my boss accused me of game-playing, eccentric references, and more

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

1. My boss accused me of game-playing and hung up on me

My boss, who is normally pretty chill, yelled at me on a phone call earlier this week and hung up on me (it was just the two of us). It was a tense conversation, but necessarily so because we were trying to figure out how to solve a very difficult, very high-stakes problem. There had been no anger prior to his outburst, which was, “We’re going to have a serious problem, (my name), if you keep playing this game.” I have no clue what that means. I managed to say, “I’m really sorry, I don’t understand what’s happening” before he hung up.

I was shocked and upset and expected him to apologize, but it’s been three days and he hasn’t. I need to understand what happened — I don’t know what he meant by “game” but it’s clearly something that bothers him about me that he hasn’t stated — and frankly I just need acknowledgment from him that it was hurtful and inappropriate, but that doesn’t seem to be forthcoming. Overall there’s a lot about this job that I don’t love and I’m trying to leave in the long-term, but in the meantime, how do I proceed? How do I decide whether to bring it up the next time we talk or do I pretend it never happened? If I do bring it up, how should I go about it?

I think more than an acknowledgement from him that it was hurtful and inappropriate, you need to get to the bottom of what the hell he meant. It sounds like he thinks something is happening that isn’t actually happening, and unraveling that needs to be the bigger priority. I think you have to bring it up — it’s such a bizarre and serious thing to say that you can’t proceed as if it wasn’t said.

I would say this: “When we last talked, you said you thought I was playing a game. I was taken aback because that’s not something I’d ever do, and I’m incredibly concerned that I’ve somehow given you that sense. Can we figure out where we’re seeing this differently?”

Of course, this assumes your boss is at least semi-reasonable. But if this is in character for him and he makes weird accusation toward people on the reg, there might not be a lot to gain by pursuing it. (Even then, though, I still might because sometimes even unreasonable people back down if you calmly express concern about something like this. Not always, but sometimes. So you have to know who you’re dealing with.)

2. Job candidate didn’t turn his camera on

Interested in your take on an interview situation I ran into. I was conducting a video interview the other week, and to my surprise when the candidate logged in they didn’t have a camera. I wasn’t the hiring manager so I don’t know how the set-up for the interview was conveyed. I did ask the candidate if he had a camera and he said he didn’t want to do the interview on his work laptop and he had no other computer. I just rolled with it and conducted the interview as normal, but afterwards I was wondering if I should’ve required a camera? What do you think? Obviously not everyone has the same access to technology. I also hadn’t thought about potential conflicts with using a work laptop. But it ended up feeling more like a phone screen instead of a second round interview as this was.

If he didn’t have a camera, he didn’t have a camera. What could he have done? You shouldn’t penalize people for not having the same access to technology as other candidates. Throw in that you don’t even know if he was asked to use a camera ahead of time, and rolling with it was 100% the right move.

If a video interview is really important to your ability to assess him correctly and he’s still in the running, you can ask him if he has a way to set up a video conversation (giving him advance notice, of course). And there are jobs where it would matter (for example, if he’s applying to be a trainer and you need to physically see him function as a trainer), but there are a lot of jobs where it really wouldn’t. So I’d ask whether you wanted him on video just because that’s what you were expecting and are used to, or whether you actually need it to proceed.

3. Eccentric references

My references have eccentric personalities. I come from the field of education and I’m looking to switch to banking, in a role that focuses much less on things like attendance and grading, obviously, and more on compliance and policy.

I have an interview with a bank. Yay! Will it matter that my references, who are lovely, lovely people, by the way, have more kooky personalities instead of serious/tempered ones, and what if they speak about me more like I’m in an educator role?

You should be fine, at least as long as we’re talking about more run-of-the-mill eccentricities and not something like “he will use four different accents during a 10-minute phone call” or “she will demand to be addressed only in the third person.”

Centering their conversation about you as if you’re still in an educator role will be understandable — the reference-checker will know your job history and the nature of the role where this person worked with you. But it’ll help to remind your references ahead of time about the work you’re applying for now and the specific skills or attributes that you especially want them to focus on. It’s even okay to say, “Something like Skill X or Y won’t be as relevant for this job, but if you could focus on Z, that would really help.”

4. Is it normal to have lots of turnover in your managers?

It seems like a lot of other readers mention years-long job searches to get away from bad managers or having long-standing relationships with good ones. In my experience (large global companies, financial services), managers change pretty regularly due to reorganizations and people joining/leaving the firm. I’ve been at my current company less than two years and am on my third manager. (And I don’t think it’s personal, as at my prior company one objectively excellent colleague had six successive managers in one particularly eventful year.) I read a lot about the importance of “managing up” and adapting to your manager’s communication style, and it seems like a substantial investment of time and emotional energy to create a solid relationship when odds are that it will be relatively short-lived. Is my industry an outlier, or is it normal to get new managers and have to re-build the relationship relatively frequently?

There’s a lot of variation, but in general it’s more common to have managers stick around long-term than to have three managers in two years. It’s very common to have the same manager for three, four, five, or more years. That doesn’t mean people don’t also have shorter-term bosses — they do — but lengthier relationships are pretty normal.

Also, managing up doesn’t normally take a massive investment of time! It’s just about making the pieces of the relationship that you can control go as smoothly as possible, and often expanding your view of what those pieces are. More here.

5. Am I going to get this offer?

I found an alum at a company I’m interested in. Stayed in touch and months later he asked me to interview for a role on his team. I met the three people on his team. Interviews went okay, I guess. A week later, HR reached out to say the alum wanted them to speak with me and to please formally apply online. HR said I am one of very few final candidates and the decision is still being made— no concerns, just each candidate has different strengths and weaknesses. They asked for my salary/bonus expectations, said they could offer me a substantial increase, asked about restrictions on giving notice, asked me if I would accept the job if offered (I said absolutely), and then gave me access to benefits portal with password to view insurance etc.

I’m still waiting on the call with the decision. Odds I have the job? I literally can’t sit still. Wouldn’t it be kinda messed up to give me access to their benefits portal and then not offer me the job?

Well … not really. It makes sense for them to let you review their benefits now so that if they do make you an offer, you’ve already had a chance to review that info and figure out what questions you might have.

I know this is painful and everyone wants a way to read the tea leaves, but there’s no real way to know what your chances are. They could hire someone else, run into a hiring freeze, end up reorganizing and moving someone internal into the role … Or they could hire you! There’s just no way to predict. The absolute best thing you can do is to tell yourself you didn’t get it, put it out of your mind, and let it be a pleasant surprise if you do. Staying antsy doesn’t make the decision come any faster (in fact, it usually makes it feel like it takes longer) — and there’s absolutely no downside to mentally moving on.

{ 343 comments… read them below }

  1. MK*

    OP5, I think it would be safe to assume that, if they told you you are one of the final few candidates and they are making a decision, they gave the other candidates the same access.

    1. CS*

      Hi— OP5 here. Thanks, I felt the same way, that the other candidates prob had the same conversation as I did. It would be a huge disappointment if I didn’t get it because 1) I sooo want this company and role and 2) the alum connected me to many other people at the company and all those meetings went well. Why bother having HR reach out to quiz me on whether I’d take the job and tell me they could give me “a substantial increase” from what I get now…. just to turn around and say no? Ugh the waiting. Btw should I reach out to the alum and say anything? Or just be cool and wait?

      1. PollyQ*

        HR reached out for the dual purpose of gauging your enthusiasm — they’d rather hire someone who really wants the job vs. someone who’s iffy — and mentioned the salary bump to keep your interest up while you’re waiting. I’m sure They’ve told you you’re a finalist, which is great! But they’re still deciding on who their number-one pick is. The only way to be sure that they’ll offer you a job is when they actually offer you the job.

        I wouldn’t bother reaching out to the alum — be cool & wait seems like the best plan.

      2. T. Boone Pickens*

        On top of what Polly mentioned, HR reached out to you to see if they could spot any potential red flags that alum could’ve potentially missed/blind spots. It sounds like this company is being thorough which is a sign of a well run organization.

        1. Uranus Wars*

          Yes! This. Even if this jobs ends up not being the one, there may be others in the future. Keep being patient and best of luck, OP!

      3. Koalafied*

        The waiting is the worst! As others have said, this is pretty typical communications for people on a short-list of finalists, and only one will end up getting the job.

        Re: your #2 – if someone else does get the job, don’t take that as an indication that the meetings didn’t go as well as you thought they did. It is very often the case that an employer has more than one candidate who impresses them and seems capable of succeeding at the job, but because they only have one position open, they’ll end up making the decision based on some small tiebreaker they can find to differentiate the final candidates. The finalists who don’t get the offer were not rejected because they couldn’t succeed in the role or the panel thought there were problems with their application/interview, and the tiebreaker that the company used may or may not be a big deal or something that would be an important factor when applying to another company, or even another role at the same company.

        Congratulations on making it to the finalist stage, and I hope you get the job! Just know that even if you don’t, you had a strong application and performed well in their eyes for them to have advanced you to this stage.

        The alum probably doesn’t have any really useful information for you if they’re not directly involved in the hiring process. It’s pretty typically that employees who refer someone for a role outside of their own management chain or immediate team won’t hear anything more about the progress or decisions being made than the candidate does.

        1. CS*

          HI thanks for your reply, I might not have clarified… the alum is the one hiring for the role!! He is the one who asked me to interview and meet his team! And he is the one who asked HR to reach out to me and that’s when HR quizzed me on whether or not I’d accept the role and then did the salary question stuff. This was why I wondered if I should reach out and reiterate interest.

          1. Whatever*

            I think you could reach out to alum and say you spoke with HR then, just conveying your interest and excitement about the role again. Keep it short and positive but not desperate.

            1. No Longer Looking*

              +1. Frame in your head before you pick up the phone/keyboard, that your goal is to provide information to the alum. 1) HR reached out, the conversation went well. 2) You’re glad that he has ended up with so many good candidates, and you definitely appreciate being one of them.

          1. Fieldpoppy*

            Thanks for the earworm ;-).

            OP, even if the alum is the hiring manager, they need to think about the whole picture — how would the new hire fit with the full team, all the elements of the workload, etc.

            I know it’s hard, and this is the Big Thing on your mind right now, because it would transform your life — and for someone juggling a whole bunch of things, the new hire is so often the thing that slips down the scale of immediacy on a day to day basis. Hang in there :-),

  2. Observer*

    #2 – “require video for an interview” in practice means “require a decent personal computer with decent webcam properly position and solid internet access.” Does the position actually require this? If not, don’t requite video unless you REALLY actually NEED to be able to see the person rather than talk to them. There is no reason why an audio only interview cannot be a full on interview rather than just a screening.

    1. Kathlynn (Canada)*

      Yeah, I had to hunt for a web cam, because of incorrect information provided by the people interviewing me. And I was almost forced to pay $100 for something I’m unlikely to use again. Luckily the 5th store I tried had a $50 Web cam. (the company said I needed to use a computer with xyz requirements including video, when I could have joined on my phone or poor stats laptop for the first interview. Laptop has a camera, cellphone has a camera, tablet has a camera. My desktop computer didn’t.)

      1. Elliott*

        Also, there’s a difference between buying a computer or webcam when you know it’s something you’ll need for your work and having to do so while interviewing. I didn’t have a webcam for many years, and I had to buy one for a video interview for a job that I ended up not even receiving a form rejection for.

      2. Washi*

        Wait what? I was team video interview since I’ve always just used my (not fancy at all) smartphone and it works fine. (I mean, still a barrier for some, but in my area, studies show that almost everyone has a smartphone.) But what kind of interview requires you to buy a webcam??

        1. AnotherAlison*

          I had an interview in late spring that was on video. At first this seemed like a barrier because I use my work laptop with a camera for Teams calls and only have a desktop/no camera at home. Then I figured, no problem, I will use my smartphone. Then the interviewer wanted to screen share and review a job description that he could have emailed (but didn’t).

          I just think it is good for interviewers to keep in mind people may be using their personal subpar tech vs. professional equipment the job would provide. I don’t replace my home computer very often anymore.

          1. Lance*

            Yeah, for various reasons, phone video interviews can be… unwieldy. And even besides that, as Alison points out: do you need video? Chances are probably not.

        2. KnitsOnZoomCalls*

          For IT/tech, you may need to demonstrate live coding abilities in a second round interview, which means holding your phone so your face is in view is tricky or outright not worth it.

          I actually had the same situation as OP’s interviewee–no webcam on my personal computer, didn’t want to interview on my work laptop for obvious reasons. I just let the team know my webscam order hadn’t arrived in time for the interview, but I’d be set up in the next few days. I also made sure the Zoom line had an up to date picture of me so they could at least look at a picture of my face. And then we had the interview and everything was fine.

          1. BlondeSpiders*

            I came here to echo this. I’m a recruiting coordinator for contract employees at my firm, and 95% of our interviews are on Teams, with video. For one tech team, the process used to start with a phone interview, or an audio-only Teams interview. But we discovered that the lack of a camera was enabling some candidates to Google answers to the interviewers’ questions, so now it’s always on camera.

            It’s not always tech roles, either. One of my hiring managers likes to see people’s facial expressions when she asks questions Agile or other PM things.

            This is the world we live in now. If you want to be a competitive candidate in an extremely tight job market, get that webcam!

            1. Dear Theodosia*

              “But we discovered that the lack of a camera was enabling some candidates to Google answers to the interviewers’ questions, so now it’s always on camera”

              I’m curious whether this was really the issue or just what was stated. Did the proportion of minorities being hired for roles go down after the camera requirement was implemented?

              1. apples or oranges*

                This is a fairly aggressive assumption to insinuate there’s racism at play because someone wanted video to ensure there was no cheating, which is a known problem in the industry with non-video interviews. If you go onto any tech focused forum, you’ll see plenty of people who admit to googling answers to coding challenges or case studies during interviews.

                There’s definitely a problem that needs to be solved about diversity in tech, but accusing a company of racism because they want to use a video is performative wokeness. A video interview is no different than an onsite where you’re looking at people in person.

                1. Dear Theodosia*

                  I’m not asking if the proportion of minority hiring went down with video compared to in-person. I’m asking if it went down in comparison to audio-only (and conversely whether diversity increased when audio-only replaced in-person). Everyone has some level of racism or bias, whether subconscious or otherwise. To react this defensively when the issue of bias is brought up is not a good look. Before you argue that there’s absolutely no racial bias at all in your company, I’d recommend you take the Harvard Implicit Bias Test.

                2. apples or oranges*

                  Wow. You done patting yourself on the back yet or is that soapbox too high for you to reach?

                  Maybe stop accusing people of bias when you don’t even know what marginalized groups they belong to. I don’t need another white person on the internet to accuse me of racial bias just because they want woke points.

                3. Dear Theodosia*

                  I’m not white, so please stop making racist/biased assumptions about other people’s backgrounds here. We all have some level of bias, implicit or otherwise, so this is definitely not a whites-only thing or something that being a minority or a member of a marginalized group fully absolves you of. I’ve definitely experienced racism from other minority individuals before (both of the same minority group and different ones), I’ve experienced misogyny from other women before, etc. One of the rules of this site is to treat others with kindness, and so far I have been polite and extended the benefit of the doubt to you. Please do the same.

        3. nanani*

          Even people with smartphones might not have access to stable wifi and/or a sufficient data plan, even if (insert video app here) works fine.

        4. Kathlynn (Canada)*

          They required you to use the computer you would be using for work. They said a cellphone wouldn’t work and you needed to be on video. Thus my race to find a webcam the day before my interview. Because I’m still not sure my laptop is good enough for work (I’m just using it anyways as I don’t need it for intensive stuff, just browsing online resources.)

      3. WellRed*

        I have a laptop with no camera but does have sound, and one with a camera but the speakers aren’t working (putting in an IT ticket today on that one).

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Amen to “does the position actually require this?”.
      I see plenty of ads that spell out exactly what the applicant must have to do the job. Sometimes the specs are startlingly detailed.

      For me here, I am lucky to have a computer with a camera in it. If I had to go buy a webcam I would not be able to do that. If an interviewer told me to buy a webcam for just an interview I would not be able to do that. OP, be careful of how you screen for applicants, you may be screening for unintended things such as, “wealth”.

      Going the other way, just because a person has a webcam does not necessarily make them a desirable employee, as many factors go into what makes a person a desirable employee.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yeah, this is one of the ways in which unconscious bias creeps into the hiring process and leads to a homogenous workforce.

      2. OP2*

        Yes, I think the unintended consequences of requiring video was what started bothering me after the interview when I was thinking more. I feel like I had just assumed it would be video, but that’s clearly a bad assumption for the reasons you point out, particularly wealth/access disparity. In this case we proceeded on so it’s a moot point, but now I know to consider it very carefully before making any requirement in a future situation.

        1. Eleaner*

          Plus 1 internet karma! I have a similar thing with one of my coworkers. Some work sites have usable wifi some don’t, so we can’t internally handle video calls. At first it was annoying, but we got over it.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      And it is not just the technology that could be a roadblock. There are so many situations where someone might not want to display their space. Someone in a multi-person residence may have to take calls in a car or bathroom.
      (Last year library study rooms were available but many of those are now closed because of covid-19.)

      1. Justme, the OG*

        I definitely done phone interviews from my car (once when I stepped out on a break to take it while at work, once when my house was being reroofed) and I cannot imagine having to do a video interview with my camera on in those circumstances.

      2. Annony*

        I do think that the fact many libraries are closed or limited adds to the problem with requiring video interviews. It used to be that many people had the option of using libraries. I know many libraries I have used had laptops available for people to sign out and use in a study room.

    4. OP2*

      Your point and Allison’s are well made. This was the first hiring I was involved in post-pandemic and normally this would have been an on-site interview, so that definitely played into my expectations that there would be video. The interview was also set up via Zoom. But when the new hire starts we’ll provide a laptop with a webcam, and we also stipend for internet access.

      Also to your point this interview did end up being audio only and it went fine, so that probably proves the point it wasn’t needed in this case. I think one mistake I made here that I won’t in future is not asking the hiring manager in advance if they required a video call. I was the first of the second round interviews – I did give the interviewer after me a heads up.

      If I end up hiring later in the new year for myself I’ll definitely take Allison’s advice and think more carefully whether I need them to have video up front or not instead of assuming. The position I hire for generally needs strong presentation skills, so I think that would be difficult to assess only verbally? But I’ll think on it more.

      1. Lance*

        I feel like that would really depend. Are they going to be doing in-person presenations? If so, then sure, video would make sense. If they’re doing online presentations, though… there’s definitely an argument that video could be good, but I imagine people could do just as well so long as they’re well audible, can screen share effectively, and have good verbal presentation.

      2. Anon Scientist*

        I think it’s reasonable to ask for someone to do a presentation with video if it’s part of the job. But there are better options for people who don’t own a camera. I had an interview recently where I was asked to do a presentation sometime within two weeks where the software recorded me for viewing later. I did it with my phone and could have used someone else’s if needed. If you give more flexibility then there are more options for solutions.

        Ķeep in mind that people in minority groups – gender (which depends on the job), visible minorities, people with disabilities – are often discriminated against during hiring, so not showing our faces at the start allows us to build a relationship with the interviewer before being seen. Not that this person was lying about not having a camera, but requiring one can disadvantage many people. Trying to do an interview or meeting when visually impaired can be difficult as we need to get close to our screens to see things. I often turn off my camera in meetings so that I can look closely at slides.

      3. Not A Girl Boss*

        I’m glad you asked your question, because I had a similar situation come up last week.

        In my case, the applicant had done a video conference a week before but then for the second interview didn’t turn her camera on, which struck me as very odd.

        But now I’m considering never having any candidates turn on cameras, because I do feel it creates an unfair advantage for people who can turn them on. Especially for panel interviews where there’s multiple people called in, conversation flows easier when you can see each other.

        1. TardyTardis*

          And there’s ageism, which is technically illegal, difficult to prove, and is never penalized. Sigh.

      4. learnedthehardway*

        I’m doing a lot of interviewing now, and I do everything on the phone, but I’m the first level interviewer. Future interviews are conducted by video conference with the hiring manager, and this is clearly spelled out to the candidates ahead of time.

        Since this wasn’t spelled out to your candidate, I wouldn’t hold it against them that they didn’t have the same assumption that you had.

        That said, there’s a lot of value in being able to meet with someone in person (or at least by video) in order to have a more thorough interview. There’s only just so much you can tell about someone on the phone. Some people can control their voice, but very few people can entirely control their reactions when they’re uncomfortable or lying.

        1. learnedthehardway*

          Also – I would absolutely NOT hold it against a candidate for refusing to use their work laptop for a video interview. The employee just does not know what monitoring may be going on with their work laptop, and they’re quite right to refuse to put themselves at any potential risk with their current employer to do an interview for a potential job.

      5. Smithy*

        This question is really important as more jobs become more and more remote – what are the impacts of being on video and what defines “we really need to be able to do this on video (if not in person)”.

        I recently interviewed/was hired for a role where the demands of video made sense to me. The position was going to be fully remote and involve a number of video calls with external donors. Similar to “candidate must have access to their own transportation”, there was a need to assess my communication style on video.

        While that makes sense for my position, I certainly understand that it’s a worthy question to ask. Particularly as more and more people rely on a company provided computer for a large part of their personal ‘higher tech’ needs. Personally, I was comfortable using my work computer for those interviews but I can certainly respect how that’s not entirely appropriate. And if you work for a company with very strict oversight of equipment, high risk.

        1. Not A Girl Boss*

          I wonder, if its truly necessary, if the company could have a loaner webcam or two that they mail out to candidates ahead of time.

          Not using work laptops is a real barrier for me as well. I only have an android tablet for personal use, and recently had to put together an interview presentation. I ended up having to go to the library to make it because Google Presentation wasn’t getting along with the PPT template they provided me. Then I had to convert it to a PDF to be able to present it from my tablet during the interview, which the interviewers commented about. The whole situation was really stressful and non-ideal, even though I can make PPT presentations in my sleep if I have a laptop to do it with.

      6. snoopythedog*

        Perhaps. If the candidate is going to be doing online presentations. But you should consider other methods to assess presenting skills. Audio + screen share, voice casted presentation….or just assessing early on when they get the job and you provide the correct technologies to them.
        If they can present well as voice + slides, you can train any weird visual quirks they may have (use of hands, shifting feet, etc) once they are in the role. I feel like presentation is mostly about preparation and clear delivery…neither *needs* video.

      7. Anonforthis*

        I agree it should be said whether certain videos are expected to take place on camera. However, I definitely think that if – in normal times – such an interview would’ve been held in person, it is a completely acceptable to have a video interview. There are all sorts of barriers to interviewing in normal times for which employers are not expected to compensate. Employers don’t usually reimburse for gas to drive (a reasonable distance) to the interview, or provide a stipend to cover the cost of placing a phone call. Further, I agree that seeing a person – either in person or via video – does raise issues of bias, but those issues would already be a challenge if the interview were conducted in person, so that is really a larger conversation.

        Nearly every cell phone has a camera these days, and people can do zoom/teams/webex calls via video from their phones. If people are concerned about their surroundings -they can disclose that in advance of the call – “I’ll be taking this interview in my car, as I’ll be stepping out of work do do it.” But I disagree that you only should require video interviews if it’s a key component of the job. We are doing 100% of our hiring virtually, and for all interviews that would’ve been in-person, we are requiring video calls. I agree with what was said above about this being a key to being competitive- you’ll be able to connect with the interviewer more if you can see them. And I definitely think presentation skills are best assessed live, then by video, then – as a last resort/worst case scenario – by voice.

    5. designbot*

      I’m not sure I agree there’s very few reasons to need to video interview. Every role at my job involves client time, and I am on zoom calls for like 6 hours a day lately. Even just knowing they can handle the technology is a reason, during this work-from-home era. But it’s also important to see how a candidate presents themselves when they’re ultimately going to be in front of clients, and I don’t think that’s as rare as you’re making it out to be.

      1. nanani*

        How they can handle the subpar technology they personally own is not the same as assessing how they handle professional technology they would have access to in the job.
        It’s like asking someone to demonstrate their Sportsball skills using only a rubber chicken.

    6. Artemesia*

      And while generally this is not unreasonable to ask candidates to arrange for interviews, during COVID it becomes a huge burden. Before this, they could borrow a friend’s set up or even a friend of a friend — who wouldn’t want to help someone trying to get a job if they could? BUT now you can’t ask that kind of favor of a stranger and it is not really cool to ask it of a friend.

    7. Dear Theodosia*

      Requiring video also provides the employer with additional information on age, race, looks, socioeconomic status, etc that could lead to bias or discrimination.

    8. ITGuy*

      I can think of one reason to require video: fraud.

      In my line of work (IT Consulting), we tend to have a problem of fraudulent candidate issues: fake resumes, bait and switch, stand in interviews, etc. Having video on reduces some of this by at least making it harder for these folks to get by. We can see if the same person who performed interview 1 is the same as interview 2, interview 3 and who shows up on day 1.

      Even with video we have issues, I had a recent candidate who was lip-synching during the interview while the actual person answering the questions was in India (got busted by time delays between voice and lip moving and when the phone disconnected and the meeting auto-redialed and got a Hindi operator recording).

  3. Observer*

    #1 You are focusing on the wrong thing here. Of course what your boss did was inappropriate and hurtful. But from a work / job perspective that is really not the most important thing. What IS of immediate importance is what did your boss mean by “this game” and why does he think you are playing games altogether. Also, have you been able to get the issue you were trying to resolve taken care of? Have you spoken to him at all or have you two not been communicating at all?

    Of course, if this kind of behavior is typical of your boss, you do have a really significant problem on your hands, but getting your boss to acknowledge it is not really going to solve it anyway. In fact, the odds of getting your boss to recognize that his behavior is a problem and needs to change is extremely low. So, think about how in or out of character this incident is. If it’s typical, factor it in to whatever decisions you make over the next year about staying in this job. Making accusations and then hanging up is NOT a good look, and not something you want to be working with on a regular basis.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      OP says that the boss is ordinarily mild mannered- so I am guessing this does not fit with what she has seen so far. We don’t know how long OP has worked with this boss. New bosses can be a honeymoon period of a year or longer then the curtain comes down and the employee sees who the boss really is.

      Two things strike me:
      1) The conversation was stressful. BTDT. For me, I have to watch to make sure I do not sound like I am throwing up hurdles where in reality I have questions or misunderstandings. Stressful conversations are the worst because I can feel the boss leaning on me, “how do we fix this?!”. Yet, I know there were many times in supervising people, that I found they had answers where I had no answers. It’s helpful to frame replies in the context of, “Well we CAN do/try X or Y and maybe that would help here.” This, as opposed to, “Well, we can’t do A. That won’t work. And we can’t do B, that won’t work either.”
      Stressed out bosses need suggestions not hurdles.

      2) So let’s say what I have written in #1 is totally off the mark. None of that was an issue. My next guess goes back to the rule of thumb, “When someone accuses us of something we KNOW we are not doing, it is because that IS what they are doing.” In your setting, OP, the accusation is game playing and you know you are not playing games. Is there a possibility that the boss IS?
      I could chalk it up to the boss having a bad day. But to carry on for days afterward, kind of leads me to believe your boss may not be the quality person you think they are. I have gotten upset at some of the things some people have done. But I know in the long run, that to stop speaking to them is the WORST idea there is. Lines of communication HAVE to remain open so the employee can remedy what is wrong OR I can learn enough about how the employee handles things to move to a write up or even a dismissal. I don’t believe in dragging things out. It’s not good for the company, the employee or me.
      I find it ironic that you are accused of game playing when ignoring someone is one of the bigger and well-known head games on the market. If there is no improvement in this situation, I think, OP, that you may have to decide if it is worth it to you to work to “win back this boss’ love”.

      1. KayDeeAye*

        “I have to watch to make sure I do not sound like I am throwing up hurdles where in reality I have questions or misunderstandings.” — So true! I used to have problems with this repeatedly, particularly with certain slightly difficult bosses. It hasn’t happened in a while, but only because I try reeeeeeally hard to sound positive even/especially when I am pointing out possible challenges.

        1. Myrin*

          Yeah, I have a similar thing where I mean to genuinely inquire about something but it comes across like I’m accusing the other person. As in, I will ask “Why did X happen?” because there are several ways that could’ve led to X and I need to know which one it was, and because of my admittedly sometimes not-well-calibrated intonation the other person will understand it as “How could you have let X happen?!?!”. I need to be very conscious of my own tone and the stresses I put on certain words to not have people be automatically defensive.

      2. Granger*

        Your second point is compelling. I also wondered if it isn’t the boss using OP as a mirror, then is there a third party in this situation that OP didn’t mention? Is there another employee who is manipulating the situation to avoid the blame / being held accountable – it sounds like the problem is big enough that someone could lose their job and/or the company could be at risk and fears around something that significant can certainly bring out the worst in people – not just the normally chill boss obviously.

        1. Granger*

          Specifically because where did the idea of OP playing games come from? The language boss used in the accusation strongly suggests someone is providing information that boss believes, but that may not be accurate (or worse actually be subtrafuge).

          1. Out_of_the_Circle*

            That is precisely what I was wondering. I have been in an office where backstabbing happened often and was often not even that subtle, and another where it took a while to see that the sabotage I felt silly and petty for suspecting was actually occurring.

            OP1 should not pretend the conversation did not happen. Presuming the boss does not first come back and say it was all a misunderstanding, it is best to ask the boss why he said what he did. A caught-off-guard “I don’t know what you mean” may be taken as more “game-playing.” A polite but straightforward “What did you mean?” could elicit more light and less heat.

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Yes the statement in and of itself is most important, but the fact that it was hurtful and inappropriate is important as well. When an employee makes a mistake, it’s up to the manager to let them know while treating them with respect. I had a mild mannered boss do this to me once, and I still regret not talking to him and the way he made me feel (like dirt on the bottom of his shoe). A good manager doesn’t make you feel like a kid who got caught with their hand in the cookie jar.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        Yes. Snapping at someone and accusing them of “playing games” is NOT providing effective feedback. For feedback to be effective, you have to make it clear what the person is doing wrong, why it’s wrong, and what your expectations are going forward.

      2. Observer*

        I agree that it’s a problem. But, unless it is (or becomes a pattern) that’s probably not the most useful place for the OP to place their primary focus.

      3. Not A Girl Boss*

        Yes I agree, you are allowed to want to be treated with respect at work.

        In fact, if a boss snapped at me and *didn’t* apologize later, I would be much more likely to take that as a character assessment. Because not apologizing = not recognizing it was wrong.
        Of course, very rarely does bringing it up yourself make them realize it was wrong or lead to a nice tidy resolution, so bringing it up isn’t actually an effective thing to do. Never has “you will respect me” actually led to respect. But you’re still allowed to Have Feelings when your boss turns out to be a jerk.

        1. Observer*

          Of course. My point was not that the OP “shouldn’t” be offended. But in terms of what you can actually ask your boss for, it’s not the best focus.

          But, yes, it’s absolutely something that the OP should keep in mind in assessing the character and effectiveness of their boss.

        2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          If someone disrespects me, boss or not, I’m bringing it up. Sometimes people don’t realize how their words affect others and it’s possible that bringing it up yourself will make a difference. If it doesn’t so be it – you know where you stand. But it’s definitely worth mentioning.

    3. MissDisplaced*

      Yeah, this requires a conversation where both parties are calm and collected, and not in the middle of some tough high stakes decision where they’re both stressed. I mean, it could be that the stress around the issue just got to them in the moment that day and it erupted, or it could be a sign of deeper issues around your work, decision making process, or how you relay information. Some managers can be prone to take questions or any questioning as a challenge to their authority. But you’ll never know until you discuss it like adults.

      Definitely book some time to talk about it when clear of other priorities and can speak calmly.

    4. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      This sounds like the typical thing I’ve run into, Male Boss is Hearing Information He Does Not Like from a Female Subordinate and Loses His Shit Over It.

      “I am sorry, Boss, but unfortunately, the llamas cannot fly. Pegasus are not real. So we will not be able to use the llama herd to help Maintenance repair the barn roof.”

      “We’re going to have a serious problem if you keep playing this game!”

      1. MissDisplaced*

        It might be, although OP does not indicate this sort of thing every happening previously. So, while it’s not great, it could have been exacerbated by the stress of the situation. I’d lend some small benefit of the doubt here if the situation and discussion really were that high-stakes and this isn’t their normal behavior.

        It’s also not only male bosses who don’t like hearing what their subordinates have to say, or their reports asking questions though. They just want a “yes” no matter what kind of purple flying unicorn they ask for. Those are the “I don’t care how impossible it is, just MAKE IT HAPPEN” types.

      2. Phil*

        Is this a case where the genders of the boss / subordinate matter that much? That is, is this more likely to be a manifestation of a specifically male boss being sexist against specifically female employees, or a boss of any gender lashing out against a percieved challenge to their idea / worldview / etc.?

        (This is not meant to question your experience in particular. I’ll assume you’ve seen this particular boss react more rationally when a male subordinate tells them that llamas and pegasi are not workable solutions to the problem at hand. This just has me wondering whether ‘sexist bosses’ or ‘insecure yelling bosses’ are a more common problem overall.)

        1. Working Hypothesis*

          I would say it’s a challenge to his worldview, but many, many male bosses (or men in general) have absorbed the firm conviction from their social universe that women in particular are not allowed to challenge men’s worldviews. So it feels much more like a betrayal or a willful misbehavior when a woman challenges his worldview, while if a man does it, it just feels like they’re butting heads a bit. But men are “allowed” in our society to butt heads with other men, where women usually aren’t.

    5. Ominous Adversary*

      More important, I think, is that the boss HUNG UP ON HER when she said she didn’t understand what he meant. And then he didn’t apologize or explain his behavior days later.

      This is a boss who had a meltdown and doesn’t have the character to acknowledge and apologize for it. Since the OP is already unhappy with her job, sounds like she needs to step up the job search.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Yes, it sounds like in the midst of a tense and high-stakes conversation, the boss became overwhelmed with anxiety and lashed out at the employee, and now he is too cowardly to apologize or make a move to make the situation right. Maybe this is out of character for him on an ordinary, low-stakes day, but this is apparently how he acts when the pressure is on. I think the OP needs to weigh her options for looking for a new job versus how much this behavior is going to factor into her working relationship with her boss. In some jobs and markets, one instance of this behavior is enough to start a search; in other circumstances, a person might have to hang around for a while before being able to find something else.

  4. LemonLyman*

    OP1 – agreed with everything Allison says. But I’d add that you should do this via email. It would be helpful to start a paper trail, just in case.

    I’m sorry you were hung up on. That was rude and inappropriate for your boss to do. I think that can be addressed with him later (no boss should be hanging up abruptly on their direct report!), but after you figure out what’s going on.

  5. Mollyg*

    #2 There are very few reasons to need video to interview someone, and video just gives you more stupid reasons to reject the applicant. And now you want to hold it against them for no having/using a web cam? This is ridiculous. Stop going out of your way to find things to hold against your applicatants. It sounds to me that you have bigger issues with your hiring process.

    1. Kathlynn (Canada)*

      Yeah, especially since they might not have been given sufficient notice to buy on, or have the money to do so. (where I live, the tech stores don’t even carry much of a selection for web cams, and most of those are over $120.). I myself had 1 days notice of the interview and not much money to spend on something that I had no big use for. If I’d had to spend more than $60 on it, I would have either used no video or my laptop. (wasn’t supposed to use it)

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        After the shutdown occurred there was a period when webcams could not be had for love or money. This has eased up some, but availability is still a bit spotty. I ended up buying one online. Laptops also are in short supply, as a lot of people are scrambling around with school accommodations.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          This. I have a personal laptop with a camera, but, due to my WFH setup, I cannot use the one built into my work laptop. Back when we started to WFH in March, I ordered a webcam right away, because I expected the managers to want our cameras to be on during meetings (which did in fact happen). The order ended up being canceled in May because the webcam had been stuck at the customs for over a month at that point, with no information on when they would release it. I tried to buy another webcam and… nothing. I ended up putting in a ticket at my work saying I could not find one myself and maybe they’d be able to. Took them a good three months, too. Anytime they’d try to order one, it’d be out of stock and/or on backorder.

        2. Diahann Carroll*

          This. People need to remember that we are in the middle of a pandemic, so we need to be giving others grace right now since a lot of equipment just isn’t readily available right now or money is tight and people can’t really afford to come out of pocket to buy things for one time uses.

        3. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

          This. Well, you could buy weird brand ones with terrible review on Amazon – that is to say, investing money in something that was bad.

          Also, I do not have a smartphone.

          So I went a month with no video on calls. Eventually bought a good webcam for too much money.

        4. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I spent the first couple months of the shutdown trying to get my hands on webcams for my faculty to teach their online classes. It was impossible! Everyone else in education and whatever other fields were doing the same thing at the same time — all of us trying to gear up to work from home and nothing available anywhere, even at a price-gouging rate, which believe me, we would have paid at the time.

        5. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          A tech tip: Many action cameras (I.e. GoPro lookalikes) can double as a webcam. They’re available starting around $40 or so; still more than you may want to spend but at least you’d get more non-work use out of it.
          Some digital cameras also offer the feature; should you have an older one obsoleted by the great progress smartphone cameras have made, this may give it a second life.

      2. Jennifer*

        The zoom link was the notice. If he didn’t have a camera and didn’t have time /money to get one for the interview, he should have given them a heads up.

        1. Colette*

          Plenty of people use zoom without a camera. I think in an interview situation, you should use a camera if you can – but not having a camera shouldn’t be a disqualifier.

          1. Jennifer*

            I don’t think it should be a disqualifier either, but I think a zoom link is a pretty good indicator that the potential employer wants to see you on video, and if that’s not going to be possible, you should tell them. I don’t get why so many people are like, “How was he to know it was a video interview?!!!” Seriously?

            1. Diahann Carroll*

              Well, for one, my employer does Teams meetings with video all the time. Sure, we have some individual managers that ask their teams to turn cameras on, but in general, my company is not big on video. And we don’t know what he did or didn’t tell the hiring manager. In fact, the OP said she wasn’t sure if the hiring manager had made it clear that they expected him to use camera or not. It’s possible he did say something, and the hiring manager told him not to worry about it and just forgot to convey that to the rest of the interview team.

              1. Jennifer*

                I don’t turn my camera on in meetings either so I definitely get that. I did turn it on during my interview because it seems to be the standard now and I wanted to make a visual connection. I assume my employer wanted the same.

                You’re right, it is possible he said something to the hiring manager and there was some sort of miscommunication along the line. My comment was more about how so many people don’t seem to understand that a zoom link for an interview means that they want to see you on video.

              2. Justme, the OG*

                I’m about to go into my staff meeting on Teams and most of us won’t have cameras on. So, I agree with your statements. I really hate the Zoom = camera on thing.

            2. Lance*

              To your last question, the answer is simple: because there are a lot of people out there who don’t pick up on cues, who have no clue whether what they’re hearing is in fact a cue… any number of other reasons. If someone wants video but all they’re doing is sending a Zoom invite without stating they want video, I don’t think they can fairly complain when they don’t get video.

              Signed: someone who doesn’t pick up on many ‘obvious’ cues.

              1. Colette*

                Agreed. There are other reasons to use a platform like Zoom that don’t involve video (e.g. screen sharing, which may be relevant if there is some sort of task in the interview, or the hiring manager wants to share info about benefits.) And I don’t think people in most jobs should have to go out to buy a webcam for an interview.

                1. whocanpickone*

                  We don’t really use video at my employer, but we use Zoom all the time (including for interviews, I hired for 3 positions during the pandemic so far). We use Zoom so we can share screens, have multiple people on the calls, etc.

            3. Colette*

              I think it’s OK for the potential employer to want a video call; I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect it in most industries.

            4. Insert Clever Name Here*

              Meh. You can use zoom for just audio. My company uses Teams and we very, very frequently just use it for audio (we no longer have a phone conferencing system like ReadyTalk). It’s not so outside the realm of possibility for us be like “wtf was the candidate thinking.”

            5. AngryOwl*

              My company has zoom meetings all the time without video, and have done zoom interviews without requiring video. So seeing a zoom link wouldn’t equal video to me, and I don’t think I’m alone.

            6. doreen*

              Until I read this, it never would have occurred to me that Zoom implied video. I’m not working from home and although we have eliminated in- person meetings, we attend virtual meetings from our desks ( those computers don’t have cameras) and use Webex ( which might have video, but if it does, we don’t use it).

        2. Spencer Hastings*

          But do we know how far in advance that was? I ordered a webcam for my home PC in September, and it took the better part of a week to arrive.

              1. Yorick*

                Sure, Zoom can be just audio. But the standard platform for an audio-only interview (or honestly, other type of conversation) is the phone. If someone set up a Zoom or Skype or whatever interview, that’s pretty much analogous with video interview.

                1. Observer*

                  Not true. Especially with WFH a lot of people are using Zoom / Skype / Teams / Meet because they don’t have a work phone at home.

            1. JSPA*

              When I do activism, access to local government meetings or social club events over zoom, participants fall into three categories.

              1. people who have decent cameras and internet speeds and do zoom video via computer on one end.

              2. People who are using smartphones or slow home internet for zoom, and soon default to “video off.

              3. people who call in from a phone number.

              The quality of the knowledge and information does not correlate with the technological tools; what does correlate are class, race, and whether someone’s concurrently working while participating.

              Unless you’re intending to screen against lower income people, racial minorities, and people who are taking care of kids or working while interviewing, you should resolve to be OK with a solid phone interview. Especially now–but really, generally.

              1. Jennifer*

                Again – I’m not saying that someone not having a laptop or internet should exclude them from being considered for any job. I’m just saying that a zoom link should may be alert you to the mere possibility that the employer may expect you to appear on video and you should inform them if that’s not going to be a possibility for you.

                The idea that I want to screen against lower income people and minorities is absurd since I belong to both groups.

                1. JSPA*

                  That’s a rhetorical/hypothetical “you,” in place of the overly formal “one.”

                  Equivalent to, “unless one wishes to do X, it makes sense to allow for Y.” It does not presuppose that the person being addressed is expected or even likely to fall into the category, “those who wish to do X.”

                  Zoom emphatically markets itself as a multi-access platform. Being sent a video link means that video is an option. Some people have mentioned that they prefer to be interviewed via video; thus, this can easily be read as a helpful option, rather than an expectation.

        3. Yorick*

          Yeah, it’s not like they told him they’d call him on the phone. You might figure it’s ok to keep the camera turned off, but they probably want to see you on video if they schedule a video call.

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      If there was no reason to interview someone over video, then companies would only conduct interviews by phone. Granted a video isn’t the exact same as one in person, but there are legitimate reasons to want to see someone face to face while interviewing. I don’t think it’s something OP should hold against the applicant, or that it should be a requirement (as Alison said, some may not have the equipment), but your outrage towards the OP is misplaced.

      1. londonedit*

        And especially in the middle of a pandemic – many companies, including the one I work for, used 100% face-to-face interviews when hiring people in the Before Times, so I can totally see how OP2 would have been in the headspace that ‘second interview = face-to-face interview = well how else do we do that nowadays except by video call’. When your brain’s default is ‘this is a face-to-face interview’, and you’ve never even done a video interview before, it’s not surprising that you might be a bit taken aback if the candidate isn’t using video.

      2. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

        “If there was no reason to interview someone over video, then companies would only conduct interviews by phone.”

        People and companies do stuff that is counterproductive or have negative consequences for themselves all the time – just because they haven’t thought things through and there is inertia.

      3. PersephoneUnderground*

        Agreed- in fact the OP was prompted by the incident to rethink if cameras are really that important and consider the big picture. 10/10 response by the OP.

        And honestly, video is as close as we can get to in person right now, so it’s a perfectly reasonable default. But it’s also important like Alison said to not penalize people for not having access to it at the interview stage, or as some comments have said to not penalize people if they use a phone or have a messy setup/ take the call in a car/ whatever.

        1. Observer*

          I do agree that “outrage” is not the right response to the OP – they did the right thing and they have been quite thoughtful about what to do going forward.

      4. Observer*

        If there was no reason to interview someone over video, then companies would only conduct interviews by phone.

        Not on this planet. There are a LOT of things that companies do that there is no reason to do, and even more thing that that they do that there is a supposed reason for, but the reason is a bad on or the assumptions about the reason are wrong.

      5. JSPA*

        There was an era when the default was for people to have their photos and their marital status and age on their resumés, too. Someone eventually realized, “hunh, this is a setup for discrimination, isn’t it?” and the practice (at least, in the US) ended.

        It’s not outrageous that OP would have video as a baked in default. What’s been the norm will generally register as normal. But it’s great that OP and others have a chance to challenge that default. If it turns out they make excellent hires this way–including people who don’t come across, visually, as star performers, but nevertheless perform wonderfully, in the job–we’ll all have learned something very important.

    3. Jennifer*

      This is a bit harsh, no? Interviewing by zoom is common now. It’s not looking for things to hold against an applicant. Maybe she just wanted to be able to assess body language and have a visual connection.

      1. Washi*

        Right! A lot of people are really awkward on the phone but fine in person, and for jobs that don’t require a phone presence, I wouldn’t want to base my impressions on how someone comes across in a voice-only medium.

        It’s definitely worth thinking about the barriers to having a video interview, but I don’t think it’s out of line for a hiring manager to prefer them and to simply ask if video is possible.

        1. Jennifer*

          I’m that way. I hate interviewing in general but I really hate phone interviews. They are so awkward for me.

      2. MollyG*

        “Maybe she just wanted to be able to assess body language and have a visual connection.”

        That is my point exactly. Both of those are ways to find reasons to reject someone.

    4. OP2*

      Just to clarify, I didn’t hold it against the candidate. By “rolling with it” I meant I conducted the interview as normal and then he proceeded along our interview process. We certainly didn’t reject him for not having a camera.

      I had written to Allison more to get a feeling for if my surprise on no camera was warranted or if I should reexamine that impulse. The advice and comments have definitely been toward the later and I appreciate that. When I say that it felt more like a phone screen, I meant that I missed being able to read body language – but sounds like that’s probably more of a me problem. Some positions I hire for do require strong presentation skills; I think that would probably still be more difficult over the phone.

      1. TechWorker*

        Meh, I think you’re also getting a bit of the AAM commenter anti-video sentiment. If you would usually interview and work in person I don’t think it’s that weird to be prefer video on interview!

      2. Jennifer*

        I don’t think it’s a you problem at all. Many, many people like being able to assess body language during an interview. I especially do it as a candidate. There are a lot of things you can’t get a feel for over the phone. If someone legitimately can’t afford high speed internet or a webcam, I don’t think that should be a barrier to getting a job. But wanting to assess someone’s body language as part of the process is perfectly normal. I have a feeling opinion will sway on this a bit later on in the morning.

        1. College Career Counselor*

          Demeanor/body language can be very important for both interviewers and candidates! I recall being favorably impressed by interview teams (for what it’s worth, I am not especially touchy feely) that seemed relaxed and comfortable with each other and with the candidate. I took it as an indication that the working relationships were generally warm and positive. On the other hand, I have been turned off by interview groups that are very stiff or otherwise aloof. To me, it felt like they didn’t particularly like working with each other, plus they seemed to convey an air of “screw you–impress us” at the time.

          1. Grapey*

            +1. I’d vastly prefer to see cues as to when to start speaking or how something I said was conveyed in a 1-1 meeting like an interview.

            And hard agree on seeing how teams interact. In my case it’s not in an interview sense, but I can still tell when team members enjoy their role and riff on each other vs some where updates are robotic and people seem to just want to keep their head down and not interact.
            Tasks from the first team usually take longer but are done to a very high standard, whereas tasks sent to the second team return quickly but need multiple revisions/meetings since they don’t seem to talk to one another!

          2. Jennifer*

            Yes! I remember asking an interview team what they enjoyed about working at the firm, and the look of “oh dear, how do we answer this question without scaring her away” that passed over their faces for just a brief second told me all I needed to know.

        2. Legal Beagle the OG*

          Agreed. I would be surprised if I sent a Zoom link and the candidate didn’t go on video. Being able to see someone definitely adds an element to an interview, and the reason for a Zoom meeting vs a phone call is, presumably, the addition of video. I think you did the right thing in not holding it against the candidate in this instance, but I also think it’s perfectly reasonable to ask that candidates are on video at some point later in the interview process (as long as they have advance notice – and maybe HR can offer assistance if they don’t have necessary tech equipment). Also, you can do a Zoom video meeting on a smartphone, which people may be more likely to have access to than a webcam.

      3. EventPlannerGal*

        I don’t think it’s a you problem – if the role requires strong presentation skills then body language is pretty important! I think a lot of people here tend to be pretty averse to video calls under almost any circumstance and a lot of the comments so far have reflected that.

      4. Diahann Carroll*

        Some positions I hire for do require strong presentation skills; I think that would probably still be more difficult over the phone.

        It is, so when you have one of these positions open that you’re hiring for, absolutely make it clear to your job applicants that a working camera is a must for the second interview.

      5. need a new screen name and have no imagination*

        The camera on my work-issued laptop died three weeks ago and I just got a replacement today, so I have been without video for three weeks. I have an ancient phone and cannot do video that way either.

        That said, I would have reached out at the time the interview was set up–or when my camera died–to let the interviewer know that I had no camera. I rescheduled a couple of things that were to take place during the camera-free stretch; other things I participated in only by voice.

      6. ...*

        Its not weird at all to interview via video and most people would assume a Zoom link is for video. The comments are extremely off base in my experience regarding video interviewing. Its normal, accepted, and expected in my lines of work.

  6. knitrex*

    OP #4 I spent almost nine years in a fortune 500 National Corporation. Managers changed practically every spring.

    In one 18 month period, I had 12 or 13 managers. In fact, I had a manager for just one day once. This was completely normal for us. For what it’s worth.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      By way of contrast, I have had the same manager for going on eleven years. But he also is my employer, as this is a solo practitioner law office. There is just him, me, and the secretary, who has been with him longer than I have. Mostly this shows that he is a good boss. The secretary and I have no desire to leave him. I might consider an offer for comparable pay with no commute, but even then I would think long and hard.

      1. Ginger Baker*

        ^Same – I followed this boss to a new firm when he left, and we’ve been working together now for almost 7 years. When I consider career advancement options (I am secretarial staff, so there are some inherent limitations to options), “can I continue working with BossMan” is a strongly weighted factor, because it’s that important.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          It turns out that you can buy happiness, at least some of the time. I could make more money working in a big firm. My experience with big firms is that they are miserable places for everyone there. I would rather make less.

    2. Diahann Carroll*

      12-13 managers in 18 months? Damn. And I thought I was doing something by having had three in that same timeframe with my current role/company, lol.

    3. KayDeeAye*

      I’ve been at my current employer for nearly 25 (!) years, and in that time, I’ve had three permanent managers, plus two interim managers. And in my organization, which is normally remarkably stable, personnel-wise, that’s considered a lot!

    4. snoopythedog*

      Op 4- My brother works in a similar field- international finance company. He went through 3 managers in 18 months, which apparently was super common as that level of manager was known to be a stepping stone to another, higher position. He was frustrated because it also meant that his managers had no technical expertise in his area, so every 6 months he had to start over on getting them up to speed on what he does.

      Understanding promotions and your company’s structure will help you understand if this is typical or atypical for that role.

    5. PersephoneUnderground*

      I know Dilbert’s author is problematic, but I can’t help but think of an old comic with “bungee bosses” right about now. I think the boss appeared and said all in one breath: “Hi I’m thenewbosslet’s change everythingbefore I get reassign…” *boing* bungees out of there.

    6. JustaTech*

      For comparison I’ve had the same direct manager for my nearly 10 years at my current company. We’ve gone through 3 group heads in that time (and my boss is now the head of our group), but the person who writes my reviews hasn’t changed.

      Which is not to say that there hasn’t been a huge amount of personnel turnover! Just that people don’t tend to move around within the niche technical jobs in the company, and my boss hasn’t gotten poached by any other biotech.

    7. hillary*

      Mine isn’t quite that bad – I’ve had the same manager for my current 3 year tenure. But I’m on my fifth grandboss in twelve months. Two were voluntary departures, two changed due to reorg. I’d bet on at least one change in 2021, my grandboss has too much on their plate to keep us.

      My experience has been the changes come in spurts while an org is sorting something out and then it settles down.

    8. Lisa*

      When I was at a Fortune 50 I had 16 managers in 14 years, ranging from wonderful to ok, and compared to some of my coworkers I dodged bullets. At the startup I went to next I had three managers within the first six months: wonderful, wonderful, and nightmare. I just don’t think there is a normal. Managers are great and managers are terrible and you could work for them for a day or for a decade. The one thing I would avoid is the advice to “choose your boss not your job” because your boss could change tomorrow. You choose your company, and as long as you work for that company, your boss can change and your job can change.

  7. Jay*

    To OP#4, different businesses have different standards for managers.
    The company I work for go through a LOT of lower level managers, either being promoted or moving on to higher positions with other organisations we work closely with.
    This is especially true with people who manage rare and highly trained specialists. The people being managed can actually be higher in the overall company than their managers. Mostly I’ve seen this in various scientific organisations I’ve worked with over the years, in one way or another.

    1. allathian*

      Frequent manager switches wouldn’t bother me as long as there’s some continuity in expectations. The odds for this are better if upper management remains more or less the same. That said, I wouldn’t want to work in an environment where expectations keep changing so frequently that there’s no way to actually reach any goals.

      1. TechWorker*

        Right. I’ve had 6 managers in 6 years due to people moving teams/roles or leaving, but I’ve never felt it held me back because there was plenty of continuity and a decent handover. A colleague (who is senior to me but works in a different department) was complaining to me about how he gets a new manager every 9 months or so and each of them says they need to see him do x,y and z before he can be considered for promotion… then they leave and the process starts over. It sounded pretty crap!

        1. OP #4*

          Letter writer #4 here – I think the point about overall continuity is salient. Often these manager changes have been part of a larger reorganization, which means a shift in team/title (usually within the same general function, but maybe aligned to a different region/client type/channel), generally without consultation as to whether this is a move you want. So yes, goals (both for the org and personal) are disrupted and the lack of agency is really frustrating. I do want to progress, but it’s hard feeling like any good ‘credit’ I built with the person who most contributes to promotion decisions is swept away every 6-12 months.

          1. Sara without an H*

            Yes, that sounds frustrating, especially for someone who is very goal-oriented. But you could also think of it as, every 6-12 months a manager gets to form a good impression of you as an employee. Might you run into some of these former managers if you, say, applied for a job in another department?

            1. OP #4*

              It’s true that my part of the industry, like most, can feel like a pretty small world (I’ve moved countries and still run into people from past lives). So making connections, and hopefully good impressions, isn’t a bad thing. It’s just tiring to have to be in good impression mode so often!

      2. Mel_05*

        Yes, I’ve worked at a company where any time the manager changed it totally changed my work flow and that was a nightmare. We didn’t change often for the first 8-9 years, but in the last couple of years I was there, I had 3 different managers and it was awful.

      3. ThatGirl*

        In 2017 I started a new job, and it just happened to be a period where the company was going through a LOT of changes. First the hiring manager I was originally interviewing with got laid off shortly before I got the offer, so a woman who was going to be my co-worker became my manager. Later her boss got replaced. In 2018 she got laid off, and for the next year I had a temp manager (the new dept head) and then a new manager (who is ALSO gone from the company now) — and all of my coworkers changed around me. I left that team last year because … there was no continuity in that department and my newly-created position wasn’t what I’d been promised. I’m still with the company but there is *nobody* on that team who was there three years ago.

    2. Putting the "pro" in "procrastinate"*

      #4, I feel for you on the manager changes. I had three managers in my first two years in my current job, and I didn’t fully understand until I became a manager myself how that affected my early growth in learning the job. (Though part of it was that two of the managers were too hands off and didn’t give a ton of useful supervision.) For what it’s worth, after that I stuck with the same manager for about 7 years, even after I became a manager myself; a year or two later I was moved out from under her org to report to her manager instead, which was the right move because a number of projects I was working on needed input from her manager.

      About a year ago, two of my peers left the company five months apart, and my team more than doubled in size as we reorganized to cover their teams. I also took on some people who had to change managers twice as a result of it, people who were moved from the first person who left to the second person who left, and then finally moved to me. I made a point of acknowledging to those folks that two changes of manager in less than half a year was destabilizing and not normal, and made an effort to get to know them and their specific areas of work so that they would feel supported rather than just flung around the organization. It helps that my company has strong department-wide standards and so the messages they get from me aren’t that different from the messages they got from their previous managers. It also helps that the people who moved twice were mostly experienced and competent people who can succeed without a lot of extra support.

      The point is, manager changes can happen in quick succession for reasons that can’t be anticipated (if my department leadership had known that both of those people were going to leave, they would have handled the reorgs differently, but they could not have known). But manager-staff relationships can also be stable and last a long time. And sometimes, even manager changes that are not caused by turnover can be the best move for everyone involved. Hopefully, your manager understands that two changes in quick succession is awkward and challenging for you, and will do her part to smooth over the transition. Communicate with her about it — let her know what’s been difficult for you about the lack of continuity, and see if she can help address those issues directly.

      1. OP #4*

        As is so often the case, ‘just communicate’ is good advice here (yet it wouldn’t have occurred to me until you said it). Partially since this much change seems normalized for most people I’m working with, I would feel like I risk looking a bit delicate by saying, “hey, I’m having a hard time with this”. But in this case, the latest manager change is coming as part of a major reorganization and I think even the most stoic folks are having a tough time. New Manager’s role is also a change, so for all I know she’s feeling the same way.

  8. Jimming*

    I’ve had multiple managers. I worked for a company that did contract work, so when they moved me for staffing reasons, I worked with new managers on each account. Add to that layoffs and promotions and other changes, and the longest I had a manager in the last 6 years was 1 year. I’m now in a new company, but my manger recently left so I’m yet again working with a new manager. I got used to it. One thing I was looking forward to at this new company was manager stability! At least I know how to roll with it!

  9. Alienor*

    I just counted up and in the last six years I’ve had six managers:

    – Started out reporting to Manager #1, then our team was dissolved in a reorg
    – Moved to a new team and reported to Manager #2 for a year until they left the company
    – Reported to Manager #3 for about another year
    – Got moved to a newly created team and reported to Manager #4 for a little less than two years
    – Manager #4 left the company and I reported to Manager #5 for around 8-9 months
    – Team was dissolved in yet another reorg; I got moved back to the same team where I’d reported to Managers #2 and #3, but now under Manager #6; have been there for about 18 months

    As far as relationship-building, Managers #1 and #4 were hired in to manage new teams and I didn’t know either of them at all (ended up getting along well with both); Manager #2 was someone I knew a bit, but had never really worked with, Manager #3 had been my manager before Manager #1, and Manager #6 started out as my peer long ago. At this point I honestly just go where I’m told and take direction from whoever’s name is above mine on the org chart!

  10. Amphian*

    #4 – I’ve been working professionally since the late last century and never had a manager last more than two or three years, and some less than a year. This is across a half dozen jobs in different industries. For me, most managers aren’t really worth managing up unless your goal at work is to climb into upper management. The ones that are good meet you halfway when you try to get things done, and it’s generally easy to pick up on their preferences and work around their quirks. The ones that are bad are an obstacle you need to work around to get your job done. My current team has tried an impressive array of “managing up” methods to deal with our current boss. Oddly enough, a big part of his problem is he spends all his time managing up (in the “manipulate the boss” sense), so his managing down interactions are terrible. It’s blatantly obvious he doesn’t value us, since we can’t directly advance his career, and we are constantly fixing problems he created.

    1. anonnie*

      I see a lot of comments like this but unless your point is that everyone changes managers that frequently (which is demonstrably untrue) I don’t think individual accounts are that useful. OP is asking if there are lots of managers who do stay long term and of course the answer is that they are, even if some individuals have had different experiences.

      1. TechWorker*

        Sure – but it is reasonable for commenters to add their experiences, that’s kinda what happens in the comments :p

        There’s also tonnes of reasons you could change manager without them leaving – team size changes, one of you moves project, one of you gets a promotion. I suspect it’s actually a very difficult thing to get an ‘average’ on because who even has that data?

        1. OP #4*

          Letter writer #4 here – yes, I think the answer to the ‘is this normal’ question is definitely an ‘it depends!’ (Which Alison does point out). This is probably something I could have predicted as I was writing in, honestly, but I’m finding hearing everyone’s experiences really helpful. It seems like for some of us this really is just the way it goes, or sometimes it is a more concerning response to a deeper dysfunction. And it’s also gotten me thinking – if this is just the norm for my industry/type of org, maybe it’s something I don’t want to deal with forever. Some commenters seem really sanguine about it, but if I’m finding myself stressed by this pace of change I might not be in the right place.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            I’m in software, and my company reorgs A LOT. I’ve heard from employees at our partner orgs that this is common for them as well. If you’re in tech or something tech adjacent, yeah, it just may be the field and you have to figure out how to deal with the sudden, frequent shifts.

            For what it’s worth, I didn’t really experience this anywhere else, and I’ve also worked in law, insurance, and transportation (in the corporate office in a sales-adjacent role). So there are industries/companies out there that are a lot more stable when it comes to managerial assignments.

            1. Diahann Carroll*

              And I went back and re-read your letter – yeah, financial services is like this from what I know from people who work in the industry. I don’t know that you necessarily need to leave your field entirely (as I said, I worked in insurance, which is financial services, and I didn’t see many regular reorganizations), but maybe pivot slightly to another area that’s less volatile.

            2. Risha*

              Eh, again this is a sweeping generalization. Most of my jobs have been software or software-really, and I’ve never had a manager at a long term position for less than two years, mostly 5+. I’m not convinced we can make any generalizations here at all other than “some companies yes, other companies no.”

      2. Anon for this*

        Well, the question was if it was normal / common to have frequent manager changes. Every example shows that LW is not a complete outlier, but that it happens to a lot of people. As Alison says, it’s probably more common not to have this issue, but still it happens, so: LW does not need to worry that this makes them some kind of complete work history weirdo and they can / should still do a lot of managing up (in my experience, also with a lot more managers than I would have preferred, it can be even more important).

        Just for the record, I had, in the last 5 years:
        1 manager fired for harrassment
        1 interim manager not confirmed in the role
        1 manager fired for incompetence
        1 interim manager not confirmed in the role
        and my current manager is under investigation for harrassment.

        It’s starting to look like enemy action this stage!

          1. allathian*

            I’m sorry you’ve run into so many people who are guilty of harassment, but at least your company is taking action against them, and that has to be a good thing.

    2. K*

      OP4, I am also a global financial services company. I’ve had 4 manager changes in the past 5 months.

      I have been at this company 15 years, and some roles have steady management, and some get a lot of changes. If you are in a role with a lot of manager changes, it definitely makes things more challenging for you. But the bigger issue is that a lot of manager changes in a short time may mean that senior management can’t quite figure out what they want from your team. That is a much bigger problem – you can’t excel if they keep changing the goal line. You can either be one of the steady rock stars they are building the team around, or a useful cog that can fit in many roles, or the skillset that was perfect Three Manager Changes ago. Take an honest look at what you bring to your organization, and if it seems like you don’t fit, or your team doesn’t fit any longer, start looking around. In my experience, a lot of manager changes and an unclear or ever changing team goal means you are at higher risk of layoffs. Better to leave on your term than theirs if things seem to be going south.

      1. OP #4*

        ‘But the bigger issue is that a lot of manager changes in a short time may mean that senior management can’t quite figure out what they want from your team.’

        That definitely resonates, and I can point to a few prior roles where that’s been the fundamental problem.

        And a lot of times, honestly, it just feels like the caprices of new senior management trying to make their mark. For example, “this function should be distributed regionally”, try that for a couple of years, “actually, we need a single centralized organization”, then “actually, we need regional focuses”… rinse, repeat, forever.

        1. TechWorker*

          Haha, we have exactly this on a slightly different axis – should teams be organised by product family or software area? It swaps around every 4-5 years in a huge re-org :p

      2. Batty Twerp*

        Seconding the “it might be senior management can’t figure out” point.

        I’ve been at my company for over ten years and have had two managers and that’s because *I* swapped roles, not because the management changed – my original manager is still managing my original team.
        Prior to that I did a stint at a civil service role where again I had only two managers in nine years, apart from a short spell where I was seconded to be a PA for six months to senior management – when it could be argued I had four simultaneous managers!

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Seconding the “it might be senior management can’t figure out” point.

          Thirding this since this seems to be the impetus behind all of my company’s reorgs. That, or they’ve just come up with a new, shiny commercial licensing program or product they want to sell, so now they need to shift resources to those Next Big Things.

    3. Observer*

      The ones that are good meet you halfway when you try to get things done, and it’s generally easy to pick up on their preferences and work around their quirks. The ones that are bad are an obstacle you need to work around to get your job done.

      In other words, you are managing up.

    4. Student*

      The concept of a “manager” varies substantially across different fields. I would be willing to bet a lot of money that the job responsibilities and expectations of your “manager” do not resemble the job duties and expectations of the people who work in industries where a manager usually sticks around for several years. The problem isn’t how long the person with the title of “manager” sticks around – it’s with using the title of “manager” for completely disjoint job responsibilities and then having everyone act like these roles are comparable.

      I worked in an industry like yours, and I’ve only recently changed to a job where managers are long-term installations.

      In my old industry, “manager” was just a word added to your title [and $$$ in your paycheck] as you climb a specific career path. They did not actually manage the people who were notionally reporting to them. They might not even bother meeting with all their employees in a year. The employees were largely self-managed and self-directed. Our “managers” were mostly (>90%, actual figure from their time card allocations) doing work equivalent to the employees they managed. They spent about 5% of their time doing some management-related paperwork (mainly pushing around the yearly evals paperwork or signing off on various documents that they hadn’t read, but were required to sign by some byzantine business process). They spent about 5% of their time assuaging the biggest egos they managed – mediating a workplace squabble or listening to somebody vent or trying to get their whiny employee a nicer parking spot, bigger office, newer computer, etc.

      I went multiple years without having any substantive conversation with my “managers” in this industry. They did their own thing. As long as I was able to manage my project charge codes (As in, as long as I could convince any internal project to let me work on their stuff and would pay me out of their project budget), nobody in the business cared how I was doing that, or had an interest in optimizing it, looking at my career goals, etc.

      AAM is solidly not meant for these kinds of figurehead, career-ladder managers. AAM advice can help with some of the difficulties one runs into in a self-managed environment, in terms of dealing with various co-worker spats.

      In my new industry, I have a manager that wants to know what I do. And how well I’m doing it. My manager talks to me every week. My manager assigns tasks to me to do specific things. And expects me to do only the things that my manager has tasked me with. It’s a completely different thing.

  11. Kathlynn (Canada)*

    So, yeah. For retail, everyone is either slacking, or they are overworked. This means that there are rediculous expectations for what can be done in a shift. By/for both managers and “customer service representatives”/”sales associates” *cough* cashiers *cough*. Thus there’s a lot of burnout in all levels, plus a lot of in fighting and blaming between shifts/coworkers. (some valid, some not). So, in 4 years I went through 6 direct managers and 3 managers above them. Plus several assistant managers who burned out before even reaching manager rank. And there were a few of us with management expectations but no authority to influence changes with our co-workers. I tried hard to make it work myself. But there’s so little help given that I was headed fast for a breakdown before covid-19 hit. The one and only time I’m ever likely to be happy to have my asthma triggered by cleaning supplies. (no masks, even more cleaning supplies in the air, means I couldn’t breath at work. So I spent 6 months on CERB until it was clear that both the restrictions and the mask shortage would be around for some time, and found a new wfh job)

  12. Alianora*

    LW #1, how was the conversation going before your boss made that statement? What was said, exactly?

  13. Roeslein*

    LW#2 – For once I don’t necessarily completely agree with Alison. There are many non-physical jobs for which a candidate’s ability to appear professional in a video call is absolutely relevant. I’m a consultant; in my line of work, you need to convey confidence and professionalism on screen, and body language is part of that – someone who is visibly very nervous, fidgets a lot or dresses inappropriately is not someone I would trust with my clients. Of course, for a purely internal role this may matter less. It is odd that they didn’t inquire in advance if video was an issue for them, since these days that is the default channel. For the next round, I would give them the benefit of doubt and inform this candidate that they need to plan for a video call, even if that means they have to use their phone.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      We don’t disagree! There absolutely are jobs where you need to physically see the person as part of your assessment; I just want the OP to make sure this is one of them and that she’s not expecting video purely out of habit.

        1. carlie*

          Agree, and if it’s important to have video, be sure you’re using a platform that is easy to use with a phone.

  14. Everdene*

    OP4, I have been at my organisation less than 4 years and have had 6 managers. This has been because of maternity leave, reorganisation and my director deciding she had too many direct reports so moving me to be managed by someone who reports to her. I now officially report to my manager but half the stuff still goes to my director for the authority level needed. All the managers have had different styles and had their own reporting preferences so I’ve just adapted as needed. My current manager being at a lower level is actually better than I would’ve thought because we can talk more equally and she sees it as part of her role to get me in a position to be at her level. This is the first year my goal setting and end of year will be done by the same person.

    Oak had 4 managers last year. He just rolled with it and did his job as usual. This was fine until end of year grading time and he got a ‘satisfactory’ instead of the usual ‘exceeds expectation’. No one would admit who gave him this grading (incredulously!) and when he appealed it was denined because there wasn’t enough evidence of reviews across the year. This was a big lesson for him to keep more detailed evidence when he did excellent work and not just shove a ‘thank you’ email into a folder. If you do keep changing managers make sure you have the evidence to prove your performance, because they won’t.

    1. Sara without an H*

      Yes, always document your own achievements. Even if you have good, stable managers for long periods, they’ll never remember everything you’ve done, especially if they have a lot of other direct reports.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Hell, my last manager only had two direct reports (me and my counterpart), and he still couldn’t remember everything I’d done last year during reviews in March.

  15. Casper Lives*

    LW2 – I’m going against the grain here to say that is is unusual he didn’t have access to a webcam.

    1. He knew it wasn’t a phone screen, but was instead a video interview. You would probably be doing it in person if there wasn’t a global pandemic. So for him to not have one, or to at least mention it ahead of time, is weird.

    2. It’s normal to expect a webcam as every laptop I’ve had in the last 10 years has had one. Even the cheap ones.

    3. A phone interview vs. video / in person (visual) are different. The interviewer and candidate can assess body language. Does this guy roll his eyes every question? Could he read more from your face when you neutrally say “I’ll look into that” on a vacation increase, while your face indicates it’s unlikely? People tend to make more of a social connection when they can see each other.

    I’m not saying to not consider this guy. But I wouldn’t feel bad if there were equal candidates, and you went with the one you laid eyes on.

    1. Mookie*

      I agree with Alison that there is no clear indication the applicant knew the interview was expected to make use of video (it’s not even clear the hiring manager directed her to use video and it appears she assumed it from experience coupled with what stage they were in the hiring process ) and therefore there is no reason he should have referenced it in advance.

      He does indeed have a laptop with a camera; it is work-issued and because it is he didn’t feel comfortable using it. The LW elicited this information by asking him if he had a camera when the interview began.

      1. Casper Lives*

        So the applicant was sent a Zoom link and thought “probably won’t use video here”? That speaks to inexperience at best. I’d give the applicant a pass if this is a job that doesn’t require much experience. If it does, that’s a flag.

        Having a work laptop that you cannot use means that you don’t have a camera. Which is back to point 1 of my answer.

        1. EventPlannerGal*

          Yeah, this. Personally I wouldn’t hold the lack of camera against the guy, maybe the one on his own laptop was broken or something and he was embarrassed about it, but the leap of deductive reasoning from “I have been sent a link to a video-calling platform” to “maybe this is a video interview” is really very small. If I was in that situation I think it would be sensible to check that with the hiring manager before the call, just to give them a heads-up.

          1. Mongrel*

            And why the assumption that their personal computing device is a laptop? I have a PC at home and would never get a laptop for myself unless my use case changed drastically.

            1. EventPlannerGal*

              Sure, I mean, I’m not disagreeing with you? My mind went to a laptop because I don’t really know anyone who uses a PC, but as I said, I would not hold the lack of a webcam against him and there could be many reasons why he didn’t have access to one. I just think that it would be sensible, if you are invited to an interview that requires logging into a video-calling platform, to check with the interviewer if it’s a video interview and let them know that you won’t be able to do video.

            2. Antilles*

              Yeah, even if he has a personal computer, there’s no guarantee it’s a laptop with a webcam. Buying a desktop PC gets you way more bang for your buck and is therefore usually a better option unless you regularly take advantage of the laptop portability.

          1. Jennifer*

            Yes, but the point is why bother to send a zoom link if not to connect on camera? If seeing the candidate was not important, they would have set up another phone interview.

            1. Allonge*

              Look, that is logical and all, but still: if you want someone on camera, you need to tell them that and not just assume that a Zoom link will speak for itself. In every conversation we have here on online meetings we have people who say they don’t like to be on camera, they never use the video feed as it takes up so much bandwidth etc.

              If a company absolutely wants to see people in the interview, they need to spell that out in the invite.

            2. NoCam*

              Because using a headset or speaker box is more convenient than holding the phone the whole time. Because using the integrated meeting and calendar feature is more convenient. Because click to connect is more convenient than typing the number.

            3. Observer*

              Because that’s the conference calling tool you have? Because it’s just what you are used to using? Because you just didn’t think about it?

              1. asgard*

                But this isn’t a work meeting, or any regular type of meeting you have all the time. It’s an interview. So what you “normally” do at work or with friends, has no relevance here. If interview 1 is a phone number, or someone calls you, and interview 2 has a zoom link then they expect video. It’s not a huge leap. It’s not any kind of leap at all. So manyb are really grasping at straws here, imo.

                1. Observer*

                  It actually IS a huge leap. SOOOO many people use zoom in voice only that to assume that Zoom DOES mean “video required” is not reasonable.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          OP doesn’t specify Zoom. My company does a lot of conference calls on Microsoft Teams, and we do not default to video.
          As an applicant, I would assume a voice call ( VOIP) unless the word video was used. That said, I would also double-check my assumption.
          If this is an otherwise good candidate, set up an extra video chat clearly specifies applicsnt on camera, even if it’s just a cell phone.

        3. NoCam*

          My experience is with webex not with zoom, so very similar. And according to my experience No Camera is the default. If your camera is not off someone will remind you to please turn it off. There was exactly one meeting so far that required camera which was communicated several days beforehand.

        4. Observer*

          So the applicant was sent a Zoom link and thought “probably won’t use video here”? That speaks to inexperience at best

          Totally not the case – Zoom gets used all the time, even though video is kept off, because it’s often the best conference calling solution that many companies have. Or because people would rather just use the same one tool. Or because they think that they may want to do some screen sharing.

          1. asgard*

            First interview is a phone call and the 2nd one as a zoom link and you assume it’s voice only? Why wouldn’t it just be a phone call again?

    2. Asenath*

      I only recently got a webcam for my home computer – I’d never had or needed one in all the years I’ve been using a computer. Even pre-COVID, I’d taken a number of classes and courses from home, and my lack of a camera never was an issue even though the technology (several different programs over time) all allowed webcam use. The leader or moderator generally asked those who had cameras to turn them off to improve the connections. So it wouldn’t surprise me if someone did not do video for a web conference or interview or didn’t have a camera.

      But – as I said, I finally got a camera. I think, with all these months of COVID, expectations are shifting, and now, although audio only is still acceptable in my circle, it seems, in my experience, to be less and less the norm. I am not sure that it’s gone so far that a candidate should be rejected because they don’t have a camera even if I personally finally broke down and bought one.

      1. Elliott*

        I think I’ve had a different experience. I feel like because Zoom is the only option for many events now, I’ve seen more of a shift toward understanding that not everyone who joins will have the same access to technology or the same experience level with video calls. For example, an organization I belong to has regular virtual happy hour type events, and we usually have at least one person who doesn’t have a camera, or even necessarily a microphone. Though it’s a barrier to participation, we still try to engage them.

    3. Guacamole Bob*

      I think the issue may be that HR didn’t make it clear up front that video was expected. I think most people I know would be able to figure out a video option with even a day of advance warning (I’d be looking to borrow a device from a friend, for example), but once you’re dialed in for voice only and you haven’t set up your space or dressed for an interview, you’re kind of stuck.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Yeah, it’s possible that the candidate thought this was just another phone screen with another manager and not a replacement for an in-person interview.
        We also don’t know what kind of role this was. If the interview was for material maintenance or something that isn’t a traditional behind-the-desk job, then the candidate would never have thought that they needed to do a video interview.

      2. livelaughandrun*

        I guess my question is what else would you expect with a Zoom meeting? I wouldn’t go into a zoom call and expect it to not be video. The second they got a zoom meeting requested it should have been a solid indicator video was expected.

        1. hillary*

          It varies wildly depending on culture. I’m in a somewhat-old fashioned industry. We’re embracing video within my team, but almost everything outside my team or external is voice only regardless of platform. In the before times it was also pretty common for us to call into a meeting from the car.

    4. Metadata minion*

      It’s a bit unusual, yeah, but it doesn’t seem like a red flag. It doesn’t take that many technology breakdowns or slightly odd preferences for someone to end up with their work laptop being their only functioning webcam. Maybe they have a desktop personal computer and no webcam, or their personal laptop is on the fritz, or their phone is old and cranky and a voice interview will end up being less awkward than a video one that lags every 5 seconds. Maybe they didn’t ask about whether it was a video chat because they suspected it was and didn’t want to get rejected before they even had a chance to interview.

      1. GothicBee*

        I was thinking that it might be possible they were planning to use the work laptop until they realized that might be a problem/conflict of interest and didn’t want to risk it and then just had to use their personal computer. That’s totally the kind of thing I might blank on and then realize 15 minutes before the interview “duh, I can’t use my work laptop for an interview” cue panicked attempts at figuring out what else will work.

    5. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      1. There is no indication in the letter that this is true.
      2. The candidate didn’t have a computer outside of his work laptop – I wouldn’t want to conduct a job interview on my work laptop either.
      3. Yes being able to see someone for an interview is important, but it shouldn’t be a deal breaker considering right now that in person isn’t an option.

      Making assumptions that everyone has a webcam is a bit judgmental. Just because it’s 2020 doesn’t mean everyone has a smart phone, Wifi, a laptop, etc.

      1. Mockingjay*

        I work for an IT/communications company and none of our laptops have cameras, due to work security reasons. Most of our directors have added cameras for corporate discussions during COVID, but lower-level employees are certainly not expected to buy equipment with personal funds.

        Many people don’t have a camera aside from a personal smart phone, and the quality of phone cameras varies widely depending on available bandwidth and phone model, not to mention limited data plans that junior workers likely have.

        While video chat is nice, we don’t expect it of candidates during interviews. It’s a nice-to-have but won’t bar anyone from consideration.

    6. Marny*

      I think this is unfair. He’s obviously seeking a job, and we have no idea what his financial circumstances are or have been for the last 6 months. There’s no way to know where he’s living, what technology he has or is able to pay for, etc. And making assumptions of what people have access to is why companies wind up disadvantaging lower income applicants over more financially stable applicants. This may sound overdramatic, but we all seem to believe that everyone is in the same station in life that we are, and form judgments based on those beliefs, and it’s damaging.

      Are there reasons why a visual interview could be more helpful? Sure. Then the company needs to be prepared to figure out how to accommodate their need for a visual interview without expecting that every applicant can bear the brunt of paying for that accommodation themselves.

      1. Risha*

        Right. There’s a very reasonable universe where this is a candidate who is low on cash and desperate for a new job, his only personal computing device is a desktop that doesn’t have a webcam, he can’t afford to buy a webcam this month/quarter/at all, and this job is too good an opportunity to pass up the interview just because of that so he does what he ethically can and hopes the interviewer won’t hold it against him. Even if that’s not this particular guy’s story, it probably will be some other of the OP’s candidate’s someday.

    7. fhqwhgads*

      This might be semantics but I think you’re ignoring that there is an option in between “phone screen” and “video interview”. There is such a thing as a phone interview that replaces an in-person interview (as opposed to “phone screen” which is always by design very short). He could’ve thought this was a standard phone interview. I’ve been working remote in multiple jobs for 15 years and all of my interviews have been phone. I think it’s easy to jump to “of course video calls replace all meetings that would be in-person if it weren’t a pandemic” because that’s what a lot of companies are doing right now in the pandemic. But it seems to be plenty common and normal, having nothing to do with the pandemic, to do plain old phone interviews with candidates who for whatever reason cannot come in person, be it due to pending relocation, the job being remote, etc. If they didn’t make it explicit that this was intended to be a video interview, it’s very reasonable to me that he didn’t assume that would be required.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yeah, I’m in a full-time remote position that was designed to be this way long before Covid hit, and all of my interviews were conducted via phone with no video. I was expecting video since the company is a software firm, but nope – it’s not really a cultural thing to use video at my company, mainly due to the fact that we’re a global firm and timezones are tricky.

    8. Observer*

      You are making a lot of assumptions here that you don’t have any evidence for whatsoever.

      1. A large number of people don’t have webcams at home – that’s why so many vendors couldn’t keep stock for MONTHS after things blew up.

      2. You have no way to know that he knew it was a video cal. Before covid, it would have been in person. It’s not a given that all in person interviews are going to be replaced by video interviews. Lots of them are not.

      3. Who says he has a personal laptop? Even if he has one, who says it was working? Also, there have been some laptop models with webcams in such bad positions that they might as well not have been included.

  16. Imprudence*

    LW#3, I have given my references the job description of jobs I am applying for so they have the same information to me as to what a recruiter might be looking for.

  17. Mainly Lurking (UK)*

    OP2’s letter reminded me of something I’ve been half thinking of bringing up on the open thread.

    Before landing my current temp role, I had a couple of Teams interviews for different organisations over the late spring / early summer. I had my camera on for both of these meetings but with the first potential employer in May, only one of the interviewers turned on her camera, and the other left his off.

    With the second employer in June, I was being interviewed by two men who both kept their cameras off. Combined with the blokeish vibe I was getting, it did make me wonder if I was being judged on my appearance, and I wasn’t surprised not to be offered the job, even though (from what the recruiter had told me) on paper I was the best candidate, having had more ERP experience and being available immediately.

    I know that whatever happens at my next interview I will have my camera on and don’t have any standing to push back if my interviewers don’t do the same, but it is still unsettling to be seen by people who won’t let me see them.

    And if for some reason employer work computers have cameras disabled, they could always tell the candidate in advance that the Teams interview will be voice only …

    1. TechWorker*

      I totally agree it’s weird to be the only party in a meeting using video, in this scenario I probably would have been tempted to do what I do in work meetings and just turn it off with a cheery ‘ah I see we’re not using video’ as an aside if it feels weird not to mention it.

    2. Workerbee*

      I do think you have standing to push back in an interview, especially with the unsettling vibes you got. You’re interviewing the org at the same time, after all. In any case, Teams (as an example) allows for audio only calls with a choice to pick up/switch to video on. I’d start out with video off until you see the interviewers. Best case is they forget to switch on until they see you aren’t. :/

    3. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      If I’m in a meeting with someone who does not have a camera off I typically turn mine off too – though if it’s a technology where I can show a headshot I leave that up.

      I think this is reasonable.

    4. Nea*

      Speaking of judging by appearances, though – a lot of people have not been able to keep up the professional grooming they’d like to have these days, like dying roots or professional haircuts. If I were interviewing I’d keep the camera off because I wouldn’t want to be marked down as sloppy or unprofessional simply because I don’t want to play COVID roulette just for a job interview.

      OP2, now is very much the time to extend grace over appearance or willingness to be filmed.

  18. Keymaster of Gozer*

    2. Some of reasons I’ve not used a webcam in interviews:

    1. Didn’t have one. Start of this pandemic they sold out fast
    2. Had one but the quality was appalling. Like 1 frame per second appalling.
    3. Bandwidth issues
    4. Having my pc suffer a catastrophic hard drive crash, leaving me with just a phone to use.
    5. Doing an interview 2 hours after a funeral. I….okay that one was just me looking dreadful. Did tell interviewer my camera was broken.

    If you feel you absolutely require video it should be told to candidates long enough before the interview that they can work a solution/fix outstanding issues. Do be prepared for how to deal if it becomes unavailable for a reason though (such as sudden computer failure).

  19. Phyllis*

    OP3, speaking as a district employee, there’s a lot of ‘compliance’ involved in teaching. FERPA* and copyright rules come immediately to mind. Maybe discuss with your references how they can speak to your skills in these areas. As Allison said, as long as they aren’t eccentric at the reference checker, it should be good.

    *FERPA-Family Education Rights & Privacy Act. We do love our acronyms in education.

  20. Bookworm*

    #2: If you really want video for the interview, you should make that clear in the job posting and don’t assume all candidates have the tech (or internet speed!) to handle video interviews.

    Also: not everyone is comfortable with having the video on, all the time. Zoom fatigue is a thing and some people have trouble with video calls that’s not just about technology or access. Please keep that in mind.

  21. Oryx*

    “he said he didn’t want to do the interview on his work laptop and he had no other computer.”

    I feel like some commenters are missing this. The lack of a camera isn’t because his personal computer didn’t have one or he just chose not to turn it on. There is no personal computer. Going out and buying a $40 webcam doesn’t help anyone because there is no computer to attach it to and not everyone has the option to just borrow a laptop from someone else. In fact, because of smart phones and tablets, many people don’t even have a personal computers.

    1. EventPlannerGal*

      I think maybe people are just interpreting it differently? To me that reads as though he has two devices, a work laptop with camera that he didn’t want to use, and some other device that he could use but has no camera. But I can see how it could read the other way as well.

      1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        I’m confused as to “he had no other computer” can be interpreted other than he had no other computer? Obviously he had a phone, but maybe it wasn’t a smart phone. People are making assumptions about the candidate’s situation that aren’t fair to the candidate, when it’s clearly spelled out in the letter. He didn’t have access to a camera, period.

        1. londonedit*

          I think people are interpreting it as ‘he had no other computer except the one he ended up using, which didn’t have a webcam’.

          1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

            Again, this makes no sense to me. OP said he didn’t have a computer outside of his work laptop. Meaning he had no other computer and didn’t use a computer for the interview.

    2. Diahann Carroll*

      And it’s possible that he told the hiring manager exactly that, and the hiring manager was fine with it, hence moving him along to the next interview with OP.

    3. Observer*

      The truth of the matter is that it doesn’t matter if he did not have any other computer at all or he didn’t have another computer with a camera. The reality is that BOTH situations are far from rare, and in either case, the interviewee clearly didn’t have access to the technology – and it’s not necessarily so easy to fix that on short notice, especially if money is tight.

  22. straws*

    For OP#2, I’d find out what exactly was communicated to and from the person prior to the interview. I wouldn’t hold a lack of webcam against a candidate. But if the candidate was aware ahead of time that video was expected and didn’t communicate back that they didn’t have webcam access, that would be at least a yellow flag for me. Lack of access to technology is understandable, but not being able to respond back to someone with either a head’s up or confirmation that there will be no video feed on a video call is not a plus for me. The candidate also didn’t say anything on the call about it until it was brought up. He absolutely had an acceptable reason to not have a webcam, but he handled it poorly and I’d be raising eyebrows about that piece.

  23. Purnk*

    Considering video is currently replacing in-person interviews, i think a few commenters are a little harsh about lw2 wanting the visual connection; unless 1) this isn’t a job that would normally conduct in-person interviews or 2) would be flexible about someone being unable to make an in person interview.
    But as with all the application process if a candidate balks at one part or doesn’t meet a requirement, it’s worth examining how much that thing is really needed & the candidate’s fit as a whole rather than just mindlessly disqualifying over relatively minor things

  24. Brooks Brothers Stan*

    LW3, most people (even those with kooky personalities) know to ‘turn it off’ when on a professional call that concerns the future of someone’s career/life. It’s not something I would worry too heavily about, and if you’re worried about them keying in on the right things during the call, just let them know!

  25. Jennifer*

    #2 I guess I don’t understand this candidate. Why would someone book a zoom interview if not to see them on camera? If he doesn’t have one, he doesn’t have one, but I would have let the interviewer know ahead of time.

    I didn’t have a laptop when the pandemic started so until I was able to get one I used my phone’s camera.

    Yes, discrimination is a possibility but it’s also likely that the interviewers just want to assess how this person presents themselves “in person” which isn’t an outrageous thing. I do get Alison’s response but I don’t get some of the reactions here.

    1. AmyS*

      Because not everyone has the money to afford things like this. I do not have a personal computer because I cannot afford one.

      1. Jennifer*

        I don’t think I said everyone should be able to afford a computer. What I’m saying is, if you don’t have a camera, and a potential employer clearly wants to interview you on video, give them a heads up. Telling them this after the interview had already started was unprofessional.

        Clearly, he has a phone. If it was a smartphone he may have been able to use his phone’s camera. I was able to do this for my first few interviews during the pandemic and it was fine. If he doesn’t have a smartphone, then maybe calling in was his only option – but he should have told them.

        1. HB*

          You’re assuming the candidate was told it was a video interview when the LW clearly indicated they did not know what was conveyed to the candidate.

            1. Marny*

              Zoom links also provide a phone-only alternative. I worked for someone who didn’t have a computer nor smartphone. When he has Zoom conferences, he dials in on his landline.

              1. Jennifer*

                Yes, I’m aware of this as well. I think a work meeting after you are already hired is very different from an interview. I think we will just have to disagree. I think it’s common sense when you receive a zoom link for a job interview that the potential employer is expecting to see you on camera.

                1. Diahann Carroll*

                  It’s not common sense since I’ve seen a couple of comments here that said their companies use Zoom or other virtual meeting tools like Teams and don’t require video whether it’s team meetings or interviews. Since we don’t know what the hiring manager communicated to this guy, we can’t know for sure that they told him he had to be on camera or if just calling in was okay.

                2. Gloria*

                  I don’t think its common sense. Zoom and other similar softwares are pretty new and I don’t think there is one common understanding of how it should be used. I can see someone young and inexperienced or someone who has never used video conferencing software not assuming that a zoom link means it must be video.

                3. EventPlannerGal*

                  FWIW I agree with you – although some people do use Zoom etc purely for phone calls, screen sharing etc, I really think that it is very well known for being a video platform. This insistence that how could anyone possibly anticipate that a Zoom call might involve video?? really seems quite zebras-not-horses to me and maybe more about a general dislike of video calls. But idk, it seems like there’s a lot of detail about the invitation was communicated that OP doesn’t have so I guess at the end of the day it’s all very speculative.

                4. Jennifer*

                  @EPG Exactly, that’s all I’m saying. I find it a bit odd that so many commenters wouldn’t anticipate a Zoom call involving video. I don’t turn my video on for everyday work meetings and the like, but I think an interview is different.

                  I do think it’s highly possible there was some miscommunication when setting this interview up, but come on…

                5. ...*

                  You’re getting a lot of pushback but I think its common sense and so would all my colleagues and friends. Zoom is a video conference platform.

                6. HB*

                  Even granting your assumption that the employer is expecting to see you on camera when you see the Zoom link doesn’t actually change anything here because we *don’t know when the Zoom link was sent*.

                  If the Zoom link was sent 5 minutes before the interview, nothing changes. Candidate doesn’t have a camera and can’t join with one. Interviewer asks about the no camera, candidate explains.

                  And has been pointed out elsewhere, since we *don’t* know what was conveyed before the interview we also don’t know if the candidate had *already explained* the lack of camera and been told it wasn’t an issue.

            2. Nerdy Library Clerk*

              My workplace is using Zoom for meetings, even though not all of the employees have computers or computers with video. Zoom links do include a phone number, and if the candidate’s workplace is similar, they may not have the automatic assumption that Zoom is for video only.

            3. KRM*

              Zoom does NOT mean “have your video on”. Zoom is a platform that allows you to have audio and/or video and also do things like share screens for a meeting. You don’t send a Zoom link JUST for video capability.
              Also, do you expect a candidate to contact you before and say “Oh, well I have limited bandwith” or “I have three kids doing schoolwork at home” to justify why they won’t use video, as you seem to expect them to do when not having a camera?

            4. AngryOwl*

              We use zoom because oftentimes an internet connection provides better quality than calling on phone. Has nothing to do with requiring video.

            5. HB*

              And? They could have received the zoom link minutes before the interview. And has been said below, video isn’t always expected/the norm even with Zoom. I’d never heard of Zoom before the pandemic and even after understood it to be the new Skype – which was predominately an internet phone service where video was possible. But if someone suggested they skype me I wouldn’t assume that meant video unless told.

        2. Observer*

          It worked for me, so it’s fine and will work for everyone and my assumptions are THE correct assumptions that all reasonable people will make, seems to be your baseline.

          But, really neither is the case.

          1. Jennifer*

            Not at all. I’ve said multiple times that I understand that not everyone can afford decent internet or a laptop. I think most commenters here are video-averse, which I understand because I rarely turn on my camera either with the exception of interviews, but I honestly think that’s something that’s unique to this site.

          2. EventPlannerGal*

            I think that’s a really unkind, unfair interpretation of what Jennifer has been saying.

    2. Two Dog Night*

      My company uses Ring Central, which runs on the same platform as Zoom, and we generally don’t use video. It’s a convenient way to speak through the computer and share screens. You might think that getting a Zoom invite definitely implies that video will be used, but that’s absolutely not universal.

    3. nm*

      It appears the interviewer and the hiring manager are 2 different people and the hiring manager set up the interview. The candidate may very well have discussed his setup with the hiring manager who just didn’t pass it on to the interviewer.

  26. Can Man*

    Who do you even put as your manager at those jobs with no consistent manager on job applications?

    1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Your current one at the time of application. My last company was going through a major re-org. I was there for 6 1/2 years and I had 6 different managers, 5 while in the same department/role.

  27. Jennifer*

    Yes, but the point is why bother to send a zoom link if not to connect on camera? If seeing the candidate was not important, they would have set up another phone interview.

    1. fhqwhgads*

      Why bother?
      Because you might want to screenshare something during the interview
      Because there’s more than one interviewer potentially joining and that’s the standard platform your company uses for calls with 3+ participants
      Because people are WFH due to pandemic and the company doesn’t want employees using their personal phones for business calls

      But also, did OP comment somewhere that it was specifically zoom? If so I didn’t see it yet. And the letter doesn’t say this was zoom specifically and yet there are a ton of comments asking “why send a zoom link?” That’s confusing me.

      1. HB*

        Yes, OP2 commented up above that interview was set up via zoom (without any indication as to when the link was sent).

  28. RebelwithMouseyHair*

    OP1 that’s really weird. I’m assuming you weren’t playing a game or trying to manipulate your boss since you have no idea what he meant. So the accusation hits you out of the blue.
    Manipulation is like lying in that only manipulators and liars imagine other people manipulating and lying. Those who don’t go in for manipulating and lying don’t ever think other people are doing that, unless they’ve been put through the wringer by a lying manipulator and have learned to look out for that.
    So your boss is either manipulating you (accusing you of something you’re clearly not doing, making you perhaps doubt your take on what happened… that’s not just manipulating, it’s even gaslighting) or has been burned so very badly by manipulators that he sees them everywhere. From what you have already learned about your boss, do you have any idea which it’s likely to be?
    In case your boss is manipulating you, I would suggest documenting this issue before you start to lose your grip on reality.

    1. JSPA*

      OP 1,

      This could be a power play, as well addressed above. It could also be a bona fide failure to communicate.

      Are you generally pop culture aware, and aware of figures of speech? Is your boss different in that respect from you? Do you come from similar or very different regional or cultural backgrounds? Do you feel they commonly misuse certain common words? Have other people ever seemed confused by your word usage?

      I ask, because otherwise-harmless phrases can cycle in (and eventually, out) of having problematic usages and subtext. Think of something as seemingly neutral and harmless as, “That’s what she said.” There are also words that are bona fide contronyms, having two opposing usages; one person may default to one meaning, the other to the other meaning, and confusion ensues.The UK vs USA usages of “to table,” for example.

      Or, in terms of expressed attitude, there’s UK vs USA, “very interesting.” (Shaw: “two countries divided by a common language.”)

      Regionally, there’s Boston “wicked,” and I’m sure, dozens of others that I can’t come up with; add in all the catch phrases that pull up “straight” or “ironic” meanings, depending on your exposure to different niches of pop culture.

      I’m not saying this is what you should do–there re risks–but if you’re known as an honest sort, you could (and i would) send an email along these lines:

      “I’m baffled about the way our conversation ended, and specifically, your expressed perception that I was playing some game. Having wracked my brain, I can’t figure out what words I might have used that could give that impression.

      I spoke from what I understood to be a position of mutual respect. Was I wrong?

      I’m perturbed and devastated to have some sort of communications failure misread as game-playing or bad faith. I have never been hung up on before, professionally or personally, and am deeply taken aback.

      I have literally no tools or basis to understand your reaction. If your silence is intended to let me sit with the consequences of my actions, please know that without further context, I could sit in silence for a week, a month, or a year, and be just as mystified as I am now.”

    2. Malarkey01*

      I would disagree that only manipulators or liars imagine other people manipulate and lie. I’m neither of those things but I have been in circumferences where the facts and information I’m being presented lead me to think someone is lying. It’s weird to me that truthful people wouldn’t possess the judgement to suspect or determine when they are lied to.

      General miscommunication or unusual optics, or third party information can be at blame too.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Yeah, you think the person is lying when something doesn’t add up, sure. But liars will think you might be lying even when everything tallies perfectly. Hence the verb “imagine” rather than “deduce”, which is what you’re doing when you see things don’t add up and so someone somewhere can’t be telling the truth.

    3. nanani*

      I wonder if there’s a third party at play, someone telling the boss untrue things or otherwise painting OP1 as unreliable. If OP1 isn’t a game player then they might not spot this sort of nonsense or even know how to look for it.

  29. EventPlannerGal*

    OP2, I would see if you can find out exactly what candidates are being told about the interview setup, especially if you’re going to be involved in any more interviews in future – it’s useful to know and if they aren’t being told that it’s a video interview, that should be rectified!

    That said, if they are being told or if it is very obvious from context (personally I would take being scheduled for an interview that requires logging into a video platform like Zoom etc as a very strong indication that it’s a video interview – if you just wanted to call them why would you use that type of platform instead of just another phone call?) then I think it’s odd that he didn’t think to tell anyone in advance. That’s what seems more worth paying attention to than the actual lack of a camera, which could be for all sorts of reasons and as Alison says may not even matter for the role.

  30. Madame X*

    I would not disqualify a candidate because they didn’t have a camera especially if they were not forewarned that the video portion was required. I do wonder if the candidate considered the possibility that a the meeting would be a video call after they received the Zoom link. It’s certainly a reasonable assumption to make. He might not have been able to afford a new personal webcam or have access to a laptop with webcam in time for the interview. I suspect that he expected that he would be asked about his camera but was too embarrassed or apprehensive to alert you that he did not have access to a camera for fear that your company would disqualify him before the interview.

  31. Kesnit*


    A lot of people are commenting that the candidate should have said in advance they don’t have a camera. The OP says “I wasn’t the hiring manager so I don’t know how the set-up for the interview was conveyed.” For all we know, the candidate told the hiring manager they don’t have a camera and the hiring manager neglected to mention that to the OP, or thought it wasn’t a big issue.

    In terms of having a camera, I have never felt the need to have one. My work laptop has one, but I would feel really weird using my work laptop for an interview. My phone has one, but even a smartphone has a small viewing area. If I sat close enough to be seen, I’d be right on top of the camera. If I sat at a normal distance, I am going to appear small to the viewer, and likely a lot of the background (and my headphones, depending on the circumstance) would be visible.

  32. LGC*

    Oh, LW1. That’s…EXTREMELY awkward. I’ll try to think through it from your boss’s perspective, since I’ll admit that I’ve had times when I’ve snapped at employees (and it wasn’t necessarily their fault):

    1) Taking your description of him at his word, I think he’s embarrassed by what he did. And sometimes it’s really hard for men especially (DISCLAIMER: women/NB people aren’t off the hook either, I’m just saying men especially) to admit that they did something wrong and they might just go, “LET US NEVER SPEAK OF THIS AGAIN.”

    (“But LGC,” you might be saying, “he’s an adult and he should take responsibility for his actions.” I totally agree, and if that’s the case he should be a big boy and get over himself. But also, the way that men are often discouraged from admitting to mistakes is a VERY BIG PROBLEM and possibly now life-threatening.)

    2) To rephrase Alison’s question in a way that’s slightly more confrontational: could there have been some miscommunication where he heard something as manipulative? Like, I’ll honestly have to remind myself that some of my employees aren’t as aggressive as they sound.

    It’s not so much that you said something wrong – it’s that he misinterpreted what you meant, and in the heat of the moment, he said something regrettable.

    Anyway, all that said, I think you can definitely make the first move. He probably should (I’ve learned from experience that it’s really good that I say, “Hey, I’m sorry, that wasn’t you, I’m just really stressed because I decided to go on vacation right when the monthly billing is due/the scanners are broken and we’re pressed against our deadlines/we’re hurtling headlong into the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the world and I’m bracing myself to eulogize one of you guys and possibly you because I know you have severe respiratory issues”), but it sounds like this was jarring enough where it’s worth you bringing it up. I wouldn’t mention the emotional closure bit, just because that might be a little too intimate for work (which…I don’t love, but it’s a fact), but I think in this case it’s reasonable to say that you found what he said hurtful.

    1. LGC*

      And a side comment – LW1, I kind of made the assumption that your boss didn’t react the way he did primarily because of you because…honestly, that’s pretty reasonable. I make the joke sometimes that bosses are people, too, but it feels like sometimes people on AAM forget that their bosses are people with internal lives themselves, and sometimes they get stressed and mess up.

      And yeah, impact over intent. I agree that the right thing for your boss to do is to apologize, since what he said was wholly inappropriate. But I think you might be able to rest a bit easier if you frame it as your boss doing a thing that hurt you instead of your boss going out of his way to hurt you, if that makes sense.

      1. Uranus Wars*

        I agree with this. I definitely have examples of where I should have handled things differently when dealing with reports, and it’s usually in times where there is a looming deadline, or I’m feeling the heat from my own manager. I haven’t ever hung up on anyone, but I have definitely asked thing with a more accusatory tone that had nothing to do with the person but everything to do with the situation. And I do apologize but it also just happens.

        I do think going 3 days without talking isn’t going to help things, though! While the manager is in the wrong here, OP may need to just be the one who says “hey, can we talk about this” so they can move past it and clear up any lingering tensions or thoughts. It may be that boss does say they are sorry, especially if they are normally mild-mannered or it may turn out that they was a miscommunication that led to them thinking OP was holding back on something. IMO “playing games” can mean a million different things.

  33. Job Hunter Family*

    OP 5, My partner has been in your position at least five times in the last two years and has only ultimately received rejections (well, there was one offer, but it was too low). You can feel excited if you want, but I think it’s better to just proceed as if nothing is changing. That may just be my bias talking. It’s been a hard process and obviously we’re still in the middle of it.

  34. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    #1 – I’ve been in your shoes and I would definitely bring it up the next time you talk to your manager. Focus on the meaning behind the “playing games” reference, but I think it’s also important to let them know how it made you feel. When employees make mistakes, managers need to find a way to relay the issue and work towards a solution while treating their employee with respect. In my case, it was out of the ordinary for my boss and he was under a tremendous amount of stress (not an excuse) and I regret not speaking to him afterwards. He never said things that made no sense, but he spoke to me in a way that was very disrespectful, and it was in front of a co-worker.

    #2 – many people are making assumptions on this one, but the bottom line is that the candidate didn’t have a camera. OP doesn’t know how the interview was setup as they weren’t involved. We’re in a time where you need to be more flexible. Not everyone has access to the same things, and since interviews can’t be conducted in person, you shouldn’t hold this against someone for a job.

    #4 – maybe certain industries are different, but IME it seems that finding a company and staying for a long period of time is unusual. I’m about to be laid off for the third time in my 25 year career. All 3 companies were sold and re-orged and I was a casualty. Another one made so many changes that it made me miserable. At my last company I had 6 managers in 6 years (5 of those managers I had while in the same department and role). I’ve been at my current company for 5 years – in that time they’ve gone private, then public and then private again and sold off half of the company. I’d love to find a job where I can stay until I retire, but I feel like the likelihood of that happening is slim to none.

  35. KR*

    4 – I have had 4 managers in 3 years so I understand how much of a time suck it is to adjust to different communication styles and expectations every single year. I can’t say whether it’s normal – our company is growing very quickly and doesn’t hesitate to reorg when a team could be managed in a better way. It just is very destabilizing figuring out what each manager likes.

  36. LGC*

    LW4: Like, I think there’s different levels of “managing up.” I think you’re expecting to learn all your managers’ quirks and stuff, and that’s…not necessarily the case, especially with turbulent leadership.

    It’s true that it takes a while to get really effective at it, but you can manage the basics by following a template: Do follow up, but don’t be pushy (I’ve learned to give things a few days if possible). Follow company culture – is it hierarchal or more flat? In my case, I have to be a bit more deferential, partly because I’m relatively low-level, and partly because everyone is pretty deferential. (“No need to rush” can mean, “I’d like you to do this today” or “I’d like you to do this next week.”) In your case, you might need more of a cookie-cutter approach rather than a bespoke one.

    1. OP #4*

      I started thinking about this after reading the recent-ish update about ‘the boss who calls and just reads my emails back to me.’ That LW rolled with it and sounds like she got to a good place eventually, but just reading about it was so frustrating to me – it was so not something I would have been able to handle. I guess I’ve been relatively lucky as even amidst all the turnover, I’ve never had a really bad manager, and more general approaches like you’re recommending have worked basically fine (or at least tide me over until I figure out if they do want something different). But it also feels like the more times the dice is rolled, the more likely I am to get someone who has some really particular demands or style (or is just generally awful).

  37. Darcy*

    #2 – we are in a new world now with respect to rules on video. Workplace rules and etiquette are evolving. Personally, if I’d seen a Zoom invite, I’d immediately assume an expectation of video chat. We’re probably not 100% there yet with that being a universal understanding, but it really won’t be long before it is, especially in an interview format. For the moment, I would have more flexibility and understanding with more junior candidates that are still figuring out the work world. If I sent a job interview Zoom invite to someone interviewing for a senior position, I would expect them to understand that video is an expectation. If they didn’t have a camera, it would be on them to figure out a way to get to one……..borrow a friend’s laptop, buy a webcam, download the app to their phone and use that, whatever. Part of being a more senior employee is problem solving ability. I’d look askance at a more senior candidate telling me that they couldn’t figure out how to get on camera for a job interview, especially if the first I’d heard of the problem was at the interview itself.

    1. Batty Twerp*

      Completely agree on understanding and expectations not being universal. In much the same way that decent internet is not universal. I’d even argue that Zoom usage may not be universal.
      Last week I was on an inter-company training session that was sent as a Zoom meeting. My first ever experience of Zoom, though not the first remote training session I’ve had since March, not even my first “video conference”. Not a single person other than the person hosting the training was on video. Nothing in the pre-training material suggested video would be required, so it just wasn’t used.

    2. It Can't Just Be Me*

      I’m thinking the opposite. The junior level employee is probably younger and more tech savvy so I would kind of expect them to have access/figure it out (although, being junior, financially related reasons to not have the camera make sense and get a pass)

      But for the senior-level employee, I would not be surprised that they wouldn’t have it because of tech illiteracy. I say that as a 40-something who has had to show people my age (and sometimes younger) some pretty basic stuff.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah. Not to mention that kids from kindergarten and up have been doing classes on various video platforms. Although obviously this varies widely depending on the school district and the average wealth of the parents. My son, who’s in 5th grade now, got his first cellphone when he started school (I remember getting a wristwatch, :p) and all of his classmates have smartphones (he got one for his 8th birthday). Although they’re technically too young to use social media, they’ve had a class WhatsApp group since 3rd grade. When they switched to remote learning last spring, they had hangouts meetings with the class. Every morning they had a short session with video before everyone started working more or less independently. Their homeroom teacher was available for questions all day on WhatsApp and they got their assignments on Google Classroom. Most of his classmates had a computer at home that they could use, although those who didn’t were able to borrow one from school. I don’t know what would have happened if there had been a kid without internet access at home… But as it is, in my area internet access is starting to be considered a necessity like electricity, in that it’s only people who are truly impoverished or who have embraced an alternative lifestyle who don’t have it.

    3. Darcy*

      Thing is – an interview is a time to show that you “click in” with a business, understand THEIR business norms, and can make things happen. If you’re a candidate that really wants a job, it behooves you to figure out what the employer wants. If they want video, a candidate needs to figure out how to make that happen. The candidate might have to spend money to make it happen, in the same way that they might have to pay to travel to an in-person interview or buy appropriate interview clothing. The employer has something you want – a job. It does a candidate no favors to push back or be difficult. It’s not the potential employer’s issue to work around candidates that don’t have a webcam. Fair? Maybe not, but it is reality for positions where there are many qualified candidates. If you’re a superstar snowflake that’s being recruited by multiple organizations, I suppose you have more leeway to push back, but I’d still argue that it does a candidate a disservice to make this an issue. When the time comes to evaluate finalists, you don’t want to be the one known as “the guy who couldn’t figure out how to get on to Zoom:

      1. allathian*

        It also behooves the employer to set clear expectations. Even the OP didn’t know if the interviewee had been specifically told that it was a video call. Some people apparently think that Zoom = video, but as the comments in this thread alone have shown, that’s simply not true. Many people use Zoom, Skype, Teams, etc. for voice calls and screen sharing. It’s certainly the way my employer handles things. If there’s a presentation, the speaker is often on video, but nobody else. In fact, at the start of the pandemic, video calls were banned, because our VPN couldn’t handle them. They did upgrade it at some point, so the connections are far more stable, but even so, the culture has stabilized to little or no video.

  38. WantonSeedStitch*

    Yes. Snapping at someone and accusing them of “playing games” is NOT providing effective feedback. For feedback to be effective, you have to make it clear what the person is doing wrong, why it’s wrong, and what your expectations are going forward.

  39. AndersonDarling*

    I feel for #5. There were times I was desperately trying to escape a toxic job and I was looking for any sign that a job would be coming. I really needed that sign of hope that things would be okay so I would tear apart every word and look from the recruiter to convince myself that I had ‘won’ the job. It was at that sad point where I would fret about which pen to bring to the interview because maybe I would get the job if I carried this pen instead of that pen?
    But interviewers are just people. They don’t send signals, they send job offers once a decision is made. Recruiters are generally nice, positive people, so it’s easy to misinterpret that as a personal connection. But this is what they do all day, everyday and your interview wasn’t much different from the other hundreds of interviews they have done.
    OP, take a few deep breaths, and keep your eyes open for other jobs, you don’t want to miss a great opportunity because you were focused on waiting to hear back on this one. And then play some video games to distract yourself.
    If the job offer comes, then great! But don’t worry, there are also many other great jobs you don’t even know about that are perfect for you.

    1. It Can't Just Be Me*

      Oh my goodness! I’ve done (and currently doing) the same thing. Only with me it’s shower gel at the moment. I have it in my head that if I use one kind of wash over another it’s changing my luck (based primarily on I like the smell of one soap over another). But I have it in my head that not liking the smell of one wash puts me in a negative headspace and messes with my “luck” plus I keep thinking I have gotten more activity on application responses/interview requests/general LinkedIn activity when I use soap A that particular day over soap B.

      I know it makes NO sense whatsoever (especially since all interviews have been virtual), but I keep thinking when I reach for Soap B to use it up (it came in a gift box and it’s high-end stuff) I fear that an application/interview rejection will be coming my way which is too much of a wager since I’m on a covid layoff (and I’ve done 3 rounds of interviews with two different companies). So I reach for Soap A.

      Hopefully I’m not the only one that does this or I’ll just have to admit 2020 has just gotten the better of me. :)

      1. AndersonDarling*

        I get it! I think there is a point where we have no control over things and so our brains try to make unrealistic connections so we feel like we have come control.

  40. we will rock you*

    #2: I’m in nearly the same situation. The only webcam I have is on my work laptop. I can do video on my phone… the phone I’ll be talking into for the interview. I don’t want to have to juggle holding the phone in a flattering way on my face while also referring to my notes and taking notes as I go, I only have two hands! If I prop it up on my desk, it’s gonna show them a lovely shot of, probably, my arm.

  41. AnonInTheCity*

    You can get a little tripod for your phone! My husband has one for FaceTiming our son’s grandparents since it takes two hands to corral the baby away from the phone. :) I don’t think it was more than $15 and it works great.

    1. Casper Lives*

      I use my magnetic car vent mount if I need to use my phone. I bet you could lean it against a book or something for similar effect :). I had to figure it out as I had to take a deposition using software IT blocked on my work laptop at the beginning of the pandemic. It’s all allowed now.

      “Creativity” has been a positive on my reviews. I didn’t think of this as especially creative, but my boss liked it. Based on the responses here, I’ll think about whether I’m expecting to much of people in regards to problem solving…

  42. Angela S*

    #4 – I recently left a job at a large financial service firm. During my 3+ years at that position, I had 5 team managers, 3 general managers (TM’s manager), and 2 VPs. I left for another position partly because the 2nd VP wanted to take the department to a different direction that I didn’t quite agree with.

    Back to your question… I think you would wnat to find out what the culture of your company is like. About a year or 18 months into my last job, I was asked if I would be interested in a management position. I later found out that in order to advance in that firm and if I didn’t want to stay in retail, I should have some management experience under my belt because the other hiring managers would always look for it. So, many people would look for a middle manager position with a goal to stay for a year or two before moving onto something “better”. However, I wasn’t interested in that career path – I saw a few ex-colleagues who took that path, worked 10-hour+ day almost every day for just a small pay raise. Some were successful in moving to different department but some don’t. And I would say that most who got the team manager job would want to move on to something else in less than 2 years.

    It’s still worth to keep in touch with your old managers even they’ve moved on after 6 or 8 months. They were your managers and they could still be your reference. I think once you get into a more senior role, you will see the manager turnover to be less frequent… but it doesn’t mean that you won’t be moved between teams so that you could work on different project, and then you’ve got to work with a new manager again.

  43. AngryOwl*

    I feel like commenters insisting that the candidate in #2 knew it was a video call are assuming everyone hires like they do. Zoom does not automatically mean video.

  44. For Post #5*

    Been there. I interviewed for a place that went swimmingly. In the last interview HR came in and actually went over a new hire packet with me (which obviously got my hopes WAY THE HECK UP). But alas, I got a generic “Sorry, different direction” email. Since I had a great rapport with the hiring manager who conducted the multiple interviews, I emailed her to find out what happened. Whether it’s true or not, but she said after our meeting her boss told her to find someone she thinks could replace her.

    That spooked her out and she ended up not choosing anyone and the job got reposted 4 more times in a row (and every 1-1.5 years it reposts again).

    So the morale of the story is the same as any other post application/interview question… put it out of your head and try as hard as you can to wait until they come to you. :(

    I’m hoping they’ve already reached out with an offer and you’ll be able to provide a Friday Good News update.

  45. Hiring Mgr*

    Personally, I would assume any meeting invitation sent with a Zoom link would be a video call unless I was told otherwise, and if I didn’t have a camera I would mention it prior to the interview. But I don’t think this is a flag of any color, since it’s also on the scheduler to highlight anything that’s important for the candidate to know.

  46. Used to manager changes*

    #4 – in my experience with the two companies I’ve worked for over the pasts 13 years, I’ve on average had a new manager every year. In my current job, and I’ve been here 5 1/2 years, I’ve had 9 different managers (one twice, one for only 6 weeks, etc.) This is for various reasons: role changes, reorganizations, promotions. But its definitely not been my experience to have a manager for numerous years. These have both been larger organizations in divisions with significant change, so perhaps that is part of it.

  47. SaffyTaffy*

    OP1, let’s all just take a minute to acknowledge that certain groups of people are so used to getting whatever they want, that when real life prevents it, they imagine people around them are “playing games.”
    Your boss is a spoiled little boy.

  48. nunyabeeswax*

    Op 1: I’m shocked you’ve let three days go buy without talking. A sudden declaration like that, on an important issue, then you don’t hear from your boss, your job may be in danger. And you go 3 days without any communication at all on an issue described as “very difficult, very high-stakes problem”? That is sending another, perhaps unintentional, message to your boss–that you don’t care.

    That is some serious unhappiness, as in he is proceeding without you, and maybe planning to do without you, for a reason you claim you aren’t even aware of. Time for immediate communication in a very diplomatic manner, stat. Don’t go seeking acknowledgement that it was hurtful just now, you need to seek acknowledgement you still have short term employment. Leading with your hurt feelings is not going to help you.

  49. learnedthehardway*

    OP#3 – your references’ eccentric personalities will probably not come across in a reference call about you. I wouldn’t worry about that too much. Most reference checks are structured as a series of questions, esp. if done by a reference checking service. It’s less of a “tell me what you think about OP#3” and more of a set of specific questions. That keeps the reference call pretty focused. Reference checkers to NOT want to get into an hours long discussion with your references about you, or to spend a lot of time learning about the referee (other than verifying the person’s relationship with you and the role they held then, and the role they hold today).

    Similarly, because of structured reference questionnaires, there’s less chance of your references rambling on at length about your personality quirks, unless there is one that is actually relevant to the position for which you are being considered. Eg. they’re probably not likely to comment on your propensity for decorating your office with velociraptor-themed paraphernalia, but might comment on whether you were habitually late to work or to meetings.

  50. JR*

    I recently had an interview where I was sent dial-in info to a service that does both audio and video. I called in, and after a couple minutes, the interviewer stammeringly asked me if I could connect to video. I told him I’d need 10 minutes (need to set up the laptop, put on professional clothes, etc), but he said he’d rather just reschedule. And then they never rescheduled. I’d be more upset if it was a better opportunity or if I was further along in the screening process, but for a first-round tech interview for an opening I was only mildly excited about, I just wrote it off as a weird experience and moved on.

    I went back to my emails setting up the call. None of them were with the person I actually spoke to (instead they were with internal recruiters, etc), and none of them actually mentioned video. Anyway, now I learned my lesson and I ask to confirm if interviewers want video or not!

    1. Huh?*

      I must be not getting something here. Wouldn’t the default for a “tech” interview be current technology, which for interviews is video.

  51. Nea*

    I’m going to top-post something I put in a thread about OP#2. All of the comments are focusing on the candidate’s money and technical abilities, and I think we’re all overlooking the huge elephant in the room: COVID19.

    Maybe the interviewee doesn’t want to be judged on letting their roots grow out or not having a professional haircut. I wouldn’t want my current state to be considered my overall approach to professionalism – nor would I want to play pandemic roulette going to a salon for a mere interview.

    Maybe the interviewee doesn’t want to be judged on the state of their house. There’s no other time or place when it would be the interviewer’s business if there are children’s toys scattered on the floor or what book titles are in the shelves behind them.

    If ever there was a time to have grace about not insisting on staring at someone who won’t be in the public eye, it’s right now, OP 2.

    1. Darcy*

      From the employer angle: yes, have a little grace in this time of Covid with respect to requiring a webcam interview, if you can. If you’re hiring a data entry clerk, a video call may not be critical. If you’re hiring a senior manager, I understand wanting more than a voice before making a hire – but at least let candidates know before the Zoom call that cameras need to be on.

      From the job candidate angle: as I said above, employers don’t look kindly on high maintenance candidates. If your would-be employer wants a video interview, figure out how to make it happen!
      Borrow a laptop, buy a webcam, install a phone app. Get a drugstore dye kit for your roots and pull up your hair. Clean up the house and send the kids outside if need be. Don’t become the person remembered for “not being able to figure out Zoom” or “being really weird about being on camera”. We’re not going to be in a post-Covid world anytime soon. Webcams are going to be a part of life for the foreseeable future, like it or not.

      1. Nea*

        I don’t see how your answer responds to what I said. OP 2 expected a video call but has no knowledge of what the candidate was told to expect; the candidate told OP that there was no camera available. None of this fits the parameters of “high maintenance,” “unable to figure out zoom” or “really weird about being on camera.”

        The fact that companies should extend grace to candidate’s homes and appearances under extraordinary circumstances remains; insisting that they must have an outside to send the children to or a drugstore that they may safely enter is beyond an employer’s scope and needs to remain so. How many letters have been on AAM about “my company expects x out of me because it’s obviously easy from their point of view, but I live in a high rise/am allergic to hair dye/etc”?

        None of that signals “high maintenance” or even anything of concern to an employer. When the job offer is made is the time to say “We expect x, y, and z regarding your appearance,” as Allison has repeatedly said regarding wardrobe, tattoos, and exotic piercings. Not before.

        As for “high maintenance,” between thee and me a high maintenance candidate would be someone who goes out and takes risks and then needs to quarantine over and over and over, such as the man in a different letter today. Not someone who, for all we know, was not told that a camera was required for this single interview.

        1. Darcy*

          Should the HR department in the LW’s situation have made it perfectly clear that this was a “cameras on” interview? Absolutely! At which point, the candidate’s reaction should be “No problem, I’m a problem solver. I’ll make that work somehow!”, not “I can’t be on camera because I don’t have a webcam/can’t find childcare/don’t know how to run Zoom/have gray roots/don’t like being on camera/whatever. ”

          Not all employers have the grace you’re talking about. When you’re job hunting, you have to play by the employer’s rules and expectations. Responding to a request for a cameras-on interview with a response of “I can’t do that” will be a black mark against most candidates. Fair? Maybe not. But do you want the job or not?

  52. Tuesday*

    #5 made me wonder… what’s the best way to answer the,”Would you accept the job if offered” question if you’re not really sure and waiting for other offers? I know it’s not a firm commitment or anything, but still, I bet if I had to answer in the moment, I would end up sounding hesitant (and maybe unenthused or flaky).

    1. CS*

      OP5 here. I said “absolutely” because I meant it. I would accept. But to me, what person is going to say no? Or “I don’t know” ? It’s always best to say you would gladly accept. Anything less seems to put a candidate out of the running IMO. If you do find something else that is a better offer, it’s perfectly fine to say so when it happens.

  53. Lainey Lake*

    LW1 – Your boss was rude and aggressive which is not OK and I would definitely bring it up with him in the context of “you yelled and hung up on me, I know it was difficult call but I was surprised and shaken by that”. I think the snapping at you and slamming the phone down rather than articulating the reasons for his frustration or trying to address the communication breakdown in a professional way is the big issue here though, and not his specific phrasing. In the context you describe, I read “if you keep playing this game” as a synonym for “if you keep following/advocating for this course of action” or “keep disagreeing with me” or something of that sort. Controlling and arsey, yes, but not necessarily an accusation that you were trying to lie, manipulate or pursue some nefarious personal goal. (For context, I’m Scottish, middle-aged, and as you may be able to tell, fond of a slightly overly dramatic turn of phrase).

  54. juliebulie*

    OP1. I had a boss accuse me of “playing games.” When I asked what game he was referring to, he said that when he gave me an assignment, I immediately asked a lot of questions to better define the assignment, and wouldn’t start the project until I had answers.

    In his opinion, I was procrastinating by “throwing the ball back” to him. But I have found that if I start a project with insufficient information, I often go off in the wrong direction. Apparently, this has never happened to him (LOL, I doubt it, maybe he was given better direction at the start of each project). Maybe he was a good mind-reader. But he sucked at giving directions.

    So OP1’s issue could possibly stem from a difference in working styles. Only way to be sure is ask boss what happened.

    1. Salsa Verde*

      This is such a good point, and really makes sense out of the comment. I have had people get defensive when I tried to ask clarifying questions, so this is not outside of the realm of possibility. It’s very frustrating, so I hope this doesn’t become a trend with your boss, OP1!

  55. Granger*

    #1 “Of course, this assumes your boss is at least semi-reasonable.”

    This point is so important; the context and patterns are everything and are altogether too easy to overlook.

  56. Pigeon*

    Our company had a steep technology hill to climb when a very large percentage of its workforce suddenly began working from home at the same time. Near the start, we had to interview for a role, and technical limitations on our overall bandwidth prevented us from using cameras because they’d destabilize the meeting connection. We were still able to conduct the interviews just fine, get the information we needed, and select a strong candidate who ultimately accepted the offer.

    To be honest, I feel like it might go a long way towards improving diversity if more interviews were conducted sans visuals.

  57. Faberge Otter*

    LW#5: You can’t ever bet on anything, I’m sorry to say. I had a company move me through all the interview steps including benefits and payroll paperwork, and then they said “we’ll call and let you know either way.”

    That was 7 years ago. I never heard back from them. It’s probably best to prepare yourself for not getting it–if you do get it, surprise and relief are easy to deal with, but if you don’t get it, it will be all the easier if you’ve already been preparing in that direction.

  58. Sleeplesskj*

    LW#2: Is it really important to see what your candidate looks like? I’m thinking back to when my daughter was interviewing for a (large corporate) mid-level position from out of state. All six of her interviews were done on the phone – she was asked if it was possible to fly in for an in-person interview but they couldn’t work out the details so that last interview was also over the phone. She got hired out of a huge pool of applicants and no one laid eyes on her until she walked in on the first day. All this to say that you’re not dating the person: what they say and how they respond is what matters. Not what they look like.

  59. bananab*

    #1 reminds me that as a child my grandfather ragequit a checkers game with me, furious, because he doesn’t play with cheaters and “I know what I did.” I don’t.

  60. stefanielaine*

    Update from OP1! Apologies for jumping in so late – I’m on Pacific time and had meetings all morning.

    Thanks so much Alison and crew for your thoughts. My boss and I have had a good-to-very-good relationship up until now (about 18 months) with no real conflict. After meeting with my professional mentor for some guidance over the weekend, I met with my boss for our weekly 1:1 this morning and we had a great conversation.

    I asked that we turn on the video for the call (we usually meet just over the phone which I think makes it a lot easier to misinterpret tone) and I think that really helped, and I started by offering an apology for my part in the misunderstanding. He immediately jumped in to offer a very genuine and comprehensive apology for his “outburst” (it helped that he used the same word I did!) and said that he hadn’t reached out to apologize because he wanted to give me some time to cool off (not at all my personality type but still probably a reasonable approach and at least he was putting thought into it). As we broke down what had happened, we realized the problem: at one point I asked him, “What do YOU think the process is going to be for the 2020 submission?” and, while I was asking genuinely but probably in a tense tone, he had interpreted it as sarcasm/patronizing, which, that interpretation hadn’t occurred to me but in retrospect, I can see how he thought that and that would have been pretty rude and shitty if that’s how I’d meant it. That’s also what he meant by “game” – me being sarcastic. He also made it clear that he was not qualifying his apology and that even if I’d meant it that way, he shouldn’t have said what he said.

    So: we agreed to use video for our weekly 1:1s in the future and to keep an eye on our stress levels and try to take a day off sometime soon. I feel really good about the way this played out. Thanks to all of you and hopefully this is helpful to someone else in a similar situation!

    1. BigHairNoHeart*

      Just wanted to say that it sounds like you handled this in a very professional way. So glad it worked out!

    2. Anonymous midwesterner*

      That’s a great outcome, stefanielaine. I came here to see if there was an update on your situation, and I am really glad to find out that you’ve not just cleared up what happened, but you’ve also made plans to avert that kind of misunderstanding in the future. Nicely done!

    3. Working Hypothesis*

      I’m so glad it worked out this well! Sounds like you handled it just right (and once you got him talking about the subject, so did he).

    4. allathian*

      Great update, thanks! I’m glad you were able to sort it out and that your boss is a decent person.

    5. Salsa Verde*

      I’m so glad this worked out, sounds like you handled this with professionalism and warmth and understanding! Also, I’m so happy that your boss sounds like a reasonable person! That seems unfortunately uncommon, and this pandemic is just pushing normally reasonable people towards the edge, so I’m glad that this situation was resolved successfully!

  61. Quill*

    OP 2: have a think about whether it makes any sense at all to require cameras. An avalanche of studies have pointed out the benefits of “blind” auditions in various fields, where all external data about a candidate can be pruned away. Not knowing what the inside of this guy’s house looks like, or more obvious factors such as not guessing his age and race, could be good for the hiring process overall.

  62. OyHiOh*

    #2 – I had a highly embaressing interview early this summer in which I simply could not get Zoom to unmute so that I could interview. Ended up calling for the interview instead. Impressed the hell out of the interview panel all the same. Fixed Zoom, interviewed well with and without camera throughout the summer.

    My NewJob I got through a pair of phone calls. Not even call-in-on-Zoom meetings but actual straight up phone calls. I’ve since been told by my boss and one of my references that I was the clear choice for the role from about fifteen minutes into the first phone call/interview.

    If your company is not working remote, no you don’t need to require video for interviews. Your hire candidate will come into an office and use office provided equipment.
    If your company is working remote and provides appropriate equipment to employees, no, you don’t need to require video for interviews. Your hire candidate will be issued appropriate equipment when they start.
    The only reason to require video is if your company is has a BYOD policy. In this case, requiring video might be seen as a way to ensure that the person has access to appropriate devices and internet speeds for the job.

    Assuming your company is not BYOD, no, you don’t need to require video in order to conduct good interviews.

  63. SR*

    OP#1 – I want to share a recent experience with my own manager that has some parallels with yours. You mention your boss is “normally pretty chill,” so it seems this is out of character. My “normally chill” manager, who typically gives ongoing, candid feedback, completely snapped at me on Zoom recently, over something that didn’t even make sense. It was SO out of character of him and so vicious and hurtful. He said, “You’re always doing X which makes it hard to get anything done! I don’t want to talk about Y right now!” We work closely together, and I was crushed to be spoken to like this, and fully expected an apology or explanation. I finally had to follow up with him about the work matter itself, because I truly needed his input, so I texted saying, “I know you didn’t want to talk about Y, and you seemed upset when we talked, but I’m not sure how respond to Jane and am wondering if we could discuss for a few minutes today.” He replied right away, “Of course, it wasn’t that I didn’t want to discuss Y, just not right that minute. I’ll call you in 5 min.”
    Then he called, and before I had a chance to say anything, he apologized PROFUSELY — he was clearly regretful of his behavior. He said it had nothing to do with me, that he’d been stressed about stuff going on his home during the call with his family, a handyman, etc. (he’d had to step away for a moment to deal with it), and he’d taken it out on me. He said as soon as we’d hung up, he knew he’d been wrong and needed to apologize, but that he had “needed to sit with it a few days” first. I was sad that I’d had to deal with it on my own for several days before the apology, but the apology was sincere and all was forgiven.
    I asked my manager, “You said I always do X. What do I need to differently?” And he said No, I don’t always do X, this simply wasn’t about me at all, and he will always give me feedback, So this asn’t some built up frustration with me or anything — it was just him being human and reacting in the moment to something else.
    So keep in mind that this might not be about you! You just need to approach your boss to find out. If it was about you, it is still a hurtful way to deliver feedback, and you can request more ongoing feedback rather than it building up. But it might not be you at all!

  64. JustAWafer*

    LW1, I feel you – I once had a boss accuse me of being “out to get him”, and when I asked what I had done to give him that impression (because it was a bizarre and inaccurate accusation that seemed to come out of nowhere), he stated that his “spidey senses were tingling”.
    So…not much you can do sometimes but actively look for a way out!

  65. MCMonkeyBean*

    I agree! I know it’s basically the same words but to me the phrase “keep playing this game” is not at all an accusation of “game-playing.” It’s a dramatic way of discussing whatever someone is currently doing. This was certainly an odd interaction, but in my opinion if the boss is usually chill and this outburst was a one-off thing I’d just try to ignore it and move on. Keep your eyes open for other signs that he’s unhappy with your work or behavior but I think you’re probably fine.

Comments are closed.