisation. It is not crazy to deduct that she is a hardcore JW. If she though it was appropriate to mention it during an interview, when you are supposed to be on yout best behaviour, imagine what she will say at the water cooler.

    I have been proselytised to while in the hospital, repeatedly. So much for just “door to door” or “on Saturdays”… It is definitely ingrained in this religion.

    I would be very wary about this employe.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      She talked about her faith because her work experience was volunteering for that faith. Since when is it inappropriate to talk about your work/“employer” during a job interview?

      1. Constanze*

        I guess it depends on where you are interviewing, but advertising it during an interview could certainly put you on the map as someone who doesn’t have a clear boundary between faith and work.

        1. Lance*

          If this is the only sort of experience they have, though, there’s really not much of a way to avoid it.

        2. Où est la bibliothèque?*

          If someone talked about volunteering at a LGBT rights group, would you worry about them not having a clear boundary between their sexual orientation and work?

          1. Constanze*

            This is not a valuable comparison (sexual orientation vs religion) on some many levels…

            But I will answer it in good faith anyway : no, because LGBT organisations don’t have a history of discriminating against others, proselytism and hate.

        3. Delphine*

          It actually just means that her proven work experience was with a religious organization. What else was she meant to do, produce a blank resume and hope for the best?

    2. Harper the Other One*

      I think you’re being unfair here. She didn’t talk about faith in the interview; she talked about volunteering experience that was faith-based, which is a very different kettle of fish.

      I’m sorry about your experience in the hospital – it sucks to be proselytized to in an unwelcome way, especially when you’re unwell. But if they were employees, that does seem to be a significant departure from the JWs I know, who do rigorously keep their proselytization out of work.

      1. Constanze*

        You have been luckier that I have then. Outside of my personal experience, which doesn’t have any statistical significance, it has always been my understanding that proselytism is a central part of the JW religion. It is good if most of them refrain from that in their place of work.

        I may be judging her too harshly… but I would still have the same concern as LW2’s coworkers.
        I am also not in the United States right now, and where I live, it would be very strange to know about an employee’s religion, especially at the start. It would absolutely raise eyebrows, because it is understood that religion is private and should not be a part of your workday.
        You might learn about it later, over drinks or something like that, but someone advertising volunteering experience during an interview would immediately be identified as a very conservative and religious person, and most workplaces don’t want very religious people to force their religion onto their coworkers or to be intolerant of others.

        1. Anononon*

          Even if volunteering is the main experience they had? What if they worked for a religious organization previously? Would you be concerned about that?

          1. Lady Jay*

            One thing to keep in mind is that those of us who volunteer with/work with a religious organization are not always religious in the same way as that organization.

            With a JW who is witnessing, sure she’s probably a standard JW (though people above have made good points about her likelihood of upholding professional norms).

            But I worked for a religious organization for several years, and I was always the “odd one out,” who didn’t believe/practice the same things that my colleagues did. (I am fairly politically liberal, while they are less so.) While I enjoyed my time at that organization, assuming that I was exactly the same religion and would act in the same way would be a mistake. Religious organizations are not (much of the time) homogenous blocks of people walking in lockstep. We interact with our religious faith in different ways, and so it’s good to not assume something about our religious practices based only on our work history, without actually knowing us.

            1. Constanze*

              You are right… but as you say, you were “the odd one out”. I don’t think anyone has recommended not hiring this person, but as I mention below in more details, it would be an information about her that would just make me be extra careful, because you don’t want the views her organisation promotes to have an impact on her work or the way she treats other people.

              But I think all this conversation is also linked to the fact that this employee is new : with any new employee, you don’t know how they will act and you might have reservations / questions etc… This is just one of them, but I think the OP will have her answer quickly.

          2. Constanze*

            I guess it would depend on the specifics.
            If this is a young person, no I would probably not. If this was someone older… yes, I probably would have more questions (= why have you worked only with religious organisations and why are you changing ? ).

    3. Alexis Rose*

      I’m commenting on this thread, not to pick on you, Constanze, but just to make the comment once.

      I’m feeling a bit weird seeing the trend of comments that think that its OK to “be wary” or anything like that JUST BECAUSE of this person’s religious affiliation. I think there is a very fine line on a very slippery slope where THIS candidate is the one who might be discriminated against because of her faith (a lot of the concerns seem to be about her impact on OTHER employees). I’m not saying that anyone has crossed the line of recommending discriminatory behaviour, because that is not how I’ve been interpreting these comments, but I wanted to give a voice to the squidgey feeling I was getting.

      The most fair, and least discriminatory way, to approach this is to hire her if she is the strongest candidate and then IF and ONLY IF does the religion thing become an issue, address it.

      1. Constanze*

        I mean… I understand what you are saying. Truly.

        I am not advocating not hiring anyone. But I don’t think it is really unreasonable to be cautious (let’s say… on alert) when in a workplace setting, you understand that someone is a very religious person. For me, it is exactly the same as when a new hire makes a sexist/racist joke on their first day, for example (to take a real-life example from my job), or if you learn that someone is a member of a very conservative political party or organisation etc…

        The thing is, when someone is a part of an organisation which has extreme views of the world and/or promotes intolerance, it is not crazy to be careful and to see if these views will impact their work.

        1. Alexis Rose*

          On alert and taking the “wait and see” approach is exactly it. I don’t think that is discriminatory at all, and it’s prudent to keep an eye on ALL new employees or restructured teams to see how things are going and to intervene if anything starts going sideways.

        2. President Porpoise*

          Well, I think it’d be appropriate to be ‘on alert’ for any new employee to spot inappropriate behaviors, such as absenteeism, proselytization, apparent incompetence, dishonesty, harassment, etc. I don’t think that OP #2 needs to be on any special level of alertness due to the candidate’s religion, though – just as it would be inappropriate to keep a special eye on a mom for undue levels of absenteeism, just because you hired someone with kids.

          If it’s a problem, address it, but don’t borrow trouble.

        3. Dragoning*

          No, those absolutely are not the same. Being a religious person is not a behavioral problem–the racist and/or sexist joke is automatically a behavioral problem and needs to be called out immediately, not put aside.

        4. Parenthetically*

          “it is exactly the same as when a new hire makes a sexist/racist joke on their first day, for example”

          Honestly what the hell. Being religious is not the same as being sexist or being racist and it is REALLY offensive to say that it is.

          1. Constanze*

            Are you arguing that there is no causal link between radical beliefs systems and intolerance ?

            (You might have missed that I said “very religious” and not just religious. This is key in this matter, as far as I am concerned. This is also why my other example was someone with very conservative political ideas.)

            1. Parenthetically*

              I am arguing that the mere fact of being even “very religious” is not the same as being DEMONSTRABLY SEXIST OR RACIST, and it is completely bizarre for you to assert that it is. When you know that someone is “very religious” you know exactly one fact about them and it is logically fallacious to assume you know what their devotion implies. You are equating “very religious” with “radical” and that is flat-out bigotry.

          2. mcr-red*

            Yeah I get tired of hearing how religious people are intolerant and bigoted. I am NONE of those things and I’m at a point that I’m taking major offense to being assumed that. People I know have literally said things like that in front of me and I’ve asked, “When have I EVER done something like that?” Or said, “Oh, wow, thanks.” And it’s like, “Well, I didn’t mean you.”

        5. Observer*

          Why is he fact that she’s religious the same as someone ACTUALLY making a sexist or racist (or any other *ist) joke?

          It’s just astounding to me that you don’t realize just how bigoted you are.

          1. Constanze*

            I don’t want to repeat myself, especially since I gave a similar answer just above your question, but there you go : are you arguing that there is no causal link between radical beliefs systems and intolerance ?

            I don’t find unreasonable to be cautious when dealing with someone who has a very conservative belief system. Yes, you will find good-natured people everywhere, and you discover that about them quickly.

            But generally, people who belongs to conservative churches have conservative beliefs, this is not crazy or bigoted to say. This is just how it works.
            And here’s the thing about beliefs systems : they reach all parts of your life, they impact how you see the world and think about it.

            I agree that this employee is most likely reasonable, competent and understands the social contract. But the OP doesn’t know that much about her, so the fact that she is part of a proselytising and conservative religion is a valuable information to keep in mind.

            1. Observer*

              This reminds me of all the jokes people make about getting all of the exercise they need by jumping to conclusions etc.

      2. SechsKatzen*

        To take it a step further, the vibe I’m getting here is that it’s “okay” to be wary of this particular religious organization because it happens to be affiliated with Jehovah’s Witnesses which is associated with Christianity. Would people have the same perspective if a Lubavitcher man interviewing and the concern was whether he would be respectful toward women? A common negative stereotype after all is that women are not valued and not respected, which is in all likelihood incorrect (though from a secular perspective that’s how it appears) and again, most people know how to behave around coworkers in the workplace. What about if the person is a JW or an evangelical Christian who happens to be a person of color? I’ve been proselytized to by religious adherents of various racial and ethnic backgrounds and I just see this turning into a mess.

        There are all kinds of assumptions being made about how somebody is expected to behave when the only thing even referencing religious affiliation is volunteer activity for a religious organization because a young worker didn’t have a lot of employment history. I don’t see where it’s appropriate to assume this person will behave inappropriately.

    4. The Other Dawn*

      If it’s the only recent experience she has and those skills are transferable, why would she NOT talk about them in an interview? There’s no indication at all that the candidate is going to heavily promote her religious beliefs.

      1. Fabrica*

        I agree. I volunteered for a religious organization only because it was local and I could volunteer to teach literacy to children. All I wanted was to help kids, and I wasn’t even religious. When I went to interview with the org, I had to provide references and get a background check, and there was never any more mention of religion besides the name of the organization. When volunteering, no one ever mentioned religion, and I was able to teach ABCs to my heart’s content. I would be really concerned about the culture of the company (more about fear-mongering and acting on suspicion rather than fact) than the company’s diversity clashing with my ‘religious’ values.

      2. Constanze*

        Except that proselytising is at the core of the employee in question’s religion.

        All these examples about cute, mild religious organisations are all and well, but it doesn’t change the fact that JW are just that… witnesses.

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          Going around on Saturdays knocking on doors and passing out copies of the Watchtower hardly counts as dangerous radical behaviour. Having conservative views does not mean that a person will attack those who don’t agree with their views.

    5. Rusty Shackelford*

      It doesn’t sound like she talked about her faith, it sounds like she talked about her work-related experience, which was in a faith-based organization.

      Question… if you were interviewing me for a retail position, and I told you about my only recent experience, which was volunteering behind the register at a charity shop owned and run by my church, and I talked about providing good customer service and finding things to do when we weren’t busy and sticking to my schedule and all the other things you expect from a retail employee, would you say I talked about my faith?

      1. Constanze*

        Not necessarily. The example you give is very specific.
        But I would find it strange that you talked about “your church” during an job interview. As mentioned above in a similar question, the specifics are key : if the reason you have no other job experience is because you are at the beginning of your career, I would not find it strange. If you are much older, and only have religious-based job experience, I would dig deeper.

        1. Stardust*

          I promise I’m not trying to be difficult or annoying but I need to ask: what exactly should Rusty say then? Just “a charity shop”? Or one owned by “a church”? Or just “shop” without any specific signifiers?
          But in any case, I don’t feel like simply saying “I worked at a shop owned by Church and did A, B, and C” constitutes as “talking about [whoever’s] church” – that’s simply mentioning it once.

          1. Washi*

            Yeah, saying who the charity shop belonged to is just factual information. And besides, people can volunteer with a religious organization even if they don’t belong to that religion! I have both volunteered and worked for a Jewish organization, and I’m not Jewish.

          2. Constanze*

            I don’t find your questioning annoying. However, this is becoming really theoretical and removed from the crux of the matter. To answer your question, I would probably advise (if asked) to just say “charity shop” or “shop” ; no need to add the mention of church in it, it is not really relevant. But I don’t think mentioning it, like in your example, is necessarily problematic. I reckon in the US, it would not raise eyebrows. Where I live… it would probably be much more noticed. So… know your audience, I guess.

            I think the fact that we are talking about JW is important here, because of the teachings and history of this religion.

        2. Parenthetically*

          If a person worked as a high-level admin assistant at a very large church, would you find it odd of them to mention “their church” during an interview for your company? What about a religious organization that ran a homeless shelter? or a refugee assistance program? or a literacy/tutoring/after school program? What if a person’s passion is community development, so they’ve been at the same (religious) community development job for 30 years? This isn’t talking about religion, it’s literally just saying the names of organizations.

          I find it very strange for you to be put off by a candidate discussing relevant work experience simply because it contains the mere mention of a religious organization, and frankly bizarre that you’d be extra concerned if someone had spent a good chunk of their career working for religious organizations. “Oh, this person worked in IT for Catholic Charities for 10 years and then in IT for Compassion International for 5 years, better make sure they’re not a zealot”?

          1. Constanze*

            I think there might be a culture difference here. I live in a very secular country.

            The US seems to have a loooot of religious organisations which do so well that they are able to employ people.
            Where I live, it is not that they don’t exist, but they seem to be far less frequent and they have much less money. So people who work there generally do so because of their beliefs and they rarely branch out.

            So if you find someone who advertise it in a job interview, it will be rare enough to be noticed and they will be identified as a very religious person (except in education, where most are not even very conservative, because they have to follow the national curriculum).

            1. Jaybeetee*

              What I would wonder then, is what happens if someone interviews for a job who is wearing external religious apparel, such as a hijab or a yarmulke or a turban? I think you’re getting pushback here because in many countries, there are many people who are *visibly* religious, even if it’s not a case of listing religious organizations on their resumes, and your comments seem to imply that such people should feel compelled to conceal their religious beliefs if they don’t wish to be treated differently at work – which, to a North American POV, is discriminatory in itself.

            2. doreen*

              I think there are probably a number of cultural differences, not just one related to how you see this issue. For example, you mention that the US seems to have a lot of religious organizations that do well enough to employ people and it may be true that there are more here than in your country, but the way you talk about someone “advertising” it in a job interview makes me wonder if that’s not the only difference. For example, my Catholic parish for many years had a janitor who was not Catholic – perhaps in your country that job would always go to a parish member but that’s not always the case in the US. There’s a large non-profit social services organization in my city that is identifiably Jewish by name- but that doesn’t mean every social worker they employ is even culturally Jewish, much less very religious. And the same often goes for volunteer work – just because someone volunteers at say New York -Presbyterian Hospital doesn’t mean the person is Presbyterian.

          1. Constanze*

            Someone mentioned in the thread that during the interview, you might ask to someone who has made all her career in a religious organisation how she sees working in a secular environment.
            I think this is a relevant question (which applies to any kind of big change in industries, types of workplaces etc…). I was thinking about questions like that. It is very far removed from illegal hiring practices.

            And by “dig deeper”, I also meant to be careful in how they interact with others, especially when you hire someone new.

            Everyone is jumping at my throat because there is religion involved, but really, all of this just falls under the caution you might have when you hire someone new.

            1. fposte*

              I think it’s fine to ask people about work transitions, it’s fine to ask all your candidates about their experience in work environments, and it’s fine to give new hires additional oversight and supervision. It’s not fine to single out people who’ve worked with religious organizations for those behaviors.

          2. President Porpoise*

            Question – has OP already done something illegal, in that she and her hiring managers are discussing the candidate’s religion when deciding whether to offer the job, regardless of whether an offer is extended?

            1. fposte*

              Possibly, and that stuff should be shut down, but it’s not going to be actionable without adverse consequences.

    6. Shark Whisperer*

      Proselytism is a pillar of the JW religion, but I have worked with many JWs and I have never once had one proselytize at work, not with coworkers, not with clients. There are some JWs who seek out hospitals as a place to try and convert people but that doesn’t mean that they are more prone to trying to convert people at work than anywhere else.

      I worked with one woman who was JW and I literally did not know except one day, after working with her for close to a year, she mentioned she was taking the day off the next day for a church thing, and another coworker told me it was so that she could go door to door to proselytize. She literally never talked about her religion at work. It completely unfair to assume JWs don’t have boundaries even if your experience with them has sucked.

      1. Belle8bete*

        Just imagine how people would react if someone said “this person mentioned working with an atheist group so now I’m wary of hiring them.” It would be considered outrageous.

        People have lost their ability to think reasonably apparently. And yes, the USA has religious groups because it has a whole freedom of religion thing that are quite proud of…ugh…I’m just over people constantly saying “don’t judge anyone” except for things that seem conservative, then it’s “judge the bubbas wallowing in their ignorance.”

  14. Bookworm*

    #4: Just sending you some sympathy. Was in a very similar position, although in my case it was the head manager who followed up (it happened around this time of the year and we were super busy) and I got a perfunctory explanation from the hiring manager of that department as to why they didn’t hire me.

    It worked out because the person they hired turned out to be an alcoholic who showed up drunk one morning. She got sent home a few hours later and never came back and never responded to any attempt to contact her. I felt bad for my co-workers (and do wonder what happened to her and if she’s ok) who had to pick up the slack while this drama happened. The head manager offered to let me interview again/asked if I was still interested and I turned them down, no thanks.

    It may have been something that just dropped off their radar and a genuine human error on your org’s part. But if it was like my experience, it was also a sign of the greater dysfunction and how some of the employees there didn’t even know how to do the most basic of tasks (aside from the hiring decision). So it might be something to keep mind going forward. Sorry that happened to you but it might also be a blessing in disguise.

    1. OP4*

      Yeah, I’m thinking it’s a blessing in disguise. We are told by the person in charge of our internship program not to talk to the office manager (who is acting as the hiring manager). There’s no real reason for it given except that he’s moody and believes very strongly in heirarchy. I will definitely ask before the end of my internship since at that point it doesn’t matter if if he gets a little annoyed with me.

  15. TheRoadGoesEverOnandOn*

    OP1, have you been home at all during your three month stay? Obviously being on opposite coasts that’s a long travel day but if you don’t mind staying longer overall because you’re enjoying the work and whatever area you’re in but would also like to go home to see your family and friends you may want to ask to set up a week or at shortest long weekend back home and off the clock. I had a family member who half of their job was basically just what you’re describing overall, a location of this company would have someone like a GM leave every year, and they’d send this person out to patch over and fix any issues left behind for 6+ months while the company looked for a replacement BUT they were also usually home 2 weekends a month for a four day weekend (usually the travel distance wasn’t as long as east coast vs west for them so a little less exhausting). But this is only if you don’t mind staying another few months as they look and you should also still push them to find a candidate.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I was wondering this too. It sounds like a fantastic gig, but yes, that’s a long time to be away– maybe a couple of weeks at home would help, if you don’t mind staying on for a bit.

      Regardless, you would not be out of line to ask for an update on the search. Even when you’re being treated well, this is a big disruption to your life.

    2. Designing Woman*

      I commented above also, but this was basically my situation and it made my 5-ish months away from home much easier.

    3. OP1*

      Hmmm. Didn’t even consider this as an option. But flying home regularly would make this much easier. Because yeah, I have not been home this entire time. 3 months is a long time to be away from your spouse. I will definitely bring this up to see if it’s an option, thank you!

  16. Delta Delta*

    #1 – This might feel like piling on, but it seems a smidge premature to try to nip something in the bud if nothing has happened. The way I read the letter, the candidate didn’t have a lot of work experience so she used the experience she did have, which happened to be with a religious organization. I say give the candidate a chance, and if she starts to show signs of doing something inappropriate (religious or otherwise; as we all know “inappropriate” can vary wildly. quack.), then talk to her and coach her. Or, even make it clear from the very beginning you’re open to coaching (if you are). I’m all for giving people a chance, especially people who maybe don’t have a lot of experience.

  17. Micromanagered*

    OP3 I wonder if you could open the conversation up with something like asking how she picked University of Phoenix. That might give you more information to decide if it’s your place to say anything.

    If she says she is required to get a master’s degree to advance, she doesn’t really want to and just wants to get it done as cheap and easily as possible. maybe this UoP is actually right for her? That happened with someone I know. She was required to get a professional certification within a certain timeframe of being promoted to management. She had zero interest in doing so, so she got the bare minimum one she could. It seemed silly to me to put in months of study and preparation and not get the higher certificate, but that’s what she wanted to do.

    If she says she wants to get a master’s degree but doesn’t know how with working full time, that might be an opening for a conversation about how many brick-and-mortar schools offer master’s tracks geared toward working adult learners, how her tuition might be reimbursable by her employer, etc. It’s possible she just doesn’t know this stuff.

    Ultimately, some people are just going to make life choices that you don’t agree with or see obvious flaws with, and it’s not always your place to express your opinion to them about it. That’s true regardless of age.

    1. Judy (since 2010)*

      About 7 years ago when I worked for a F50 company, we had a W2 contractor engineer we wanted to convert to an employee. We had negotiations with him and the only formality at that point was submitting the application. He submitted his application, and HR refused to allow us to hire him, because he had an MBA from UoP. He didn’t need the MBA for the position he was going to fill. At that time, that particular F50 company had a list of universities that were “no hire”.

      1. T. Boone Pickens*

        Dang, that’s cold blooded. Especially given the context your department wanted to convert him to FTE status.

      2. illogical*

        That’s some logical thinking on the HR dept’s part. *eye roll*

        If he was good at his job (and clearly he was since you guys wanted him to be FT) and got along with the team, does it really matter if he isn’t using his MBA at the job?

      3. Micromanagered*

        Interesting. I’ve heard of someone being DQ’ed because their degree (that was a prereq for the job) was from a for-profit school, but I’ve never heard of that when it doesn’t matter.

        1. Zin*

          I have a degree from a for-profit school. Not UoP. Got a great job soon after then a better one soon after that. No issues with the required certification by my State to do said position. No one has looked twice at the degree that I could tell and 95% of the applications I sent out contacted me back for an interview within days and often I ended up with a job offer.

          It’s really, really presumptuous to assume that whatever degree someone gets isn’t the one they should get or that they don’t know what they’re doing. I knew exactly what I was doing and it’s been an excellent choice.

          1. HS Teacher*

            Agreed. We’re definitely seeing some snobbery with some of these comments. Everything should be taken in context. In my opinion, all colleges are for profit. I went to the top state school in my state, and they nickel and dimed me at every opportunity. Anyone who things state schools are nonprofits is delusional.

  18. Anonykins*

    OP5, definitely don’t let that wording stop you from applying if the jobs looks interesting and the Glassdoor reviews are saying it’s a relaxed environment. My current position lists evening/weekend work required in the job description. I was coming from a travel job so thought nothing of it. When I had my onboarding, I asked my boss about working hours, and she was surprised that I thought I’d need to do significant work outside of 9 to 5. Every evening/weekend thing is completely optional (although they’d like you to do 1-2 per year), and compensated with an additional day off later that week. 99% of the time I am in the office no earlier than 9 or later than 5. Despite that wording in the job description (probably to appease HR or get the description to hit some metric related to pay), it’s the most stable and least time-consuming job I’ve ever had!

    1. LW #5*

      Thank you, it’s great to hear from someone else’s personal experience! I agree, it’s totally possible this was added to the job posting because there may be a handful of late nights or weekend days per year – which I would expect from any job – not that there’s a general expectation of long hours.

  19. Lusara*

    OP4, that happened to me once. I interviewed for an internal position and found out I didn’t get it when I was introduced to the new hire on their first day. I played dumb and emailed the hiring manager asking if there was an update on the position, and then she set up a meeting to tell me I didn’t get it.

    But I think I was just interviewed out of courtesy and never really considered for it. I applied through the internal process when the position was posted, and didn’t hear anything. A couple of weeks later I saw they were interviewing outside candidates (the group was just a couple of aisles away from my group and you can tell when people are coming in for interviews), so I emailed her just asking if she had received my application. She responded by sending a meeting request for the interview. So I’m sure I was never considered and she probably forgot I even interviewed until my follow up email.

    Anyway, it sucks when you interview for a position with a different company and they don’t bother to tell you that you didn’t get it, but it hurts a heck of a lot more when it’s an internal position and they don’t give you the courtesy of a letting you know.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      I interviewed for an internal position that I’d actually been promised was mine if I wanted it, and I found out I didn’t get it when someone left the new org chart on the copier.

      1. OP4*

        Yeah, I was told by the person who was leaving and I was interviewing to replace that I had the job “in the bag” and that it was “mine to lose.” However, the hiring manager and boss obviously didn’t feel the same way.

        1. Où est la bibliothèque?*

          That is incredibly crappy, I’m sorry. There were either idiots or jerks (or both) somewhere in the lines of communication.

    2. Ursula*

      I once learned I didn’t get an internal position when I processed the new hire paperwork for the person who did. They offered her a lot more money than I asked for, too.

      Ah, the joys of working in HR.

  20. Temperance*

    LW2: I’ve worked with many JWs, and only one sucked (and it was mostly not because of her religion, but because she was lazy and used her religion as a flimsy excuse not to do work and to change her schedule). Honestly, from your post, I was assuming that she was an evangelical or some other faith known for hardcore proselytizing. JWs witness as a main tenet of their faith, but they largely keep it out of the workplace.

    1. Tigger*

      This has been my experience with JW’s as well. We had no clue the new accountant was a JW until we included her name on the birthday cake for her birth month and she got a little upset.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This reminds me of the episode of The Practice where they never knew Rebecca was JW until her mom refused to let her have a blood transfusion.

      Only Bobby then pointed out that she broke like all the tenets and never believed the claim.

      1. Temperance*

        They’re fine at work, though. I grew up near a JW family, and that was rough; they felt compelled to witness to the same people every weekend because it was a small neighborhood and I’m not sure they had access to a car. That sucked and was rude.

        I genuinely like the JWs I work with now, respect their beliefs, and they’ve never crossed the line. The woman I used to work with was just a butt, but that had nothing to do with her religion except for it giving her a convenient excuse to get out of doing certain things.

  21. Ms Chanadalar Bong*

    RE: #5 – please proceed with caution! Alison is right, that it might be a regular 40 with some odd shifts, but it could also be 75 hours a week, with promises of lieu time that you never get to take (personal experience!). If you can connect with any employees (current or former) directly, I would ask around. When people ask me about that 75 hour a week job every time it opens up – understandably frequently, given the terrible hours – I diplomatically let them know that it was a fun job, but the hours were a challenge.

    1. LW #5*

      Thank you, that is a good perspective! I definitely wouldn’t be able to regularly work beyond a 40-hour schedule. (My commute means I already have very limited time with my toddler, so adding more work hours to my week just isn’t happening.) Talking to current or former employees is a really good idea – I will be checking LinkedIn to see if anyone in my network has a connection there.

  22. Perpal*

    I think the time to have asked about proselytizing at work would have been in the interview stage when the applicant was talking about their religious activities, if ever. I’m sure others can come up with a better phrasing, but something like “A lot of these volunteer experiences and skills sounds great for our position as well! Since you bring up it was for religious activities, how do you envision working in a more secular environment?”. Again it really depends on the degree to which the applicant emphasizes religion and why people are concerned (is it a kneejerk reaction to any mention of religion/prior bad experiences? Or is it something coming from the candidate indicating they may have trouble leaving this at the door?). In general it’s worth making sure there are formal company policies about religion/politics/general appropriate inclusive and considerate behavior, but I wouldn’t single out someone who was already hired and say “by the way this policy especially” when they haven’t actually done anything to violate said policy.

    1. Joielle*

      Yeah, this is what I was thinking too. Obviously too late now, and best to just hire the candidate and address problems if they come up, but I think it would have been smart to follow up in the interview. Goes against the traditional wisdom not to ask about religion in an interview, I guess, but she brought it up. I think your wording is perfect.

  23. A.N. O'Nyme*

    OP#2, another thing you can bring up to other managers is that hiring her would give her a chance to add a secular company to her resumé. If she gets a “no” simply because experience with a religious organisation is the only relevant experience she has…Well, then how is she supposed to get experience working for a secular company?

  24. Dual Faith Household*

    I think there’s a lot of assumptions going on with LW#1. Just because someone volunteers with a religious organization or attends church does not mean they are going to proselytize or be homophobic. I think that’s a pretty narrow mindset.

    1. Crivens! (Formerly Katniss)*

      The LW added that this person is a Jehovah’s Witness. Former JW here. JWs are told to witness as part of their duties, though individuals will vary on where they think it’s appropriate to do so. And the religion’s tenets are specifically homophobic: homosexuality is a sin according to their teachings.

      1. Elizabeth Proctor*

        Catholicism’s tenets (source: catholic.com) are specifically homophobic (if you agree that saying homosexual acts are “violations of divine and natural law” is homophobic). Do you assume all Catholics are going to be homophobic in the workplace?

        1. Constanze*

          I would assume that a practicing Catholic is either homophobic is his beliefs or in conflicts with the teachings of his faith.
          When I meet a practicing Catholic who volunteer this about him at work, I definitely keeps this info in mind.

          Source : I live in a historically catholic country

        2. Crivens! (Formerly Katniss)*

          As a queer person, I would be more careful about how I talk about my life with them, yes, until proven otherwise.

        3. Joielle*

          I mean… yes? That’s not to say that they’d, like, punch a gay person or yell slurs or something, but if you’re a practicing member of a homophobic religion, then yeah, you’re homophobic at home, at work, and anywhere you go. Maybe a workplace doesn’t care about that as long as they keep it under wraps at work, but I’d still be wary. I wouldn’t want that person to supervise an LGBT person, for example.

          1. President Porpoise*

            Not true. Many active and practicing members of religions that have homophobic policies actively and vocally reject those practices and teachings (at risk to their own families and selves, and under threat of disfellowship and excommunication), and it is so, so offensive that you would believe that they are all homophobic because some members of leadership are and can make their preferences policy. For example, I know of several LGBTQ+ advocacy groups consisting of mainly active Mormons in the Utah area that are actively trying to raise awareness of the real harm done to LDS LBGTQ+ youth by the LDS church’s policies and culture. It is possible to believe the scripture and *actual* doctrine of a church while vehemently rejecting the toxic culture and policy that might go with it. It is a balancing act, for sure, but there are many who try to make changes from within at great risk and cost to themselves.

          2. mcr-red*

            Huh. Practicing member of a “homophobic” religion, as you put it, and somehow I’ve managed to NOT be homophobic to MY lesbian daughter, my gay colleague, the bisexual son of my pastor… Oh, and when I went to my state’s Pride parade, I guess I must have hallucinated all the church floats there with signs that said, “Love is love” and “We love you!” And I guess I never gave any kind of support to my local Pride organization either!!!

            This whole thread is really upsetting me. I’m out.

  25. Tigger*

    #4 I feel for you. I was that intern that was interviewed, told that I would get an offer soon then they hired someone behind my back (little sister of my boss’ best friend. She was under qualified) who showed up for her first day on a day my boss was out sick and I had to train her. My grand boss was furious that I was kept out of the loop and lied to but there was nothing he could do. It sucks, your workplace is unprofessional and that is not how 99% of offices are. If you can avoid it please don’t use those people as references because they have proven themselves to be unprofessional during the interview process.
    I am so sorry this is happening to you.

  26. Gymmie*

    OP 2: I would say that assuming this person, because they are religious, is bigoted or going to be a problem in the workplace is actually the discrimination here. I get it if you had evidence to the contrary. Also, not all religions (including different denominations of Christianity) have VERY varied views on issues such a LGBT. I’m Episcopalian and we allow marriages of gay couples within the church. And there are some very conservative Christians I know who wouldn’t care one iota if someone is not their religion, etc. And I’m sure there are tons of people who DON’T hold those views but would always treat other people with respect whether they thought things in their head about them or not. I would say that is true of a lot of people who make judgments about others, but how they treat others is important. Judging someone because they happen to be religious is not inclusive at all in my opinion and is just reacting to negative stereotypes or experiences with others of “that group” and not this individual personally.

    1. SohelpmeGod*

      Thank you for your well stated and very inciteful post. I can’t tell you how much it means to have someone state clearly what I have felt for years. I truly respect the belief of others and want the same in return.

  27. Didi*

    OP#2 could always try to suss this out in an interview question. Something like this: “This is a diverse workplace, and one of our key values is our diversity. It’s important that people from diverse backgrounds can get along and work well together. Can you tell me about a time when you were interacting with people from diverse backgrounds and experiences?’ And see where she goes with it.

    1. Joielle*

      I think this is a great thing to ask in any interview, regardless of the candidate’s background! My favorite version is “Tell me about a time when you worked with someone very different from yourself.” It can be really illuminating to hear how a candidate describes the person and the experience.

      1. Lehigh*

        Yes, indeed! Regardless of one’s religion, political stance, or any other abstract belief, what you really want is to know that your employee will be good at treating other people well. It’s a challenging skill, especially where there is a wide diversity of beliefs! You want to know that any new employee will not, for instance, lace a vegan’s food with meat, or bring birthday cake in for a JW coworker because they like making people uncomfortable.

        It doesn’t matter if your employee checks all the same boxes as you do and votes the party line, if they’re nasty to people IRL, you don’t want them!

        1. Lehigh*

          I should add, I’m not saying that those examples are hard to avoid, but it *is* sometimes challenging to be a kind, respectful person to someone with whom you disagree in important issues.

    2. lawyer*

      This is actually a useful interview question for all candidates. Someone may have super-progressive values but very little actual experience interacting with people who are different than her, and thus may find a diverse workplace very challenging.

      Specifically thinking of my former mother in law, who was as liberal as they come in terms of voting but lived in a lily-white small town in rural New England, had no personal relationships with POC at all, and was clearly very uncomfortable interacting with my (multiethnic) community during our wedding, to the point that I had to apologize to multiple family friends for how awkward she was.

    3. Michael*

      A question like that really needs to be asked of everybody, not just religions OP is reluctant about, since it’s used as an additional obstacle to hiring.

  28. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    My issue with the idea of even touching the idea she may try “spreading the word” and leaving Watchtowers in your breakrooms or whatever is you’ve opened up a huuuuuuge issue if you decide not to hire her after all that. She’ll have good reason to believe you didn’t hire her based on her religion.

    I wouldn’t allow this worry to sway the vote. It’s not something you can consider until you see her doing something wrong.

    This is like not hiring a mother because she’ll probably be taking more time off for sick kids and such.

    Stick to telling her you are diverse and it’s a quality your company values. She is probably well aware she’s going into a melting pot or she would seek out another religious job opportunity.

  29. Marcy Marketer*

    LW #2, at my last company, our department hired someone who was obviously religious from their social media and volunteer work. Someone raised the question during the hiring process of whether that would conflict with our values as being LGBTQ friendly (a rarity in our industry). I let the person know it was illegal to allow someone’s religion to influence our hiring decisions, and also that many religious people are not anti-LGBTQ. ((There was even a New Yorker article recently about how demographically, the younger evangelical members embrace progressive values so it’s really an outdated opinion anyway & there’s research behind that.)) We ended up hiring her and not only was she excellent in the role, her best friend was gay.

  30. Mobuy*

    I think it’s really too bad that the University of Phoenix has such a bad reputation. Now, granted, I got my degree in school counseling from that school rather than an MBA or whatever, but I had a great experience.

    Every one of my teachers was an actual, real, honest-to-God school counselor who was currently working. Compare that to my ed degree at one of those “real” non-profit colleges? There, most of my teachers had taught for one year twenty years ago. They were useless. (Let’s have a lecture on how lectures are bad! Let’s have a whole class on the history of education in this country! Let’s talk about how you should let students go to the bathroom whenever they want with no restrictions!) The UoP professors knew what it was really like in the trenches and prepared us a lot better and more realistically for the job.

    1. Le’Veon Bell is seizing the means of production*

      FWIW, the University of Phoenix MBA is very well regarded in some circles. Lots of professionals have UoP degrees, and I’ve heard very few of the “horrible debt and nothing to show for it” specifically from UoP. OP would be better served by trying to de-bias themselves in regard to UoP degrees than try to convince someone they barely know that it’s a bad school based on the idea that they’ve kind of heard that schools that are like it, but not it, are bad

      1. Mobuy*

        This comment makes me happy! I honestly have never heard anti-UoP sentiment from any real people, so maybe it is more overblown than this site would have me think.

        1. HS Teacher*

          Agreed. Everyone I know who went there has positive things to say and is doing great. I know this site likes to bash on U of P, and it’s unfortunate. Most people who talk crap about it have ZERO experience with it. It’s like people who talk crap about Title 1 schools; most would never lower themselves to go near one, much less work at one. They’re usually talking out of their butts.

    2. BadWolf*

      I confess that I really enjoy their commercials from the last couple years. They’re really great at hitting all a bunch of emotional points in working hard, going back to school, bootstraps, etc.

    3. Erin W*

      With respect, your comment about faculty at non-profit schools is total propaganda.

      I have worked at several educational institutions, met and worked with countless faculty members. A few are strictly in theoretical or research-based practice, but MANY have kept up with real-world practice, and when you consider the number of adjuncts teaching at most schools these days (and adjuncts in fields like education and business are routinely working full-time in their field), most students will have more professors in real-life practice than they have those that are not.

  31. BadWolf*

    On OP1 — You might need to give them a firm(ish) date in order to kick the GM search into a higher gear. Maybe they’re going at it full energy, but since you’re doing a great job and not talking about going home, they could be at medium energy. A lot of people/processes work better with a definite date in mind.

    1. Jen S. 2.0*

      Also known as “I work better under pressure,” (a tactic I often employed as a student, while insisting that no, it was NOT also the case that my standards plummeted under pressure).

    2. OP1*

      That is very fair, and an angle I didn’t consider. I just kind of assumed because of how much they are spending to keep me here (this hotel isn’t cheap!) that they would want me home ASAP. But yeah, if I’m holding down the fort well and haven’t put any pressure on them regarding timing, why not take their time finding the perfect candidate? I think a cheerful but open conversation is probably overdue between myself and HR to just clarify that’s I do in fact want to go home

    3. Someone Else*

      It occurred me since they she was doing so well and they offered it to her, they might’ve been not searching so hard early on thinking they’d be very happy to keep OP1 there permanently and then only started the real serious search once she turned them down. Which still means it’s reasonable for her to ask for a timetable, and I don’t think doing what I just guesstimated is an especially good idea on the company’s part…but it could’ve happened if they thought it likely she’d accept.

  32. Mr M*

    What if it’s the company proselytizing to its employees? I recently worked for the R&D facility of a private company that makes consumer goods. At my first monthly all-employee meeting I was amused to see everyone bow their heads while the facility manager led us in prayer, in which the first line was ‘ Thank you Jesus for our jobs,’. My first reaction was, ‘So THAT’S why they don’t have any Indian engineers!’

    Anyway, I noticed some people arrived late to the meeting & missed the prayer, so I joined that group until management finally caught on and closed the doors before the prayer, barring people who got there late, from the meeting, So it was pray to Jesus or miss the meeting.

    Anyway, it came to an end for me when half the facility was laid-off one day. I imagined upper management praying around a table the night before, asking Jesus which employees shouldn’t work there anymore…

    1. StellaBella*

      YIKES! This is very scary to me. I am sorry you were laid off, but it sounds like it may have been a good thing?

      1. Mr M*

        I happened to walk out of work one night at the same time as the facility manager. We chatted as we walked to our cars, when he mentioned out of the blue, that it was his mission to bring adults to Christ…

  33. StellaBella*

    For question 2:
    I have not seen in this thread the idea of your company having what is called a ‘non-solicitation policy’ (need to check again but now anyway not in the thread). Basically, this is a policy that states that, while at work, an employee cannot share/email/ask/distribute materials about a non-work thing/etc to other employees about supporting their church/kid’s fundraiser/buy these cookies/etc. If, during training of all new employees this policy is explained clearly, and consequences are explained and enforced, this becomes a non-issue. Not sure you are in a workplace that has a policy like this but it may be worth investigating?

  34. Scott M.*

    #5 – I suspect that they had a string of employees who didn’t understand how salaried positions work. In other words, you stay until the work is done, not that you only work for specific hours.
    Sure some companies can have unrealistic expectations. But I also have met salaried employees who expect to get comp time if they have to stay 1 minute longer than normal.

  35. Dust Bunny*

    LW3 I work in an historical archive and have had a lot of acquaintances ask me if they should go to library school, thinking it sounds like a nice job to do part-time, while their kids are school age. Or because it might be less physical than whatever they’re doing now. Or it seems like a logical way to transition out of the demands of teaching. Or they like books. Or whatever.

    I always advise them to do some *independent* research on the job prospects for librarians and archivists. That is, not to take library schools’ words for it. TActually finding a job in the field, especially if you have family ties to a geographical area and cannot move (or have, say, medical needs, or your children’s school needs, that make it harder for you to live in underserved areas) is not that easy. And you might be expected to do something else for a living and intern or volunteer more or less indefinitely before a job opens up.

    So, I’m not telling them not to do it, but I am warning them that what they’re picturing may not be reality and that they need to find out for themselves if this is a good idea or not.

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      I have had this exact same conversation with people. I often remind folks that there are three library schools in our region, churning out over 200 candidates a year and I warn them that there aren’t 200 jobs opening in the region annually. It’s a really tough market.

    2. UghThatGuyAgain*

      Meanwhile I’ve been in public libraries for 11 years and am now getting my MLIS so I can move into a titled librarian or management role. I’ve worked as a librarian without the title (ref/RA/selection/programming/outreach…the works) for the last three years and have a good professional network in my area, so I feel okay about my upcoming job search.

      However… tons of my classmates have never worked in libraries and have barely any idea what librarians do. I had heard this might be the case but I was shocked to actually see it. I wonder how many of them will be wishing someone warned them in two or three years. Library schools have a lot to answer for.

  36. IL JimP*

    Just want to throw out a word of caution, not all for-profits universities have bad reputations and there are plenty of non-profits and public universities that have poor reputations. Make sure when talking about for-profits you go case by case. University of Phoenix is one of the ones with a bad rep just be careful not to generalize about any group of universities.

      1. fposte*

        Yup. *Online* schools don’t have a universally bad reputation, and I think it’s important to differentiate online and for-profit. But I don’t know of any good solid exceptions in the for-profit world, or any for-profit schools that have a loan-default rate that makes them admirable.

        1. fposte*

          Or you can give an example of a for-profit that has a competitive loan default rate or a high industry profile (the way DeVry used to when it was vocational) and leave us wiser. I’d rather you did that, because I like to know if I’m missing something important.

    1. Zillah*

      I think that it’s important to keep the distinction between “give a bad education” and “have a bad reputation” in mind. You can certainly say that there are some for profits that give a good education – I’m not informed enough to argue that point. However, it’s useful to keep in mind that, whether or not you think the universally bad reputation is deserved, for profit universities are looked poorly upon by a lot of people. That some non profits also have bad reputations doesn’t change that.

      1. fposte*

        Yes, this is a very good point, Zillah. I don’t think anybody’s saying it’s impossible to get a good education at a for-profit school; they’re saying that the education may not pay off professionally as hoped.

        1. Catleesi*

          And an individual’s positive experience doesn’t negate the overall predatory practices of for-profit institutions. Or the ethical concerns.

        2. Zin*

          I think maybe the idea of a “good reputation” is throwing some people. I don’t know of any school in my area that has any reputation. I’m sure the colleges here would vocally disagree and state that *everyone* thinks they’re great but in reality, I experienced a zero percent difference in the response to applications, job offers or quality of those offers between my two degrees.

          Now, does that mean my Masters Program has a “good reputation”? Not at all. But nor does it mean my traditionally obtained Bachelor’s Program has one.

          And for me, I ended up with a great job doing exactly what I liked for a lovely company so clearly my degree paid off. It was no more expensive than the traditional schools (I checked), was accredited by all relevant bodies (I checked) and got me exactly where I wanted to be.

          For most people, that sample of one is all they have and on a personal level, it’s all that matters

          1. Temperance*

            With the caveat that I have no idea where you are located, I find it very hard to believe that no school near you has any reputation of any kind.

            1. Zin*

              I said *I* had no knowledge of a reputation and specified I’m sure the colleges would disagree :)

              If any of them have reputations I’ve never heard about it in a work environment, seen it considered in a job process or had people bring it up during job related conversation. That doesn’t mean some business somewhere doesn’t care though! It’s possible they do and it’s simply never impacted me or anyone I know.

              I think there’s a tendency for some people to get very attached to the idea that the college they went to has a good reputation and businesses really care when, in fact, the businesses don’t notice much beyond a “yes they have a degree.”.

              1. Zillah*

                I think that there’s probably some truth to this, especially the further away from college you are – once you’ve got some work experience, that would likely reduce any impact your education might have.

                That said, this is also probably something that comes out in more subtle ways – I’ve never had anyone criticize my education, but people do react with active enthusiasm over some schools I went to and don’t comment at all on others. It’s entirely possible that unconscious opinions are informed by it – e.g., someone might estimate the same person’s intelligence a little differently if they said they went to Harvard as opposed to a school they’d never heard of.

                The other way in which businesses care, of course, is through networking – person X may never say “Person Y went to my alma mater!”, but that might be where their connection came from.

  37. Matilda Jefferies*

    LW2, I’m not in the US, and I work in a public sector organization, so my experience might be a bit different than some of the other commenters, so take it with however many grains of salt you feel necessary.

    I’ve been in the professional workforce for nearly twenty years, and every job I’ve ever had has included some talk about diversity and inclusivity in its orientation materials. It’s right up there with the org chart, health and safety, and everything else you need to know from week 1. It usually includes a description of what that means (race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, country of origin, etc etc), plus some examples of bad behaviour, consequences of bad behavi0ur, and what to do if you find yourself on the receiving end of it. This is all done as a matter of course, for every employee in every position.

    I don’t know how feasible it is for your organization, but if you’re worried that something like this might come up again, could you start including language about “commitment to diversity” in your orientation materials? You could also put it in your P&P, or on your website, or anywhere it feels appropriate. Of course it’s not enough to just say the words, and you actually have to demonstrate this commitment in day-to-day life at the office. But if you put it out there from the beginning, and make sure everyone gets the same message, that might alleviate some of the anxiety about having the conversation with any one specific person.

    1. OfOtherWorlds*

      That sounds like a very good idea to me. It’s not necessary to single anyone out if your org makes its commitment to diversity part of it’s orientation for everyone.

  38. Master Bean Counter*

    #3–Funny this comes up today. I had a similar conversation yesterday. The AP/AR person from the sister company was in our office talking about going back for her degree. She started talking about enrolling in UoP. My go-to response is, I’ve heard great things about WGU, have you looked into them?
    Both schools offer extensive online programs. One is for-profit, one is non-profit. One is way cheaper and has a great reputation.

    1. Ilikeyoualatte*

      I loved a WGU. I got my first MA from the University of Illinois and second (MBA) from WGU. Waaaaay better all around. A really great nonprofit school with really reasonable prices started by a group of US Governors.

  39. Niki*

    LW3 – I’m not sure if this is something that’s different in the UK to the states, but I actually think that here the fact you’re younger than her would put you in a better position to give advice on this? Recent graduates are a lot closer to the university / college scene than people who have been in the workforce a long time and likely to have more up to date information on which schools are well regarded as well as more anecdotal evidence to share because they’ve had friends applying to and completing Masters programmes recently and can pass on their opinions.

  40. pcake*

    OP#1 – If you have to stay longer, have you asked your company to send you home for some weekends so you can see your husband, friends and ferret and sleep in your own bed periodically? That might help if they need you for longer.

    1. OP1*

      Hmm. I have not. Didn’t even occur to me as an option. Will definitely bring this up if this ends up going on for too much longer!

      1. jolene*

        Or bring your husband to visit and pay for ferret house-sitting so you can have romantic weekends together!

  41. Zillah*

    OP #2 – Your original instincts were right, and I’m glad you didn’t give in to the other managers when they started dragging their feet. As you said, everyone who works for your company needs to be able to exist at work without facing hostility for who they are as a person, including her if she’s hired; bringing religion up in a targeted way when someone hasn’t clearly invited the conversation is always going to feel hostile, just as it would be hostile to remind an atheist that they need to behave morally and ethically on the job. It might make sense to keep a closer eye on her for a bit, but don’t initiate a conversation.

    On another note: I was in a position where I wasn’t working because of family responsibilities but was very active in volunteering for a writing community, and I’m always really gratified to see HMs who are open to seeing volunteer work outside of a professional organization as being significant. :)

  42. DFW*

    LW3: I would be more inclined to frame it as a question considering there is a large gap in experience. I might say “I have heard that graduates of University of Phoenix have had a challenging time finding work due to the fact that they are a for profit institution. What are your thoughts on this?” This way you still communicate that their reputation is troubling but frame it as a question so that it doesn’t appear that you are overstepping. Who knows, the industry that she works in UOP doesn’t have a bad reputation. Nursing is one industry off the top of my head that does not have any problem hiring UOP graduates.

  43. Jaybeetee*

    LW2: As you know, specifically not hiring someone based on religion is illegal in many places, and not hiring someone simply because they were *affiliated* with a religious organization is especially bad (I know you’re not the one doing/suggesting this, I’m just explaining). What concerns me, if your colleagues are already concerned about her behaviour, is how they’ll interpret her on the job.

    I used to date a guy who had JW relatives. They didn’t proselytize to us, but they *did* talk about their church activities a lot, simply because those activities were a big aspect of their lives. One was a minister (not sure what the correct term is?) at his local KH, all of them did a lot of socializing and general stuff through their KHs. It may have been subtle proselytizing, but it also made sense they’d talk about those things – that’s the stuff that was going on in their lives. All this to say, if your colleagues are already sensitive to the idea of this woman “proselytizing”, are they then going to interpret any stray comment she makes about her religion (even if it’s just mentioning that she attended services that weekend, or what have you), as an attempt to convert others? I know general good practice is to limit religious conversations at work, but I wouldn’t want it to lead to people literally unable to talk about what they did over the weekend. I worry that if your colleagues are already worried about this at this stage, it will be a larger systemic issue if she is hired.

    I hear you that you have a diverse workplace and that this isn’t a common sentiment when people of other religions are hired at your company – I just worry that there are larger not-great attitudes going on if colleagues are pre-emptively seeing applicants of certain religions as “potential problems.”

  44. Angela Ziegler*

    #2- This sounds like a very dangerous mindset that can easily be seen as discriminatory, as others have mentioned.

    If the scenario was changed so you were hiring a devoted Muslim man who took great part in religious organizations and events, would you be wary of him treating female co-workers or customers a certain way, and that he’d judge them for the way they dress/act? Unless they gave any indication of that during the application process, it would be *very* out of line to make assumptions like that since they’re based solely on uninformed conclusions and stereotypes. You would be penalizing or scrutinizing them for something they haven’t done, or shown any signs of doing. Unless something actually raises a red flag in the interview process or on the job, there is zero reason to jump to conclusions based on religious affiliation alone. It’s very intolerant to act this way, especially in a workplace that emphasizes diversity. Unless they actually do something to disrupt the workplace, there’s no reason to single them out and scrutinize them more than any other new hire.

    1. Observer*

      If the scenario was changed so you were hiring a devoted Muslim man who took great part in religious organizations and events, would you be wary of him treating female co-workers or customers a certain way, and that he’d judge them for the way they dress/act?

      Sigh. We actually did have this come up here once that I can remember, and some of the reactions were toxic. So, yeah. It’s a problem.

  45. Penny*

    LW3 hurts my heart. My best friend got a Bachelors and a Masters in Accounting from U of Phx and once she started looking for work, couldn’t figure out why companies weren’t biting. She’d been the house accountant for one company for 10 years, seven another. Experience wasn’t an issue, but she felt her degree might have been. I watched her get both degrees and I’ll tell you what: the work was the same. She busted her tush and got As in very challenging classes, all while having to wrangle study groups that barely matched her effort. She earned those degrees and she’s great at her job, which she loves so much she does taxes for minimum wage during tax season for a prep company. However, the source of the degrees (and loans) haunt her and she’s fearing the worst about her prospects.

    1. Cotton Headed Ninny Muggins*

      That’s really sad! I wish the best for your friend, it’s hard when your hard work and expertise is overshadowed by a school’s reputation. Does she have enough hours to sit for the CPA exam? I don’t know if it would help, but it might show that she is as qualified as anyone else.

    2. OP3*

      Oh I’m so sorry for your friend, Penny. Some people here seem to have had okay experiences getting degrees from U of P, but I’ve heard so many more stories like your friend’s. I hope she’s able to find an employer who will look past her school and she her awesome accounting skills.

  46. A Born, Raised, and Active JW*

    Hi OP2, I hope you and your colleagues will give your potential JW employee a chance and the benefit of the doubt unless she gives you firsthand evidence that you should do otherwise.

Comments are closed.