have I been blacklisted from this company, HR is asking me about my sick coworker, and more

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

1. Have I been blacklisted from a company that seemed to like me earlier?

I am a health care provider who applied to my dream job in May of last year. I made it very far in the process over the next few months– 4 interviews, an in-person shadow day, and being asked to submit references. In August was asked to follow up getting the last late reference so they could ” finalize the interview process” (which made me think I was getting the job and the final one was a formality), but then a few hours after it was submitted I got a canned rejection. At the time, I emailed the HR contact and my interviewers (using language from your website) to see if there was anything I could do to improve my experience or application in the future but did not receive a response.

In November they reposted the job (likely due to other turnover or expansion, not that the new hire didn’t work out) and I reapplied. I received an automatic rejection email. Later that month I applied to three jobs at other offices in the same hospital system, receiving that same email once and then twice receiving an email thanking me for interviewing but that they were not moving forward. I emailed back for clarification (since I never interviewed for those positions) but didn’t hear back.

Now the dream job has been posted again and I desperately want to apply again, but I feel I’ve been blacklisted. Should I try to reach out to the HR person or interviewers for clarification first, even though I didn’t hear back before? My resume/credentials/cover letter got me so far in the process the first time I’m not sure how to rework them now that they aren’t getting me in the door for the same role at the same organization. Since it’s a specific health care position, I can’t apply for a more junior role and hope to be promoted. All of my references said they gave positive reviews. Should I just never apply to this company again, even though it’s my ideal job?

You can certainly try contacting the HR person to mention that you got to the finalist stage last year and ask if your application would be considered competitive for the new openings, or the interviewers to ask if they have any advice for you about being more competitive in the future. The fact that they didn’t respond last time make it more likely they won’t respond this time either, but they might and there’s nothing wrong with trying. (And some people will respond to a second contact because it prompts them to realize they didn’t respond to the first one. Others won’t.)

When you get to the final stages of a hiring process and then get rejected, sometimes it just means that you were good but someone else was better and they’d be glad to consider you again in the future. But it sometimes it means that they’re scrutinized you closely enough to have made a final determination that you’re not the right fit for whatever reason, and because they’ve already gone through that close scrutiny, they’re not going to consider you again (at least for a while, like a few years — or longer, depending on what the reason was). The fact that you’re now getting rejected without interviews points to that second one … but it could also be that different hiring managers in the company are looking for different things, or that there’s a more competitive pool of candidates this time around.

It’s really hard to know for sure from the outside! But there’s nothing wrong with applying in the future, because you never know — I just wouldn’t put a ton of energy into it, based on the signs so far.

2. I’m being used as an intermediary between HR and a sick colleague

My coworker Charlotte and I are pretty close friends, but she’s been sick for a few months now, and I’m her primary backup. Since it’s a long-term absence, our management looked for a replacement for her, so I trained her and she stayed for a few months, but it was a week-to-week contract and she left at the end of January.

Charlotte does not get along with our HR rep, Debra. Since Charlotte and I are close, Debra has been coming to me to ask whether Charlotte’s feeling better yet and when she might be back. She’s done this consistently since the start of Charlotte’s absence, every time her doctor’s note is running out. She even asked me to ask Charlotte to fill in some important paperwork because she wasn’t answering her email (side note: Debra has Charlotte’s phone number and Charlotte is not supposed to have access to her email outside of work). I don’t feel like it’s my place to divulge any information I may have about her health, and it seems like Debra’s job to check in with Charlotte about that, but I don’t want to flat-out lie to Debra and say I haven’t heard from her either. Charlotte is not making it any easier by waiting until the very last minute to let us know whether her sickness leave is getting extended or not, so now I’ll have to temporarily do her job on top of mine because she hadn’t let HR know yet if she was coming back in February, and they didn’t have time to start looking for a replacement before the previous person left.

So my question is: what should I do here? Can I help HR out by letting them know before Charlotte does whether it’s likely or unlikely that she’s coming back to work soon, or should I stay out of it completely? I don’t want to be put in the middle of all this just because I’m friends with her, but it did slightly screw me over too now that I have to do her job and mine until we find a new replacement. Technically Charlotte is doing everything by the book, but she could be more helpful than letting us know on the very last day of her leave whether she’ll be back the next day or not. How does this usually work with long-term absences?

You absolutely should stay out of it, both for practical reasons (you could have incorrect or outdated info about Charlotte’s situation, or she might not have shared everything relevant with you) and for privacy reasons (Charlotte should control what medical information about her is shared with her employer). It’s really inappropriate that Debra is asking you for updates instead speaking directly with Charlotte.

I’d do two things: First, let Charlotte know that this is happening and that you’re going to put a stop to it. Then, the next time Debra asks you about Charlotte, say, “You should check with Charlotte directly.” If she presses, then say, “I don’t know what her plans are, and I wouldn’t want to guess in case I got it wrong.” And if she still presses: “Because this is someone else’s private health info, I don’t feel comfortable being part of the conversation.”

3. New coworker is scheduling meetings without giving anyone a heads-up

Recently my company hired a man who has a habit I find really annoying. Whenever he wants to have a meeting with someone, he’ll just book it in the calendar without talking to the people he’s inviting or giving them any sort of heads up, even same-day meetings. I’m not in the habit of just watching my calendar to see if anything new pops up (I check it at the beginning of the day and the end of the day to see what I have coming up). No one else in the company does this — we use our IM system to check in with the meeting participants to confirm the timing works (ensuring no one is working towards an EOD deadline for example) and then book the meeting in. What he’s doing is out of step with our company culture but I’m wondering what’s more common. Do people at other companies just book meetings without conversation regarding timing?

At some companies, yes! Your way is more common, at least in my experience, but there are some offices where the culture is to just book things on people’s calendars the way your coworker is doing. If that’s not your culture, it can be really annoying when someone does that — because in your head you might have been planning to use that time for something else or because you’d want to time to prepare for the meeting rather than be taken by surprise when a notification pops up telling you that it’s starting in 10 minutes or because you might not even want to accept the meeting at all (or want to push back on how much time to allot for it, or so forth).

The best thing to do is to just explain to him that your office doesn’t typically do that, so that he knows and can adjust what he’s doing. Just say something like, “We normally don’t add things to each other’s calendars without a heads-up first. Would you check with me about meetings first to confirm the time works before sticking them on the calendar? IM is a good way to do it.”

4. What to wear on a plane with coworkers

I’m going to an out-of-state work conference for several days, and I’m curious to know your input on how to dress for the flight. In my personal life, I like to dress very comfortably for airplane travel — leggings, comfortable boots or sneakers, and soft, casual shirts or sweaters. Can I dress similarly for work travel? I’m on the same flight as several colleagues, but we’re arriving the day before the conference starts and won’t be going straight into work mode. I work in a casual environment where jeans are common attire, so it’s standard for us not to look very formal at work (though I’ll be upping it to business casual during the conference itself). Your thoughts?

Yep, you should be fine. I wouldn’t take it as far as, like, literal pajama bottoms, but what you’re describing is fine.

5. How much time to give candidates for take-home exercises

I work in a field where it is common for job candidates to complete some sort of take-home exercise as part of the interview process. Depending on the role, these may be writing samples or short technical projects. I have mixed feelings about this overall, but generally think that as long as the candidates aren’t expected to spend more than a few hours on the task, they can be a reasonable way to get a feel for a candidate’s work.

My question is what is a reasonable amount of time to give a candidate to complete a task that may take, let’s say, up to four hours. I was recently involved in a hiring process (not as the hiring manager) where candidates completed a writing exercise. I advocated for giving the candidates at least a week to complete the task, given that they may have existing jobs, families, etc. that could make it hard to find time for this assignment on short notice. From my experience, the last time I had to complete an exercise like this as part of an interview process (not for my current job) I was given more than a week. My boss and their boss both said a week was too long, and that we should give them 48 hours to discourage people from working more than the suggested few hours. I proposed that if overworking is the concern, we could give people a week-long window in which to schedule a time that is convenient for them to work on the exercise, and send it to them then with the shorter turnaround. I also expressed concern that giving a two-day window with no notice filters out candidates whose life circumstances don’t afford them tons of free time.

My bosses didn’t acknowledge this suggestion and moved forward with giving candidates 48 hours. Though of course in reality, unless every candidate checks their email constantly, they have even less time. I haven’t been involved in hiring much before; am I off-base in thinking that this is very short notice? And if it is, is there a better way for me to raise this concern in the future?

You are not off-base. You are absolutely right. People have jobs, families, other commitments, and it’s not reasonable to expect them to fit in several hours working on a hiring exercise without any notice. Your employer is being crappy about this. (Also, four hours is really long under the best of circumstances. With a 48-hour window, that’s ridiculous. As a comparison, I give an exercise that shouldn’t take more than half an hour, and I’m fine with people taking up to a week with it, or even longer if they tell me their schedule means they need more time.)

It sounds like you made all the points you should have made and they just don’t particularly care, so I don’t know that there’s a better way to get through to them. You could try showing them this since maybe they’ll take that as a more authoritative source, and you can say that you’ve heard good candidates say they’re turned off by employers who don’t recognize that they have other commitments in their lives and that this would be a strike against your employer … but it sounds like they may not be open to reason.

{ 460 comments… read them below }

  1. Fleur*

    #3. Yup, the way this guy does things is often how we do things at our office, because people have literally thousands of unread emails in their inbox and it’s really easy to miss/not respond to a question. And people are remote/not at their desks often enough that tracking down even one person can be a chore.

    So if something is important or urgent enough, a calendar invite goes out to the people we need.

    1. Cambridge Comma*

      Your use of ‘calendar invite’ makes me think that you have a system like Outlook where you get a notification when someone adds you to an appointment, and it isn’t added to your calendar firmly until you approve it. OP’s system sounds more like the appointment just goes on the calendar without any notification.
      Perhaps the coworker came from an office with the former type of system, and he thinks he is sending invites?

      1. valentine*

        Perhaps […] he thinks he is sending invites?
        I wondered this, but why not follow up when no one accepts?

        1. Anon for this*

          Except, in my experience with Outlook, I have to go look at the meeting to see whether people accepted. I don’t actually get “yes I accept” notifications. And it’s been common where I’ve worked to assume it’s fine unless someone sends a decline or a rescheduling request.

          1. HarvestKaleSlaw*

            This used to drive me batty too – but there is an easy fix. When you are making the meeting, there is an icon that looks like a sheet of paper with a purple arrow called “Response Options.” Check “request responses.”

            1. Delightful Daisy*

              That is a very useful tip so thank you! Our organization works both ways, most of the time a conversation happens first but sometimes it doesn’t. I work in state government and so it can get interesting to find times that mesh across agencies. I am a huge fan of Doodle polls when convening a group of people.

          2. NotAnotherManager!*

            In Outlook, there are multiple response options, and one of them is “Respond X and Do Not Notify Sender”, which I use for meetings I get because I’m an FYI-only member of certain internal groups, and the event is not intended for me (but it would also be weird for the sender to get a NO response from me because they probably don’t realize that administrative management is on there).

          3. Jennifer*

            I choose not to send a response when I accept a request for a firm-wide meeting or a department-wide meeting because I don’t want the poor organizer to get flooded with hundreds of emails. For smaller meetings, I think it’s polite to send a response.

            1. Adminx2*

              Meh. There are easy rules you can set up to get those sent to a sub folder and never see if you don’t want. Or set up a group calendar which means no person ever actually has to mess with it.
              I just accept it as part of the gig, and enjoy being able to delete a lot of stuff en masse!

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

          At my last workplace, we just scheduled meetings and generally I didn’t expect or want responses; they just clog up the email. If I need to get a specific group of people into a room, I’ll look at their calendars, pick a time that seems to work for them, and schedule it. If I’m the one who really needs something *from them,* it’s on me to follow up and make sure that those people will be there. If it’s not essential that every person is there, then it’s on them to figure out whether they plan to attend or not, and if they can’t, they need to raise it and propose a new time (or ask for a new time). It’s not a frictionless system, but then, none is.

      2. CM*

        Interesting. Every office I’ve worked in used outlook so it didn’t occur to me that this might be a calendar system without notifications.

        Even with notifications, I probably wouldn’t risk a same-day invite without talking to the key people first, juzt because, in the environments I’ve been in, there’s too high a chance they’re not going to see the notification in time. Other places could be different though.

        1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

          Yes – there isn’t a single person at my work that I would try to schedule a meeting with – today – who I would not check with first. It’s fine to schedule something a few days out, but same day meetings no way. I would never assume that they have extra time to drop at the last minute.

        2. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

          My company is the opposite. Same day meetings are the norm. In some cases same day meetings that are expected to trump other meetings are fine.

          We are very meeting centric, so it’s not uncommon to be double or even triple booked.

          Honestly it bugs me when people ask me if it’s ok to schedule a meeting… my answer is always the same. Check my calendar it’s always up to date. If you see a time that works book it. Complete waste of time in my opinion to ask someone first. All it does is interrupt something else that I can very easily answer via the invitation response, which I will either accept, propose a different time, or decline.

          I also block out time in my own calendar if I know I’ll need work time for something. It helps but see the double/triple meetings…

          1. Anja*

            This is me and my office as well. We can see when people are booked busy in their calendars and book into empty spaces. If someone is booked all day I might send them a note and say “hey, we need to meet with you urgently. do you have any time today where we could meet?” since sometimes when people are busy with a deadline or something they’ll just block off time. Otherwise I assume they’ll send me a note asking me to reschedule if it doesn’t work for them for some reason.

            That’s not saying it’s the right way, though it’s definitely my preferred way. But it can be a very standard office norm. Just let new employee know that it’s not the culture in your office.

        3. ISuckAtUserNames*

          Agreed. My office is generally a “send out meeting invites” kind of place, but the exception is same-day meetings, generally speaking. Usually if we’re scheduling a same day meeting we’re already talking about why we need it in the first place, so it’s not hard. If something urgent comes up, people generally apologize for the late notice if they need to schedule a broader meeting the same day.

      3. Jubilance*

        At my company we also are “required” to set our calendars to “open” in Outlook, which means that anyone within the company can see what your meeting titles are, unless the meeting is set to private.

        When I first joined I really bristled at it, but I find it really useful when trying to schedule either a same day meeting, or a large meeting with a lot of attendees. A lot of people have holds on their calendar (no meetings Mons/Fris) or calendar holds for things like drop in hours, and most of the time I can say “hey you’ve got analytics drop in hours at this time we’re trying to schedule a meeting, can we schedule over that?”

    2. another scientist*

      at my work place, we all have the gmail system and can see each other’s calendars, at least whether something is scheduled or not. It’s totally normal to put a meeting on the calendar, everyone gets an email notification and they can decline or reschedule if needed. So, instead of a message ‘would a meeting at this time work for you?’, it’s a meeting invite, but it implies the same request.

      1. T3k*

        Same. Last job I had it was very common for us to schedule meetings using gmail, and very common that not everyone was going to attend (as long as the important decision makers could). Granted it didn’t show employee events to contractors so I may have accidentally scheduled a meeting during one social event one time…

      2. Murphy*

        Same. If it’s a same day meeting, I’ll usually check in with the person, but otherwise if the person’s schedule looks open it’s generally okay to just schedule the meeting.

      3. parsley*

        we’ve got a similar set up with outlook at my current place, and I have to say, as a team admin who previously had to to-and-fro on dates and times, it’s amazingly freeing to just be able to see who’s available and jam meetings in where they’ll fit.

      4. pleaset*

        This saves so much time.

        I don’t think it’s appropriate the same day, or perhaps for the next day, but for other stuff it’s so much better than an email to check on a time.

        When people email me asking for time in a meeting in the future that I’m open to attending, I often say “That’s fine – and my calendar is up-to-date is you want a different time.”

      5. NotAnotherManager!*

        This is how we work as well (but with Outlook).

        I actually find it really irritating to do three rounds with everyone via email or IM when the requester could just look at our calendars in Meeting Scheduler, propose a time, and let us sort it out via calendar invite (where it actually puts the meeting in my calendar rather than me having to look it up separately).

      6. Ruth*

        Yep, same at my two most recent workplaces. Depending on the situation one might give a heads’ up, but it saves on back-and-forth to simply send the invite saying “I was hoping we could discuss X” and then we’re open to people rescheduling, etc.

        That said, if I’m going to schedule same-day, I’ll definitely try to get ahold of the person. But otherwise it’s a lot fewer emails exchanged!

        I can see how this would be weird if you weren’t in a culture and how it would be strange NOT to do it at my next POW.

    3. Aphrael*

      This is normal where I work too (Outlook-based), to the point where I actually find it annoying when someone *does* ask first, because then it’s an interruption when they could just look at my calendar.

      Where I work, it’s also common to preemptively block off time on your calendar as “hold for X” or “no meetings” if you’re going to be working on something high priority during that time.

      1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

        Ugh, if only that works – I have, in the past two weeks, had two occasions with multiple conflicting appointments, DESPITE having a system where everyone can at least SEE everyone else’s availability prior to booking meetings, and the lower eschellons only get minimum privacy settings, so we can see if it’s a meeting in a room, or a keep free.
        Best example was last week – time booked out 2 – 5pm “Keep Free for Project X, working inf conference room, deadline 4:30pm”; meeting booked with grandboss 2:30 – 3pm “introducing new contractor for Project Y”; drop in meeting with my boss (who sits next to me and knows when I’m at my desk by looking over!) 4 – 4:30pm. Ugh.

      2. Allonge*

        Heh, I don’t like being called about it either. We have various options on how much we allow others to see our calendar, you see a lot of my information, why exactly are you taking my time by calling me and asking me to confirm what you see?
        [sigh, deep breath]
        I only really get annoyed when someone does it the third time.

      3. Elemeno P.*

        It’s the same at my work. If someone calls and asks me about a meeting time, it’s either because a) they’re trying to see if they can override something on my schedule for something important (fine) or b) they don’t know how to use Outlook and want me to do it for them (ranges from fine to “that is some sexist bs and you’d better learn” depending on the person).

      4. LQ*

        Absolutely. If it’s free take it. I don’t have some secret agenda of time. If I need some other time I’ll block it off. I also commonly will block time I’d prefer to have to work on something else but can be interrupted for a more critical meeting with “Ask me first” or whatever.

        It’s weird when people look at my schedule and then ask, dude by the time I get back to you that time may be taken.

        We do have some cultural things like rarely meetings before 9 and don’t do meetings over lunch 12-1 unless you have to. But all of those things are implicit so yes, making them explicit is really good!

        1. Need a Beach*

          Interestingly, some people at my job DO have secret agendas of time. Some department heads here are super butts-in-seats, while others are progressive and allow occasional remote work. People who can work from home have to block out their off-site days with things like “busy” or “not available” so they don’t set off the angry dinosaurs and cause backlash, but they are still technically available for Skype meetings via phone.

          1. LQ*

            I know some people do. It’s a strange thing, but I actually have to say it. (Though I don’t usually say it quite like that…) Like telling people that they can actually schedule on the ask me first time if they ask me first. (Weirdly the people I most want to schedule those times, or am most ok with scheduling the times, are least likely to.)

      5. LessNosy*

        Big same. Also, I’ve noticed that people in my workplace will actually question why you didn’t just add something to their calendar rather than asking them.

        Whenever I send an Outlook invite, I write a short message like “Hi Jane, Does this time work for a quick call about the teapot project? Thanks!” to intro the purpose, my intent, etc.

      6. azvlr*

        I have several people I work closely with who block out they are entire day and all it say is “Busy”. Coupled that with the fact that a few of my close colleagues will only talk to me if I have pre-arranged time on the calendar. I used to reach out and ask, but now I just schedule and in the rare cases they are not actually available, they can look at my calendar to see a time that works to reschedule.
        I understand the need to guard your time against distractions, but setting up a meeting takes more time on my end than to call or IM with a question. Really the opposite of teamwork.

    4. Just Employed Here*

      I’m always amazed when people mention having thousands of *unread* emails in their inboxes. I mean, why ever email anyone like that? If the chances of it even getting opened, never mind read and acted upon, are that slim, the company might as well do away with email altogether.

      1. Lavender Menace*

        Most of the time, in my experience at least, the vast majority of them are corporate junk – newsletters from employee networks I belong to, other teams advertising for jobs on their team, some announcements about one or another company event I am not interested in attending, people cc’ing me more as an FYI than as an action item or a need-to-know, etc. I hate having a cluttered inbox so I try to go through and mark them all read and them move them out of my inbox if I know I don’t have to actually read them, but I could see it.

        1. Just Employed Here*

          Yeah, I myself have 9 year’s worth of *read* mail in my inbox. I don’t bother moving or deleting it (except for the porn *with pictures* I’ve been getting lately…I’m pretty pissed at our IT team for not considering it a big deal). And when I’ve been away for long parental leaves I’ve just marked all the emails in there as read without going through them when coming back (I’ve had an auto reply on, of course).

          But for me, an unread email means I should read it, or at least check what it is and mark it as read. People who don’t even check their emails must be throwing the proverbial baby out with the mucky bathwater that is spam, semi random cc:ing, and newsletters.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Just checked, I have a bit over 1K unread ones in mine. Typically department-wide emails that have to go out to everyone, but have little or no bearing on my work.

        1. LadeeDa*

          This whole thread about unread emails is blowing my mind!!!
          If they don’t pertain to you, why don’t you delete them– and if you don’t open them how do you know they aren’t important if you don’t read them.
          I really want to go organize all of your IN-boxes and set up rules. LOL!

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            That’s a lot of non-value added work.

            Outlook automatically archives them on a rolling basis.

            1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              Adding to previous comment, we don’t need to open them to know that they aren’t important, because a preview pops up on our screen. So if I see something in the corner of my eye with a subject like “Planned maintenance for pink teapots this Sunday”, and my group only works with purple teapots, then I don’t have to open it. But I don’t have the time to go into Outlook and delete it, either.

              1. Decima Dewey*

                Seconded. If I’m not working Saturday or Sunday, it doesn’t matter who the duty officer for that day is. If I’m not interested in working OT at Ecclesford, Kellynch Hall, Donwell Abbey, or Longbourn branches, I don’t. Periodically I go through the list and delete stuff that’s outdated or that I never needed in the first place.

          2. Detective Amy Santiago*

            Same OMG. This thread is giving me anxiety.

            Nothing stays in my inbox unless I need to take action on it. It either gets deleted or filed.

            1. Nessun*

              In the worst way!! I like to live at near-zero inbox status. I’ve attended seminars that tout zero-inbox status, but I’ve never quite got there. I settle for “only the immediate undone tasks” in there, and everything else gets appropriately filed. Keeping a huge inbox would stress me out unbelievably.

              1. Sam Sepiol*

                Usually I keep my inbox to 10 emails or less. For the last 6-8 months there have been hundreds. It makes me very anxious but that’s just how my workload has been recently. Things should calm down soon and I have my manager’s blessing to take a day to get in under control.

                1. TJ*

                  I can’t remotely understand how taking an *entire scheduled day* to catch up on email is worse than having a rolling backlog.

                  I normally do a good job of skimming and categorizing email day-to-day. Some days I get 100’s of emails from 10’s of organizations, discounting lists and notifications that I’ve signed up for. A few days of being too busy to keep up with them means folks may have to communicate more directly about things that really matter. I’d rather have that expectation than the one where I drop a day of productive work to read a lot of drivel.

                  Why not just carry on and accept that email from weeks ago doesn’t matter unless the sender has cared enough to follow up?

              2. Adminx2*

                My average is 100. If I get below that, I’m very happy. If I get close to 200 I get antsy. But 100 action items at one time is decent (half meetings to schedule, a quarter expenses, other project updates, new hires stuff, etc).

          3. NotAnotherManager!*

            I actually hate auto-foldering rules because then I have to troll through multiple folders for new items, and it also makes managing email on my phone (which I do a lot) harder because of the volume of accounts, folders, and messages.

            We use Outlook, which is very easy to filter by sender, subject, unread, etc. – it’s far easier to just search for what I need than to be religious about deletion or keeping my inbox clean. I file what we are required to file for client recordkeeping, and I search the rest. In Outlook, “read:no” is my best friend, followed closely by “from:Boss”; in Gmail, it’s “is:unread”. I do my best to delete things that I don’t need, but I get so much it sneaks up on me and it also doesn’t really bother me that much to have tons in my box because it’s so easy to search and filter it.

        2. Jennifer*

          1,230 here! I’m proud. Mostly because people copy me on crap that has nothing to do with my job.

          Stanley voice *why are you cc’ing me on things that have nothing to do with me?”

      3. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

        So it sounds like you don’t get copied on things unnecessarily or the dreaded 15+ email chain where you can catch the most up to date information the most recent email.

        I can look away from my inbox for 30 minutes and 50+ new emails on a bad day. I just looked and in the 1 hour I’ve been here I’ve already received 20 emails, which is average. Considering I generally only have 5-10 minutes between meetings and a full 1/2 hour block of time on my calendar is rare. I don’t have time to read everything. I certainly don’t have time to read everything and then file all my emails… so it just sits in my inbox where there is currently 16,284 emails with 5,391 being unread.

        1. Asenath*

          I’m astonished at the numbers of emails some people get! I thought I got a lot – but it’s never more than I can clear fairly quickly, with the very few routine copy to everyone things easy to spot and dispose of. I currently have 10 emails in my inbox; a few are regarding ongoing issues and a couple more I’ll get to today and clear them. Email is my number 1 priority in the morning, since all my instructions on what to do and requests to follow up etc come that way, which is an additional incentive to keep the inbox pretty clear.

          On the bright side, I rarely have to attend meetings, so I’m sitting at my computer pretty well all the time, and can keep tabs on any new emails while working on all the things that are either routine or something new requested by email.

          1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

            It’s one of those weird things that sort of creeps up on you and becomes the norm. Every once in awhile I’ll catch a glimpse of someone else’s calendar or inbox and I think it’s absolutely bare. At the same time people will glance at mine and be shocked at both.

            But yes, if you’re not used to getting a lot then I can see how it’s hard to imagine the volume.

        2. Just Employed Here*

          I do get copied on a lot of unnecessary stuff and/or the whole conversation where only the last email is relevant to me. But it’s really quick to just let Outlook mark those as read, based on having had it open in the preview window for a little (length specified by me) moment. I do this when on the phone or when thinking about something else. It’s not really a burden for me.

          “I generally only have 5-10 minutes between meetings”

          I’m flabbergasted again. When do you actually get any work done? And how do you know you don’t miss important emails?

    5. Asenath*

      Only yesterday I got an invitation for a meeting that will take up all of this morning – less than 24 hours’ notice. This is NOT the way we usually do things – the people who called it are from another part of our organization and clearly are not aware of the lead time needed to get people in certain roles to clear their calendars – or to reach a date far enough in the future that their calendars don’t need to be cleared. Sure enough, the first “cannot come on such short notice” response was sent out almost immediately to all by the software they were using. It will be interesting to see if it goes ahead, since it’s on a topic that the Powers that Be are pushing – but won’t have some of the more important and busy participants.

    6. Val Zephyr*

      Yeah, what this guy is doing would be normal in my office. I’m surprised that Alison said that it’s uncommon because everywhere I’ve worked uses Outlook and Outlook is designed so people can see each others calendars and send meeting requests that can be declined or rescheduled without having to send a separate email to ask if they are available.

      1. Ginger*

        Yup, same here. What he is doing is super normal at my office. What a pain it would be to go around to every person and collect availability. And waste of time.

        OP, this another case of speak up! If someone is doing something that bothers you or doesn’t fit in your office norms, say something. It’s becoming a bigger deal than it needs to be.

        1. Dragoning*

          Yeah, I get a meeting invite and accept/decline and if I decline, sometimes I will be asked why.

          When I schedule meetings, I just hunt for an open block of time on everyone’s calendars and pop it in there.

          1. Où est la bibliothèque?*

            Same. People in my office are really good at blocking off time for themselves, too. So if they need an uninterrupted afternoon to work steadily on something, they make sure it’s not available for meetings.

      2. MusicWithRocksInIt*

        Yes, but it doesn’t sound like they are using Outlook, because you would get an email notification. It sounds like it is just popping up on her calendar without notifying her. My first thought was that these people need Outlook, but it would probably just be easier to let the guy know the system doesn’t work like that and you have to check with people. To be fair, my office uses Outlook, and I would never presume to schedule a meeting for the same day without checking with people, but we don’t put every little thing on our calendars, only meetings.

        1. Val Zephyr*

          I’m really curious what email and calendar system OP3’s employer uses. Every system I’m familiar with sends you an email notification when someone puts something on your calendar so there’s no need to watch your calendar all day.

            1. OP3*

              OP3 here – I work in a small (less than 50 people) agency setting dealing with client management so I check my email constantly.

              We use G-suite, which will typically send an e-mail, but without getting into too much detail, the way we use G-suite results in many many many irrelevant e-mails a day so most staff have e-mail notifications turned off. We’re a pretty team-based environment and use our IM *very* heavily, so setting up a group chat with meeting participants and saying hey “is Tuesday 1:00 good for everyone to talk about the new llama grooming techniques? Remember to bring your brushes!” is very much the norm – meetings rarely involve more than 5-6 people at a time so this isn’t a hassle. We also find this method allows people to feel like they’re more empowered to make suggestions for alternate times when they’re busy instead of simply resigning to “make it work” which in turn allows them to be more present and engaged during meetings.

              1. Val Zephyr*

                I think its a little unfair to be annoyed at your new co-worker for not immediately being aware of your company’s system for scheduling meetings (which is pretty unusual). It sounds like someone just needs to let him know the preferred way of scheduling meetings at your company and make sure that its covered during orientation for new employees in the future.

              2. CaliCali*

                I feel like the bigger issue is that your use of Gsuite is resulting in many irrelevant emails a day — the whole goal of it is to REDUCE email and use collaboration tools! (Disclosure: I used to work for a Google implementation partner) To be honest, your system IS outside the norm — the purpose of a calendar is to show when you’re free and when you’re not, so that people can schedule time with you accordingly. It’s adding an extra step. The way this guy is doing it is the norm.

                1. SarahTheEntwife*

                  My workplace uses Gsuite collaboration tools, but what that means is that half my emails some days are “X has scheduled an appointment with you” and “Y has shared this document with you” and “you have an appointment in 10 minutes”.

                2. OP3*

                  so-and-so has added a comment to your document (x30 emails saying exactly this).

                  (Also I love your name!)

                3. plant lady*

                  OP3, you know you can turn off notifications for Google Drive, right? (And you could still get notifications for Google Calendar.)

          1. CMart*

            I used to have my Outlook calendar settings to auto-accept any meeting (I was new and entry-level and figured I wasn’t really going to be in a position to decline meetings), so the meeting invites would get accepted and then deleted in the blink of an eye. So I frequently would be surprised to see things on my calendar!

            But I also looked at it obsessively throughout the day since it’s always open on one of my monitors.

      3. SarahKay*

        I find this a really useful question because I work like this guy does, as do most of my site. I find it really frustrating on the occasions when I do receive an email saying “Can I set up a meeting, and when would be good?” My immediate thought is ‘Yes, and just check my calendar for when I’m free – that’s what the Outlook Calendar is for‘ with a small side-thought of ‘Duh!’. (And yes, I makes sure that polite email response back does not include any hint of Duh!)

        So for me, it’s great to understand why people might not follow what seems like the obvious thing to do.

        1. OP3*

          It’s really funny because for me it seems like the obvious thing to ask – it’s so interesting to see how a different workplace culture can shift your perception of someone.

          I’m glad the question was useful to you though, it’s certainly been useful to me to see all of the different experiences people have in this respect!

      4. Coldfeet*

        Agreed. I definitely do not want to have a separate communication about booking a meeting. Just find a time in my calendar, and book it. Include information about the purpose of the meeting in the invitation, and state whether it’s urgent or could be moved if my schedule required it.

      5. Not Today Satan*

        Yeah, it actually drives me nuts when people send separate emails asking if a meeting time works.

        1. Arjay*

          And often by the time you hear back from all the recipients, you find that all the conference rooms are booked so you have nowhere to meet at all!

          1. Adminx2*

            UGH so often I’ve just thrown a hold on immediately to get it ON the dang calendar and THEN sent the “Is this ok?” request. I have still gotten dinged for that a few time for not “checking first.”

    7. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Yup, it’s totally a thing here too, so that both people that need to talk have the time blocked off for it. It is absolutely okay to decline or propose new time if the time on the invite does not work.

    8. RabbitRabbit*

      I only severely bristle at these sorts of invitations when they’re completely out of the blue. Last time I got a meeting invitation without even knowing the person, I just declined outright.

      That being said, my office is not hardcore about scheduling all of our work time/prep time/etc on our office calendars, so we do prefer to at least have an idea that someone wants to set up a meeting first before receiving the invite. For instance, two days a week I have major meetings and will frequently need to prep beforehand or write up notes afterwards, but I don’t block out my calendar for prep time/post-meeting time. I probably won’t want to meet with you during those times unless I get advance notice.

    9. Observer*

      Same day invites in an environment like yours are asking for trouble – if I’m that swamped with email, I might not see your meeting invite in time.

      That’s why the OP’s office has a chat tool.

      1. Someone Else*

        I think there a multiple layers of issue here though…my office has a chat tool and it’s decidedly NOT intended for use like OP’s office’s workaround. I mean, if it works for them, great, but if they get that many calendar notifications for things they DON’T need to see it defeats the purpose of having notifications in the first place…which is how new person ended up with this disconnect where lots of others are like “why extra step”. The workaround may work, but root-cause why I’d be looking at ways to minimize the notifications from all the “didn’t really need one” stuff so that getting calendar notifications for meeting invites might actually be a productive thing?

    10. Mbarr*

      Oh man, if people reached out to me constantly to see if I had availability, I’d go batty. I’m focusing on work – if you want my attention, book the meeting (with an agenda in the invite).

      1. yasmara*

        Wow, the way the new guy in #4 schedules meetings is exactly the way everyone schedules meetings at where I work. We are a Very Large Organization and you can see the availability (not the specific event, just available vs not available) on everyone’s calendar and we schedule meetings for multiple people all the time. I try not to do same-day meeting scheduling, but certainly every other meeting is just scheduled, often with little discussion beforehand. Usually we give some context in the title of the meeting and also in the “notes” field, with a link to an agenda, if there is one, but this is absolutely the way things are done here and I would be super annoyed if someone asked me before scheduling every single meeting. As others have said, if there’s a critical need for your time that day, you block your calendar accordingly and we are also free to decline a meeting invitation if it doesn’t work (or even ask for a reschedule if you are a critical participant).

        1. OP3*

          I think that’s where the difference lies – we are not a Very Large Organization in any way and meetings rarely involve more than 5-6 people, so a quick group chat in the IM to confirm Tuesday at 1:00 is a good time to meet is seen as the standard courtesy.

          1. Someone Else*

            Just to give you some extra context…I’m seeing a disconnect between “Not Large Org” and “so many notifications that they’re meaningless”. I’ve worked at companies with between 50-100 people and what your new guy is doing has been the norm at all of them. If it’s not the norm at yours, obviously, you don’t need to change to fit with his, but I wanted to push back on the idea that what he’s doing might be just a Very Large Org thing. A quick group chat to confirm a meeting where I’ve worked would annoy people who’d all response with something like “my calendar is current; just send the invite”. We tend to only ask about meetings if we’re asking someone to move an existing block, or looping in someone external. I’m curious how you got to the point that calendar notifications are so plentiful that they get ignored with an org this small? Again, not trying to talk you out of your system if it works for everyone but him, but I also don’t think the new person is remotely out of line for thinking what he’s doing is normal in an org your size.

            1. OP3*

              Sorry, I should have clarified, the notifications from G-suite as a whole are turned off for most team members, not just the calendar. I realize this wouldn’t work for a lot of other companies, but for the way we operate it makes a lot of sense. That’s a whole rabbit hole to go down so I’ll leave it at that and hope you take me at my word.

    11. Lauren*

      OP just needs to make sure their calendar is updated and block off time. This guy is assuming that your calendar is open at least. I have an acct person who only cares about her schedule and picks time that work for only her and expects us to move our other meetings for her and then gets visibly angry when we don’t show up. Your coworker is at least looking at your calendars. So block your calendar for work time and set up your alerts so you get emails asking to accept with reminders of when the meetings are.

    12. Adminx2*

      My fave scheduling gig was at a company that rigidly expected you to manage your calendar show time- if you were out, show as out. If you were showing open, then expect a meeting to be filled. If you end up with a conflict or need to shift YOU have to notice it and ask.

      Loved it.

      Sitting around waiting for someone to get back on if they REALLY can do this meeting when 6 other people are good at that time but won’t be for another month due to vacations and things is extremely tedious and unnecessary.

  2. Spartan*

    Op 5. 4 hours is a lot to spend on something you may end up not wanting to begin with. Where in the interview process exactly is this? You could easily lose good candidates who just don’t have the free time or who want to talk with you before giving that kind of tine commitment.

    1. GCox*

      I’m a software developer, and I see this a lot before an in person interview – sometimes before a phone screen. I hate this trend of employers demanding significant investment before putting any time in, and I’ve been fortunate enough to screen these employers out.

      To the point, 48 hours notice for a four hour project is ridiculous. If I was applying there, I’d assume this is typical management-employee relations and consider it a bullet dodged.

      1. KayEss*

        I had to write out detailed answers to a series of questions about my experience and skills before the first phone interview with my now-manager at my current (fantastic) job… which was then followed by a design/coding exercise (which did not have a time limit, and I probably sank 12 hours into it over about a week) before the in-person interview. Even desperately unemployed, I almost didn’t follow through on that first step because I was so turned off at having to invest time in sitting down and writing out answers to the kind of questions I would expect to be asked in an interview, all without knowing anything about the position or company beyond what was in the job posting.

        I at least felt a little better about the written questions when several of the interviewing staff referenced my answers at my in-person interview (so I knew they all at least read them), and I could see that they were really trying to be very conscientious about making sure candidates had a somewhat unusual set of skills. But they definitely almost lost me on that first step, because I had no way of knowing if they were a sane workplace or if step two pre-interview would be the bogus personality tests (starting off down the road toward step ten, the Scientology initiation).

        1. Need a Beach*

          My job was temp-to-hire. During my transition from agency employee to corporate employee, corporate HR made me complete IQ and personality tests. If I hadn’t already sunk 2 years into the job and that had been my first exposure to the company, I would have fled like bees were chasing me.

      2. Less Bread More Taxes*

        I’m in software also, and I think this is why code tests are so common. Even though they get a lot of hate, they’re tough to prepare for so the candidates don’t actually waste too much time.

        I was asked to do a 3-5 hour exercise once after a phone screen. When I turned it down, they were pretty confused and I wish I’d had a more eloquent way of saying “I don’t have time for that!”

      3. Fergus*

        for me beyond a bullet dodge, more like the management there having machine guns with an extender clip

      4. Dagny*

        Had this happen exactly once. I believe, firmly, that the company was demonstrating to me that they had no regard for my personal time and that if I had been sufficiently foolish to take the job, they would have made my life difficult with multiple artificial deadlines, long nights, and a general lack of respect.

        These people should understand that talented job applicants use the interview process to evaluate *them*.

    2. Black Targaryen*

      Yeah, I’d remove myself from being considered for this if I had to do a 4 hr assignment within 48 hours.

    3. Jasnah*

      Also it’s not really 48 hours to the applicant. It’s 48 hours from when the company sends it to when they want it back.

      Presumably they send it during business hours, during which the applicant is probably also working. After work they commute home, prepare and eat dinner, perhaps take care of some chores or exercise or family commitments. Then they have a bedtime routine, like showering or reading. I’d say many adults don’t have more than 2-3 hours in the evening to spend on hobbies or something important like this, without cutting into sleep.

      As someone without a lot of hard commitments outside of work, it would take me 2 full business days to find 4 hours to work on an assignment like this. I would have to drop everything to work on this as soon as your company sent it. So I think this is a pretty unreasonable turnaround time to expect of applicants. Could your boss even do this in 48 hours?

      1. JessaB*

        Not to mention, let’s say you only look at your email after you’ve done dinner and all that, and now you have less than 24 hours especially if you count the next day’s work and your sleep time. It’s not just the time they send it, it’s the time you see it.

        1. Jasnah*

          Exactly. Even assuming your applicants are chomping at the bit to work for you and refreshing their email every bathroom break they get, this is still a really short turnaround time and it’s not at all indicative of how much time they actually spent on the assignment. So the company gets 0 actionable information from this (besides what the applicant can do in a rush job), and the applicant gets a whoooole lot of red flags about the company’s expectations and respect for their workforce.

      2. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

        I’m between jobs at the moment and I could do a four hour project during day time, when my partner is at work. It could even be fun to get something to do! If a company asked me to do this, I would STILL be somewhat annoyed. It’s a lot of time to use just for one job, that you may or may not want in the first place, and even if you want it, you may not get, no matter how well you do the four hour project.

        1. Sam.*

          This is the really key point, to me. Any of their candidates who are currently employed (which I would imagine is most of them) are going to have an extremely hard time doing this. They’re saying, “Either tonight or tomorrow night, you have to give up all your available non-work time to complete this project.” Even if I didn’t have responsibilities and could do that – yeah, absolutely not. Massive sign that the company does not respect a healthy work-life balance and is not thoughtful about their employees’ lives outside of work. Yikes.

        2. Fergus*

          you may not get, no matter how well you do the four hour project. that is my friends complaint, he does the work and then he hears crickets

      3. Mary*

        I am lucky if I get half an hour of “free” time in 24 hours at the moment, because the baby’s refusing to go to sleep before nine! It took me several days to find the time to sit down with my laptop and pay bills. To do a “four hour task”, I would need to schedule an afternoon or a morning on the weekend when my partner was going to take the kids out of the house, or was going to look after the kids at home so I could take a laptop to a café or library and work there. There is absolutely no way I could do something like this!

        1. Matilda Jefferies*

          Plus, most people can’t work on something like this for four hours straight (especially if they’re new parents!) Likely it would be 2 x 2 hours, or even 4 x 1 hour. So that’s more logistics, more child care, more leaving the house, etc etc etc.

          And even an hour at a time would be a stretch for me some days – I wake up at 6:30am, and I’m working/ commuting/ parenting until 9:30pm. I would likely aim for 8 x 1/2 hour, then do two half hours of work and bail on the whole thing.

      4. Solidus Pilcrow*

        Also factor in, some places block external email providers and/or forbid cell phone use (I’ve worked for 2 companies like this), so an applicant may not even be able to check email until after work.

      5. American Ninja Worrier*

        Yeah, even as someone who checks personal email a few times during the day, it would take me a minimum of two business days to do a 4-hour project. And it would require me to cancel any social plans I might have, skip the gym, maybe go an extra day without washing my hair to make up some sleep time, neglect my grocery shopping or housework, etc. It really sucks to spend 40+ hours a week focusing on your job and then have to go home and use the same level of brain power to complete an assignment like this. No thanks.

    4. Annette*

      Four hours is way too many. I would question the company’s respect for applicants and commitment to diversity. And I would not wait to be proven wrong.

    5. AnonAnon*

      If someone asked me for 4 hours of work, I’d send them an invoice.

      I get that this is common for your industry, but it’s still a very unpleasant thing to impose on a candidate. I would be most concerned with what they are trying to accomplish here. Is this an accurate assessment of the candidate’s skills? Is it a project that is going to be included in a finished product? Or is it like waiting outside the Shaolin temple for three days to prove you really want to join?

      1. Fergus*

        waiting outside the Shaolin temple for three days to prove you really want to join?

        some jobs i have been asked to give a whole day..it’s nope…nope..nope in all of nopedome

        1. :-)*

          waiting outside the Shaolin temple for three days to prove you really want to join?

          Film reference (American Shalin from 1991) . Loved it as a child, now I cringe at it, it’s bad in so many ways :’)

    6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Agreed—the exercise is too long, and limiting the time in which to complete it is unreasonable. Assuming people do things like sleep and work at least 8 hours a day, there’s about 16 hours leftover in that time period (not even accounting for meals, commute time, etc.). Four hours is 25% of a person’s “free time” during a 48-hour period. That’s excessive.

      I’d give them an exercise of no more than 1 hour and give them a week to complete it. But if your company is wedded to the 4 hour exercise, then give people at least one week and up to 10 days.

      1. Break*

        You actually got the math wrong there… It’d be 8 hours free, so it’s 50% of the free time, even worse!

    7. AgencyPerspective*

      This one is interesting to me because my old company used to do the same so we could see how designers handle a larger task (from research to ideation to design to presentation). 4 hours is about enough to let them get through that process starting from a really clear brief.

      Two important points: 1. this exercise was done before a final interview which consisted of a presentation of their work to the whole design team and questions about the work. 2. the candidate would arrange a 4 hour period that worked for them. They would receive the brief when they expected it and were able to work on it, have a short call for questions and be expected to send their presentation in by the end of 4 hours.

      It gave us a great idea of how people work and whether we could put them in front of clients.

      1. Not in the US*

        This makes sense to me particularly if only 1-2 candidates do it and it’s client facing.

        I gave our candidates a 30 minute timed exercise that they were told about up front, was done in our office at the end of their interview. I needed to be sure that whoever we hired knew the program I was testing well because that’s often an area people exaggerate – which turned out to be the case for some candidates.

    8. KP*

      If the interviewer were forced to have to schedule onsite space for this 4 hour exercise for every candidate they want to complete this, it would probably become instantly clear how unreasonable and burdensome the request really is.

    9. ThursdaysGeek*

      From all of these comments, the candidates you’re especially filtering out are the good ones who are employed and don’t NEED your job. If you’re happy getting only those who are unemployed or desperate, who can drop parts of their life while they do your test, if you’re happy knowing that those who have options are going to opt out, then continue this practice. But if you ever want to get good candidates, that 48 hour window for a 2-4 hour test needs to be re-evaluated.

    10. bluephone*

      Count me in an as another job candidate who would find this very off-putting, to the point of giving other job hunters a heads up. I hope OP 5’s bosses listen to them because otherwise, they’re going to have a very hard time filling the role with *good* candidates (and keeping it filled long-term).

    11. OP #5*

      This happens after two phone interviews and before an on-site interview. I absolutely agree that we will lose good candidates over this. I would certainly reconsider my interest in a job opening if I were put in this position.

      As it happened, several people completed the exercise and no one complained (to my knowledge). We hired a great person into the role, which is fortunate for the team though unfortunate for convincing my bosses that this hiring process is unreasonable. I hope future candidates push back strongly on this — maybe if we lose enough promising candidates over it that will be a wakeup call. In the meantime I will keep trying to convince the hiring managers here that this practice is unfair, but it doesn’t seem like they’re particularly open to hearing it.

  3. Kitty*

    #3 I don’t understand how he can just add it to your calendar without any input from you? All the calendar systems I’ve used, the organiser sends an invite and the invitees have to accept or decline. If he’s set a random time without consulting anyone, of course it’s okay to decline. And if someone just hasn’t seen the invite and hasn’t responded becuase it was so short notice, he can’t reasonably expect them to come.

    1. Zee*

      Depends on permissions, if it’s Outlook. I can direct book with some colleagues but only request with others.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Huh. I just noticed that I can turn off “Request Responses”, so I guess the OP’s sysadmin has turned that off by default, whereas most of us apparently have that turned on by default.

        1. Akcipitrokulo*

          Request responses still sends the invite – it just doesn’t spam you with acceptances.

          (We use it to mark holidays in everyone’s calendar – send a no-response, time free and no reminder meeting for all-day. Then it’s at the top of your calendar.)

    2. sacados*

      I don’t think the issue is not being able to decline. The problem happens because Coworker just sets the meeting/sends an invite assuming that serves as enough notification to people that the meeting is happening. But OP doesn’t check her calendar frequently throughout the day so without a separate heads up via chat or something, she’s just not noticing that the meeting was scheduled to begin with.

      1. sacados*

        And as far as not expecting people to come without RSVP, my office actually does.
        If you’ve set a meeting at a time when all participants’ calendars are clear, it’s assumed that they will be attending the meeting unless they specifically decline the invite. People tend to be pretty lax about actually responding “Yes” to meetings and only give a heads up if there’s a conflict, so no response is taken as tacit acceptance.

        And it sounds like OP’s coworker comes from a company where they probably operated pretty similarly to the way mine does.

        1. Jasnah*

          This exactly, I think the invite is sent and it’s “assumed” that people will attend, even though they haven’t checked their Outlook calendar to know that there is a meeting, never mind prepared for it!

          I think you can do it either of 2 ways: give them a heads up and calendar “acceptance” is not required, or use the calendar invite feature as the heads up, and treat no response as a “no” or “haven’t seen it yet.” Anything else requires a level of communication and trust that is hard to expect of busy people.

        2. Lavender Menace*

          This is generally the way it is at my office UNLESS you send a same-day or next-day meeting request.

      2. Annette*

        When I’ve seen this creating the event triggers an email notification. Maybe a setting needs to be changed.

        1. Just Employed Here*

          Also, sometimes you need to work without having notifications from different programs on.

          If someone wants to meet with me today (or any day, really, but especially same day meetings): talk to me or call me.

        2. Solidus Pilcrow*

          Outlook has an option to automatically respond to meetings and you don’t get an email if that’s turned on. (I think this may work for room reservations where the room accepts the meeting automatically if there is no conflict.)

          I made the mistake of using it once. I thought, cool, I’ll just tell outlook to accept everything as tentative and then I’ll accept the ones I really need to go to when I check my calendar. Problem was, I started getting surprised with any meetings that were scheduled on short notice.

      3. MLB*

        But that’s not all that unusual. Part of it may be company culture, but it’s definitely not all that unusual to send out a same day meeting invite. If it’s a one on one, I would mention it before sending an invite, but if it’s with a group, I’m not going to contact them all individually before sending it.

        From the other perspective, I was a Business Analyst at my last 2 companies and had to conduct meetings frequently for requirements gathering, and there is nothing more infuriating than trying to set up a meeting with multiple people, and the invites being declined because the person was off that day or had something else to do and it was not on their calendar. People need to block time on their calendar if they’re busy. If the calendar says you’re free, I’m not a mind reader, and when you’re trying to get more than a few people together for a meeting, it makes it near impossible to find a time when everyone is free.

        1. Need a Beach*

          We are supposed to keep our calendars up-to-date, but realistically there are several departments for whom last-second travel is common. If a customer is freaking out about a product meltdown, you haul ass to the airport and don’t GAF what your calendar says.

          There is a non-official but understood policy that people in those departments have leeway about accepting/showing up for meetings, but a desk jockey in purchasing would not get that same leeway.

        1. Doodle*

          If I’m heads-down working on something, I am often not checking my email. Even when I’m not focused on a project like that, I’m not looking at my email continuously. Or even all that often. I’m working on stuff, popping over to Dwayne’s office to discuss a mutual project, in a meeting, whatever. I might not check my email for an hour or two, or more, if I’m in a meeting. If I’m in a meeting all morning and you’ve put a meeting on my calendar for right after that, I will not know.

    3. Jubilance*

      A former coworker had her Outlook calendar set to auto-accept any meeting invite she received, and I got burned a couple of times when I set up a meeting with her that was accepted, but turns out she was on vacation/WFH! I had to learn to ask her about her availability because her calendar was never up to date.

      Very sweet woman, but who turns on auto-accept for meetings when you know you don’t plan to attend them?

  4. sacados*

    OP3: No clue about what is more “common” but it’s definitely a culture thing! My company operates the same way it sounds like your cowoeker’s old job did. I am CONSTANTLY checking my calendar, the tab is open all day. And it’s very common for people to just set up a meeting as needed — especially since we use a gmail based system so an automatic notification email goes out when an event has been created or changed. It’s just expected that people will keep on top of those things.
    If I’m setting a last-minute meeting — say within an hour or 30 mins — then I would probably give the members a heads up but that’s about it.

    I totally get how that would be annoying to you but it should be easily fixed by giving Coworker a heads up that’s not how your company culture usually works.

    1. MLB*

      I’m guessing most people use Outlook for their email, and you set up the view to show your calendar on the side. I’m not sure what other email systems can do, but I find it odd that someone wouldn’t check their calendar to see what they have coming up on a regular basis.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        My boss is often in back-to-back meetings, and her assistant prints out her schedule for the day. But she still also has her phone and would know if something changed during the day!

        1. Observer*

          Unless you have your phone set to DND, in which case it’s extremely easy to miss something like this.

      2. Spartan*

        I check my calendar at the beginning of the day and plan out my day. If you add a meeting for me to join some day without a heads up it’s very likely I won’t see it until the 15 minute warning pops up. At that time I may or may not be able to prepare for the meeting.

        Worse yet if I am remoted to another machine and working intently there even the 15 minute reminder can be missed.

  5. sacados*

    OP4: I frequently have international business travel with coworkers and everybody definitely rocks the sweatpants/sweatshirt/leggings/no makeup thing.
    Granted, my travel is almost entirely based around 6-plus hour flights with one of them usually being a redeye/overnight where it’s CRUCIAL that I sleep to be able to function at work the next day … So comfort is pretty much the only thing I care about.

    1. Jasnah*

      My office dress code is business, but when flying casual is OK. I would recommend “going to a friend’s for a movie marathon” level, not “bingewatching Netflix in my own house” level, however.

      The one thing I would say is leggings are not considered pants in parts of the world so make sure you are comfortable but appropriately dressed for where you’re going. If you have a longer shirt, dress, or soft shorts to throw over it then that’s perfect.

        1. Jasnah*

          ? It’s pretty common where I live but that’s neither here nor there.

          My point was that in some places, leggings are in the category of socks and tights, and going out in public requires more coverage, so read the area you’re traveling to/from.

          1. Manya*

            I think if you have to put shorts over leggings in order to wear the leggings, you should probably just forgo the leggings. I’ve never seen this look outside of men jogging. In any other context, particularly one in which you’re going to see coworkers, it’s probably not a great plan.

            1. JB (not in Houston)*

              I’ve seen it a lot. A LOT. And whether you think it looks weird or not, it’s at least providing coverage, and shorts are usually comfortable, so it’s an option that fits the OP’s stated requirements. It’s perhaps not common in your area but that doesn’t mean it’s not common elsewhere, or so unattractive that her coworkers would think less of her (I’m not 100% sure why you think the OP should avoid it, but I read your comment as just thinking it looks weird?). The point is just for the OP to remember not just where she’s leaving from and with whom but where she’s going to, and to dress accordingly.

              1. AnnaBananna*

                I would actually think shorts over leggings is too casual as it’s a bit ‘sporty’ (or maybe I have a limited imagination and can only think of my winter running ensemble?).

            2. ElspethGC*

              It was a big deal in the early 2010s with teenage girls, at least in my corner of the UK. Too cold for shorts and nothing else, but girls still wanted to wear cute shorts. Solution – leggings underneath. It was a more fashionable continuation of the early 2000s skirts-over-jeans look.

              1. valentine*

                I also want to wear the cute leggings and not need a shopping cart or feel like my back is broken.

              1. CheeryO*

                That has to be regional. Assuming we’re talking about thick, opaque leggings and not tights, I have literally never seen someone wear shorts over them except as an extra layer while running. I’d find it odd if a coworker did that for a flight, since I see leggings all day, every day, year-round, on every body type and never give it a second thought, so I’d assume that they were going for extra modesty, at which point why not just wear something else?

                1. CheeryO*

                  Sorry, I realize I took this out of context and that we’re talking about traveling to areas that require more modesty… moving along now.

          2. Aleta*

            It’s very, very common with bike messengers in colder cities (across all genders, even), but I was under the impression that was because we were weird! We do both opaque tights and actual leggings, depending upon the temperatures. Bike shorts under booty shorts is also a common Look.

            (leggings/tights give better range of movement coupled with warmth than most other pants wear okay for long hours on the bike, but also, Pockets)

        2. sacados*

          Leggings in the sense of the thinner ones/ones that are more “opaque tights.”
          But yeah, where I live too those with shorts is a look you see a lot! (And I have myself sported on more than one occasion, haha)

        3. McWhadden*

          You’ve really never seen someone with jean shorts over leggings? Not my preferred look but it’s commin.

          1. Hobbert*

            I’m in the DC area and the only time I’ve ever that is on trips to Iceland. Frankly, it looks strange to me just because it’s something I’ve only seen a few times. I’m a joggers and T-shirt flyer with a light cardigan for warmth.

          2. Chip Hackman*

            I live in the DC area, went to college in Virginia, and grew up in Jersey and I have never seen an adult wearing shorts over leggings except for sports/running purposes. I’ve seen kids do it as well but that’s about it. Everyone I see either wears them as pants or maybe with a skirt or dress, but not with shorts so I know if I saw someone wearing it I would think it was odd, but it wouldn’t be a big deal to me. I think if wearing leggings is a concern, wear a longer top or sweater that covers your butt.

      1. WS*

        And if you’re plus sized, you are much more likely to be harshly judged for wearing leggings without something over the top, unfortunately. Even if the leggings are very thick material! May or may not be relevant to the OP, but certainly something I’ve experienced and would want to know beforehand.

      2. sacados*

        Haha, my travel attire I would have to say *definitely* skews more towards Netflix binge.
        But like I said, when I’m facing down a 7 hour overnight flight to visit a vendor studio where I’ll have just enough time to change clothes and chug some coffee before I have to go to work and be actually productive all day …..
        You start to care about appearances less ;-p
        Plus it also probably helps that my office is “jeans-and-tshirt” casual on a daily basis anyway so it’s not quite such a jump to comfy sweatpants.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      I think this is definitely a know-your-culture thing, not a poll-the-internet thing. My travel is standard in-country flights. No one would expect you to be dressed formally on a flight on a non-work day, but leggings and sneakers would be offbase, too. I think you would want to be dressed nice enough that you wouldn’t feel awkward if you ran into clients in the hotel, or someone wanted to meet for dinner or drinks in the hotel unexpectedly.

      It reminds me of the time when we had a team presentation around lunchtime, and one junior guy came down to the rehearsal in shorts. Everyone else was in their formal business clothes minus the jackets. Don’t be that guy!

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I was recently on a business trip with an afternoon meeting scheduled. I had breakfast with my co-worker in our hotel at 9am. I wore jeans and a shirt and flats, something I would normally wear to the office, because I didn’t want to get anything on my “client clothes”. The plan was to have breakfast and go back to our rooms to work for a few hours. My co-worker texted the client at one point during breakfast and said to me, “Let’s go up there and get set up.” I protested, but long story short, I ended up meeting our main client dressed in jeans (at least I was wearing some makeup and my hair looked good) and ran back to my room to change before the meeting (which was next door to the hotel). It wasn’t the worst thing ever (he was a great guy and I don’t think he even noticed that I changed), and I certainly looked fine, but it wasn’t the first impression I wanted.

        In short, I usually lean towards the “casual yet polished” on any business trip for the reason you describe. And even then, I’ve messed up (see above). But yeah, I always want to make sure I look ok when I’m traveling for business, just in case.

        Granted, when I returned from that trip I wore sweatpants on the plane, but they were chic-ish camo joggers and there was no way I would be running into anyone.

      2. LL*

        I was alarmed about the leggings too! I think your response is very helpful – no one expects you to dress for work on an airplane, but you wouldn’t want to be dressed in a way where you’d feel uncomfortable having an impromptu chat with your boss or a client if you ran into them at the hotel. This is a great rule of thumb and I’m filing it away for future use and advice-giving. =)

      3. LJay*

        Yeah. Especially depending on where you are flying out of. If it’s a smaller city you may well see clients, etc. I’v seen this happen several times. Even running into vendors on the plane.

    3. Antennapedia*

      Or, if you’re worried about making sure you split the difference between comfortable and professional, I own a few pairs of Dress Pant Yoga Pants (Yes, these are a thing, they come from a company called Betabrand) that look like regular dress pants but feel like yoga pants. They are a stretchy, thick, and totally work appropriate while being leggings/yoga pant comfortable. A camisole and a sweater or blazer and you’re GOLDEN (and also comfy).

      To that end: a lot of companies have found that making business-appropriate clothing out of comfortable materials is an ACTUAL gold mine for young professionals, especially those who commute by bike.

      1. Emi.*

        I’m so curious about these. Everyone says they look like real dress pants but in my mind, real dress pants should not be that tight. But real dress pants are often very form-fitting on the model and more form-skimming in real life. Are these like that? Or are they supposed to fit as snugly as they do in the ads?

        1. Aleta*

          Keep in mind leggings aren’t necessarily super tight. I wear ones that, while there isn’t extra fabric flapping around, I can comfortably fit multiple fingers underneath my hems without stretching them out anymore than you could with jeans. This is also how all my friends choose their fit. The “reasonably fitted but also kinda loose” thing is the entire reason I find leggings comfortable, even if the Stereotype is So Tight You Can See Things. So I can see leggings that are cut more like dress pants.

        2. Antennapedia*

          I mean, they’re form fitting, but they’re not TIGHT. They do drape a little bit and have quite a big of give which I think is why they don’t read “leggings” or, worse, “dress pants I outgrew.” I’m a 14/16 in the buttular/hipular/thighmakobobular region and they just look like dress pants on me. They also come in tall hem lengths, which this 35″ inseam gal appreciates.

      2. Autumnheart*

        There are also “travel dresses” that are wrinkle-resistant and typically made of stretchy, comfortable material that have a work-appropriate silhouette. Something like that might also be a good option for people who travel a lot.

    4. loveydo*

      I used to travel for work a lot in my NGO job and would either wear a dress or a suit, or, if I wasn’t heading straight into meetings, business casual, as in dress pants and sweaters. You never know who you might meet in your travels (executives, clients, partners), and if you’re travelling for work, you’re always representing the organization (to the point that I would remove my lapel pin if I was having a drink in the hotel or airport lounge). If I had crossed paths with my boss while wearing leggings or sweats, she would have told me not to bother coming back to work, ever.

    5. Micklak*

      Sometimes I feel old. I feel differently than the majority I guess. When I travel for work I dress like I’m going to work. Especially if I’m traveling with other people.

      It’s nothing formal. Jeans, an oxford shirt and a jacket, which is pretty close to how I would dress on a day I wasn’t working. I guess I’ve never understood the dressing down thing on flights. You’re still in public.

      But again, old.

    6. Totally Minnie*

      When I do work travel, I tend to go with leggings, knit dress, slip-on boots, French braid. It looks cute and put together, but feels like pajamas.

      1. sacados*

        That’s a slightly different case tho. When you’re flying on some sort of airline employee/friends and family ticket then most airlines do have a dress code — no jeans, no shorts, no sandals, only dress pants/khakis or skirts/dresses …. etc
        Because you’re “representing” the airline so you are supposed to look relatively put together. A lot of noise was made then about “oh policing womens’ bodies, outrage!” but with that case it was just about a specific employee dress code and really not any sort of sexism/slut shaming.

  6. alienor*

    #3 seems odd to me because I work in an environment where when you need to have a meeting, you find an open slot and book one. It’s on all of us to keep our Outlook calendars up to date, which includes blocking off time if we’ll be out of the office, working on a project, etc. Most of the meetings I organize and attend have 8-10 people in them, and I can’t imagine the number of messages it would take to set something up if all of them had to weigh in separately in advance on what times would and wouldn’t work for them!

    1. JJ*

      One system that can work is to send two invites, ask people to accept the one that works best, and cancel the one fewer people could make. But for us that works because realistically you often can’t find a time that absolutely everyone can make.

      1. alienor*

        We run into that too–usually what happens is whoever’s organizing the meeting decides who the most crucial attendees are and books around their schedules, and then others can attend or decline as they’re able. I’ll also sometimes tell the organizer to go ahead without me if it’s urgent, and I’ll get an update from someone else later.

        1. T3k*

          Yep. When I helped set up meetings for my last boss, it was extremely common for people to be scheduled in overlapping meetings. My boss would just tell me who were the crucial people and by when to meet and I’d base it off of that because trying to schedule for 10 people to all be available within the week was non-existent.

    2. Asenath*

      My workplace is quite different. Many people don’t keep their Outlook Calendar up-to-date. Very rarely (as I mentioned above) someone from outside our department uses a completely different software. Mostly, my meetings are in two categories. First are the regular ones that have to be held, say, quarterly. I find a day of the week and time that’s good for most people, schedule them a year in advance, tell everyone when they’re set up and remind them at intervals. Secondly there are the one-off ones – we’ve tried lots of methods to figure out when people might be available, and the only one that sort of works is, yes, checking with the really core people individually to find a date and time that works, and hoping that the rest can make it.

      1. Washi*

        Yeah, in my last job, we would just book things on each other’s calendars because there was a culture of keeping it meticulously up to date. But in my current job, half my colleagues don’t even put out of office meetings or vacation time on their calendars, let alone “lunch” or “work block” or other designations for times they are technically free but don’t want meetings scheduled.

        So if the OP is working in an environment like that, it would be helpful to clue the colleague into that as well, that free on the calendar =/= free for meetings.

    3. Ranon*

      Fewer emails than you’d think! Unlike most folks commenting on this I’m usually setting up meetings with several people from several companies outside my company, so “just look at their calendars” isn’t an option that exists for me- usually one email to everyone with several slots, one email from everyone (to just me) with the times that work for them, and one emailed meeting invite is all it takes. And for recurring things everyone looks at their calendar in a meeting to set the next meeting.

    4. Name Required*

      You don’t send multiple messages, you send one with a selection of suggested times based on your own calendar. I’m always working on projects (it’s my job), so I can’t imagine having to block off time to indicate that I’m working ’cause I’m always working at work. What type of work are you doing when your calendar isn’t blocked?

      1. SarahKay*

        Like you, I’m always working at work (well, mostly – excluding 10 minutes here and there for AAM, coffee, etc), but some of it is ‘stuff I need to finish sometime this month’ and some of it is ‘stuff I got given yesterday for completion by 10 am tomorrow and that will take at least eight hours work’. The latter example is where I’d block off my calendar to show me as not available.

        1. Name Required*

          Interesting. I always assume someone is unavailable and heads down, so this may be part of the difference in approach. If I had an urgent project to finish, I would just decline any impromptu meeting invites, which happen infrequently. That might be part of it, too — the times I’m deep in a project far exceed the number of times I get a last-minute meeting invite, so timewise, it makes more sense to manage the incoming invites via Slack or email than to create calendar blocks.

      2. Alienor*

        True, but if you send one message even to 3 people, it can mushroom into a lot of responses. Person 1: yes that time is good for me. Person 2: no, I can’t do that time, but how about 3 pm? Person 1: I can’t do 3, but I could do 3:30 today or 9 tomorrow morning? Person 3: I can’t do today or tomorrow, has anyone got time on Friday? Person 2: no, I’m out of the office on Friday…and now we’re up to 6 emails counting the original one and still haven’t got a meeting time!

        That said, I work for a company where we have a *lot* of meetings and it’s not uncommon for me to have days with 5-6-7 of them back to back (some people have even more), so it may be different in a workplace that only has a few per week. This is also why we block out time for working on projects; if I don’t block out at least a couple of 1-hour slots per day, then my calendar will fill up and I won’t be able to do tasks like writing documents, planning, reviewing other people’s work and so forth. The last one is a constant struggle because I’m part of the review/approval process but also in meetings a lot, so if I’m not diligent about setting aside time, I’ll end up being a roadblock. (For the record, I think the number of meetings we have is ridiculous and people coming from outside often comment on it, so I know there are places where things are different, but we’re kind of stuck with it.)

    5. peachie*

      I super respect people who can do that. I… definitely can’t. Meetings, sure, but I would fail pretty quickly if I had to block out what times I was working on projects, at lunch, etc. I’m not saying it’s okay that I can’t, I’m just in awe of people who can be that on top of their calendar!

    6. LL*

      At my institution, a typical practice is to look at folks’ calendars, find 2-3 options that seem generally workable, and send an email to the group to finalize the preferred choice. There are NEVER any 100% open times, but some commitments are more flexible than others, and it’s difficult to figure this out until you ask. Some folks also use Doodle or other quick online polls, with the options of Yes/No/If necessary, to help communicate real conflicts vs. conflicts that can be rescheduled if needed.

  7. Black Targaryen*

    The answer to that first question is so timely and helpful. I too was in job hunting mode for the last few months and was getting to the very end at some of my favorite potential employers, where it all but seemed I was the shoe-in, only to suddenly get a canned rejection and then see the opening pop up again a month later. It can be very demoralizing, but persevere, LW! I just accepted an offer, sending you good ju ju!

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I want to thank you for posting this because it really is encouraging–being outside the black box of hiring decisions with no clues to “Is it me? Is it them? Is it that Mercury is in retrograde and in two months I should try again?” is frustrating.

  8. JJ*

    #1 I disagree – I think it’s ok to apply for some more vacancies in the future, but I’m not sure it’s the case that there’s nothing wrong with continuing to apply.

    I definitely wouldn’t send any more applications for this one role, even though you really want it and it sucks to be disappointed. That will make you look very overly persistent and like you don’t understand that they decided not to hire you for it. I assume Alison didn’t mean you should keep applying for the same role but I’m not sure that came across clearly.

    You could apply for other vacancies in future but I think you might need to give it a rest for a bit. Your materials aren’t getting you in the door because you’re applying for a job you were already not offered, and possibly seeming a bit overly persistent.

    I would maybe rethink your references if you think there’s any reason why they wouldn’t have been positive (of course they’re going to say that).

    I’m sorry as I know this comment isn’t what you want to hear, but I really think you cannot apply again now for this role.

    1. Annette*

      If the company has reposted the job after a length of time then it’s not the same as applying to one job multiple times.

      1. Robm*

        If it’s the same job – e.g. they have ten people doing the llama waxing role, then continually applying to join the llama waxing team once you’ve been told you’re not a good fit is problematic even if the last vacancy was to replace Sophie and the current vacancy is to replace Bob.

        1. Lucy*

          That doesn’t seem to be the case though – there was no reasoned rejection; LW just didn’t get the job. If she was as Alison suggests the runner-up last time, she could well be the frontrunner this time.

          I agree that continuing to apply after explicitly being told you don’t fit would be a waste of time.

        2. LW#1 blacklisted*

          Yes, the situation is how Robm put it. There is a team of 20 llama waxers in the office who do the exact same jobs. The initial posting was to replace 1 leaving waxer and to expand the office to 2 more. At this point it is probably to replace someone else, or they are expanding again. So it’s the same positon (llama waxer) but but the exact same spot.

          JJ, how long is “a little bit” in your perspective?

          1. WellRed*

            See, I agree with JJ about giving it a rest. They’ve met you, they interviewed, you, they presumably still have your resume, etc. on file. What they are not doing is reaching out to say, “Hey, another position has opened up.” (We do this even at my very tiny company). They are not communicating in any meaningful way with you (I realize this is sadly common and means nothing on its own). If you are going to apply again, I’d give it at minimum 6 months, probably more like a year. Frankly, though, I think something popped up somewhere along the process that is preventing you from getting in there for another interview. Maybe they googled you and there’s a felon running around with the same name as you and they couldn’t tell the difference. IDK.

            1. Anon Today Anon Tomorrow*

              I think leaving it a year would be a good idea. There have been times when I’ve interviewed someone for an open position (and a few times they have been finalists), and I’ve learned during that process that their skills aren’t quite as strong as we’d like, or that the candidate wouldn’t be a good fit at this time. So when those people reapply within a short window (and for us that would in the first year or two), we typically discard their resume. Afterall, we have recently spoken to that person and so we feel like we have a pretty good idea if they would be a good fit for the position.

                1. Anon Today Anon Tomorrow*

                  No. Our HR’s policy is to not provide specific feedback to individual candidates. But, honestly if we have a great candidate who isn’t right for the role, but would be a great addition we tend to invite those people to apply for those positions.

                2. Cascadia*

                  It really depends, but honestly – probably not. If you are completely honest with reasoning you often open yourself up to other issues, or allowing someone to fight that, or whatever. It could be something totally weird, but that’s we’ve seen on here before, like you have an ex, or an ex’s new partner that works there, or something else totally crazy. I would definitely not tell you if that was it.

          2. damngcoffee*

            This might be a bit different, but in my own field I have been on the other side of this, where someone applied for a job where I worked a couple of times and each time got to the interview stage before we turned them down, simply because there were people better suited for the position available. They applied a third time when we had an opening, and that time we actually wanted to go ahead and hire them, but they dropped out early because they had found something else. So we were always interested in working with this person, but the first couple of times we felt we had stronger candidates in the applicant pool.

          3. Cercis*

            Are you doing a completely new application each time? Back when I worked for a large municipality, I had a profile get flagged as nonhireable (I’m pretty sure it had to do with my boss at the time). Next time I saw a job I wanted within the municipality, I created an entirely new application (different email address) and was immediately hired. My boss was PISSED.

            Unfortunately, I lost out on a lot of jobs that would have been a better fit for my skills and interests because I didn’t realize that my application profile had been flagged. I got a very discreet “psst, try creating something new” from a nice HR friend (we rode the bus together).

            It’s tempting to use the same profile if the system allows that. Creating an application from scratch is a PITA. But in this case it might be a good idea. Especially if in the meantime you’ve been getting more experience and skills.

      2. SheLooksFamiliar*

        But it is the same role, just not the same job opening. The company has already determined the OP is not a fit for this role for whatever reason, and will not be impressed with more applications for the same role.

        Side note: This employer may not have the function in their applicant tracking system, but I’ve worked with several ATSs that allow a ‘universal decline’ status for a candidate. It’s possible this is happening, since the OP got a swift decline with one of their applications. And this is why multiple applications for the same role – regardless of the date of the job posting – would be fruitless.

        1. LW#1 blacklisted*

          I definitely understand that for the one role, but what ends up confusing me most is when I applied for other offices I got 2 auto rejections and then a few weeks later got “thanks for interviewing but we won’t be moving forward” rejections for the other two. I don’t know if they’re somehow using my interviews at one office for the other locations as well? Or she just clicked the wrong button in the system?

          1. SheLooksFamiliar*

            Thank you for responding, OP, and that’s why I wondered if this employer had a ‘universal decline’ feature on their ATS. This would let the ATS workflow automatically decline you, no matter what role you applied to. Some organizations elect to use this function when they determine a candidate isn’t a match for the company, period. I’m not saying that IS the case, only wondered if it was.

            Given the response times you shared, it’s more likely that HR or the hiring manager put a note or ‘flag’ in your ATS profile that you were declined for whatever reason. The recruiters saw it at different times – maybe right away, maybe later – and they also chose to decline your candidacy. Again, I’m not saying this is what’s happening, only that it’s possible. ATSs can be fairly sophisticated and allow staffing and HR to automate a lot of things.

            Regardless, I hope you find a great new role soon with a company that appreciates you. Please keep us posted!

        2. SarahTheEntwife*

          I’m not sure there’s any data one way or the other as to whether the LW was definitely not a fit for the role or just wasn’t *as good* a fit as another candidate. I’ve definitely been on hiring committees before where we sat there with the top two or three candidates’ resumes going “can’t we just make this two roles so we can have them both??”.

    2. American Ninja Worrier*

      What’s to be gained from waiting, though? I don’t think appearing overly persistent is a problem when applying for roles you’re well qualified for. Let them say no, but don’t take yourself entirely out of the running — unless you just don’t feel like bothering with that company anymore.

      1. Psyche*

        I think one main advantage of waiting a year or two is that you will presumably be a stronger candidate (more experience, more accomplishments) and if you have been constantly applying they may have mentally filed you away as that person they already rejected who keeps applying and not really look at the updated resume. If it has been awhile they are more likely to evaluate you like a new candidate.

      2. WellRed*

        I would say she’s actually not in the running at this point. We’ve certainly seen enough letters here from overly persistent job applicants wondering what they can do (not saying today’s LW is overly persistent, yet).

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Keep in mind that a reference isn’t just positive/negative. A good reference will be nuanced, which means the reference could legitimately have said good things without it being the right reference for the job. Like if an employer is looking for someone who’s really strong in X and the reference says “well, she can definitely do X but she really shines at Y,” that may be enough to give them pause about you, especially if they already had concerns along those lines. (This is a terrible example, but the idea is that it’s not pass/fail. There’s nuance to it, and the same reference could be great for one job and not as great for another.)

      1. Someone Else*

        Or even just a cultural fit thing where one of the examples the reference gave was in the reference’s mind positive, but in reality isn’t inherently positive or negative. Like, this is a bad example but like the other letter: if a reference said something like this OP always schedules meetings directly in calendars, no middle-man discussions, meaning it as a positive, but the applicant were applying at a place that doesn’t do the direct-to-calendar stuff, it might make her seem not a good fit. (This is dumb because if you tell someone “do this instead” they most likely would, but my point is it could be that kind of thing where an anecdote intended to praise landed wrong because it was about how good she is about Doing X when X is Not Done at the new company.)

  9. Annette*

    LW2: Wow. It’s appalling to hear of an HR “professional” behaving so unprofessionally. The phrase “private medical information” is your best friend. Use it, love it. Do not give this woman an inch.

    1. MLB*

      Seriously. HR seems to be a big joke in most places, when they’re the ones who are supposed to be making sure this kind of stuff doesn’t happen.

      I would add to Alison’s first response, and keep it at that. “You should check with Charlotte directly. Please stop asking me for private medical information about another employee.” Rinse and repeat. I would be tempted to add “being an HR employee, this is something you should know” but that’s a little snarky.

      I don’t know where this HR employee falls in the food chain, but I’d also be tempted to report her to her boss. But if their HR department is anything like the one at my last company, the manager is just as guilty of inappropriate actions, so proceed with caution.

    2. SigneL*

      Yes, this is appalling. If I were OP2, I’d just repeat, “I don’t know,” maybe with a look of shock on my face.

    3. LQ*

      I’ve used, “not my conversation to have” which is a pretty aggressively passive voice, so much so that it’s like the stepping out of the room of words. (And I’ve used that with people who were…somewhere between concerned and gossiping. I would definitely use it if someone in HR wanted to know not my conversation to have stuff about someone else.)

    4. LW2*

      This isn’t even the worst of what she’s done. She’s an incredibly unpleasant woman and loves to talk about people’s private business with everyone. Which, being HR, she has a lot of access to. Unfortunately she’s been at the company forever, and management is unlikely to ever get rid of her because she has so much knowledge (that she keeps close to the vest, too).

      So far I’ve gotten away with “oh, I’m not sure, I haven’t heard from her in a while” type answers, but next time she asks I’m definitely using Alison’s rebuttal.

    5. Pomona Sprout*

      Add me to the list of those who rhink Debra’s behavior is unprofessional af. No way should op #2 let herself be dragged into this. Debra is trying to get op to do HER job instead of doing it herself. Op, you should not even consider letting her rope you into helping her abdicate her responsibilities. The good news is it’s very hard to pass the buck if no one else is willing to take it off your hands. Please don’t let her bully you into being the recipient of her buck passing attempts. We’ve all heard the adage “No is a complete sentence.” I don’t know” is a complete sentence as well.

      Btw, does Charlotte have a supervisor, and if so, wouldn’t that person be more appropriate for Debra to liaise with than a coworker/peer? Perhaps you could try directing Debra to that person (“I have no idea what’s going on with Charlotte; maybe you should check with Fergus, in case he’s heard something). Fergus, being higher on the food chain, would presumably (depending on just how weird things are in that organization) be in a stronger position to shut down Debra’s inappropriate actions.

      Or maybe not, since it sounds like Debra may have a lot of people there buffaloed. But I thought it might be worth suggesting. Good luck.

  10. JJ*

    #2 Mayhe she doesn’t know until the last day as she has to see her doctor to find out if she’s still unwell or can go back to work.

    Where is her manager in all this?

    1. WS*

      Or she has a doctor who is very picky about writing such notes and she has to wait to find out if the doctor is going to be helpful this time. It’s a difficult situation to be in.

      1. Panda*

        I agree JJ. I was out for surgery a year ago and I had to see my doctor right before I was to go back. I brought up some additional issues I had and was put out of work for another two weeks. I have a friend who has trouble with her eyes and sees her eye doctor every two weeks to determine whether she’s allowed to drive. Your friend may truly not know until the last minute.

      2. Elfie*

        I know I’m really late to the party on this one, but in my doctor’s surgery, they won’t future-date notes, so you have to wait until your note has run out to get a new one (UK).

    2. ssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

      We’ve had staff do this at my place. Last minute or very last minute renewal of their leave of absence and then very last minute renewal of the temp staff replacing them. Repeat every two months. It was very frustrating for the manager and the temp staff (we’ve lost at least two good temp staff because of the instability) as the uncertainty made planning difficult.

      Then I reminded myself that it was likely no less frustrating for the employee who was on leave. Who maybe hoped to return but the doctor said no; or hoped to be well enough to return and waited until the last moment to see if they truly felt better but really didn’t so asked the doctor for another note; or the doctor’s only availability was just before her return date… (or, when you’re really annoyed at this situation, you wonder if the employee isn’t just abusing the system. Then you feel bad.)

      There’s no winner in this situation. It plays out monthly at my workplace.

    3. MLB*

      Regardless, the HR person should not come to another employee for information. She should be contacting the absent employee directly, by phone, and if they’re not able to get in touch with them, follow up with that person’s manager.

    4. Doodle*

      It’s not on Charlotte to make life easier for her office, frankly; Charlotte needs to take care of Charlotte. There are all sorts of reasons why she may not know or be able to notify until the last minute — and OP is a co-worker, not the manager, so OP may not have the whole story.

      In addition to following AAM’s advice, OP should talk with her own manager about her workload. That’s separate problem from the HR issue. When you talk to your manager, OP, I would not complain about Charlotte in any way at all — state that because Charlotte is out and you don’t have a temp, you’re now covering X and Y and thus don’t have time for your own assigned work, ABC. Sounds to me like your manager needs to hire another week-to-week temp.

      1. LW2*

        Absolutely agreed! I’ve kept the whole HR debacle from Charlotte as much as possible so she wouldn’t stress about it (though I did mention Debra was being Debra again), and she needs to focus on her health.

        Luckily the temp situation’s being resolved now, I really thought they were going to leave me hanging in February for a second.

      2. Paperdill*

        I agree almost entirely, Doodle. I do wonder, however, if LW2 of Charlotte’s manager may be able to kindly ask her if she is able to give them an update a little closer to date. Just a casual, “if you can” request.
        I had a situation where I was off work for a longish period due to my son being hospitalized. Whether we could be discharged from hospital that afternoon was dependent on bloods results taken that morning – so we were having to just do each day as it came. Initially I was calling in each day at a time and work was asking if i’d Be back the next day or the next day etc., but once I explained the blood situation and how unpredictable it was, we were able to organise more of a “just assume Paperdill is off for the month until notified”.

    5. Anon Today Anon Tomorrow*

      We just had an employee out on long-term leave due to cancer. He was out for over a year, and initially he thought he’d be cleared to return to work in February, but his doctor didn’t clear him until June. So it was a month-to-month thing. And I think that is fairly typical in these sorts of situations.

      1. Willis*

        Yeah, really the company should just schedule the temp for a couple weeks past when Charlotte may come back so they’re covered if she doesn’t. Whenever she does return, they have extra coverage while she’s getting back up to speed. But, this company doesn’t sound like it’s got it’s stuff together based on HR’s actions.

    6. LW2*

      Yeah that’s exactly it, her doctor appointment is at the end of the month. (Debra’s already complained that she should schedule it earlier because that’s what she’s like.)

      Our manager is pretty hands-off and happy to let her come back whenever she’s ready, but he doesn’t have to deal with the temp contracts of course.

  11. CHW*

    Op 3: I am delighted by your question because we end up having the same conversation in reverse at my company, “You don’t have to ask anyone about a meeting time, just schedule it.” It would be considered bothersome in our culture to have someone asking permission to book a meeting—another IM or email clogging up our work just for a meeting request? Uncool. However, it’s also our culture that you can decline meetings that won’t work, and people quickly learn to block their calendars to preserve time.
    So interesting how it varies so much from company to company.

    1. Lulubell*

      Same here. I hate when people send emails asking when we can meet. I don’t know – check my calendar! It is up to date!

      1. Lulubell*

        Though apparently I’ve already forgotten how weird this was to me when I started. It felt so presumptuous to just book someone else’s time. But now I don’t even think about it other than thank goodness this is so convenient!

      2. JJ*

        Ha – I hate it when people I don’t know well just plonk things in my calendar without asking if there’s a preferable day or if this is a super busy week so would next week be better or etc.

    2. Bob*

      This. I often tell people my calendar is up to date and to book around it. I block off time if I want to work on something specific and as others have said, I find asking before scheduling a tad annoying.

      Do as Alison suggested, make it clear that its a culture thing in your office and ask him to adapt. As you can tell by the responses – it varies by office!

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I have one colleague who refuses to keep his calendar up to date and it makes scheduling meetings SO hard. I have tried several times and he will respond with, “I won’t be in that day,” or, “I have a doctor’s appointment at that time.” Dude, just put that on your calendar! We use Outlook and can only see that other people have time occupied or out of the office, not the details. I think this is great. I wish everyone would use it.

      I do, however, occasionally send a note in my meeting invitation with, “Please let me know if there’s another time that works better.” That covers all the bases I need.

      1. TheTallestOneEver*

        That’s so annoying! We have Outlook too and can see people’s free/busy time by default. I hate when I send an invitation because someone’s calendar shows they have a free slot and they decline with “not available at that time” instead of using the Propose New Time option.

    4. The Other Dawn*

      This is how at works at my company, too. We use Outlook , so invites are sent and people accept, decline or propose another time. They also block out time they need to do whatever so people don’t schedule meetings during that time–not always foolproof, but people are pretty respectful about it. It’s very rare that a meeting is called for the same day, but if it is it’s generally necessary and people move things around the best they can.

    5. SheLooksFamiliar*

      Same here! ‘Check my calendar and schedule whenever I’m free,’ was and is the standard response in all my employers. If someone asked my ‘permission’ to set up a meeting, it would be odd and not helpful. Just schedule it!

    6. MechanicalPencil*

      I think the difference is doing it same day versus scheduling it for 24 hours later. If I want/need to have a same day meeting, I would at least ask the parties involved first before I scheduled it. I have once had a meeting scheduled on me for 45 minutes out, during a lunch hour when I’d made plans to meet a friend for lunch day-of because oh look, no meetings on my calendar. And who schedules a noon meeting day-of?

    7. Anonym*

      My company’s etiquette is very much Ask First (large financial firm). But the question is rarely “does this time work?” it’s “do you have time this week/month?” which lets the recipient indicate a time period (e.g. this week, next Tuesday, next month/I’m really swamped right now). THEN you check the schedules and send the invite. The recipient gets to decide priority level for themselves. Not sure what’s best, but I lose my damn mind when people schedule things short notice. If they do, it’s often something low priority compared to what I’m working on right now. And heaven help the soul who puts a short notice calendar block without explaining what the topic is.

  12. JJ*

    #5 I am still annoyed that my current job, which I otherwise love, only gave me 48 hours for a take-home task because they just so happened to pick a 48 hours in which it was really difficult due to other commitments. I couldn’t realistically just drop everything however badly I wanted the job.

    Four hours is definitely overly long by the way! But really the thing with these tasks is that you should be able to tell if someone spends too long – it should be something where that would be really clear.

    1. Laura*

      How would you know that? Like, do you mean if it wasn’t well done, indicating that they’re spending too much time because they’re unsure/not skilled enough? Though that could also mean they’re not spending enough time…

      1. Washi*

        I think sometimes you can tell because they have tried to go “above and beyond.” When we were hiring for a volunteer coordinator, we asked candidates to prepare a 3-5 minute pitch of why people should volunteer for our organization and to not spend more than an hour on it, and some people came in with very elaborate powerpoints that seemed unlikely to have been put together in less than an hour. The thing is, it generally didn’t even help, because we wanted to see that someone could pull information off our website and talk about it in an engaging way, not read from a powerpoint, which is what a lot of people did.

    2. Someone Else*

      The only comparable situation I’ve been in, I was given 48 hours to do a “skills test” and was told it should take no more than one hour (but they suspected it might take me 20 minutes; the hiring manager told me that in as many words when he gave me the assignment). It took me 10.
      That sort of thing I think is reasonable for the type of window OP’s company is looking for: where it’d still be acceptable to them if it took someone an hour to do the task, but they expect most people with the experience level they’re looking for to take significantly less. 48 hours for something that short isn’t too bad.
      If this were more of a “4 hours is the max, but we expect most good candidates to take 1 hour” it might be borderline. I think it’s still inconsiderate of the candidate’s time to only give them 48 hour turnaround, but if the 4 is an upper limit rather than what most candidates will need, that’s less terrible.
      Still I agree with Alison that OP seems to have given all the logical reasons to the employer and they didn’t care…so the company doesn’t seem to want to be logical or reasonable here.

  13. mark132*

    @LW1, honestly after several rejections like that, I would probably stop looking at job openings from this employer. I would assume that you are likely “blacklisted”, and all your applications are going to the great bit bucket in the sky. Most likely you are going to just get frustrated and angry so why put yourself through this. Maybe I would maybe try again in a 2-3 years, but otherwise I would take it as a sign to move on.

    1. Cat wrangler*

      I agree – for whatever reason, you don’t seem to be making progress with your applications and you didn’t get feedback when you asked. I would save my energy for applying to other organisations.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Rural area here. Around here this would mean someone knows me and does not like me and that will never change. (Not that this happens to me a lot, lol. However it has happened and I have seen it happen to other people. When everyone knows everyone, there’s lots of opinions in the mix that perhaps should not have weight but those opinions DO have weight.)

      I guess know your area is a factor here.
      Perhaps you could talk to people who work there, such as friends of friends or neighbors and other casual connections to find out if several rejections means stop asking.

      You could quietly see who works there who might know you. There could be one gatekeeper who is circular filing your application, unknown to anyone else.

      It’s funny/odd because when I read the word “blacklisted” my mind went to a really negative connotation. It could be that you are just missing something on your resume that they are looking for. I would tend to go with this especially if you lived in a more populated area. So while you are on the “NO” list it could be fixable. I tend to think of blacklisting as not fixable.

      1. LW#1 blacklisted*

        Yeah, I really don’t know how to tell the difference between a personality issue, not having the right qualifications, being a good fit but not the most qualified when I applied, and something else entirely! When I reached out after the first rejection I was really hoping for some response of “oh we want someone with more experience in x” and then I would understand why the rejection. The way it is, I don’t know the reasoning. The complication is that this is an urban area but this particular hospital system has about 90% of the jobs for this specific role in this city. Holding off for 2-3 years would mean eliminating most ways of leaving my current job and moving into an ideal other role. I could transition into something else similar but it would give me even less experience for this role than my current job.

        1. Anon Today Anon Tomorrow*

          I think if you can hold off for even six months that would be helpful. Because if you apply to every potential opening, and there is nothing new on your resume, then I do think you’ll be automatically dismissed from either HR or the hiring manager of that department.

          And sometimes you just need to wait for things to change at an organization before you become the right fit. It sucks and I’m sorry. But, if you can take a break for even a few months and only apply to those other 10% of jobs I think it would be helpful. And I get it, there are perhaps 2 jobs in my field in my area a year, and there are really only a handful of companies, so I know personally how demoralizing it can be to feel like you are stuck where you are with very limited opportunities to move on.

      2. Old Biddy*

        It could also happen in a niche field. At my former job, one of my grad school classmates probably applied 3 or 4 times over several years. The only problem was that he has a hot temper and can be hard to work with, and there were already three of us there who had already worked with him, so he was blacklisted from the start. I actually like him as a friend, but do not want to work with him.

    3. Marthooh*

      I don’t know about the blacklisting, but OP, you should stop applying if getting another string of rejections is going to stress you out. Put your time and attention into a search that’s less likely to crush your dreams.

    4. LadyofLasers*

      Sooooo…. is it worth looking at that final recommendation that got submitted? Is it possible there was something in it that could have been a deal breaker? It’s hard to tell from the timing because it’s entirely possible they already decided before they received it, but it could be worth checking.

      1. WellRed*

        Yes, she says they all gave her glowing reviews but is she sure? They may even think they did, but said something that came off as wrong.

      2. LW#1 blacklisted*

        There’s no way to see it. They fill out an online survey form but the applicant can’t see the results, only that it was done. I thought about the possibility they confused the “1 bad to 5 good” survey scale but again there’s no way to know without hr saying that I had a bad reference.

        1. LW#1 blacklisted*

          I did email that last reference today with a brief explanation and just asking if there were any areas of concern they thought I could work to improve.

    5. Exhausted Trope*

      LW#1, this happened to me once. Now, I no longer apply to the company. I don’t think there’s any point in wasting my time and energy lobbing applications into the “big black bucket where applications go to die.”
      It’s so hard to see a dream opportunity/company die, but there’s many other jobs out there. Best of luck and odds!

      1. LW#1 blacklisted*

        Yeah. It’s frustrating because the hospital bought up all the little offices so they manage about 90% of the jobs in this field in this city.

  14. MommyMD*

    Sadly you’re probably in the system as rejected. That’s how these hospital systems can be. If for some reason they got cold, it’s almost impossible to overcome that. Keep searching. You will find something good.

    1. Alfonzo Mango*

      This kind of system work freaks me out. It’s awful to not know your status for sure, and it’s awful they can blanket reject you for all positions (if you are otherwise a reasonable person who is just not quite fit for one job)

      1. Colette*

        I really doubt employers are blanket rejecting people for all jobs due to a bad fit. They might mark them as not eligible for hire if they yell at the receptionist or behave in a threatening manner or have a reference say they stole from a previous job, but not just because they weren’t the best candidate. If large employers did that, they’d quickly run out of people to hire.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          I’ve worked in a place where there was no significant HR support for hiring and so people didn’t really know how to use the online system, so people were definitely marked as being blackballed (whatever the technical term was) when they just meant that they weren’t moving forward with them. When I was the hiring manager, I could tell from the notes that’s what was going on, but I wouldn’t guarantee that everyone else would.

    2. cncx*

      yeah, i applied for a place in 2003 and i found out from a friend that i am still flagged as a no in their systems (big pharma company) for reasons i do not fully understand

    3. Robin Sparkles*

      Hospitals do blanket reject. However, a decision to “blacklist” someone (meaning that anytime that person’s name shows up as a candidate for any job whatsoever they are auto rejected regardless of qualifications). That decision is a big deal as you will never get a job at the organization until and unless someone physically removes your name off that blacklist. OP -the only way to know you are blacklisted is how quickly a rejection happens. If it is immediately and consistently for all jobs then yes somehow someone decided to blacklist you. But if it’s just happening sporadically then you probably are more likely not meeting minimum qualifications and they have decided you are not the best candidate for the job. It sucks but I would strongly recommend you stop applying for that same job- they decided you are not a good fit and you should stop continuing to apply. My guess is that you are not blacklisted based on what you wrote – just unfortunately not qualifying for whatever you are applying for. Give it a few months before looking again with a critical eye.

      1. LW#1 blacklisted*

        Twice I was relatively quickly (within a few days) rejected and twice it took about 2 weeks and I got a “thanks for interviewing but we aren’t moving forward” email, even though I hadn’t interviewed at those locations.

        1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

          What that says to me is that there’s a “superuser” mode, where you can see all of the applications for a job title at any location within the org. I worked somewhere with one, whenever we were short on applicants for our job we’d dip into the superuser pool and skim the addresses of people who had applied elsewhere to see if our location was closer to their home than the one they’d applied for, and then reach out to ask if they’d like to interview at our location.

          This was extra-helpful because a lot of sites would post the job title without the location of the job, so a lot of applicants would apply to the “wrong” job without realizing it.

        2. Maria Lopez*

          I would send a nice letter asking why I had been ghosted AND blacklisted. You aren’t going to apply there again anyway, and it might make them respond to you in some form at least.
          I would also review my references and find out what they said. Some can be pretty treacherous while always acting as if they think the world of you.

  15. Leci Lynn*

    I can’t imagine trying to coordinate a meeting by having to ask everyone’s permission first. I’d get one meeting scheduled per year! I’m trying to schedule a recurring 30 minute meeting that won’t start until summer and there is literally no time when everyone is available already. Now I have to figure out how to ask if a company does this if I ever am interviewing because like “no work from home” this is a deal breaker for me.

    1. Midwest writer*

      My last job instituted an hourly phone conference for a grouo of about 10 of us. No one was consulted about the timing and it was literally the least convenient hour in my whole week. I had to get off the call early the first two times because of prior appointments, which was frowned on. It would have continued to be a problem, but I was recruited to a new job and left not long after these meetings started.

      1. MLB*

        That’s a different situation though…if I had to schedule a daily/weekly/monthly meeting, I would reach out to everyone to see what time worked best for everyone. But we’re talking about random meetings for specific purposes. If I need 10 people in my meeting, I’m not going to contact them all separately and ask what works for them.

        1. OP3*

          I’ve seen a few people respond saying they don’t want to contact everyone separately which is odd to me – why would you contact them separately?

          We set up a group message in IM, or post in the specific project’s IM channel (or, if involving external clients, a group email) “Llama grooming session Tuesday at 1:00 – any flags with that timing?” kind of thing.

          I would never dream of reaching out to everyone individually and it’s interesting that that’s what a lot of people here automatically think the alternative to just booking it in someone’s calendar is. Funny how different corporate cultures can be!

          1. MLB*

            To your point, I’m also not going to create a group IM or email and ask 10 people what works for them. If there were 1 or 2 people who HAD to be in the meeting, I may reach out to them, and ask if their calendars are up to date, but I use everyone’s calendars to pick a time for it.

            I just find it odd that so many people think it’s crazy to send out a meeting invite for same day and expect people to respond or notice that it’s there. I get that some people are crazy busy, and those are the ones I would check with first. But for the most part, I look for an available time for the important people and book it, whether it’s same day or a few days out.

          2. plant lady*

            But then don’t you get into this kind of annoying situation?
            P1: Works for me!
            P2: Oh I’d rather not do 1 – would 3 be okay?
            P3: Can’t do that late, I’m leaving early that day! How about 10 am instead?
            P4: I could get there by 10:30 but not ten!
            P1: I have a noon deadline, so was hoping to leave the morning open…
            P3: Well, 10:30 works for me, but we’d have to keep it short –
            P5: Whoops, sorry, I’m out all day – tomorrow?

            Everyone keeping an up-to-date calendar (including blocking off chunks of time that aren’t ideal and marking them as tentative or similar) and just checking the overlays of everyone’s schedule just seems so much better than a group chat, where it can be hard to keep track of who wants what. Clearly you guys make it work though somehow! Maybe you check people’s calendars first, before you sent the group IM check-in? And you must work somewhere where people are always in the office and IM-ing is easy (e.g. I’m often out and about, but check my work Outlook frequently on my phone.)

  16. Gently Screaming into the Void*

    #2, please set up and maintain those boundaries. If Debra brings up the email situation, say something like “I thought Charlotte didn’t have access to her email while she’s away,” but then push Debra to make that connection herself.

    That said, if Charlotte has been given a deadline, don’t penalize her for respecting those bounds. If I’m told I have until Tuesday to complete a task, I’m going to think, act, and plan that I have until Tuesday to get things done. If it’s nicer to have it earlier, make that clear. You’re impacted by her absence, but don’t hold Charlotte accountable to a standard she doesn’t know about.

    1. Jasnah*

      I interpreted Charlotte’s deadline differently. I read it as, Charlotte is not communicating with her company (manager, HR, whoever) about when she will be coming back to work, so it’s really hard to plan for the future. Charlotte could say on the 20th that she’ll be out for another 3 months, but she doesn’t say anything until the 31st, so OP doesn’t know whether she’ll have to cover for Charlotte on the 1st or not, or for how long. Maybe Charlotte doesn’t have a legal obligation to communicate earlier than that, but it would be courteous to give more advance notice.

      That said, Alison didn’t really address “How does this usually work with long-term absences?” because it’s not OP’s problem; that’s between Charlotte and the company, and it’s best if OP lets them sort it out.

      1. Jasnah*

        This is assuming, of course, that Charlotte is able to give more advance notice, which as LemonLyman notes below is not always possible. Still, how much notice she gives is something she should work out with her manager, not secretly through OP.

        1. valentine*

          say something like “I thought Charlotte didn’t have access to her email while she’s away[“]
          It sounds like HR knows they are in contact, but OP can say she’ll no longer be able to share info or to deliver messages. Since she’s annoyed about the negative impact on her, she could also cease contact and tell HR she doesn’t want to impose during Charlotte’s leave.

          1. LW2*

            Oh no I’d never let Charlotte know I was a bit annoyed by this, she’s my friend and she’s sick! It would’ve been nice to know in advance, but I don’t even know if it was decided by her doctor at the very last moment or not.

      2. MLB*

        Bottom line is that HR shouldn’t be asking another employee about someone’s medical condition, or any other private information. OP needs to set boundaries and tell HR lady that she needs to handle this with Charlotte directly as Alison suggested.

        Any work issues for OP because of Charlotte’s absence need to be taken up with her own manager.

      3. Doodle*

        Charlotte may not be communicating with the OP, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t communicating with HR or her manager. If she is not communicating with HR or her manager and THEY”RE telling the OP, Charlotte is leaving this to the last minute every time, that’s a problem. Because HR/manager should not be sharing details about Charlotte’s employment and leave with a Charlotte’s co-worker.

      4. LW2*

        It wasn’t an issue while Charlotte’s replacement (Olivia) was still there because we could extend her contract, but she left on the 25th and we didn’t know yet if Charlotte was coming back in February or not because her appointment was on the 31st. So Debra decided to wait until then to search for a new temp, meaning I’ll be stuck doing two jobs for two weeks.

        I’m on Charlotte’s side 100% but if she knew she wouldn’t be back yet I really would’ve appreciated a head’s up in this case so I could’ve pushed them to look for another temp.

        1. Observer*

          From what you say, Charlotte didn’t know, though.

          And, you should push them to get their dicks in a row anyway – but talk to your boss not, Debra, who sounds like a nightmare.

          1. LW2*

            Oh no, Charlotte knew Olivia was leaving. I talk to her a few times a week. And I forgot about this until just now, but after she let us know she wouldn’t be back before the end of February and I mentioned Debra was mad about having to find someone new last-minute, she sent me Debra “should’ve read between the lines”, implying it was clear she wasn’t coming back, when that most certainly was not clear, even to me. It’s fine though, she has a lot on her mind and the temp situation should be resolved by next Monday.

            1. valentine*

              Can you not share the behind-the-scenes with Charlotte? She shouldn’t have to deal with “Debra was mad”.

            2. Jasnah*

              Yeah, this is what I suspected. Charlotte is not really giving due notice to Debra, Debra is frustrated and pressuring her/you/anyone for information. You feel stuck because you see both sides.

              The solution is to push back on both sides–you can certainly mention to Charlotte that she needs to be more transparent, but the main thing is to remove yourself from being the go-between.

      5. Someone Else*

        The way I’ve seen this play out is doctor says “you need to plan to be out at least X weeks” (or between X and Y weeks, or whatever). The follow-up visit with the doctor is one day prior to X weeks from start. So sick person is out, and tells work the earliest she’ll be back is X weeks. X weeks minus 1 day meets with doctor and doctor says “no I can’t clear you, you need another Z weeks”. So sick person tells company that day “my new return is BLAH”. Rinse repeat. I was very interested in the “how do other places handle this” aspect of it, but also see how that’s not really OP’s bag. But the notion that sick person could say for sure they’ll be back on an exact day, in many situations, is not possible. It might be better if they just planned to be out longer and if they get cleared sooner, great, but I don’t know how that necessarily works, what kind of leave people are taking etc. But if it’s not about “Am I feeling up to working now” and instead is “does the doc say this is OK” you’re entirely dependent on when those appointments land and what the doc says.

  17. LemonLyman*

    My take: continue to support your friend but stay out of conversations between her and HR.

    As someone who has a chronic illness which has kept me on disability for stretches at a time, this would drive me crazy! I put on a brave face for friends and coworkers. I definitely don’t tell them the full story, so I’d be upset if I found out they were sharing my progress with HR. And I often don’t know if I’m able to go back to work until right up until the last day of my leave, especially since those conversations happen with my doctor and many times rely on getting the results of tests. Plus, I have to get my doctor to sign off on it.

  18. Not An Intern Any More*

    Lw2, if you don’t resist the HR meddler, I’m not sure Charlotte will want to be your close friend anymore. Think about the fact that the tables could easily turn on you. Would you be comfortable sharing vacation plans, bouts of illness, personal info with a close work friend who then leaks this information to HR?

    And HR should be fired. This is incredibly lazy and careless. “Debra” has shown extremely poor judgment for someone in her position and should be perp-walked out the door.

    And one more thing, getting a long-term illness is not “screwing you over”. Save your contempt and anger for the company who has poorly prepared for extenuating circumstances. Please don’t blame your friend. It could easily have been you.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      I agree with this. Most of the angst is due to HR mismanaging several issues.
      Debra should not be including anyone in this discussion except for Charlotte.
      Debra should also be helping management find coverage for Charlotte.
      This is someone that isn’t doing their job.

    2. valentine*

      getting a long-term illness is not “screwing you over”
      OP2 meant the lack of early communication, not the illness. If every temp needs training, the business needs possibly outpace Charlotte’s ability to communicate her availability. She could say she won’t know until the last day of her leave.

    3. MK*

      The OP said “it” screwd her over, as in the situation, not that the co-worker did so by getting ill.

      Also, illness is not something that only happens to nice people; it happens to inconsiderate jerks too. Also, illness can make otherwise considerate people behave like jerks, because they get so focused on themselves.

      1. ssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

        Agreed. The battle in your head is “She’s still stick. Extending her leave?! Ugh. This is so frustrating and unfair, I’m doing more work, and onboarding new staff but for how long? There’s no certainty.” vs “Oh, man, I’m really sorry she’s not well, I know it’s not her fault, I hope she gets better soon.”

        The longer the situation goes on, the harder it gets to not feel really shortchanged by it.

      2. Marthooh*

        The “it” that’s screwing the OP over is screwing Charlotte over twice as hard. At least. Resenting the consequences of her illness gets very close to resenting Charlotte herself, and I think that’s what _Not An Intern_ is concerned about.

        Also, we don’t know what Charlotte has said to HR. Maybe she explained to Debra that she can’t give earlier notice, and Debra is using OP to get the inside dope. OP should make it clear there’s no dope to be had.

    4. LadyofLasers*

      I don’t know that Charlotte looks great in this either comunication-wise. She is struggling with illness and that’s difficult and stressful to deal with… however just not telling the company anything is not the most helpful. Now HR needs to grow up and not try to triangulate because she’s uncomfortable with Charlotte and holds the greater responsibility, however this wouldn’t be an issue in the first place if Charlotte would at least respond with an “I don’t know but I’ll keep you in the loop.”

        1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

          Agreed. I worked somewhere where you could put in your time off request with specific dates, ex: “I will be out of town from Tuesday, February 5, 2019 to Monday, February 11, 2019. I will return to the office on Tuesday, February 12, 2019,” and then everyone in the office would run around like chickens with their head cut off calling and emailing and texting and trying to reschedule that person’s schedule Tuesday-Friday because “Well, we can’t guarantee they’ll be coming back on time, we haven’t heard from them in a week!”

          Then of course, that person would come back on Tuesday, February 12 as promised and find their work assigned to someone else and have to make a scene either kicking that person out or scolding their boss for not reading the time off request correctly.

      1. Doodle*

        But we don’t know that Charlotte is “just not telling the company anything” — entirely possible she has said “I don’t know but I’ll keep you in the loop.” In fact, she IS letting them know, just not as quickly as the OP would like. Furthermore, Charlotte may have all sorts of reasons for not being able to tell which the OP (and us) are not privy to. I don’t think we should be throwing any shade at Charlotte, here.

        1. LadyofLasers*

          Fair enough. I was reading into the ‘not responding to emails’ but I from quick reading I missed that Charlotte can’t access the emails while she’s out.

          I guess the main take-away is that it’s solidly not OP’s conversation to have, and Charlotte is not the one putting her in the middle.

    5. LW2*

      This seems a little harsh. I haven’t told HR anything beyond “oh, not sure, I think she’ll let us know soon” and definitely didn’t show any “contempt and anger” towards Charlotte. All I meant to say was that it would’ve been helpful to know if she felt like she’d be back in February or not. Whether she had any say in that is a different story of course, I’m just frustrated because it’s impacting me directly now.

      1. Not An Intern Any More*

        You’re right. After re-reading the comments, I see that my words were overly harsh. I apologize.

        I recently lost a close friend at work to breast cancer and seeing your words stirred something in me. Sometimes people don’t know when they’re going to get better and my goal was to say that it is the company that should be planning for these contingencies.

        My plan, if I were management, would be to hire a temp anyway for February and into March. If Charlotte is not better by then, there is coverage. If Charlotte gets better and gets clearance from her doctor, the temp can be released after a notice period. Also, the temp could stay a day or two after Charlotte returns to handle administrative-type activities in that role while Charlotte re-orients herself to work.

        My thinking is that this would both take pressure off you and off Charlotte, if all goes well with the hiring process.

  19. Auntie Social*

    As long as the LW understands that, if the airline loses her luggage, those leggings and Uggs are what she’s going to wear to that meeting the next morning. If she brings a carry-on then she’s okay. I’d still do one step above leggings, though.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      That’s what carry on bags are for! Look on YouTube for ways to pack a suit in a carry on bag.

      FWIW, many of us travel carry on only all the time. There’s no losing the luggage that way.

      1. valentine*

        There’s no losing the luggage that way.
        Yes, and no waiting and identifying your luggage, which looks and feels weird.

          1. Mystery Bookworm*

            I’m assuming that valentine is referring to business travel, how it can feel awkward to be the only member of the group waiting for luggage when everyone else is using a carry-on.

            1. Femme d'Afrique*

              Ah, ok. I still don’t find that weird or awkward though, just the general hassle of airline travel. No biggie at all.

      2. Lucy*

        Frequent flyer spouse ALWAYS takes carry on plus two cases. Around three or four times a year one case is delayed, but never both. Vital things in carry on, everything else spread across the other two. Even did this when we flew to NYC for a weekend, ha ha!

    2. Non-prophet*

      This is a good point. And even if you bring carry-on luggage, it’s not a guarantee that it won’t get checked and then lost. On my last four flights, I’ve been required to check my carry-on luggage st the gate because I was told there was no overhead bin space (in half of those instances, it turned out that there WAS space…but by then, I’d already checked my bag. I think the gate agents sometimes push people to check their carry on luggage as a way to speed up the boarding process).

      OP may be able to reliably keep a change of clothes with her if she brings smaller personal bag that fits under the seat.

      1. Marion Ravenwood*

        In my experience, this only applies if you have a hard-sided case. I have a rucksack that is specifically designed to meet carry-on standards which I use a lot for travel within Europe, and I’ve never been asked to check it in on a short-haul, hand-luggage-only flight, whereas once you get to a certain point in the boarding process they seem to default to asking everyone with a hard-sided case to check their bags (I’m guessing because with a soft bag it’s easier to wedge it in somewhere). Obviously it’s not a guarantee, but it’s worth considering.

    3. I Herd the Cats*

      I came on here to say this. As someone who has twice had my checked bags delayed when flying for work, I always wear something that could plausibly work for the event next day, plus an extra shirt, slacks and undies in a plastic bag tucked in my carry-on tote-purse (so I won’t be asked to check it last minute.) Since LW’s event is relatively casual she should be able to do this without too much effort. It’s also nice to have those extras if there’s some in-flight disaster like you accidentally knock your soda onto your lap while stretching. Not that that’s ever happened to me, ohno. I’ve just *heard* about people doing that.

      1. I Herd the Cats*

        And if anyone’s now going to ask, “why are you checking a bag?” it’s because my company is nonprofit/cheap and I always end up muling things like literature for the display tables (or the full displays, they make wheeled travel cases for those things) so I’ll be going to the baggage area anyway.

      2. Mockingjay*

        I do the same. I have a pair of black slacks and a stretchy top in no-wrinkle fabric. They roll beautifully and fit into my carry-on. Most of my travel are quick overnight trips, so these are my go-to pieces.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’m fascinated by the idea of checking bags for a trip. I have flown with only a carry on forever.

      Also if you get there the day before, you can usually get an Uber to go buy a new outfit if absolutely necessary. This isn’t the wild west, they sell clothes at many airports even.

      1. WellRed*

        I had to buy a couple of tops for work conference in Atlanta one time (I left them on the drying rack at home). There really wasn’t any place in downtown Atlanta to buy anything like that (that I was aware of) and I had to take a cab to Macy’s, which was expensive. Then I had to arrange for a cab back. Lesson learned not to pack last minute.

      2. Katy*

        I’m fascinated by everyone’s packing and flying strategies, too. I’d really love an open thread this weekend about how everyone tackles flying successfully (especially carry-on with the small overhead bins on commuter turboprops.)

  20. Chevron*

    OP5: could the test/assignment be done on site as part of the in-person interview process? I work in an accounting office for a non-profit and when I had my in-person interview there was 3/4 hour for the actual interview, 3/4 hour for a written test and 1/2 for a computer test. The written portion was to test basic accounting knowledge and the computer portion was to test data entry.

    This would only work if the assignment was pared down from 4 hours to 1 hour but I think it would be easier to budget an extra hour for an interview than trying to do something on your own time.

  21. Jack V*

    OP5: It doesn’t really fix the problem, but does the company contact candidates at an earlier point (either directly or through an agency)? If so, saying that this request to do a 4-hour project will be included in the next step may help a lot. If this is literally the first thing they hear, they apply, and they get back “Surprise! Do this NOW,” with no chance to find out anything about the company first, I agree it would be off-putting.

  22. Carlie*

    I can’t at all figure out how asking and responding to an invitation takes more work time/productivity than checking your calendar every half hour every single day in case a meeting magically appears! And how can you be properly prepared for a surprise meting? It obviously works in some contexts, given the comments, but for me it would be like living in a Monty Python sketch where John Cleese keeps popping up out of nowhere and demanding last month’s invoices.

    1. Name Required*

      Yeah — the idea of having to add and maintain calendar entries for every second of my day seems infinitely more exhausting and time consuming than sending an email or Slack messaging with a short summary of the meeting intention and a suggested time (i.e. “Client has questions about new design; can you meet Tuesday at 2pm or Wednesday at 3pm?” “No, but Friday 12-4pm is open” “Friday works, sending invite for Friday at 1pm with agenda”)

      1. plant lady*

        Yeah, this is awesome if you’re just meeting with one or maybe two others, but as soon as it’s more than that it’s so much easier to just overlay everyone’s calendars and find a good blank spot.

        Also, if you’re on your computer anyway, you can just have your calendar visible on the sidebar or splitscreen, if you’re one of those people who ignores email notifications about new appointments.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          That depends on the kind of work you do. I have two big monitors and they are usually full with teapot design software, sometimes several layers.

    2. LL*

      Hahahahaha. I agree with this, surprise meetings are horrible! I find meetings disruptive enough when I know about them in advance, I can’t imagine how anyone could actually do work knowing that their planned worktime is subject to change without even any notice. I also suspect there are different cultures about how prepared one is expected to be for a meeting, what actually is happening in the meeting (updates vs. working meetings vs. strategic alignment/persuasion), etc. In my job, most work gets done individually and via email/slack, so if an actual real-time meeting is called, it’s because something major is changing, or has gone off-track, etc. So everyone needs to know well in advance what’s going to happen in the meeting, how to be prepared, etc.

  23. Overeducated*

    #5 – Wow, you’re right, 48 hours for a take home exercise is completely unreasonable. I do not have 4 hours of actual free time in any given 48 hour period between work and family care (and staying up late at night is not the way to do my best work). Last time I got such a request and said it would take around 4 hours they gave me a full week, which was much more reasonable, and I still withdrew because my interest in that particular job just wasn’t high enough. Applicants are judging you on this, too.

  24. PM*

    OP1 – it is very unusual to drop someone like that so late in the process without explanation.

    Have you Googled your name recently? The only thing that comes to mind as a possible explanation is that either a background check or someone in the hiring process doing an informal search turned up info that you’re an axe murderer.

    Either that or someone there used to work with you and really doesn’t like you, but didn’t get to weigh in until late in the process.

    1. LW#1 blacklisted*

      Nothing weird on a google search! It’s possible someone put in a “bad” word, I just can’t imagine who!

      1. Anon for today*

        LW#1 I posted this below, but my BIL almost lost out on a job because something bad turned up, in the background, or credit check. It wasn’t him, but someone with the same name. Can you find out who they use for their background checks (if they have gotten this far with your process) and make sure the information is accurate (and check your own credit reports if you haven’t lately).

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        This is actually one of the reasons why I did agree to change my name when I got married. My maiden name isn’t quite as bad as Jane Jones… But there were several people sharing it. I really didn’t want to police their internet presences.

  25. Anon for this*

    LW 1- I work for a utility company. The first “interview” is an online test which is ultimately about customer service. If you fail that test, you are automatically not accepted for future positions for at least one year. It’s a very sucky situation, and we’ve lost excellent applicants to it. Unfortunately the c level suites think it’s great.

    So, this may not be about you and your total package of what you can bring to the job. You might have failed to tick off one little box that the company puts an overwhelming, misplaced requirement on. Try again, but don’t pin all your hopes on it. You never know, things may have changed internally since the last application.

    Also, if you happen to know someone who works there, if you can strike up a conversation with them to find out if the company has any boxes that must be ticked, that might help with the application.

    1. LW#1 blacklisted*

      Thanks for this perspective. I don’t know anyone working there close enough to ask unfortunately. I would have thought that “one box” would have come up over the course of 4 interviews or before they asked for references, but there’s no way to tell! It also could have come up in a later discussion about my candidacy. I wish the form letter hadn’t said “we encourage you to continue to visit our website for additional opportunities.” I do realize it was a canned response. Do you tell applicants there is a one year hold?

      1. Anon for this*

        Nope. They’re just informed that they did not meet the requirements for the position. Which is pretty ridiculous, since the test is given an absurdly high importance internally, but is not presented as such to applicants.

        The only other thing I can suggest is to read the companys’ mission statement and similar declarations on their website for clues for these invisible boxes. Our website repeatedly mentions who much we care about customer service and awards we’ve won for that. So, if you look at our website like an archaeological dig, you do get the repeated hints about the exaggerated importance of customer service.

        Good luck!

      2. Anon Today Anon Tomorrow*

        Do you know if your references are solid? Because to me it sounds like perhaps a red flag might have gotten raised during your reference check.

        1. LW#1 blacklisted*

          They all said they were positive, that they thought I was a good fit for the role and were surprised when I was rejected. But you never know.

  26. Melonhead*

    I am against this trend of “Go home and do four hours’ worth of free work so we can decide whether to hire you.” How about testing the candidate on a paid, temporary basis? Seems more and more that employers treat candidates as badly as they want to –
    not responding to job applications, not responding after interviews, changing the parameters of a job after hiring – and employees just have to accept it because after all, they should be grateful to have a job!

    Any other geezers here who remember when workers were considered valuable contributors to the success of a company?

    1. Jane*

      Four hours is a lot (too much)–but I really wouldn’t prefer being hired on a temp basis to gauge my work before deciding to hire me. What if someone is quitting another job for the new one?

      1. LQ*

        Yeah, the real problem with paying for gauging work is that it assumes everyone who is hirable is currently unemployed. Which feels weird. Though I guess it would be very helpful for people who are currently not working.

        Also I’m not sure when in the ye olde olden days of the triangle shirtwaist fire and other egregious employers workers were considered valuable contributors to the success of the company.

    2. Colette*

      The issue I’d have with doing 4 hours of work isn’t that I wouldn’t get paid for it, it’s that I’d have to fit it around my other commitments. Getting paid for it wouldn’t help – and I wouldn’t quit my current job for a temp job.

      Interestingly, the idea that you should test the candidate on a paid, temporary basis is one of the reason it’s much hard to get a permanent job without working on a temporary basis for a couple of years first. That’s not really a benefit to employees, who often will not have benefits during their temp work.

    3. Observer*

      Also, you are assuming that it really IS “free work”. I realize that it’s not paid, but it’s not necessarily work product

      For instance, for one position on our org, I used to ask that the candidate do a particular task that has to be done on a regular basis. (It wasn’t homework – it was done in our office, on the spot.) While the person was doing a standard task, it totally wasn’t intended as “free work” – there was no way we were going to be able to use the work output. All it did was give us a sense of how well they knew how to do this type of work.

  27. Writerboy*

    OP1: I had a similar experience once and it was in health care too, strangely (medical devices to be precise). I interviewed for a position and when I was advised that I would not be getting the job, the hiring manager told me I was “perfect” for the role but that other candidates were also perfect.
    When I saw the same role posted a few months later I applied again and was rejected immediately. I contacted someone I knew who worked for the company and she told me that you only get one chance with these guys; if they don’t hire you the first time, they never will — even if you are “perfect.”

    1. LW#1 blacklisted*

      I’m sorry you had that experience! It seems so foolish on their part to disqualify someone they said was perfect!

      1. Jem One*

        That is crazy! They’re potentially missing out on the best candidates.

        Say a hospital has 3 pasta shapers. One leaves and the hospital gets 20 applications for the job, of which the top 5 are amazing and would be incredible in the role. But only one gets hired and the rest are put on the “do not hire” list. Six months later, the other two pasta shapers leave, now those 4 amazing candidates are ineligible to be hired and the hospital has significantly weakened its candidate pool for no reason.

      2. Gazebo Slayer*

        …no wonder I sent so many applications to hospitals and kept getting crickets!

        That is a really stupid and pointless policy, but c-suites sure love stupid pointless policies if they can justify them with some blather about efficiency and innovation and blah blah blah.

        1. Michaela Westen*

          The business school method of managing. Never mind how it is with actual people in the real world, just apply the formulas to living people and systems… then wonder why it’s not working… then hey, this new formula will fix everything! :p

  28. Not a Blossom*

    OP4, if you are concerned about being too casual, consider trading out your t-shirt for a sweater dress. It feels just as comfortable over leggings but looks a bit more polished. That’s my travel uniform of choice (although I am a dress person in general).

  29. Guy Incognito*

    Or don’t give them take home exercises, as you are having them essentially work overtime for a job they don’t have yet and may not get.

    As for what to wear on the plane, wear what you need. Most airports are basically living in Mad Max times.

  30. gawaine42*

    On #3 – Interesting. Across 8 companies/23 years – we used either Outlook calendar or (for the first two years) HP’s calendar, and as long as it was an internal meeting, we’d just create a calendar entry. The prevailing attitude was that we wouldn’t send an email to ask permission to send an emailed calendar entry. Companies included both tiny consulting companies and Verizon (240K employees at the time, a lot smaller now), and everywhere in between, but always in their technology, software, or IT wings, so we were probably more comfortable with software. If people aren’t available, we expect them to block their calendars off accordingly.

    The places where we’ve asked first is if we had to ask a supervisor or account rep if we could include their subordinate/client, or if we had to coordinate with people outside the company who didn’t have visible Google or internet published calendars with their availability, or if a meeting needs to happen regardless of availability (a political appointee, admiral, or corporate VP says so) and no one has available time. In the case of people not sharing their calendars, we would normally call one person at each site who could see their calendar to see what time is open, not send an email to all of them to ask them if we could send an email calendar entry.

    1. OP3*

      We see it less as “asking permission” and more “I’m extending you this courtesy to raise a flag about the timing if you need to”

      Based on the work we do the flow of our day or week can change pretty quickly so blocking off time would be very hard to keep accurate.

      1. LL*

        OP3, I hear you that in some settings this would be fine, but holy cow, this would be offensive in my institution! Scheduling a meeting ONTO SOMEONE’S CALENDAR without at least confirming their availability, and ideally asking them about suitable times, would be seen as severe overstepping even from a supervisor, much less among colleagues. Heck, in most cases I can imagine, it would be desirable to politely explain the purpose of the meeting and *ask* them to make time to meet, not just assume they’re even willing to attend as a matter of course (with the exception of known, standing meetings). I suspect different workplaces have radically different cultures about meetings, what they’re for, how much prep is needed, etc.

      2. plant lady*

        But with things like Google or Outlook calendars, when you send someone (or a group of someones) a calendar appointment, it sends as an email request. It doesn’t get automatically added to their calendar in a permanent sense – it’s added as a grayed-out, tentative item that you then need to respond to. In both platforms, you can respond with a yes, no, or maybe, or edit the time/date (while looking at the organizer’s calendar) and send that back to the organizer as a suggestion. Sending a calendar invite is absolutely still extending a courtesy to raise a flag about timing, and they can still reply all, or just reply to you. It actually operates very similarly to a group chat or group email, but with the added bonuses that a) you can see each others’ calendars in the same program and b) once you’ve nailed down the final date/time, it’s already on everyone’s calendars, rather than everyone then needing to go in and add it to their calendars. Sure, if you’re planning an impromptu meeting within the next hour or two, get a hold of people directly via IM or phone or stopping by their desk – but otherwise I don’t see an issue.

        1. alienor*

          Same here – I decline meetings all the time if I can’t make it, or if I know I don’t need to be there. I don’t do it without an explanation (usually a pretty basic one like “Sorry, I’m out of the office/I’ve got a conflict at that time” or “Oops, that’s actually Jane’s project not mine”) but I have no problem hitting that decline button even if it’s tentative on my calendar.

  31. Alexis Rose*

    OP5, for my current job, the interview process included two different at-home exercises/tests. For both, there was a scheduled time like an interview and I was given the option of a couple of time slots. I did the test at home, but I had to email it in on or before the scheduled end of the test and the materials were only sent to me right at the beginning of my time slot. For these, though, one was 1 hr and the other was 2 hrs. Because it was scheduled for a set time and I had a few options to choose from to fit into my schedule, I was able to manage my time and felt like I had a bit more control. For this job there was ALSO a 1 hour written test as part of the 2 hour in-person interview block (I work for the federal government in Canada, so this seems like overkill but its just sort of part of the way they do things).

    Anyway, is it possible to make the exercise shorter (max 2 hours, for example) and then schedule a specific time that the candidate must sit down and complete the exercise? This would also help you gauge how they are spending that dedicated time. With just sending something home and “expecting” it to take 4 hours, some people may spend 2 and others may spend 8. This would help control that variable.

  32. Akcipitrokulo*

    OP4 – I’m not sure from letter if invites are sent out when meeting is booked or not.

    If invites are sent – then I think what they’re doing is fine; if it doesn’t work, you can reject and/or send a new proposed time. This is the same purpose as the IM, and it can be really frustrating to be asked the same thing twice (IM – meeting at 3? Meeting invite email – meeting at 3?)

    If it doesn’t send invites – yeah, you need to confirm in a different way, but (nearly) simultaneously would be OK. But it might be worth chaning settings so the invites are sent if possible.

  33. ragazza*

    It’s interesting to see everyone’s take on the burdensome nature of some interview assignments. I’m a copywriter/content marketer and companies typically give pretty intensive tasks during the interview process. It can be annoying, especially since if you’re experienced, you have plenty of clips. I’ve read job advice that says you should ask to be paid for your time (especially given that they could end up actually using their work), but it seems like people hardly ever do this. Anyone else have any insights into this? It’ll be helpful for me as I’m looking for a job for the first time in several years.

    1. WellRed*

      Do not ask to be paid for this. It will look really out of touch. You should, however, feel free to decline anything too onerous, and to ask how it will be used.

  34. Hiring Mgr*

    #3 seems like a very common way to do things in my experience. When I set up a meeting I’ll use Gmail or Outlook to see the others’ calendars and if they’re free I’ll just send it out. It sounds burdensome to have to check with everyone individually that the time works, then wait for them to reply, then send out the invitation. I guess it makes sense if you can’t see others calendars but beyond that it would be annoying

  35. Jane*

    During a recent job interview, I was given an exercise to do that took probably about an hour. I did it right away….and they turned around and gave me ANOTHER exercise that they claimed only took an hour but really was more like three hours of work. They gave me 48 hours–and it wasn’t even over a weekend. They wanted me to complete it before my interview with them (which had already been scheduled for a week when they sent the exercise to me). I thought that was so rude. I did ask for more time and they conceded, but in the back of my mind, I felt that if that was how they treated job candidates, how would they treat me as an employee? (The exercise was given to me by the person who would have been my boss).

    I was offered the job and they said I was their top choice. I declined because of their annoying behavior.

  36. M*

    LW1. This happened to me but when applying to different companies— I would get to the very end and then rejected. At least twice I was told verbally the offer was mine by the CEO or equivalent. Then a very kind HR head told me that I should check my references again because one wasn’t giving me a glowing reference. I was shocked and what he had said was all a lie (he admitted it over email and said it did it to other prior students for “fun” as well). I informed my grad school because who knows what he had done to all of us.

    So basically I would say listen to the advice here but also maybe contact your references and make sure they are willing to give “positive references”

    1. LW#1 blacklisted*

      I’m so sorry that happened! My references all said they gave positive ones, that they thought the role would be a good one for me and were all very surprised when I was rejected. They could be lying, but there’s no way to tell!

      1. Jessica*

        There is a way. If you’re really afraid one of your references might be secretly toxic, get a convincing friend to do a fake reference check with them and report back.

    2. stampysmom*

      This was my first thought too when the OP1 mentioned a final reference check. I wondered if that person said some not so great things which they immediately followed with the “thanks, but no thanks” email.

    3. Observer*

      he admitted it over email and said it did it to other prior students for “fun” as well

      That is HORRIFYING!

      You don’t want to take the time to give references? OK. Not nice, and possibly a breach of your job duties (in some schools). But at last people know where they stand. Lies are another whole kettle of fish. So is deliberately messing someone over like this. And for “fun”?! Is this guy a wind puller, too?

  37. Doodle*

    OP #3, when I have a project or task that needs to get done that day, I block the time on my calendar with a descriptive note (eg editing EOY report, no meetings). If it’s something where I could be interrupted if the reason was important enough, I’ll indicate that: editing EOY report, emergencies only.

    You might just take a few minutes at the end of each day to block off times you know you’ll need the next day or two.

    Are you obliged to go to meetings that are put on your calendar like this — what’s the consequence if you don’t show up? or if you send an IM saying, Sorry, working on EOY report, can’t make it!

  38. M*

    #5 This happened to my husband basically (but they gave him 5 days over Christmas?!!!!) a couple years ago. It was crazy and took way more than 4 hours. He missed Christmas festivities because the four exercise took far longer (and when he asked other colleagues they also said this work would take days to complete). He didn’t end up getting the job, but he said he would never do an exercise like that again. Your company is going to miss good candidates on this. I understand wanting some work, but maybe give part of an exercise or allow them to send something they have already completed if you need something larger in scope.

    Oh and my husbands work was found on their website, so now we are in the middle of it with them for stealing his intellectual property (since he wasn’t working for them or getting paid for his “exercise” ) they didn’t own it, he did.

    1. Gazebo Slayer*

      I wonder if there even was a real job at all, or if they’d put out fake listings to scam free work out of people. I’ve certainly heard of that being done.

      1. Need a Beach*

        I’ve seen that several times with friends who do marketing-related work, like package design and ad copy.

      2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

        I worked at a nonprofit that allowed “working interviews” for entry-level customer facing staff (think: check-in desk) and some managers were toying with that. “If we’re short-staffed, we can just start scheduling candidates to work a shift as a working interview and get free labor!” someone said in the meeting.

  39. Doc in a Box*

    LW1: I also work in health care (academic medical center which comprises the university hospital, a couple community hospitals, and several outpatient clinics) and I think it’s odd that you would have gotten that far in the process (an in-person shadowing day, for instance) and then be essentially ghosted. While it’s true that you might be flagged in their system as “recently applied,” it’s weird that even your in-person contacts at HR and your interview day aren’t responding. In my field, it’s considered a courtesy for the division chief or chair to reach out to the rejected candidate by email (or phone, if they know each other well) to convey the rejection. That might be specific to academia which is a small world with its own idiosyncrasies — but I would consider the fact that they are ignoring you a major red flag.

    1. LW#1 blacklisted*

      That’s a good point. I was thinking they were directed to not respond to rejected candidate’s emails to prevent HR issues

    2. ghosted by the gov*

      I was ghosted by a government organization that flew me out to do a job interview (after two phone interviews) so nothing surprises me anymore :/

  40. Js*

    LW #3- fwiw, in my company the culture is very much that people just book meetings based on calendar availability. individuals are expected to keep their calendars up to date including booking yourself as busy if you have a deadline or know you need a chunk of time free. It’s considered extra work and unnecessary communication for meeting attendees to have to reply back to messages about availability. Though we also generally consider same day meetings to be an unwritten rule of “only if it’s truly necessary.”

  41. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

    I interviewed for a company once that only gave me a week to do an absolutely absurd amount of work for a writing assessment. This was what they sent me:

    Exercise: Listen to the recorded customer case study interview and draft a case study and promotional content including (2) social media posts, (1) blog post and (3) SDR campaign emails – one for each of the following roles: strategic leader, membership director and IT.

    All of that work for the interview process!!

    I didn’t know how to push back so I did it. Ended up not getting the job because they decided they were “changing directions and no longer hiring for that position.”

    Anyway, my current job is currently hiring a jr writing position and now I want to make sure we are giving candidates enough time to do the short 100 word assessment we’ve given them. So thanks for writing in LW5!!

  42. StressedButOkay*

    I will say that while it’s quite common in my office for meetings to just show up without a discussion, it’s generally not on the same day – it’s at most 24 hours in advance, if not more. Meetings that show up the same day with discussion tend to be the super serious, something has gone wrong kind of meetings so I’d probably be feeling super anxious if a coworker kept doing that to me!

    OP4, luckily you should be fine! In all the time I’ve done travel with coworkers, there’s only been one person who always showed up dressed in business clothes. Everyone else was sporting casual – jeans, etc. And considering that the one person showed up in business clothes at 4 a.m. at the airport for our 6 a.m. flight – she was the one who got some funny looks from the rest of the staff! (Our meetings didn’t start until the afternoon and the rest of us changed into our work clothes after we got to the hotel; we had a stupidly early flight simply due to logistics.)

    1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      I’d also add that airplanes tend to have a very strong chemical-air freshener smell that lingers on your clothes, and I don’t think it’d be appropriate to go to meetings reeking of airplane stank if you can avoid it.

  43. ilikeyoualatte*

    #3 it’s the norm at my work to just schedule a meeting. But that’s also why i block off time to work on projects I want so no one schedules it during that time.

    1. stampysmom*

      I do the same. Our calendars allow us to check other people’s availability and schedule accordingly (only booked or free – not why its booked). If they have some time sooner, rather than later, I’ll give them a quick heads up on chat that I’ve invited them.

  44. pleaset*

    Both #3 and #5 bring up a 2 or 3 related, but not identical issues:
    1 – taking/asking for someone’s
    2 – the amount of time
    2 – control over when that time is

    Good approaches have to recognize the difference between these things.

  45. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #3 – at one place, some years ago – I

    a) while working for another company , helped someone out who was struggling with a product install – a third party product – for which they were thankful for.

    b) then when I was out of work, I was summoned by a headhunter to interview there – and – the company refused to interview me. Apparently I hit it off wrong with the hiring manager (position for managing that same product) and there was no way I could get in. So yeah, I was blacklisted at that company. Ya move on from that.

    c) a week or two after being summoned by the headhunter – he calls back. Since I was involved with a local computing professional group = “Do I know any OTHER candidates that could fill the job?” At that point my reply was

    “I sent you the best candidate I know, but Teapot Company’s manager refused to interview him. I don’t know any one else who could do the job better. ”

    A little bit of satisfaction there, but a situation in which no one won. Albeit “lose-lose , we all lose” is a common management strategy…

  46. insert pun here*

    Re: assignments. For my role it’s common to do a research/writing/planning assignment, usually between the phone screen and the in person interview (which generally runs all day.) These usually take me about 3-4 hours, sometimes more. For my current job, I turned this around in 8 days (they actually gave me a bit more time than this; I turned it in a little bit early) — that obviously includes a weekend. Unless it was a job that I really, really, really wanted, I’d probably push back pretty strongly or decline to proceed if asked to do this faster, or to do it before an initial phone conversation.

  47. Catsaber*

    Hi LW #4 – I think you can definitely do the leggings lewk, but I’d do it in nicer fabrics, dark/muted colors, and with nice looking shoes. Small changes like that can make it look a lot more polished, in case you do have to into work mode. I typically wear black compression leggings – solid black, no mesh inserts or patterns – with a layered tunic top or sweater, and a light jacket, and my nicer comfy shoes – like my tassle-loafer sneakers, or engineer boots. Everything in black with gray or one solid color can streamline the look.

    There are also some nicer looking joggers you can buy, but for me, I have to wear compression leggings because of poor circulation – I feel a million times better after a flight when I wear those as opposed to other pants. But the point is, you can totally wear your comfy stuff with just some small adjustments to look a little more elevated for work.

  48. Oof*

    #3 – we first check availability before we put the meeting on the calendar. Personally, I hate the meeting invites I get through outlook – because it is a waste of time for an organization with our structure. I’ve watched it turn into a day long repeated attempts, before someone finally just asked hey can we all do this on X day at Z time? Boom, done!

    But I really enjoyed reading the other comments. I would never have realized how different that can be, and something I will have to think of in terms of work culture. I’m not sure I could keep my personal schedule up to the level that would make being scheduled in feasible, but it is certainly something to think about!

  49. Observer*

    #2, when Debra tells you that Charlotte is not responding to email, remind her ONCE that Charlotte is NOT SUPPOSED to be answering emails, and that’s why she has Charlotte’s number. She can talk to Charlotte herself so it’s not appropriate to come to you for information.

    If Debra keeps on doing this, I’d consider going over her head. This is so out of line that I’d be wondering what other boundaries she’s crossing and what other information she’s mishandling.

    1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      Perhaps she’s emailing Charlotte’s personal email? I’ve always had to have a personal email on file with HR, on top of any company email I was assigned.

      1. Observer*

        It doesn’t make a difference. Debra definitely has a way to reach Charlotte that she is SUPPOSED to use, and which she isn’t.

  50. LadeeDa*

    OP#2: What you are describing is called “Unwritten rules.” Unwritten rules are the rules for success that are not written down. They are the should and shouldn’ts operating within an organization.
    For a person who is not informed of the unwritten rules or is excluded because of them work can become a frustrating and counter-productive environment.
    Just tell the poor guy, instead of being annoyed- just tell him. I am sure he would be grateful to know that what he is doing is not within the norm of your corporate culture, and it could save a lot of people annoyance, and could save him from being excluded or making a bad impression.

    Also- how is your calendar set up, is it not Outlook? Don’t you have to accept or decline every meeting request, and don’t you get reminders?

    1. OP3*

      Funnily enough another “unwritten” rule of ours actually is that a non-answer is seen as “accepted” (because we talk to each other about meeting timing before hand). Only if a meeting is actively declined is it seen as something to be rescheduled.

      1. LQ*

        Huh, that kind of makes sense if you are pre-asking about every meeting though. You’ve already requested once and gotten a yes so the only time you’d respond is if it’s changed in the time it took to make the appointment.

        I suspect that once you explicitly spell this out it might be a little bit of a culture shift (I’d be a bit annoyed for about …2 minutes, as long as it took to do the contact) it’ll be fine and he’ll shift over to doing it the way that your culture has it set up.

        I’ve told people this, sometimes even weeks or more after they started, “Hey our meeting culture is…” normally the answer has been relief because they weren’t getting the results they wanted and they now know how to.

  51. drpuma*

    OP5, something else to keep in mind is that your company is showing these candidates exactly how much it values employees’ personal time, and what their expectations are around employee productivity given that you’re saying they should be able to complete the task in 4 hours. You may find that people self-select out because they don’t want to work someplace that has such little regard for folks’ personal commitments or that they couldn’t keep up with the workload. You know your boss better than I do – so maybe she is inadvertently doing candidates a favor by insisting on the short turnaround and volume of work for 4 hours. But if she’s normally supportive of a decent work/life balance, she may be able to be swayed by these optics.

  52. LadeeDa*

    I enjoy reading about everyone’s different norms around meetings and their calendar. We can view people’s availability (not why they are busy, just that they are busy), so we use the scheduling assistant and find a time that works for everyone. Because we work all over the world and most of us aren’t even in the same time zone, it is really important that we keep our calendars up to date. We rarely have a same day meeting schedule, unless it is a quick catch up, or a “heads up” that something is about to be announced.

  53. BirthdayWeek*

    #4….I was assigned an exercise that was estimated to take 6 hours and was given 48 hours to do it.

    I canceled all my plans, busted my bottom, and got it done…but it really turned me off from the company. I ended up getting an interview but an offer wasn’t made. I’m okay with that, and I use the work on my portfolio.

    1. Jennifer*

      If you don’t mind my asking – were you out of work at the time or in a toxic workplace that you were desperate to escape?

      1. BirthdayWeek*

        I was working, but it wasn’t toxic, this was for a larger company with room for growth. I was also looking to move, and this was in my desired city.

  54. Anonandon*

    It’s pretty normal in my company to send a meeting invite without checking with the person first, if you see an open slot on their calendar. If it’s someone I haven’t worked with before, I’ll usually put a brief note in the meeting invitation to introduce myself, explain the purpose of the meeting, and tell them to let me know if they would prefer to meet at a different time. We use Outlook, which I think is pretty standard in the business world.

    As for the LW who is being asked by HR to be an intermediary with the sick employee, oh my gosh, this is not ok. It doesn’t really matter if the HR person gets along with the employee or not; it’s their job as HR to be having conversations with the employee about their return to work status. I work in HR, and there are plenty of employees I have to deal with whom I don’t especially like, but I will only resort to an intermediary (like a spouse) if I can’t get in touch with the person for some reason, and then I will only say something like “Hey, I’m really trying to get in touch with Sally, and I haven’t been able to connect with her, could you please ask her to call me?” I’ve had circumstances where the employee was hospitalized or otherwise unable to communicate with me; in those situations, I’ll work with the spouse/next of kin if necessary. But under normal circumstances, I only communicate with the employee.

    1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      I was sort of wondering if Charlotte was the one who disliked the HR person, and wasn’t getting back to HR based on this from the OP:

      “Charlotte does not get along with our HR rep, Debra.”
      “Charlotte is not making it any easier by waiting until the very last minute to let us know whether her sickness leave is getting extended or not”
      “Technically Charlotte is doing everything by the book, but she could be more helpful than letting us know on the very last day of her leave whether she’ll be back the next day or not. ”

      I guess it doesn’t really change the fact that it’s still not right to go to a 3rd party for information, but it may be out of sheer desperation for information.

      Charlotte kind of sounds like a pain in the ass.

      1. Observer*

        No, it’s not “desperation for information” – at least not legitimately so. Charlotte is doing everything by the book. If that doesn’t work for the company that does NOT excuse this kind of behavior. Either the company needs to change its rules or or change they way they operate to accommodate their rules and legal requirements.

        1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

          Which is why I said that it’s not right to go to a 3rd party for information.

          Doing things by the book doesn’t mean that the employee is in the right. When people go out on leave at my company it’s expected there will be some check ins and dialog about return dates with HR. Not daily or weekly check ins, more along the lines of ‘Yep, plan to return on my expected date’ or ‘Dr says my return may be pushed out.. will know more in 2 weeks’. Especially for longer leaves.

          IMO, Charlotte is acting odd about this if she’s not keeping HR in the loop. And I read it as passive aggressive to wait until the day before the expected return to provide information especially with the comment how Charlotte hates Debra.

          1. Observer*

            The reality is that Charlotte is doing what she is required to do. If that doesn’t work for the company, they need to figure it out.

            And, it’s no wonder Charlotte doesn’t like Debra – Debra is being a MASSIVE jerk, regardless of whether Charlotte is doing what she’s supposed to.

      2. Anonandon*

        What Charlotte is doing is pretty typical. It drives HR/managers nuts, but she’s well within her rights to give the minimum amount of required information.

  55. almost empty nester*

    OP#1 – most larger organizations use automated systems for hiring, and once you’re rejected for a position (for whatever reason), that rejection gets tagged to your name. There may be a bug with the system in that it’s automatically rejecting you for subsequent applications without HR/hiring people ever knowing that you’re applying since the rejection is happening in the background. Would be worth a call to HR to tactfully inquire. I know of a large company that had this specific issue…applicants were getting auto-rejected without the company ever knowing they were applying.

  56. LadeeDa*

    I am a non-legging wearing person, I also don’t wear yoga pants unless I am at yoga or around the house, so I can’t bring myself to wear them in public. But that is just my personal preference and style, no judgment for those who do.

    I am leaving for the airport in 1 hour– I am likely to run into colleagues on the flight, as a lot of us are attending the meeting tomorrow. I will also see a lot of them at the hotel when I arrive, as we usually all stay at the same 3 hotels close to our offices in that location.

    I am wearing “Pencil” pants from the Loft- black slim dress pants that end at the ankle- they are really comfortable, they have a bit of stretch to them and a nice wide waistband, black flats that have a lot of support- but still look professional enough, a white long sleeved v-neck t-shirt, and this amazing cardigan (also from the Loft) it is cut more like a blazer than a traditional cardigan, it has a bit of heft to it, and holds its shape, and has a nice wide lapel and collar.

    This is pretty much my standard work travel outfit, it is put together, still casual, it is comfortable, and if for some reason I end up running into people or end up needing to go directly to the office instead of the hotel first, I can.

    So there ya have it– my virtual fashion show. LOL!

  57. That Work from Home Life*

    Ah #5, as someone who was put in a similar position while interviewing, I have to agree that it’s really not enough time. I withdrew my application because of that along with some other minor red flags during the interview, but the short timeframe given to complete what was a pretty extensive document was what sealed the deal. I turned out to be quite right about that company and I’m super relieved I didn’t take the interview process any further.

  58. Jennifer*

    #1 A hiring process that lasted SEVERAL months??? Wow. But yes, I agree that it’s worth reaching out to HR to see what’s going on. If you made it to the final stages they clearly liked you. Auto-rejecting all of your applications seems strange. Another possibility is that one of your references said something that made them change their mind. Did you ask your references before you gave their names?

    1. LadeeDa*

      The job that I have now- between my phone interview and final interview it was 8 weeks, then with negotiations, background check, and my resignation, it was another 6 weeks, and then I took a couple of weeks off. So it was a total of 4 months. 2-4 months has been the norm for me for every job I have had in the last 10 or so years.

      1. Jennifer*

        When she said several months, I imagined longer than that. But yeah, eight weeks from initial interview to offer is not that long. I understand background checks and negotiations after that can take up more time.

    2. LW#1 blacklisted*

      It was maybe 3-4 weeks before I initially heard back and had a phone screen, then I had 3 more interviews each about 3-4 weeks apart. It was hard for them to find a time that all the people they wanted to have present were available, and they had to reschedule a couple times. Then took maybe a week + for all my references to be submitted. The timing is not uncommon in health care.
      I told all my references before hand, they all said it seemed to be a good fit for me and that they’d give a positive review, and were surprised when I was rejected. Anything is possible though!

      1. Jennifer*

        Gotcha. That would be frustrating for me if I was out of work but I’m not familiar with the healthcare field.

        Best wishes on your job search!

  59. Statler von Waldorf*

    Wow, I could have written letter #3. Our new hire who is covering a maternity leave tried scheduling a meeting like this when he started here, and it went over like a lead balloon. Alison hit this one on the head, just talk to him about the office culture. In my case, the new guy had come from a company with over 100 people in it, where forcing people to keep calendars updated made sense and was far more practical than contacting individuals to schedule something. However, our office only has five people in it including him, so it’s the exact opposite. He thought he was respecting others time by using outlook and not interrupting them, while his co-workers thought he was being anti-social and too self-important to talk to them in person. All it took was one conversation to get him on the same page as everyone else to solve this issue.

  60. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    We have an excellent turnout for our practice work that we require for a couple of our positions. We give 48hrs as well but it’s an average of 30-45 minutes not 4 hours!

    I also tell each person to let me know if they need longer because we’re flexible in that sense.

  61. Anon for today*

    OP#1 My BIL once almost lost out on a job because he was erroneously confused with someone with the same name who had some unflattering information associated with him. I think it might have turned up in the background check, but this was several years ago, and I suppose this could just as easily happen with Google these days. If this is a possibility, it might be worth looking into. Good luck and I hope you get the job you’re looking for.

  62. Observer*

    #3 – As you can see from the responses, a lot of this is really work culture dependent. Also, you really have two issues, albeit closely linked. The same day scheduling with no heads up is a bigger issue – you’re not the only who might not see an appointment, so that’s a practical issue that NEEDS to stop. Then there is the more general issue which is largely a matter of culture.He should still adapt to the culture, but it’s something you should (in your head) accept a longer adjustment period for.

    And, absolutely give him a heads up. Explain the problem and what the expectations in your company are.

  63. poop doctor*

    if you’re planning on doing something because of an eod deadline how about you…i don’t know…PUT IT ON YOUR CALENDAR. it’s a powerful tool if you actually use it.

    sounds like your office doesn’t know how to.

    1. OP3*

      This is a bit of an uncalled for attitude since you don’t quite have enough information to understand the intricacies of our company’s workflow. Our system works for us currently and does well to foster a team environment.

  64. Oxford Comma*

    OP #4: I think unless you’re meeting someone in a professional setting directly after your flight gets in, you’re probably fine in what you’re describing.

    I agree with other comments, though, in that it’s a know your work culture thing. Is there a co-worker you could ask about what’s normal/accepted in this context?

  65. karenelainer*

    OP #4: I flew cross-country for a conference with my boss (6 hour flight). Going there, I wore jeans, sneakers and a fitted sweatshirt. I changed at the hotel before we started conference activities. We flew home on a Sunday (leave in the morning and land on the east coast late afternoon) and I opted for leggings, sneakers and a fleece. I was warm and cozy during the flight. We only spent an hour or two together going to the airport / at the airport before the flight and it was pretty early morning. I figured it really didn’t matter what I wore since the work part of the trip was over.

  66. Lucille2*

    #4 – Just returned from an international flight with coworkers. We left the hotel at 2am to catch a 5am flight, so comfy pants and no makeup all around. The leggings may be the only question as some of us who are aged out of the leggings demographic question whether or not they should be considered pants. But honestly, on a long flight, be comfortable. My only recommendation here is NOT to book a seat sitting next to coworkers. You want the space. I discovered a coworker of mine is an open-mouth snorer on an international flight.

  67. A Person*

    #5 – There’s a ~2 hour take home test we have given candidates. My past manager only wanted to give the candidate 1 day to complete (partially because we don’t want people spending days on a 2 hour task) – BUT! we scheduled WHICH day with the candidate.

    So if the best day for you was next Sunday, we’d send the take home Sunday morning and expect it by midnight. I think it strikes a good balance. There wasn’t pressure to schedule it really soon as long as it was reasonable (in the next week or so rather than in 3 weeks or a month).

  68. LW#1 blacklisted*

    I definitely understand that for the one role, but what ends up confusing me most is when I applied for other offices I got 2 auto rejections and then a few weeks later got “thanks for interviewing but we won’t be moving forward” rejections for the other two. I don’t know if they’re somehow using my interviews at one office for the other locations as well? Or she just clicked the wrong button in the system?

  69. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

    OP#3: Please cut this new guy some slack, since, from my perspective, what he is doing is normal and you are the outlier. In all corporate offices that I have worked in (which span several industries), internal meeting invitations were sent directly (through Outlook calendar) with0ut a heads-up. Since Outlook calendar shows the participants’ availability, there is no reason to check with participants first. Of course Outlook also sends email invitations that the recipient accepts or rejects, and email reminders that the meeting is about to start. This has been standard practice everywhere I have worked, but also, meetings were generally scheduled more than one day in advance. For the specific situation of a same-day short notice meeting, then one might give participants a heads-up or inquire. I don’t want co-workers asking me about my availability when all they have to do is check my Outlook calendar.

    I can also say that in the industries that I have worked in, Outlook calendar is industry standard and IM systems, although used by some, are not usually the dominant form of communication. For example, my current employer has an IM system but I never initiate any conversation through it. I reply to IM messages maybe a few times per month. I find that only certain employees, such as the IT department staff, use our IM system regularly. Because of the nature of my job, IM is not a good way to communicate. I hope that doesn’t come as a surprise (that there are plenty of businesses that do not conduct their operations via IM).

    1. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

      Just adding to my comment: Another standard practice in my industry is to explain the purpose of the meeting, and sometimes provide a meeting agenda or documents for review, within the Outlook meeting invitation itself.

  70. OP 4*

    OP 4 here! I don’t have much to add, since this was a pretty low-key question, but just wanted to say thanks to Alison and the comment crew for your helpful input!

  71. LW#1 blacklisted*

    On Tuesday I ended up emailing the manager I had my 2nd and 3rd interview with. I haven’t heard anything back, so I’m still pretty conflicted about reapplying. I still think I may, because if they aren’t going to take me then they aren’t going to take me whether I reapply or not.

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