is someone impersonating my remote coworker, ex-boss snooping in emails, and more

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

1. Is someone pretending to be my remote coworker?

I am working from home (like so many of us) and relatively new in my position (less than two months). The past couple of days, a coworker who has been doing this same job since May starts asking questions in our team chat that make me suspicious that it isn’t actually my coworker behind the keyboard. Questions that we were trained on day one. Questions about basic things we do every single day.

Yesterday, after a slew of questions through the day and my coworkers and I answering them, another comes in about a process we deal with daily and my boss chimes in, “You would do this, just like normal.” “Coworker” replies, “Oh okay, thanks” and then a few minutes later replies again, “Yes, just following procedure like normal, thanks.” Today this person asked in the team chat again what to name a file (that we deal with daily) and our boss replies with what to name it.

I am wondering if I’m the only one who has noticed this, if my boss has noticed this, or if I should say something.

This … is a big leap! I mean, it’s certainly possible that this person isn’t really your coworker, but it’s far more likely that she’s just forgetting things. I get that it’s notable that all these questions just started (as opposed to your coworker having basic questions all along), but there are so many possible explanations for that — for example, maybe she was recently chastised for not following correct procedures and so now is making sure she’s doing things correctly. Or hell, who knows — maybe it’s her teenage son or an imposter she’s hired to do the work or an alien who has replaced her. We can’t know for sure. (That’s true of all of our coworkers now that so many of us are remote! Anyone we’re talking to virtually could be an imposter. Or an alien.) (I realize you’re not proposing aliens, but I am.)

Anyway, the good news is, you don’t have to solve this. If your boss thinks it’s odd, she can address it. You’ve been there less than two months and you don’t manage this person; this is 100% not your job to care about or figure out.

2. I agreed to talk to prospective interns for my old employer — but it’s too much

I’m a graduate student in my second year of a three-year program. This past summer I interned with a great – but very new and very small – organization and had a very positive experience. I was one of only a couple interns because of the newness and smallness, but now they’re expanding and are in the process of interviewing and hiring multiple staff members and interns for next semester and the summer.

A couple weeks ago, my former internship supervisor reached out to me (and probably the other former interns, too) to ask if he could share my contact info with prospective hires for them to ask about my experience working for this org if they requested it (a common request in my field). I said yes right away, because I was happy to share my experience and I really want to maintain a positive connection with this supervisor/organization in case I want to return after I graduate. I expected to get a couple inquiries, but it turns out they’re hiring a lot more people than I thought. I’ve already done six phone calls in the past week (they’re hiring a lot of people for next summer), and I’ve gotten two additional eager and sincere emails from prospective hires asking to speak with me sometime this coming week.

Frankly, I’m burnt out on sharing my experience and answering questions and really don’t have the time to do more of these conversations, but I also don’t want to alienate/disappoint this organization or be the reason that their prospective interns turn down the job because they couldn’t get their questions or doubts answered by an alum. To complicate matters, one of the people I spoke to last week mentioned that one reason she felt it was so important to talk to me was because her interview was so short that she barely had time to ask questions. I kind of want to tell my former boss to stop giving out my name and number, but I know it’s really helpful to them – an overworked and underpaid team doing wonderful things for their community – and there’s a decent chance I will try to return there. I also think there’s a chance this is a short-lived phase while they’re in interview season, so maybe it’s not worth complaining if there will only be a couple more. Can I take back my offer to talk to prospective hires? What do you suggest?

You can absolutely set limits on what you’re able to do. Normally when you agree to an offer like this, you’d assume you’d be talking to two or three people — not six going on eight, with more maybe still to come! If they envisioned giving your info to this many people, they should have told you that clearly up-front. It’s entirely reasonable for you to pull back now that you realize what the commitment is.

You could contact your former manager and say something like, “I wanted to let you know I’ve done six phone calls with candidates this week, and I think it went well. I hadn’t realized the volume would be so high! Since this is a busy time for me, I won’t be able to do any more calls in this hiring round, but I hope I was able to help with the six I spoke with.” (And then if they ask you again in a future round and you’re willing to do it, you could say, “My schedule makes it tricky, but I could talk to one or two people if that would help.”)

You could also email those remaining two back and say something short but positive like, “Unfortunately my schedule is crammed right now so I can’t schedule a call but I can tell you that my experience was XYZ (fill in with some relevant details that you think would be useful for them). I’m sorry I’m not available to talk more.”

3. Is my ex-boss snooping in my old accounts?

Six weeks ago, I got a wonderful new job. My director at my previous employer, a large nonprofit, is well known as a lurker and for being sneaky — at one point she was logging into other people’s budgets and removing data — and seems to love nothing more than being the holder of information (even if she doesn’t do anything with it). She’s BFF’s with a very lazy and power-hungry VP, who is only too happy to leave everything to the director while she’s busy writing blogs and posting on Twitter.

When I left six weeks ago, I completed the HR exiting process, which included returning equipment, losing access to my email and the network, etc. Since then, I have received two emails from my ex-boss regarding emails that were sent to my account after I left and read by her. I asked some friends to check, and it turns out that both my email account and my Microsoft teams account are still active, so I am still included in groups and chats that she would not have been part of before, and the information is being read regularly by my ex-boss.

I understand that this is a work account, so any information is owned by my ex-employer and I have no issue with that. However, given that I am no longer there, it feels unethical, especially after six weeks, and I can’t discount the risk that emails or messages could be sent, seemingly from me. I have contacted IT and HR, but no response. My friends and family are encouraging me to continue following up, but I am wondering if I am just being paranoid because my ex-boss is so fundamentally untrustworthy and sneaky. What do you think?

Warn the people you’re still in touch with at that job that your old account is still subscribed to group chats and your former boss may be seeing anything sent there, and then let it go. If you’re right that she’s intentionally lurking to read messages that aren’t intended for her, that’s shady AF … but there’s also nothing you can do about it now that you no longer work there, especially since you tried contacting HR and IT and they haven’t responded, which isn’t that surprising. (To be clear, her monitoring emails that continue to come into your old account isn’t odd; it’s the part about lurking in internal chats that people don’t know she’s a part of.)

It’s possible that she’ll send messages as you, but fairly unlikely. It’s more likely that she’s spying on people and you can undo some of that by tipping people off. Beyond that, though, the best thing (and really, the only thing) you can do is move on; that organization is not your problem anymore.

4. Pre-employment credit check when I have a bankruptcy

I’m interviewing with a company whose application states that they may run background/credit checks as part of the hiring process. If I get an offer and they run the check, they’ll see that I declared bankruptcy earlier this year, and I’m really worried about addressing this with them. Should I be proactive and give them a heads-up before they even run it? Or should I say nothing in hopes that they won’t care? The reason for my bankruptcy relates to a severe depression that left me unable to do much work for a long time so debt piled up (it’s a long story why going on disability wasn’t an option). For obvious reasons, I’d like to avoid disclosing my depression, but I also don’t want to lie about the reason for my bankruptcy. So if they ask me about it (or I give a heads-up), how do you recommend addressing it? If it makes a difference, this is a very large American corporation, the position is a professional position at the senior individual contributor level, and it’s not a finance or accounting role.

Credit checks are usually only done for positions that handle money, although some employers use them more broadly. (And at least 11 states prohibit employers from running credit reports or limit how they can use them in hiring decisions.) But often standard employment paperwork will include a mention of a credit check, even if they’re not actually going to run one for your position, because they run it for other roles and want to be able to use the same paperwork for everyone, or because they haven’t revisited their boilerplate language in a decade, or because they want to preserve the option even if they’re unlikely to use it. So there’s a decent chance that this won’t come up at all.

If it does turn out that they plan to run your credit, it’s useful to give a heads-up at that point, but you definitely don’t need to before the finalist stage of the process. You won’t need to get into the details; you can simply say, “It was related to a medical situation that has since been resolved.” (And even if they run it without warning you, they’’ll come back and ask you about it, not just instantly reject you over it. So you’ll have an opportunity at that point to explain.)

5. Interviewers who want to meet in-person

I am in the midst of a search, and I have had it mentioned to me twice that the next round of interviews may be in-person. I was quite surprised to hear this suggested. My local public health unit is suggesting most people continue to work from home unless essential. Our city even cancelled Halloween and team sports recently.

Based on this, how much room to push back do I have about wanting these interviews to be virtual? Honestly, I don’t think I will move forward in the process if this is insisted upon.

Try saying this: “Would you be open to doing a video meeting instead, since the city is still advising people to conduct business from home unless being in-person is essential? I’m trying to be very careful about my risk level.”

Their response will tell you a lot about how this company is handling the pandemic, and that’s hugely valuable info for you if you’re screening for employers who take safety seriously.

{ 298 comments… read them below }

  1. MissGirl*

    OP4: My current company sent me paperwork upon hiring asking for approval for a credit/background check. I have freezes on all my credit checks and was about to go out of the country for two weeks so I was leery about unfreezing them for an indeterminate length of time. I reached out to HR to find out how long it would take to run the credit check, and she said they don’t run a credit check just background. For whatever reason, the language in the disclosure I had to sign had both.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes! Super common. Freaks candidates out for no reason (not to mention that employers shouldn’t be over-reaching for permission for stuff they don’t even intend to do).

      1. hbc*

        I blame the lawyers. They want us to get allll the permissions in case we forget when we’re hiring a new CFO or something. I do explain what we’ll actually be doing and that they can note which portion they’re giving permission for.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          Yep. It’s to have one common release form and not multiple, though you would not think it’d be that hard to add some checkboxes for what will/will not be run on a particular candidate/position.

        2. MCMonkeyBean*

          Yes, I think especially since the OP said this was for a “very large” company and that this was on the application, it is extremely probably that the language is only there because people for other positions in the company that would deal more with money are using the same application.

    2. Gaia*

      Same. My credit reports are, and will remain, frozen. I’ve never actually had an employer run my credit but I’ve had plenty that had disclosure paperwork saying they might.

    3. Reluctant Manager*

      “My credit is frozen” is a really handy reason for declining all kinds of intrusive reviews (not to mention trying to curb fraud…).

      1. Artemesia*

        a hint for people who freeze their credit and then have trouble unfreezing when they need it. We almost had our recent home purchase derailed because I could not unfreeze one of the three credit sites although I had the code number I was given to do that when I froze it. The site insisted I had to send various forms of proof by snail mail which would have taken over a week and closing was soon. (I had forgotten we had frozen credit). The credit agency doesn’t take phone calls from clients only businesses. After several attempts to do it on line and then by phone, I just punched in that I was a business and was able to talk to a person who got me over to the person I needed. It took THREE attempts as the one refused and the second said he could unfreeze with my information but failed to do so, but the third person I reached this way did unfreeze it and the closing went off.

        1. Cendol*

          Wow, thanks for the tip. I am in this *exact* situation. It’s so annoying. I’m like, “But you gave me the code! YOU!”

        2. Helena*

          The three major bureaus also offer the option of creating an online account with them where you can freeze and unfreeze with a few clicks. May not be the most secure option after the Equifax breach, but it’s a very convenient way to manage credit freezes.

    4. Mockingjay*

      From NOLO (source link in reply): If an employer checks credit reports when hiring employees, it has to follow the legal rules set out in the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA requires employers to:

      – get your [written] consent before pulling the report
      – give you a warning (along with a copy of the report received) if the employer plans to reject you on the basis of the report, and
      – give you an official adverse action notice if the employer does not hire you because of the contents of the report.

  2. Jessen*

    OP1: I sometimes find myself doing that when my anxiety levels are high, asking questions about things I really do know. And it’s not always job related anxiety, either! I’m hardly suggesting that it’s definitely anxiety or something like that, but there’s a lot of reasons why someone might suddenly start asking questions about stuff they know.

    1. allathian*

      Yeah, lots of people are having trouble at the moment. In my case, I haven’t had it so bad that I’ve forgotten basic stuff in my job to the point of having to ask others, but certainly I’ve been forced to look things up that I would normally know how to do without looking them up.

    2. Hekko*

      I had a coworker who seemed to not retain information about covering my job. I retrained her every time before my leave, it was like she heard the stuff for the first time ever. And she’d forget something important first or second day I was off, too.

      I thought it was because my job is vastly different from hers, so she just wasn’t a great fit for the role. So maybe OP1’s coworker is not a great fit for her role and the circumstances made it so much harder for her. Her boss is aware, anyway, so can step in as necessary.

      1. Kiitemso*

        In a very similar situation with a co-worker of mine. She’s been here nearly a year, we do the same things day-to-day, and still she relies on our boss *a lot* when I’m not around to be answer questions. On one hand, it really bugs me, on the other hand, it’s not really my problem if she can’t handle it despite having the training, the experience and everything else.

      2. Sister Michael*

        An old workplace of mine had a really sad version of this problem- a new hire started and we all noticed that she had problems doing the work. Like, you’d give her a direct instruction (“Here’s a broom, please sweep this area”) and she’d nod pleasantly and sit still, like you hadn’t even spoken. Once, she was asked to help out in Area A and went to Area X, literally two city blocks away in another part of our workspace. She worked with us for a couple months and never learned even the most straightforward daily tasks or, more importantly, the safety procedures.
        Initially, we theorized that she might be deaf or hard of hearing and had chosen not to disclose to us, because communicating with her was so difficult. We all started making sure she could see us clearly when we spoke, in case she was trying to read our lips and we were inadvertantly making it impossible.
        Then, as we got to know her, it came out that she’d used drugs heavily for some time and eventually that she was still using. My sense was that the drug use had maybe damaged her executive function and ability to retain information. Obviously actually being on the drugs while at work was a HUGE safety issue and she had to be let go.
        There were a lot of sad things about that situation, including how hard she was trying to get clean and that she hadn’t yet succeeded and how much having a job might have helped with that. I hope she found work she was able to do.
        I doubt the LW is in this situation, but it reminded me of this co-worker of mine and how tough that was for all of us.

        1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

          I’ve had the sad situation of working with seniors as their cognitive function was declining below the level required for them to keep their job. One was quite sad, as she was a widow, had no other source of income and depended on her job with us to afford her place to live, and she was generally well-liked so everyone went out of their way to assist her in keeping her job. The other was a man who tended to compensate for his memory issues by being insubordinate, belligerent, and sexist, so while seeing his decline was sad, he had screamed at so many people over nothing everyone was relieved when he finally left.

      3. Amethystmoon*

        I had a coworker who asked basic questions for over 3 years, and some of them were asked repeatedly. I wrote up a FAQ document just for him, but it was obvious he never read it. Our boss also had his head in the sand even though I sent him screen shots of clueless coworker asking the questions. I gave up on coworker a year and a half into the job.

        1. No Longer Working*

          I had a coworker who was color-blind making color corrections on images. The bosses knew and stood over him, guiding him.

          1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

            Our graphic designers used to give the developers mockups to implement that had all the colors correctly rendered, but the actual values were not spelled out (hex, RGB, CMYK – we can handle any of those). We’d ask, but only get the values on the original documents intermittently.

            Then a color-blind employee was tasked with implementing an entirely new piece of software (so he couldn’t reference existing color values).

            We got a standard list of colors and explicit values for any new colors after that.

            1. Quill*

              Yup! Making documents and tasks accessible usually means standardizing procedures and preventing error!

          2. Small pond makes this fish identifiable*

            My husband took an entry-level electrical engineering job that required rewiring high-voltage equipment. On his first task, he nearly got electrocuted despite following standard safety precautions. After that he was told he was replacing someone who was color-blind. To this day husband is compulsive about checking all wires before working on anything, even after power is off. (And he found a bad ground in our old house that way too.)

        2. Blj*

          I once worked at a county government agency and we had a secretary we eventually figured out couldn’t read. She didn’t do as badly as you’d expect. If you have her something to type, she’d type exactly what the letters looked like to her, even if it looked to her like 7 consonants in a row, or a word that made no sense at all in the sentence. Or she’d spell a person’s name 6 different ways in a document, never recognizing it was the same word recurring.

        3. Emma*

          I work in financial services so quite a few of our staff are qualified accountants, and all the accountants are dyslexic. We have a very low error rate because everyone knows they need to double check things!

        4. Elsie*

          Dyslexia doesn’t necessarily prevent people from doing administrative work. My Mom has dyslexia and was a successful administrative assistant for many years. Let’s be careful not to shame people with disabilities- people may be able to find ways to work around their disabilities or to still do the job with reasonable accommodations

      4. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        It’s almost as if she (Hekko’s coworker) didn’t really want to cover and was following the “do something badly and maybe they won’t ask you to do it again” principle…

    3. Joanna*

      I’ve been in my job many years and I think it’s reasonable to say I’m generally quite good at it. However, this year I’ve found myself asking more questions than usual as pandemic stress has taken a big toll on my memory inside and outside of work

    4. Traffic_Spiral*

      That or the coworker just sorta sucks and had been skating by more easily when the work was in-office.

      What you have to ask yourself, OP, is whether your work is interesting enough that someone would impersonate an employee to find out about it. I’m guessing it’s not.

      1. Virtual cheese*

        I didn’t think the question was about someone impersonating an employee to infiltrate their work – thought it was about the coworker paying someone else to impersonate them and do their work

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          I agree, I think that is what OP was suspicious of. It seems highly unlikely to me… but I do admit that “Yes, just following procedure like normal” does come across a bit like “how do you do, fellow kids” haha.

          And I think there has maybe been a letter here once about someone who was outsourcing their own job so I suppose it isn’t 100% impossible

          Now I’m really curious and I selfishly want OP to come back with more details, but I agreed with Alison that this is not their problem to deal with (unless it somehow starts affecting their work)

    5. Keymaster of Gozer*

      The new antipsychotics I got put on this year caused immense brain fog (still do, I can’t remember dates) and that would be my first thought if someone started asking questions about basic stuff.

      (Not specifically antipsychotics, but brain chemistry glitch)

      1. a non y mous*

        I was on gabapentin for a while for chronic pain, and it caused serious cognitive issues for me. I had to go off it because the cognitive effects were so severe that I couldn’t do my job. Unfortunately it took me a while to realize it. My coworkers must have thought I was losing it.

      2. Risha*

        I was starting to get seriously concerned that I had early onset Alzheimer’s for a little while. My psychiatrist raised the dosage of my antidepressant, and it fixed the problem. Brain stuff is weird!

    6. Pretzelgirl*

      Yes, stress and anxiety make me forget the most basic of information. Sometimes I find myself asking a trusted co-worker questions more than once. Its usually a hey, remind again where does the XYZ file go? She is super understanding and always helps out. I help her out as well with things. Otherwise I have no performance issues at work and get great reviews.

      1. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

        Right? I found this out last year after some serious medical trauma with my child. My brain felt like it was in constant fight/flight mode and I just couldn’t get out of it. As a result, anything that required thinking or recall suffered. Passwords? Hah! Simple procedures like starting a teapot order by filling out a form? Forget about it! It felt like there was a file missing in the cabinet, as if I knew I knew something, but there was just no way to recall it. It was just starting to settle itself out and (waves hands at 2020) all of this happened. Depending on individual circumstances and reactions to them, even before adding the possibility of there being medication issues complicating things, this could be chalked up to this.

    7. yala*

      Same tho. ESPECIALLY if it’s something we covered awhile back. Sometimes the really basic stuff–I just start second guessing myself. I can’t always trust my memory when I’m stressed. (I tend to write everything down if I can.)

      1. Jessen*

        Yup! I know what to do, but I get stressed out over the idea that I’m going to screw up something basic. So I start asking questions “just to be sure.” Not a great habit, but it happens.

  3. Gaia*

    OP 5, I think it says a great deal about them that they even stated it would be in person. I would not be happy. If you’re in a position to be cautious and picky, take this into account as helpful information about their leadership values.

    1. Hazel*

      Yeah, I agree. I started a new job at the end of June, and i really would have loved to go to the office and meet my new coworkers. But it just wasn’t safe then, and it still isn’t.

      1. H2*

        Im sorry, but this discounts that there are absolutely plenty of people who are working at work, and have to be. My husband works in a construction-related field and has had to work the whole time. He had a letter from our governor during the lockdown that explained that he was an essential worker and that he needed to be out, and so did basically everyone he works with. They did an in-person interview in June and I thought he was crazy, but he pointed out that they’re having to be at work so if the interview was a dealbreaker, it was going to be a dealbreaker. I’m in higher education and we are back at work with more or less normal classroom contact hours. Retail, medicine, etc are all working at work. Unless a person has a special medical reason, and is wearing a mask and distancing, it’s not horrifically unsafe and it’s the reality for a lot of people.

        1. Amethystmoon*

          I have to be in the office sometimes as well, but not every day. My job was deemed essential. Everyone is supposed to wear masks in the office when not sitting in their cubicals.

        2. Tired of Covid-and People*

          Do things have to be horrifically unsafe to be unsafe in a pandemic? Nothing was being discounted Just because some employers are insisting on interviewing in person does not mean that it is necessary to do so, and far too many employers are cavalier about the health of the people they are requiring to be inside. Too many employers are not even trying to minimize exposure.

          Please pay attention to the skyrocketing infection and hospitalization rates. It is understood that some functions require a physical presence, but others do not, and this is a contributing factor.

          1. jojo*

            Rates od covid are skyrocketing across the planet, not just here. Our rate is now less than most countries. And Spain has a newer variant. It is insane. However, many jobs are still in person. Those people at the grocery store and hardware store cannot work from home.

            1. Self Employed*

              If people can work remotely, they should. I have a friend who’s a mechanical engineer and I don’t know if she’s been back to the office since March because she doesn’t have to deal with physical prototypes. Her husband is an electrical engineer who really does have to prototype and test things, so he goes in several times a week. Another engineer friend of mine has a good enough lab in his garage that a lot of his testing and prototyping can be done at home, though.

              COVID rates (and therefore risk) are highly localized. My county has done pretty well because so many people can work from home and relatively few people refuse to take the virus seriously… but the grocery store workers etc. represent most of the cases.

        3. EPLawyer*

          But if the job doesn’t require being in person, why have the interviews in person? Saying well other people have to be in person so its no big deal doesn’t really address the issue.

          My husband has had to work in person the entire time because his job is essential. He had the letter for travel and everything. BUT, if he were looking, he would still prefer a video interview.

          The less we gather unless necessary the less the virus has an opportunity to spread. So why take a chance on spread just to have an in person interview?

          1. fhqwhgads*

            I’d say even if the job does have to be in-person, why interview in-person? The interview still doesn’t necessarily need to be in person, just because the job does. An interview in most cases seems to be to still be an unnecessary gathering and extra exposure. Especially for people who may need to be exposed on the reg due to the nature of the work, adding that to the interview process is reckless. Once you’re hired, or at least a finalist, then if it’s a must-be-in-person job they can bring you in person, but unless there’s a critical need, don’t do it sooner.

            1. B.*

              Because people don’t get that, it’s not intuitive for some. We’re essential and when I explained that I’d like to see my friend before she moves away but it’s too risky because we’re both around too many people or that I’d like to do some in person exercise classes that aren’t offered virtually instead of the ones I can do virtually but it would take two different buses I don’t usually take never mind the heavy breathing when exercising, my boss said essentially why is it different than coming here and being around customers or on my normal bus. I’m still not sure she understood you know it’s just one (plus) more point of exposure.

              And don’t get me started on the in person sales calls we’re expected to do now. We are essential for customers to be able to access but it’s not that important for us to grow the business right now.

        4. Totally Minnie*

          I have a job that has to be done in person. My current employer isn’t handling safety as well as I’d like, which one of the major reasons I’m currently applying elsewhere. Just because a job can’t be done remotely doesn’t mean we can’t put some safety measures in place, and I’m asking a lot of questions on phone screens about safety practices. If an employer were to insist on an in person interview at a point where an in person interview wouldn’t make sense, that would be a red flag to me, since what I’m looking for in a new employer is better safety practices than I’m leaving behind.

        5. Dave*

          Just because it is a reality for a lot of people to have to work outside the home, doesn’t mean we need to be encouraging in person activity when remote activity works. I am grateful for all the essential workers out there in person every day. I try to do my part by limiting how often I need to be out there to keep us all a little safer. Remember even when properly worn masks and 6′ is not 100% effective in preventing the spread.

          If this isn’t the final round or close to it I agree that a video interview should be requested and considered as a screening for how the company is handling the pandemic.

          1. tangerineRose*

            “I try to do my part by limiting how often I need to be out there to keep us all a little safer. ” This!!!

          2. LDF*

            Yeah this is like the reverse of “some people can’t eat sandwiches”. Some people CAN eat sandwiches so everyone should eat sandwiches?

          3. micklethwaite*

            Exactly – where I am, the kids are in school, so my kids go out every day and sit in a classroom with a bunch of other kids. We are otherwise limiting our exposure as much as we can. If the kids are in school AND I go to a shop and deal with a cashier/pass other customers AND stop in somewhere to get a takeaway coffee for my walk home, and my husband does the same, and my father-in-law takes a bus somewhere and then needs a support visit from us, our collective exposure is much higher. It’s not about everyone consistently doing the same stuff, it’s about limiting exposure where you reasonably can. Retail workers being at work doesn’t mean office workers should be at work.

        6. Sacred Ground*

          What a thoughtless comment this is. Your experience isn’t universal. Your city schools are open, many others aren’t. Your husband’s job requires his presence, many others don’t. Your city is apparently not asking people to stay home, others are.

          Of course people whose jobs require it have to work in person. How does Hazel’s comment “discount” that? “I wanted to go in but can’t” doesn’t have anything to do with you or your situation.

          1. H2*

            I’m sorry that my comment came across as thoughtless. That was certainly not my intent! I am in fact in an area where cases are high. I am increasingly frustrated because there are a lot of comments out there in the world that seem to ignore the fact that a lot of people do, in fact, have to interact with people every day, at their own risk. The comment two above mine hit me the wrong way as I was getting ready to go to my classroom full of students this morning—it just felt like a lot of indignation when the reality for a lot of people is really a lot worse. That feels dismissive.

            And, yes, I understand that just because some people have to take on the risks doesn’t mean everyone does. I’m a scientist, actually. But I’m also a human being and I’m frustrated and I wish that people would remember that there are a lot of people actually at work interacting with people by necessity.

            1. micklethwaite*

              But that’s the whole point – by necessity. If we strictly avoid piling unnecessary exposure on top of necessary exposure, then the risks go down for everyone. Including teachers, retail workers and so on. My son’s teacher doesn’t need me traipsing across town for something that could have been done remotely, picking up the virus on my travels and giving it to her via him. She needs me to limit his exposure as much as I can so that it’s as safe as possible for her to be in a room with him.

            2. micklethwaite*

              (And I’d also like to point out that we are all human, all frustrated, and many of us are sacrificing a good deal to try and make that necessary exposure as low-risk as it can be. I have a relative who I may not get to see again in their lifetime because I cannot currently make that journey. This isn’t about people lolling around in their comfort zones not wanting to go out.)

        7. Yorick*

          Every time you interact with a person outside your household, you’re increasing your risk. It’s unsafe to do that right now if it’s not necessary. Your husband’s interviewers should have done a video visit. Why make someone increase their risk by meeting with people they normally wouldn’t see? At least some of those candidates aren’t going to be working with those people, and none of them are yet.

        8. MCMonkeyBean*

          Pointing out that office jobs that can be done remotely should not be going in to work in person does not in any way “discount” other different experiences.

        9. NotAnotherManager!*

          The more people who stay home, the safer it is for those who can’t. OP#5 does not indicate that the positions being interviewed for would be classed as “essential” or that they’d be required to report in person. They also listed local health restrictions that are clearly very different than what you’re living with right now, which may indicate a different risk level or policy restriction than the one you and your husband are living under. My 200K student public school system is currently in virtual operation as are most of the higher education institutions, but that’s a very different situation than rural systems with lower rates of infection and internet coverage.

          Just because some people are doing it in areas or industries that are not the same doesn’t mean it’s not risky and something we should all do without a second thought.

        10. mediamaven*

          Yes. I’ve treated everything with an abundance of caution and haven’t allowed employees in the office for 9 months but I did hire two people and asked them to come in person for a final interview. There were only two of us here and we sat more than 6 feet apart. It was fine. There are somethings that don’t translate over video. I don’t think a socially distanced interview means the people are dangerous tyrants.

    2. Retail Not Retail*

      Not only did I have an in person interview last month, it was in a small room with 3 other people who clearly felt ~6 feet meant no mask was necessary. What was annoying is I know the building I’d be working in requires masks at all times!

      I wore my mask and enunciated and belatedly realized I had no facial expressions beyond whatever they could see in my eye movements so that went great.

      It’s been three weeks with no word so. Frankly with cases skyrocketing throughout the region, my underpaid outdoor job feels better every day.

      1. Filosofickle*

        I recently walked away from a job that required an in-person interview. (For a first interview, even. At least they would be wearing masks too.) Beyond finding it unnecessary, I knew that the masks would make interviewing even harder. Having to work harder to talk/hear, no expressions, not to mention the sweat. For an extended period of time inside. Nothing about this set me up for success and requiring this for a first interview was just silly! They are fully remote-capable. They just didn’t want to and tbh that’s not a hiring manager I’m going to get along with.

        And, yes, lots of people are out in the world, working and interviewing and getting groceries in masks or even without. Some jobs require it. Some don’t mind. But part of making all of us safer is others of us choosing to NOT to go out for unnecessary things.

    3. Anonresponse*

      I have been asked for an interview in another state that requires a flight to get there (remote position, local office here, but HM at headquarters).

      It’s not ideal, but I wouldn’t be comfortable accepting a job without a f2f meeting. If it was a short-term job or readily available type of job, okay, less risk, but it would be really bad for me if it didn’t work out long-term.

    4. OP5*

      To clarify, these are positions that 100% can be done from home (and I have been mostly WFH since March) with occasional office visits as needed. I am not thrilled with an in person interview at this point if I am not even sure I would take the role. I’m happy to work in office as needed if I feel comfortable around the other people. An interview situation does not give me enough comfort or information to know how these people are operating in their everyday life.

  4. Rachel*

    OP2: I deeply admire your excitement to be helpful. if you’ve had any written communications with folks, you could probably with a bit of effort (and no urgency because the main advice covers you completely in the mean time) turn those into a FAQ you could send out as a form letter to anyone else they send your way in future, and that could ameliorate the feeling of being “unhelpful”, plus it’s called a FAQ because mostly people have similar questions! So this level of intense interpersonal interaction is probably not really necessary long-term, almost more of a survey of what people want to know.

    not that it’s your responsibility to build this into a document, but knowing myself, that would be a low level of continuing labor that would still give me the ability to feel helpful to more people than I could communicate with directly.

    1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      This is what I was remembering from a previous post about informational meetings. A prominent intern program near me simply has a website with FAQs and very brief testimonials/interview transcripts from their former interns. Works a treat!

    2. Mystery Bookworm*

      Yes! Or at least ask the candidates to send over their questions rather than schedule a call. That can give a good sense of how much work speaking to them will be.

      (This isn’t to say you have to continue fielding these requests, but in the future having a drafted email with some basic info and then lobbying the ball back to them for specific questions can be a huge timesaver.)

      1. Oh Snap*

        Or ask your old boss about their hiring timeline, and then work with them to schedule a Zoom informational night at a time that makes sense. Then it is 1 hour total, not multiple seperate calls.

        1. linger*

          Important point: a FAQ email (using BCC for multiple simultaneous recipients) is far prereferable to group Zoom, because each applicant should NOT know the identity of other applicants.

    3. Some Internet Rando*

      I had a similar thought…

      OP:2 after doing 6 of these calls you should have an idea of what people are asking and want to know. Draft a not too long document that addresses those questions and instead of doing time consuming calls, send this to applicants over email. That should answer most of their questions. If they have follow up questions, they can email you back and you can get to it at at time that’s convenient to you, or don’t respond with a long email or at all if they start to pester you. 6 calls!! Even at 30 minutes each that’s 3 hours – and I bet those calls were longer than 30 minutes.

      Also the applicants may feel that they *have* to call you to show their interest and be a better candidate. So its possible that everyone is going through the motions here. Put the applicants out of their misery… make it easier on them. They probably want to know what your experience was like, what did you learn, did you like it, would you recommend it, etc. So just write that up and send it.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think this works in a lot of cases and could be better than nothing here, but if I’m asking to talk to a former employee, I want to know about the type of stuff they probably wouldn’t feel comfortable putting in writing (if that exists). If I’m just given something written, I don’t know if it’s all positive because there’s really nothing negative to say or if it’s all positive because they’re not risking having anything else in writing where the company might see it.

      It’s also sort of like written letters of reference — not that useful because I want to ask questions about the stuff I care about most and hear the nuance of the reply.

    5. Firecat*

      Another option is to propose one group call near their planned hiring dates.

      We did this as a client. A relatively new vendor we had an amazing experience with so we agreed to be a reference. It quickly grew out of hand, and they were more then happy to group prospectives, build a document for us from our calls, etc. To make it win-win without over burdening us.

    6. Hey Karma, Over Here*

      Yes, wanted to get on a thread to the ex-intern. You aren’t “helping candidates” you are recruiting for the company. This is not a legitimate use of your time or your good will.
      The company can interview you and other interns and create a web page for prospective with your testimonials. They can create FAQs and they can direct people who have questions not covered on their website to people who WORK FOR THEIR COMPANY.

  5. pleaset cheap rolls*

    ” is well known as a lurker and for being sneaky — at one point she was logging into other people’s budgets and removing data ”

    I read this and wondered about the “removing.” If “removing” means copying so this person can have the information, that’s one thing. If the word really means removing – ie the info is not there any more for others to see – that’s another. It’s very very serious. That’s sabotage and that person should be fired.

    1. I'm just here for the cats.*

      I took it to mean that the ex boss removes files from like a shared drive it keeps a copy for herself on her local drive. Then when people go looking for X she likes to watch them squirm and panick. Data isn’t gone, just not available

      1. Paranoid OP*

        OP 3 here – “removing” was exactly that, deleting data from budget files. People were having to go back to earlier versions, reconstruct, etc. because the data was gone.

        1. SweetestCin*

          What in the actual mint-flavored f***?

          Okay, I see ex-boss. Hopefully this is part of why its an “ex-boss” because the ex boss got canned for sabotage.

        2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

          I worked at a nonprofit a few years ago and had a boss exactly like this, I was wondering what happened to her after she got fired. Now I know, she’s at OP3’s work.

          1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

            Makes sense to me, because somehow these people ALWAYS find a new job.
            and secondly, how can there be more than one person who would sabotage the company to screw someone over?

        3. AKchic*

          I had an ex-not boss, but semi-supervisor. She only oversaw a portion of what I worked on, and would routinely go into the data I handled and “audit” or “spot check”, but was really deleting new entries and changing old ones so they were misspelled or deleting information or changing the information (example: changing a birth date, or deleting a box number for a file’s storage location).
          Then she would insist that I had done the damage myself, and it was proof that I was not good at my job, wasn’t it a good thing that they’d hired her since nobody else had noticed my serious lack of ethics and work deficiencies?
          It took almost a year to fix her sabotage, and to get management to actually believe that it wasn’t me (especially since it wasn’t just me and her with access to the databases, or the spreadsheet she’d been altering). We had to keep a separate set of spreadsheets that we saved daily to show the sabotage being done, and most importantly, I had to stop doing a part of my job for a month without her noticing, while I updated our good log, and someone else updated the tainted log, to help prove my case. By that time, she was doing other things that were irritating the c-suite, and they still allowed her to resign rather than canning her.

          It’s one of the many reasons why I felt so disaffected.

      2. Brooks Brothers Stan*

        Had a former boss that would check out documents from the shared drive (which made them inaccessible) and conveniently ‘forget’ to return them so you had to constantly ask them if they were still using them. It was one of the least unsubtle power play/employee monitoring situation I’ve ever been a part of, and something that I’ve depressingly heard many versions of from others.

  6. Drag0nfly*

    OP1, yes the more innocent reason is probably the more likely reason for your coworker’s seeming oddities.

    On the other hand, you bring back memories of a time where I once had to make photocopies of the drivers’ licenses for a group of employees. I noted in passing to my boss that a particular man’s paperwork said he had an identical twin. I just thought it was cool, but my boss looked amazed and said, “So THAT explains a few things!” Perhaps the employee was doing the ol’ switcheroo, like soap opera twins. The only concrete, real-life case I know of twin-switching is when Jill Hennessy’s twin filled in for her for a scene in her “Law & Order” days. But her employers knew, so it probably doesn’t count.

    So your idea is not crazy. But don’t drive *yourself* crazy thinking about it. It really isn’t your problem to solve.

    1. JKP*

      The real life case I thought of was where the guy had 3 different full time WFH jobs he had outsourced to China. He only got caught because IT at one company got suspicious about the unexpected overseas logins to the company network.

        1. EvilQueenRegina*

          There has been a story in comments here about “Layla” the intern being offered a job and it was her twin “Lola” who actually showed up to do the job. I’ve seen it recently but can’t remember for the life of me which post it was!

    2. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      What’s the general nature of the job? My husband would often complete tasks for me while I was freelancing (employer requested it), because he is a subject expert, so technically it was consultation but done in a very sketchy way… I was glad to move into a more professional workplace!

      1. Drag0nfly*

        It was an environmental cleaning company. I think the men would have been in protective gear at their job sites. Which would add an extra layer of obfuscation if the man was doing the switcheroo with his twin.

    3. Gen*

      I’d possibly be concerned it was a health issue if it came up all of a sudden. I’m reminded of that reddit thread where the guy thought someone was breaking into his house & leaving him notes but it was actually a carbon monoxide leak—he’d written the notes himself but didn’t remember.

    4. WS*

      I knew a pair of identical twins who each had a separate after-school job, but would fill in for each other as needed. Apparently they also used to take tests for each other at school (one was really good at maths, one at English) but unfortunately it was a very small primary-secondary school so teachers knew them for 13 years and eventually worked out which was which! They did very different courses at university – graphic design and nursing – so I really hope they don’t fill in for each other anymore…

    5. I'm just here for the cats.*

      I didn’t know Jill Hennessy had an identical twin. I just looked it up! I loved her on law and order and of course Crossing Jordan

    6. Putting Out Fires, Esq*

      Linda Hamilton’s identical twin served as her “mirror” in a scene in terminator 2.

      1. Zephy*

        It’s the “brain surgery” scene, that’s how the camera was able to pan around directly in front of the mirror without being visible – that scene is all practical effects, no CGI. Leslie Hamilton also played the T-1000 that takes on Sarah Connor’s appearance at the film’s climax.

    7. TechWorker*

      The ‘few things’ your boss is talking about could also be other less dodgy things that are common with identical twins (like you wave or smile at them on the street and they don’t seem to clock you at all)

      1. Drag0nfly*

        Someone had a “wave on the street” incident that involved me, actually! At a different job, we needed to call the company electrician because of a minor spark that came from my space heater. He came, and he was surprised to see me. Apparently, he had seen me on the street and waved to me, but I didn’t wave back. It turned out he knew my mother. She worked for a different branch of the company, so he was doubly surprised because that branch was in a different part of the city. Mom and I do look alike, and from a distance we could pass for each other.

        “But Mrs. Nice Lady would have waved,” he pointed out. I agreed she would have. But as a general practice, *I* don’t engage with strangers who are waving at me on the street.

    8. theletter*

      My dad and his twin once swapped classes in high school, but it was their language classes (Latin and Spanish) and the teachers caught on quickly.

      1. Artemesia*

        I recently read about identical triplets whose parents got them dramatically different hair cuts after they discovered they were switching off for each other in school.

      2. Anon Admin*

        Not twins, but my senior year of high school, two boys who were close friends with each other and dressed up as each other for Halloween. In shared classes they sat in the other’s seat, but in non-shared classes they went to the other’s class, only to switch halfway through. It was so funny seeing the teacher’s reactions! I had 2nd period math with one of them, and 3rd period science with both so got to witness some of the shenanigans. Our math teacher didn’t notice until they switched back!

    9. Littorally*

      I remember an old Lowering the Bar post about a lawyer swapping with her identical (but non-lawyer) twin… that did not end well.

  7. Yvette*

    #2 In addition to what Alison said, I think you should also mention to your former boss the feedback you received from the potential interns that they did not feel they were provided with enough time during the interview to ask questions. They asked for your help and this information would certainly be helpful.

  8. Albatross*

    #4: I would definitely not hold “medical situation, it’s been resolved” against someone. I would guess you’d had a loved one die of some expensive medical condition and gone bankrupt trying to cover their bills, not that you’d been unable to work due to illness, but in either case, I wouldn’t see it as a problem. Presumably you’ve got it sorted out now, if you’re out applying for jobs. Good luck!

    1. MK*

      I don’t know if the OP is in the U.S., but I have heard that a very large percentage of personal bankruptcies there are caused by medical debts. If I heard that someone filed for bankruptcy due to a medical situation, I would assume they suffered an illness or injury and had medical expenses their insurance didn’t cover, and got into debt as a result. Perfectly understandable.

      1. OP4*

        Yes, I’m in the US, and you’re right that it’s not uncommon for overwhelming medical bills to drive people into bankruptcy here. My hope is that the company will make that same assumption.

      2. Artemesia*

        Not only is medical crisis one of the top causes of bankruptcy (the other two are job loss and divorce) but most of the people who go bankrupt because of this in the US HAVE health insurance; this is how inadequate our health insurance generally is when a serious medical disaster occurs.

    2. Retail Not Retail*

      I mean in this in the most naive way possible – how does a bankruptcy reflect poorly on an applicant? I mean it’s not imprisonment for embezzlement or what have you.

      My parents had a messy divorce and my dad nuked my mom’s finances so she had to file. This of course was 20 years ago.

      1. old curmudgeon*

        If the position is one that involves fiduciary responsibilities – think banking, accounting, investments – the company will want to perform a bit of due diligence to ensure that the applicant isn’t having money problems that might make them likelier to pocket funds that aren’t theirs.

        Back in the day, it also used to be relevant if someone was applying for a potentially sensitive government job, as money woes could put a person at higher risk for susceptibility to being pulled in as a spy for another government. I don’t know if that is still true, but when my late father was doing background investigations for security clearances in the US Dept of State, that’s one of the things he’d check.

        1. MK*

          In those fields, it is often a case of optics, since financial savvy is basically one of the job skills.

          1. Kelly L.*

            Though there’s a difference between knowing how something works and always perfectly following that in one’s own life. Some doctors smoke.

            1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

              The usual explanation is that doctors smoke because they’ve seen what *else* can kill you.

          2. MCMonkeyBean*

            No, it is nothing to do with optics. It’s part of “the fraud triangle.” The 3 components of the fraud triangle are pressure/motive, opportunity, and rationalization. The credit checks are related to the “motive” piece.

            1. MCMonkeyBean*

              (Not that it’s a great check against that as lots of bankrupt people would never dream of stealing and we hear stories of rich people embezzling all the time, but that’s still the idea behind the checks. Nothing at all to do with making sure you are “financially savvy”)

        2. doreen*

          It’s not just people who handle actual money. Sure, you don’t want to hire someone with money problems in your accounting department – but you also don’t want people in purchasing choosing vendors based on how much of a kickback they will get.

          1. SheLooksFamiliar*

            Too many studies have shown that poor credit ratings don’t actually relate to theft and graft the way people think. In fact, in 30+ years I’ve had to replace far more high-level/high-earning employees – often with excellent credit! – for theft and kickbacks than employees with poor credit.

            Sure, financial desperation can cause problems but, more often than not, rank and overconfidence cause more.

            1. GothicBee*

              I feel like, if anything, good credit would be more likely to mean that the person regularly has debt because they’re making regular payments. And someone with good credit might be more willing to cut corners to keep their credit up whereas someone who has poor credit isn’t going to be worried about their credit getting worse.

              But really the only point of credit is that it tells lenders whether or not the person is likely to make payments. I don’t feel like it can be meaningfully used to determine anything else. If you need to know if someone is at risk for fraud or theft or something, you’d need more information than just a credit score.

            2. doreen*

              Not disagreeing exactly – but I do want to point out that “High income” and “poor credit rating” are not mutually exclusive.

              1. SheLooksFamiliar*

                I didn’t say they were, just pointed out that ‘poor credit rating’ doesn’t always mean ‘at risk for theft and graft.’

        3. The Other Dawn*

          Yes to everything you said. I’m in financial services and my husband has a DOD clearance for his job, and credit checks are required in both instances for exactly the reasons you state. In his case they do a really deep dive every five years, including physically visiting our friends, family and sometimes our neighbors; administering a polygraph; written explanation of anything wayward in our finances, etc.

        4. soon 2be former fed*

          Credit checks may be required if an employers bonds it employees, and bonding isn’t limited just to those who work with money.

          Long time fed here. Your credit will be checked upon entering federal service for the first time as part of an extensive background check. Position does not matter. Security clearances are even more extensive, they know the color of your underwear before it’s all done. You get a chance to address anything negative or discrepant that comes up during a background, not just financial matters. The most important thing is not to lie. My best friend was a background investigator for the office of personnel management for many years, she could have written a book.

          1. No Tribble At All*

            If Alison still does interviews, and if your friend is allowed to talk about it, I’d love to hear what that’s like!

          2. Jack Russell Terrier*

            What you say about not lying is key. They’ve heard it all, it’s all about context. My husband works for the Federal government, solely classified documents and needs a decently high security clearance. So they needed to interview me. FBI agent: any drug or alcohol abuse? Well, yes – he’s seven years sober. FBI agent: What about mental illness. He’s bipolar but has been stable for years.

            He got the security clearance.

        5. C M*

          Yeah, many years ago I worked in a field that required a security clearance. I don’t think a bankruptcy would automatically disqualify someone, but they would at minimum get follow-up questions to make sure they don’t have a special incentive to sell military secrets.

          But for most other jobs, it shouldn’t matter.

        6. jojo*

          Even minimal security gov jobs. Every 10 years you have to write a book for your background check. I had to provide dead peoples addresses.

        7. Anonymous Introvert*

          It’s still true. My dad works for the Department of Defense and they periodically do credit and background checks on employees. For example, he’s had to fire people because their debt to income ratio is too high because a spouse took out a student loan or whatever. They work in highly classified fields, and theoretically someone could be bribed to reveal national secrets to a foreign party or tamper with a machine, etc. in exchange for money to pay off their debt. They work with nuclear reactors in his specific division, which is not the place you want spies or people being bribed or blackmailed, lest the Mid-Atlantic region become a nuclear fallout zone or a military submarine to go down mid-mission. It sucks in a lot of circumstances, but occasionally is done for a greater purpose.

      2. MK*

        It shouldn’t reflect poorly by default, since often it isn’t the result of anything the candidate could have prevented. Also, even when it is the result of bad decisions on their part, it doesn’t really affect how well they will do the job. But many people consider bankruptcy a sign of being unreliable in general.

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          I don’t think it is usually used as a judge of bad decisions or reliability, but as a contributing factor for risk of fraud or susceptibility to blackmail.

      3. Liz*

        Same with my BF and his first wife. She pretty much sabotaged him in any way she could, and he ended up filing for bankruptcy. FF to now he’s got his own successful business and doing very well financially.

    3. OP4*

      Thank you for this! Today is my fifth (hopefully final) interview with them and I’m optimistic an offer will follow.

      1. Tired of Covid-and People*

        Five interviews! You should get the job just for endurance. I wonder what an employer possibly learns in a fifth interview that it didn’t uncover in the other four. Hopefully, if you end of working there, this organization will not suffer from paralysis by analysis.

        In any event, best of luck, hope you get good news any minute now.

        1. OP4*

          Thank you! Yeah, five is a lot. First was the HR screen, then three different people I’d be working with, and this final one is basically a presentation of some past projects I’ve worked on. Ready to be done!

        2. Partly Cloudy*

          I once had a (second) interview with someone who told me he’d had 13 interviews for his job (which was fairly high level, but still) in the context of preparing me for the process. I’m sure I was visibly shocked. That company prided itself on low turnover so clearly hiring the right people was a high priority but 13 seems excessive.

  9. WS*

    OP #1 – or your poor co-worker has had COVID and is dealing with the memory and fatigue problems that a small but significant percentage of people suffer on an ongoing basis.

    1. Ganymede*

      As a Long CoVid sufferer, I can attest that this is a very real experience. I’ve been improving recently, and one of my oldest friends said that it was as though I had returned from very far away.

      However, I too want an update where OP uncovers an international fraud ring…

    2. MistOrMister*

      I was thinking that exact thing. Brain fog is a well documented covid symtpom and a lot of long haulers are dealing with it. Regardless, this is for the boss to handle as Alison said. If they think it’s weird, they can address it.

    3. Pretzelgirl*

      It can happen with the flu as well. I had the flu 2 years ago. It was the sickest I had ever been in my life. I spent 5 days in bed. Physically it took me like a month to recover. I def had brain fog for a few months after. I found myself writing down so much more than I usually do. Setting a ton of calendar reminders as well.

      1. Observer*

        The truth is that it can happen with almost any illness – even when brain fog is not a specific symptom, being ill can make your brain do funny things. So can stress and anxiety. So, even in normal times, there are lots of reasons this could be happening. In a time like this?

        1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

          One hypothesis for brain fog after serious infections is that it’s caused by the strong response the immune system mounts to rid the body of the virus, and as the immune system settles back down, it should clear.

          But with COVID, there’s evidence it specifically attacks the nervous system, hence the loss of smell many patients experience, so ultimately they may find the virus itself AND the immune response are causing brain fog.

      2. Quill*

        Yeah, after I was sick for a month with a fever after a lot of tendonitis I didn’t remember much about the last month of my freshman year of college… I remember nothing from my junior year fall semester… stress will make everything fall out of your brain like a bunch of flour.

    4. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      But in that case (covid or any other illness that generates ‘brain fog’, of which I know there are many) – wouldn’t the co-worker have given a heads up / acknowledgement that they are not quite as on-the-ball as usual (without disclosing the specific condition I assume)?

      It seems to me that co-worker may have had some discussion with Boss in the interim, though. As I read it, she posted in a team chat (something like) “how do I do X?” and boss, presumably a bit surprised since co-worker had been doing X every day for the last 4 months, answered “following the normal procedure!” …. (then I interpolate that co-worker may have had a discussion with boss) … other colleagues answer co-worker’s questions, then the most recent question about location of a file and rather than “in the usual place” boss gives the specific location.

      Here’s a real example from my own past: I started on a particular medication (SSRI antidepressants for mixed anxiety/depression at the time), which has as a possible (and common) side-effect uncontrollable yawning when starting the medication and getting it into the system for the first time !! I was one of the ~10% who get this effect, and suddenly (when I hadn’t before) couldn’t seem to stop yawning during the work day! I acknowledged this to co-workers and managers, as otherwise it would have generated letters to AAM (or, more generally, comments/thoughts) like this OP, e.g. “my co-worker [i.e. Captain dddd] can’t stop yawning during the day and it’s been going on for 2 weeks! I suspect she’s moonlighting at a night job and not getting enough sleep, what should I do?”

    5. Helena*

      Brain fog is also a potential side effect of pregnancy (been there twice). If your coworker is early enough in the pregnancy she might not be ready to share the news yet.

  10. Brusque*

    #1 we are a 100% remote company and stuff like that happened so frequently that we now have video airorization. This program pops up in random intervals and you have to activate your camera and run through an automatized face recognition that will fail if anything moves in the background. Luckily it only lasts 15-20 seconds and pops up in a 30-90 minute range randomly. Thank you coworkers violating our data security agreements!
    #3 I really disliked europes new data protection laws. It was such a hassle in many cases, like having to fill a two-page data sheet just to give permission for your employer to send you a chrismas card! But reading stuff like this makes me happy we have them! With that law you can just demand that any company deletes all üersonel information they have on you unless they have to kerp it by legal demand. So no more hoarding ex-employee accounts and using them for your own agenda! No more data hoarding for comercial use. One call or mail, and if the data isn’t removed you don’t even need a lawyer. Just make a complaint with authority and they come down on them like hawks.

    1. Emma*

      I really doubt that a right to erasure request would make much impact on your old work inbox – for starters there should be minimal personal information in there, really just your full name. Secondly, a data controller can refuse a right to erasure request if they need to hold the data to comply with a legal obligation or for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims, and I expect most employers would consider this exception to apply to most business correspondence.

    2. MK*

      What do you mean it happened frequently? You had multiple cases of imposters pretending to be your coworkers?

        1. MK*

          And that happens often? How do you find qualified people willing to do this? And you have to pay them, are people making a profit with this?

          1. Global Cat Herder*

            One of my coworkers paid his teenage son to do most of his job (as a Unix system admin). He told people at work! Bragged about how smart he was – he only worked a couple hours a week, still got his full paycheck, gave 1/4 to his kid, he still had 3/4 of his paycheck and loads of free time! Everyone should do it! He’s so smart!

            Until he was not only fired, he was arrested for fraud. Not so smart after all.

          2. pleaset cheap rolls*

            I don’t know how common it it. Some variations are not dissimilar to people covering each other’s shifts in the same job, as favors.

            Or perhaps having a friend/spouse pretend to be present in an unimportant but required meeting.

            The more extreme version is actually outsourcing of work to place with lower labor costs. No idea how common that is.

      1. Brusque*

        It happened two times that a partner or spouse tried to do the work instead of the one contracted. Other times workers violated their contracts by allowing other people access to their workspace while they where working.
        You can have pets or small children (like toddlers) in your office space but you have to proove that you can provide a room without third party access during your office hours. The room can be shared as long as the employee isn’t logged into their devices, but as soon as they log in, the room must be empty (besides said pets and toddlers) and the door has to be closed.
        If you can’t provide that, you can’t work with us.
        I have a catflap in my office door so my cats can visit me, but my husband has to knock and wait till I locked my screen till he can come in. It’s not just my companies rules though. It’s the German data protection law that requires this setup because of the nature of our work.

    3. I'm just here for the cats.*

      It fails of something moves in n the background? So like if you have a dog that happens to get up from behind you at that moment the face recognition fails? Or what if your partner happens to walk through? What happens if you fail? That seems really invasive

      1. Brusque*

        Yes indeed then it fails. You can do it again though. But having another person in the room would violate our terms and would result in instant termination. You have to provide a seperate room where you will be alone completely during your work. We work with very extensive and sensible data and part of the contract is taking responsibility to ensure no third party can gain acess to your computer while its logged in. If you can’t guarantee a separated workspace you can’t work for us.

    4. Tired of Covid-and People*

      We need data protection laws in the US. There is a company that absolutely refuses to remove your payment information after you cancel your account, years later even (Whitepages, do not use). In order to avoid risk of exposure , I had to cancel the card I used to place one stupid order. It’s ridiculous that companies can hijack personal and sensitive data like this.

      1. Artemesia*

        although I hate the high cost of Paypal, I learned to use it for purchases at potentially dodgy sites i.e. anything that was a one off that I didn’t know well after getting cards compromised.

  11. Batty Twerp*

    OP3, some damage limitation might be required if you have any external contacts in your network and are still in the same industry. If your ex-boss is *sending* emails (as opposed to just lurking and reading), your professional reputation may also take a hit.
    Give everyone a heads up, and ensure you’ve got a comfortable grasp on your external network. It might not be your circus anymore, but if one of those monkeys gets out and bites someone, you don’t want to find out it was named for you. (Sorry, analogy fail – I haven’t had my coffee yet)

    1. MK*

      I realize this doesn’t help OP now, but it might be a good idea in the future to send a goodbye email/message to any work chats or groups your account belongs to.

      1. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

        And also to put an “out of office” message on your account so that anyone who emails you will be notified that you’ve left the organisation.

        However, OP + colleagues shouldn’t be using company email / chat for private conversations or sharing information that you wouldn’t want disclosed to organisation leadership.

        1. Observer*

          If the company has competent IT, putting the out of office message is not going to change anything, since they will either make sure to put an OOO message in themselves (or they will get rid of the existing one if they don’t want something to be there.)

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Doesn’t have to be a personal chat to be something that is supposed to be kept under the radar for a while: Medical accommodations, budgets for next year, reorganization plans, internal transfer requests.

    2. Momma Bear*

      I would tell IT that emails are still being sent by your old account because that should have been disabled. I would ask them to ensure that all your systems access and any accounts related to you were properly secured as a “I’m sure you would want to know about this possible security breach” kind of thing. They may then catch ex-boss doing this.

      1. Observer*

        How do we know that emails are being sent from that account? That’s not what the OP described.

      2. SimplytheBest*

        I’ve never worked anywhere that disabled your email as soon as you left. Put up an away message and forwarded the email to someone else so that clients and customers and vendors and whatever else would have the information that you no longer work there and that their messages were being received by someone else. But certainly not disabled.

        Also never had in-house IT.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          A common thing in places I’ve previously worked is the address is set up so it’s valid and goes to a different inbox, but the actual account is disabled. So people who email to that address get delivered to a Still Employed There human, but it’s not possible to send from the ex-exployees account. (at least not in a “supervisor logs in ‘as them’ kind of way”).

    3. allathian*

      This is why external contacts should go through a role-related inbox like sales(at), preferably paired up with a ticketing system. Even if someone normally always handles a particular client’s account, if they leave, there’s a smooth transition.

  12. Emma*

    #3 I’m suprised that you’re surprised, honestly! Everywhere I’ve worked, when anyone who interacts with any external contacts leaves, their email account stays active for months at minimum. Some contacts will either not know, or forget, that you have left and will continue to email you. Someone has to monitor your inbox to make sure those emails are dealt with (or IT may forward all your emails to someone else automatically – same end result).

    Eventually your inbox will no longer be monitored and senders will get a message that your email address doesn’t exist and they should email x person instead, but it’s normal to hold off on that for a while because a certain percentage of people will just ignore that message and then their query will fall through the cracks.

    1. Staja*

      I was thinking the same thing – my company forwards email accounts for terminated employees a minimum of 30 days up to a year on request. The manager would have access to all historical emails, chat histories, incoming emails, etc.

      (Another reason, I’m always still horrified when I find out people don’t have personal email addresses and only use their work accounts!)

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Another reason, I’m always still horrified when I find out people don’t have personal email addresses and only use their work accounts!

        Ditto, and telephone numbers. Unless you run your own business, this is very 90s and not in a good way. However, it is super common and not just among people old enough to have had the same work email since this was considered normal.

        1. miss chevious*

          It *is* super common and I’m still always shocked by it, especially when supposedly tech savvy younger employees do it because it’s “convenient.” I love where I work and hope to be here a long time and they still don’t need access to my personal phone or email!

          1. The Rural Juror*

            When a coworker left a few years ago I “took over” his email for a few weeks to see if things trickled in, but also to be able to have a history of his conversations with clients. He was using his work email account for a LOT of personal stuff. Emails from his kids’ school, emails between him and his wife about financial stuff (I didn’t read those, just skimmed by them in the inbox), and all kinds of services he had set up for himself and his family. I’m pretty sure he just didn’t know how to get his personal email on his phone, so he was using the email app our IT guy had set up for him which was to his work address.

            1. Partly Cloudy*

              I had access to a former employee’s email after she resigned and I spent the first month or so unsubscribing from stuff like Groupon. It was So Annoying, especially since I had to find legit work-related historical stuff and all that crap was in the way.

    2. Batty Twerp*

      For *receiving* emails, yes, I would expect that to be SOP (although an automatic OOO should have been put in place by IT/HR etc.), and OP3 seems to be ok with that, but she also mentioned having a nasty gut feeling ex-boss might also be *sending* emails from her account.
      “I can’t discount the risk that emails or messages could be sent, seemingly from me”
      If that’s the case, that’s definitely _not_ ethically acceptable.

      1. WellRed*

        And it may be a valid concern or a holdover from working for toxic boss. Either way, aside from following the advice, it’s out if her hands and will ultimately resolve.

      2. Observer*

        Yes, but the OP has no way to know this is happening. And they seem to be suspecting it because it seems like “snooping” for the former boss to be seeing / reading these emails.

      3. Emma*

        Yeah… based on LW’s other comments, their ex-boss is up a tree, so I do understand the fear! But I wouldn’t take the fact that ex-boss is checking LW’s emails as evidence that they are sending emails – this is something that wouldn’t be concerning at all with a boss who didn’t have a dodgy history.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      Agreed. It’s been standard practice anywhere I’ve worked. Someone leaves, access to the email account is granted to the manager who then monitors it for a few months (or however long is necessary), and then access is revoked and the email account deactivated. I really don’t get how OP’s former manager is being “shady af” or “she’s spaying on people” by monitoring a company email address.

      1. Kt*

        I think the concern is that the boys will impersonate her to outside parties or that boss is reading, say, semi-private discussions on closed professional email lists. For instance, at my old email I was subscribed to a support email list for new professors. Someone who knew the field could definitely have used it to make people uncomfortable and embarrassed. Not, “Jeanette is no longer here so we suggest this.”

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        The “shady AF” part was this: “If you’re right that she’s intentionally lurking to read messages that aren’t intended for her.”

        If she’s doing a routine scan of email directed to someone who’s no longer there which might be business-relevant, that’s not odd. Intentionally lurking to read messages in social chat groups she’s not subscribed to herself (and where the OP’s old colleagues believe she’s unaffiliated) is a different thing.

    4. Koalafied*

      I was also surprised Allison didn’t point that out! It’s very normal for a manager to inherit a departed employee’s email account at least until a replacement is hired.

    5. Tired of Covid-and People*

      I would still create an out of office message stating I had left the organization, which offers some level of protection against nefarious use of your name.

    6. Researcher*

      It seems like OP3 is aware of and accepts that the employer is entitled to monitor her accounts for a period of time during the transition. That’s not the concern. The concern is that correspondence may be allowed to continue as if OP were still there.

      If I were OP3, I too would be concerned about a risk to my professional reputation if I knew that the person monitoring the accounts has a history of tampering with records. The business records are no longer her concern, but it’s not entirely unreasonable to be concerned about other documentation, such as correspondence. If you’re in a small industry, I think the concerns are even more valid.

      OP, use what resources you have to re-establish connections with your professional contacts via other means. Perhaps it’s LinkedIn, or sending a message via personal email, etc., to reinforce that you’re no longer with Company.

    7. pleaset cheap rolls*

      There is a difference between reading the emails/monitoring the box and actually sending emails as that person. The latter is terrible on multiple levels.

    8. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I usually work on short-term contracts and have worked for the same company several times. I worked for them in 2016, and then again at the end of 2019. When I was given new login details, I found three years’ worth of unread emails waiting for me! My job does not deal with external people and emails are generally just the company giving out information (like donuts in the break room, here’s your payslip, etc.) so nobody would have bothered to monitor it. But I still found it kind of amusing.

  13. Anony-Mouse*

    #1 Your coworker could also have health issues going on to do with aging. My parents are seniors and I’m shocked at the seemingly normal things they can forget. Dementia does run on both sides of my family, so I’m keeping an eye out for this getting beyond normal “seniors moments”.

    1. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

      A few months back one of my colleagues told me that I was asking questions about things that had already been discussed.

      I realised that it was a combination of
      – stress and exhaustion
      – multi-tasking during meetings to try and meet an unmanageable workload – and missing important information and details as a result

      It’s also possible that your colleague has been making mistakes that you aren’t aware of, and is now double-checking things that you assume they should know.

    2. soon 2be former fed*

      Normal aging doesn’t lead to dementia. The old mental filing cabinet gets stuffed to the gills and it can take a moment longer to retrieve information, but it gets located. Don’t know what you mean by senior, but I’m 65 and very sharp. Overmedication can mimic dementia also, which is a real risk for older adults who may be taking multiple prescription medications. A medical checkup/medication review should be the first thing done for an older person experiencing memory or cognitive issues.

    3. Lyudie*

      It can also be a side effect of certain medications. I’m pretty sure my memory issues are at least in part due to the antidepressant I switched off of several months ago (this was part of the reason I switched meds, though it seems this particularly side effect is lingering).

    4. Jennifer Thneed*

      If you can, take your parents out of their usual environment and see how they do. Unfamiliar surroundings can provoke visible anxiety. (I remember an aunt who thought she needed new glasses because she was having trouble reading her book. It was actually that she was starting to have memory problems associated with dementia.)

  14. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

    Is it possible that LW#1’s coworker was trained in the office and has left their notes in a desk drawer before being required to work from home? This happened to a colleague of mine who was on holiday when the office closure was announced, and for a couple of weeks after she came home she was without her usual notebooks and paper files, and she was asking LOTS of simple questions as a result!

    1. Elenna*

      Oof! I feel that – my last day in the office was a couple weeks before it closed, and I was expecting to go back in a few days later, so I also left my notebook there (as well as my shoes and mug). Fortunately I typed up all my documentation into Word files since I prefer to have it on the computer, but it could definitely have been an issue!

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I think this is a fairly reasonable assumption as well. They got sent home on a faster timeline then they were anticipating and forgot some of their training notes at work.

      Yup – that happened to a few of my coworkers, and it eventually all worked out – but lots and lots of questions in the mean time.

      1. Kelly L.*

        And where I work, a lot of procedure also changed when we got sent home, but other things didn’t. So there’s Form A that we can now sign electronically and email, but Form B that absolutely must have an original signature in ink and we have to snail mail it to the office, and so on. So there’s a lot of “is this particular thing the same way it used to be, or is this one different?” that goes around.

        1. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

          Oh yeah – we had to fix a few ‘paper-only’ procedures to make them electronic. Let’s hope they stay electronic once we’re back in the office – it’s soooo much quicker (and wastes much less paper!)

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      It’s possible, but it seems more likely that they (OP, co-worker and rest of their team I guess) must have been working from home for a while, not just the last couple of days.

      Surely the OP would have explicitly linked the two things otherwise – e.g. “co-worker hasn’t asked these questions before when we were in the office but they started up immediately when we went to WFH” (because these are processes that they carry out every day, so it would be evident from the first day in that case), and probably wouldn’t have immediately jumped to the possibility that someone else is illicitly ‘deputizing’ for the co-worker?

      I’ve gotta admit, I’m not a paranoid person but based on what’s presented in the question, my “is it really the co-worker” sense would be going off too.

  15. LB*

    I don’t know what’s going on in letter 1 but I think it’s a brilliant writing prompt for a horror movie.

    1. LifeBeforeCorona*

      It is, I’m picturing a zombie co-worker still trying to work but not being able to remember anything because of being a zombie…

    2. Delta Delta*

      someone get Jordan Peele on board with this! If anyone could turn forgetfulness in a slack channel into a strangely creepy film it’s him!

  16. Roeslein*

    I agree it’s not LW#1’s job to figure this out, but at the same time the LW says she and her co-workers are having to answer a slew of basic questions every day even though the person has already been trained, which must take time that could be spent on other tasks. Surely that’s not efficient – regardless of what the underlying issue is, at the very least this person / alien should be encouraged to write down answers and processes so they don’t have to ask again.

    1. Partly Cloudy*

      This, and I’d be super curious too if someone was suddenly not themself to this level. Even if it’s not my problem to solve, I can’t help but wonder what’s going on.

  17. SomehowIManage*

    LW 2, why not offer to do a one time session with all candidates, where you speak for a few minutes about your experience and then do q&a? Enjoy the power of one-to-many. In any case many of the questions would be the same across candidates.

    1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      Brilliant suggestion. I just did an info session for three people who want to join the NGO I work for. I basically gave out info that they would need to know before signing up (what exactly they’d be expected to, what their role would not cover, the exact purpose of the NGO, our resources etc.) They were able to ask questions as I went along.
      If you don’t have a zoom licence you can have a 45-min session for free, which also puts a nice time limit on it.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’d say for the reason I mention above about putting it in writing — a former employee may not be willing to be candid about the true negatives of an org on a group conference call the way they might in a more private one-on-one call. Maybe they would be, but as a candidate I wouldn’t assume it.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        I took that suggestion as something like a one-time GTM with three candidates simultaneously, not a written thing….

  18. HR Jedi*

    #3 You only mention that emails were sent, not of there was any reply. That is important because unless you have proof that your former leader is sending out messages as if they were you AND doing it in a way to disparage you, IT and HR have no reason to do anything because monitoring those is something your former leader is probably expected to do.

    When someone leaves the company, it’s standard operating procedure to give access to their accounts to someone, usually the person to whom they reported, with the expectation that things like emails are reviewed. Just because you left does not mean the work you did is over, they need to see what is coming in and redirect it so the worm gets done. Some places do this for just a few weeks, others do it for a few months.

    If you are contacting HR and/or IT saying you don’t like that she has access to your accounts, their response is going to be along the line of: “too bad, it’s their media, they can access it whenever they want” (including when you were working there, by the way). You can include that you are concerned that they are going to send out emails impersonating you negatively, but the most that will accomplish is that they check the sent emails from your account to see if that was done; however, don’t expect them to call you back and say that they found that this happened. If they don’t find anything, their opinion will be that they are not going to engage on your paranoia; if they do find something, they are not going to tell you that something happened for which you may be able to sue them.

    If they didn’t respond to the “test” emails sent, then things appear to be going right. If, for some reason, your former leader is engaging in conversations, besides forwarding the email to your backfill or send a response that you no longer work there, that’s strange, and possibly a problem.

    1. pleaset cheap rolls*

      “HR and/or IT saying you don’t like that she has access to your accounts, their response is going to be along the line of: “too bad, it’s their media, they can access it whenever they want””

      There is a huge distinction between access to the email and sending the email as if you are another person. I would find it quite disturbing that an HR team could think that that is OK for the organization. It’s not just about the OP – it’s about anyone in an organization misrepresenting themselves.

  19. Book Pony*

    OP1, it could also be that your coworker is prone to migraines, because when I get them I tend to be that forgetful about processes while I wait for the medicine to kick in.

    Or hey, maybe they programmed a robot to do their mundane tasks, and this is the last bit of data it needs lol.

    Also, “AF” is AAVE, so that line might need to be edited.

      1. Jennifleurs*

        I believe (I’m white and British, but have looked into this before) that it started as AAVE and then, as so much black culture does, got absorbed/appropriated/taken by a wider range of people. An awful, awful lot of ‘internet slang’ is actually AAVE.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          It’s gone mainstream in the US.
          “The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.” –James D. Nicoll

          1. allathian*

            Yes, this. Even if something started as a particular group’s slang, you can’t stop it spreading if it’s useful. Just because something spreads from one group to another doesn’t mean it’s cultural appropriation.

            1. Chutzpah*

              Indeed, imagine the English language without its Yiddish loanwords: klutz, schlubby, spiel, tush, glitch…

      2. Beth*

        I use it all the time, except when I’m using the entire phrase. (I am much older than a millenial.) I’ve been using it so long I don’t remember where I picked it up.

      3. JustaTech*

        Just to clarify, I have always understood “AF” to be an abbreviation/acronym for “as f**k”, with a similar meaning to “as all get out” or “as anything”: “Pretending to be your own departed employee by email is shady as all get out.”

        Is this not correct?

  20. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

    OP1, it took me a long time to embrace this idea: “this is 100% not your job to care about or figure out”. Knowing what is and isn’t important for you to know/deal can mean the difference between being happy and successful at work, and forever being bogged down by irrelevant (for you) detail. I have to keep learning this over and over because my default setting is I Want To Know Everything.

  21. Amy*

    We keep email addresses active for about 6 months at my company, especially in client-facing roles. I’ve responded to many an email that had come into the account of a laid-off / fired / retired former colleague.

    It is routed to the manager and then we respond from our own email. It would seem very strange to send out-going mail from a departed person’s email address but pretty normal to read incoming ones in many roles.

    1. pleaset cheap rolls*

      “It would seem very strange to send out-going mail from a departed person’s email address but pretty normal to read incoming ones in many roles.”

      This is it.

  22. Worf, Son of Mogh*

    Re: OP1…

    You mean it WOULDN’T be proper to farm out my job to a Klingon? Such dishonor!

    Qapla’! Heghlu’meH QaQ jajvam!

  23. Pretzelgirl*

    Op1- if this person has kids, especially young ones at home with them this can happen. As a mom especially during this pandemic it has wrecked havoc on my memory. If they have a baby, or small toddlers with sleeping issues it can affect this as well. My youngest didn’t sleep for the first 18 months of her life. Looking back, I can barely remember that time in my life. Seriously. I am not sure how I functioned at work. But I remember co-workers did get frustrated with me over the littlest things. Extend this person some grace right now.

    1. Cercis*

      During one of my worst job experiences I was routinely getting less than 6 hours of sleep a night (partly to do with the long commute and their extremely inflexible attendance policy that assigned points if you were so much as one minute late). I would carry a notebook around with me to write things down and would routinely forget what I was writing as I was writing it. I thought I was having early onset dementia (wasn’t even 40 yet). Turned out it was all sleep deprivation. As soon as I could start getting 7+ hours of sleep each night, my memory function returned to normal. And now I’m able to tell when my sleep has gotten messed up by my ability to retain short term memories.

    2. comityoferrors*

      This was my thought too. Hell, I changed my cat’s diet and he spent a week meowing at me and waking me up at 2, 3, 4am, and I noticed a considerable drop in my productivity/memory just from that. Sleep deprivation can definitely cause this kind of behavior, especially if it’s unusual for her.

      Or it could be something entirely different. But probably not someone impersonating her! If it is affecting you/your coworkers in some way, you’d need to address that with her boss because it’s not your issue to manage.

    3. allathian*

      Yeah, this. My son was a pretty good sleeper as a baby, but that didn’t help me get enough sleep. I’m glad we took a lot of photos and videos of him, because my brain fog meant that I have pretty much no memories of his first year, just some flashes. I’m very happy that I was able to be on maternal and parental leave until my son was 2 years old. I would not have been able to work and I’m glad I didn’t have to try.

  24. Mel_05*

    OP1 – I have a coworker, and I’ve had others in the past, who cannot remember very basic information about how our jobs work. They might remember for a week or a month, but sometime or another they’re going to start questioning things that everyone should know in their first week on the job.

    It’s frustrating and bizarre, but it isn’t having someone else do their work for them.

  25. Dave*

    I wonder if you could also suggest/ask for them to reserve giving out your information until later in the hiring process.

  26. learnedthehardway*

    OP#1 – since you’re so new to your role, I don’t think you’re in a position to know what is or isn’t normal for your coworker. Perhaps they usually do something else and are just helping out with this aspect of the job, perhaps they generally ask questions they should know the answers to, who knows? There’s not much to go on to think that someone is impersonating them – that’s really quite a leap, considering the supposed impersonator would have to have their logins and a reasonable understanding of all the systems and processes to even be remotely functional.

    OP#3 – it’s not unreasonable for your manager to have your email login for a little while after you’ve left. It’s a bit odd that your accounts haven’t been cancelled, but perhaps IT is backed up, or – if you were in a client-facing role – perhaps your manager needs to monitor your inbox in case old clients try to contact you. That said, it shouldn’t go on more than a couple months at most.

  27. Tulip*

    Alison, sorry if this counts as nitpicking your words, but the statement in your answer – “I’m sorry I’m not being available to talk more” sounds to me as if the speaker is deliberately not setting aside time to talk even though they’re free. Wouldn’t this be better instead – “I’m sorry I’m not available to talk more”

    I don’t mean to be pedantic, sorry! Am I overthinking it?

    And, OP2, you’ve been more than generous already! Some great suggestions in the comments above already re: a FAQ/info sheet, or a common webinar-like session.

    1. Cj*

      I agree about #2. I usually love every word of Alison’s scripts, but something about that made it seem purposeful to me also.

  28. EPLawyer*

    #2 – it sounds like they are using the former interns as part of the hiring process – unpaid of course. Although you say the organization is great, this is kinda a sign of dysfunction. Keep this in mind when you push back.

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      I agree–I think giving out past employee info for questions is totally normal, but it sounds maybe here like they are basically not allowing for time for the new applicants to ask questions figuring that they can get what they need from OP and other past interns.

  29. Pilcrow*

    OP1. As others have mentioned, there could be lots of reasons for someone to ask basic questions. My experience is when someone (who I know to be competent) keeps asking the same basic questions over and over or asks seemingly off the wall questions, the cause is often that there is some nuance that I’m missing and/or isn’t being communicated well.

    My role usually requires me to dig into questions like this and pick apart what’s behind it. What you need to do depends on your role. It sounds like it’s in your manager’s hands, so you should leave it there.

    1. Anonymous tech writer*

      Or in my case, the template I was repeatedly questioning simply hadn’t been copied correctly to the public server and the gatekeeper was referencing their hard drive.

  30. soon 2be former fed*

    It has been shown that people living in chronically high-stress situations, such as urban poverty coupled with high crime, war zones, etc., suffer from cognitive issues. The brain suffers under these conditions, and children may have a harder time learning because of their environment. Horrible.

    1. Joielle*

      I read an article recently about how doctors are seeing a lot of weird medical problems due to pandemic-related chronic stress. It can cause some serious physical and mental health issues!

    2. Apatosaurus*

      Yep. I have brain fog and memory issues due to chronic severe anxiety, and my memory has been even worse than usual since the pandemic started.

  31. Morning Glory*

    OP1 I agree that most likely your coworker is juggling work and life right now and that’s causing issues – and that it’s not your issue to solve. If it’s bothering you anyway and you really want to know the answer though, then next time she IMs with a question, why don’t you suggest a quick call to talk it through with her? That will satisfy your curiosity and let you put it out of your mind.

  32. soon 2be former fed*

    Someone asking repetitive questions may simply not be an aural learner and should write things down. I have suggested this to people who just weren’t getting what I was saying.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      Right. Or they did take notes and the notes are terrible. I’ve been guilty of that a few times in my career.

    2. allathian*

      Yes, this. But there’s a problem if the employer has provided documentation and the employee still keeps asking the same questions over and over. They can’t retain anything that’s said and they don’t bother to read the documentation, either.

  33. Camellia*

    Alison, you say, “And even if they run it without warning you, they’ll come back and ask you about it, not just instantly reject you over it. So you’ll have an opportunity at that point to explain.”

    You are much more trusting than I. How can you KNOW they won’t just instantly reject someone and move on to another candidate?

    1. Hillary*

      Background checks are usually only run as part of an offer – they’re time consuming and expensive. At this point the company is invested in the candidate and has motivation to understand any discrepancies.

      Back and forth on these is fairly common, just because names repeat. Between us my partner and I know at least five Mike Johnsons, they all live in the same metro area and have similar professions. They probably have different birthdays but it would be very easy to mix them up. The internet says there are 30k Mike Johnsons in the US.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes, and also because it’s required by law if they want to reject you over something that comes up in a credit check — they’re required by law to give you a chance to respond.

    2. Colette*

      Most employers run that kind of check at the end of the process – they don’t run it when you first apply – so they’re already somewhat invested in the candidate by that point. But even if they ran it and found out about the bankruptcy and reject the OP, you won’t know if that’s why they rejected her. And if she explains, they could reject her anyway.

    3. Observer*

      You can’t KNOW for sure. But besides it being the smart thing to do, they actually do have a legal obligation to get back to you if they find something that could affect their hiring decision.

    4. LeahS*

      I can’t speak to whether this is just my state or not, but I am in charge of background checks and legally we must tell the candidates and give them a chance to dispute or explain. It is the pre-adverse action part of the process :)

  34. Bear*

    No need to be ashamed of bankruptcy. But also no need to disclose medical information or how you are feeling. I advise the following “Since you’re running credit, I want to be totally straightforward that my family went through a debt relief process last year and you’ll see a closed bankruptcy on the report. Thankfully we are doing well today and I’m very excited about this new opportunity. Let me know if you need anything else or if we are good to go”

    This, or simply decline to address it until they bring it up and then default to the above. No more. You went through a totally legal process done by thousands of residents and businesses each year,

  35. Observer*

    #1- I’m trying to understand a couple of things. Firstly, why are you jumping to “impersonator” rather than “having a hard time”, “made some errors and is trying to recover” or other far more likely scenarios.

    Assuming that there is more here than you wrote (a not uncommon occurrence) and this is actually a more likely scenario, why would you think that you need to say anything? Your boss is on the channel and is even responding to these questions. They have to know that it is happening. You, on the other hand, don’t manage this person. You are also new enough that you wouldn’t know about any possible background to this situation. Which makes this totally not yours to deal with.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      I can understand that someone may have been making a few too many errors and needs to correct that, or is going through a hard time, etc.

      But in that case wouldn’t they ask e.g. “just to check: should I save this document to folder X as ClientReport2020-11-03.xls, correct?” rather than a much more open ended “where should I save this document?” given that they have been doing the same process every day for 4 months and seem to have suddenly forgotten any knowledge about it?

      I could even understand suddenly forgetting everything / doubting yourself about everything, but then surely they would acknowledge it in some way, or speak to the boss privately?

    2. Antennapedia*

      Just a heads up: There is ONE HUNDO PERCENT a cottage industry springing up in Asia of folks who you can outsource your remote tech job to. I feel like for a while there we were seeing a piece in Forbes or whatever at least once a year about some tech guru who is pulling down $300k a year and was paying some kid in China $30/hour to do his job. It is definitely not unheard of, especially in software. And not even necessarily illegal!

      BUT! That said: It’s also not OP1’s job to worry about it.

  36. interimPM*

    OP#5 – I definitely agree with Alison’s advice but also would say that it is possible to interview safely in-person. As Alison said though, if it doesn’t or they don’t respond well, that is a great indication of this company. I am taking this pandemic very seriously but I also work in manufacturing. We have been safely working in person for the entire pandemic – with no outbreaks and numerous safety and reporting structures in place and tons of cleaning. We have hired 3 external candidates during the pandemic and we brought all on site for their last interview. We did this because you really need to see the factory to understand the job and know what you’re signing up for. For us, it would be a huge waste of resources for someone to expect a certain kind of job and show up to a plant that’s not what they pictured. However, we were clear on our safety expectations – that we’d take their temperature before they could enter the building, that they’d have to wear a mask even during the interview, and that our team would be sitting at individual, socially distanced tables so it would be more awkward for the conversation part (who do you look at?). Overall it went well but we really stayed focused on safety for us and the candidate, which is crucial to us being able to stay open and get people hired. Caveat – This advice is specific to a job that is an in-person job and can’t be done remotely (which our jobs were), so if your job can be done remotely or will be done remotely, than disregard this. If that’s the case, I would 100% push for a remote interview and excuse myself from consideration if it wasn’t granted.

    1. abcd*

      We’ve also done in person interviews. The conference rooms we’re using are larger to allow for 6 feet between each person. Masks are required. Hand shaking is not a thing. There is no exchange of documents. If a candidate is uncomfortable coming in, we’ve done video calls.

  37. Observer*

    #3- I suggest that you do NOT continue to follow up. You sent an email to the people who would need to know if she is doing something shady, so no one can blame you if something goes wring there. Also, if you have not done so, it might be good to send out an email to anyone on your contact list that doesn’t know the you have moved to give them your new contact info. This way anyone will know not to send information for you to that account, and also that if an email comes from your old account, they will know it’s not from you.

    Beyond that, if you keep following up, you risk looking bad. On the one hand,even if she is doing something shady, there is no reason to believe that either HR or IT is going to get back to you. In fact, I would say that it is HIGHLY unlikely that they are going to talk to you about it either way. There is no further information you could give them and they would not be smart to discuss internal issues with someone who is no longer part of the organization.

    Also, it is quite likely that what is happening is totally above board. Accounts are not always immediately deactivated, and even when they are incoming email / messages are often automatically forwarded to someone else. So, it’s quite possible that that’s what your IT did when you left and that’s how your boss is seeing your incoming emails.

    1. Paranoid OP*

      All of the comments along these lines have been SO helpful!! Most importantly, they have helped me realize that I am holding a ton of baggage from this toxic ex-boss (the main reason why I left), and I am viewing things primarily through the lens of bad faith. I would also feel more relieved if I thought she was acting on information and passing to others (including my cover) – but this is part of the problem, she isn’t refilling open positions, so there are serious issues with workloads and technical/capacity gaps. However, as multiple people said, not my problem anymore!! So I’ll do as suggested, and be grateful that I’ve left this circus behind. Thank you!

  38. Anon for this one*

    For OP 1 – I work at a law firm and we realized that one of our attorneys was having her boyfriend, who was an unemployed attorney, doing a bunch of her work for her. We didn’t have to fire her because she was leaving anyway. The first thing we noticed was that sometimes her writing was great and other times it was terrible. Okay, there are reasonable explanations for this. But the part that stood out the most was that they had different ways of citing cases. One would underline and one would italicize. I once got a document with both in different sections. When I asked her about it, she said she used a document from her boyfriend’s old firm as a template for a certain section. It had been publicly filed so that was okay.

    Other times I’d ask her a question, she wouldn’t know and the next day she’d have the answer and freely admit she asked her boyfriend and he looked it up. That would be a little odd but okay. My husband works in a legal adjacent field and sometimes asks me general legal questions and I could see him in a meeting saying “I didn’t understand this so I asked my wife, a lawyer who explained that summary judgment is …..”

    I don’t know how my boss finally really figured it out. Maybe it was the metadata – though even that isn’t always accurate. I’m working from home from my husband’s personal laptop now which has his name in the metadata if I’m not fully remoted in to my work computer as I should be.

    All I know is he figured it out after she had already left. We joked that the boyfriend’s work was better than hers and if he was still unemployed, we’d hire him, but for the sketchy work share they had done.

  39. SL33*

    OP1 – This may be a reach – but is it possible that this person is in a domestic violence situation and is trying to send a message that they need help? Can someone call them and ask if they’re ok? This may sound paranoid but I volunteer with DV victims and I’ve heard stranger things. Hopefully everyone is ok and just having brain fog.

      1. SL33*

        As I said – I volunteer with DM victims and I’ve heard stranger things. It can be a very dire situation.

  40. QuinleyThorne*

    OP1 – Alison’s probably right on this one. One of the ways my stress and anxiety can manifest is problems with memory, and getting confirmations on processes in writing gives me something to refer back to as opposed to asking the same question over and over.

  41. Worksmarter*

    OP2 have you considered doing a write up of your experience and incorporating the info you’ve been asked about? Then you could give it to the company to share with potential interns or post it to a webpage or some place you could direct the interns who contact you.

  42. Ann Perkins*

    OP2 – another suggestion would be to do a Q&A/open house maybe once a semester for these interns. That way anyone who wants to ask you questions can all show up at the same time and you’re not having to answer the same questions repeatedly.

  43. employment lawyah*

    1. Is someone pretending to be my remote coworker?
    Honestly, I probably *would* flag this. The world is a bizarre place. People “outsourcing” their remote work is absolutely, definitely, a thing.

    More to the point it’s incredibly simple to check (just pick up the phone, or do something akin to “did you like Elizabth’s presentation last week?” when there was neither an Elizabeth or a presentation.) Because the cost of checking is so incredibly tiny, there’s no reason not to check.

    2. I agreed to talk to prospective interns for my old employer — but it’s too much
    You can say no.

    Tip: Now or in future, offer to do a single group zoom at your convenience, which will answer all questions at the same time. Alternatively, take questions via email and make a FAQ all at once.

    3. Is my ex-boss snooping in my old accounts?
    Snooping? You can’t prevent it. That is why you shouldn’t use work email for personal business.

    again: DO NOT USE WORK EMAIL FOR PERSONAL BUSINESS. Then “snooping” is not an issue. Ahem.

    Both ethically and legally, though, they cannot adopt your persona and respond as if they were you. It’s ok for them to keep “employee@oldfirm” as an email and have things forwarded to a new address (to cover old clients who may email you directly,) but it’s NOT OK to post or email FROM your email without explicitly disclosing that it is from you; that kind of misrepresentation is unwise.

    If you’re not sure, you can always set up a burner account and email yourself (at your old address) to see what happens.

    4. Pre-employment credit check when I have a bankruptcy
    If you’re applying in finances and have a bankruptcy you should disclose early, IMO, as many people will not hire you at all. In fact, even if they would want to, they may have specialized practice-area rules or E&O insurance policies which prohibit it.

    If it’s just a normal company which does credit checks (some do) and if you’re not applying for a financial position (or any other position where they may thing you are more likely to steal/cheat/bribe/divert if you’re poor and need cash), they may not care and you may as well wait to see what happens.

    5. Interviewers who want to meet in-person
    Don’t assume!

    I meet people in-person all the time: We sit outside, 10-12 feet apart. We can hear each other just fine; we can see facial expressions and body language; and it’s perfectly safe. If I were hiring someone I would definitely expect to do that, rather than relying on phone or video.

    And frankly hiring is a big enough one-time deal–if you stay a while you will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in training and pay–that it is reasonable to take it as a higher priority. Even if they expect you to come in for a short (properly isolated) meeting in masks–which is less risk than going to a supermarket–it is not by any means indicative of a blase approach to CV.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      On #1, the OP has been there less than two months and doesn’t sound like she’s in a senior position. She has no standing to investigate this, and no need to.

      1. employment lawyah*

        No need: agreed! No dereliction of duty should OP decide to ignore it; no consequences for OP should OP not raise it, etc.

        But I think OP *could*, if they choose, reasonably raise it privately to a manager, or something similar, without causing any problems. Because, like I said, outsourcing remote work is definitely a thing. And also, a lot of protection against such things relies on people, like OP, who notice “something seems off.”

        It’s really hard to assess this without details, but there are certainly scenarios where I would do so.

        Making a huge fuss is a bad idea. But delicately flagging it in a “hey this seems odd and it is probably not an issue but FYI” may, depending on your field, range from “bad” to “acceptable” to “very wise.”

        1. Observer*

          Considering that they are new AND that their boss already knows about it there is actually a real potential cost to the OP of bringing it up to their supervisor. The OP wants to be helpful, but in all likelihood, they will not come off that way to their boss.

  44. Esmeralda*

    OP #1. I am one of the folks in my office with the longest tenure. I’m the person who ANSWERS questions like this. Due to personal stuff and to, you know, 2020, I have been asking seriously dumbass questions on the regular. As basic as the ones your colleague is asking.

    Chill. As long as it is not affecting your ability to get work done (as in, you can’t get work done because your colleague spends so much time asking questions), no need for you to be concerned.

  45. CoffeeAnon*

    Impersonator? I wouldn’t jump to that. The most I’ve ever done in that vein is my wife or I moving the other’s mouse every so often so they can take the occasional long bathroom break or run to Starbucks down the road for ten minutes.

    She’s probably just stressed out and forgetting.

  46. Bopper*

    Interns calling:
    How about making a video or just a document where you describe your experiences as well as answering the top questions that the interns have asked you so far. THen maybe (or not) tell them they can email you questions.

  47. C M*

    I had a little bit of a different take on LW1. I work for Big Company, and since we are now having many very important meetings over WebEx, we actually have a problem with outsiders hacking hoping to see trade secrets. IT has added new security layers, but we are warned to always watch and report. Meetings now require passwords, and most meetings start with a roll call, especially for call-in numbers that don’t have an employee name attached. I’ve been in meetings where the host had to eject someone who turned out to be high level, because that person stepped away for a minute and couldn’t give their name when asked. They are always understanding and just call back in and explain. But IT wants us to report anything suspicious – it’s their job to figure out if it’s truly a security incident.

    The questions the coworker is asking could be standard isolation brain farts, but it could also be phishing for company details. It’s more likely the first option but the second is realistic. Since the boss is replying, this coworker’s name is presumably someone expected to do this work, but I would be a little suspicious that an outsider hacked in. Maybe it doesn’t warrant reporting at this point, but I don’t think it’s so weird to be concerned.

    1. Beth*

      This was my reaction also: depending on what kind of company and what kind of work they’re doing, it might be a good idea for the boss (not the OP) to check in and make sure there hasn’t been a hacking operation. It seems unlikely, but most hacking operations seem unlikely until they actually happen.

    2. Observer*

      You are describing a very different set of circumstances. Also, the OP is not seeing anything that someone better placed is not seeing.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        the OP is not seeing anything that someone better placed is not seeing.

        Yeah, technically this is true in that (from what was written) it seems like all of this is in a group chat, to which OP and boss both have access to all the messages from co-worker.

        But… OP may be better placed than boss, in some senses. Maybe boss is more pre-occupied with other things outside the chat and hasn’t noticed the pattern. Maybe OP as a relatively new pair of eyes (she’s worked there 2 months and co-worker a few months longer) can spot things more readily. Or perhaps OP is more able for whatever reasons (personality or etc) to see that something doesn’t add up and boss just takes things at face value more than they should, for example.

        Not saying above is definitely the case, but just challenging you on that the boss is automatically ‘better placed’ to see (or really, notice) what’s going on.

        1. C M*

          Also, like, if the LW talked to their boss about these concerns in a tactful, good-faith way, and the boss already knows something that LW doesn’t, any good boss would politely thank them for their concern and reassure them that nothing is wrong. It would take a real jerk of a boss to respond, “How dare you assume you know more about the situation than I do? Stay in your own lane and always assume that I know more than you and have it under control.”

      2. C M*

        But if this happened at my job, I might report it. The whole point is that it’s someone else’s job to determine what’s really going on, but still my job to raise the issue. And if my manager or colleagues feel the same way, they can also report it but it doesn’t absolve me of my responsibility to report it. They would rather get the same report from 5 different people and investigate it and find out everything is fine, than to let a real issue slip through the cracks because every person thought it wasn’t their place to judge and/or assumed that someone higher up would report it.

        However, my current company isn’t obsessed with hierarchy the way some of my previous jobs have been. I think it’s because my industry is so heavily regulated that every employee at every level is trained that not only *can* we report anything, we *have a duty* to report it.

  48. LJay*

    #5. I’m holding in person interviews at this time because the position I am hiring for is an essential position and they would be required to come into the facility every day if they were hired.

    It’s also a warehouse management position and it’s very difficult to give the scope of the facilities and the workload over a zoom meeting or similar.

    It’s only final round candidates that we’re bringing in. Interviews are done masked and distanced. Everyone’s temperature is taken every time they enter the facility.

    If anyone expressed that they did not want to risk an in-person interview, they would be offered a video interview. However, we would also emphasize that it will be a job requirement for the person offered the position to work on-site if offered.

    1. allathian*

      Yeah, I have no problem with in-person interviews if the job is such that it can only be done on-site, as in your case. Especially since you’re doing masked and distanced interviews.

  49. Ann O'Nemity*

    Don’t underestimate pandemic forgetfulness! People are stressed, thinking about other stuff, and are out of their element. Forgetfulness is a psychological response to all that anxiety.

    (Do a quick internet search for “pandemic forgetfulness.” It’s a real thing.)

  50. mlem*

    #1 is *probably* entirely fine. But the wording cited is weird enough that, *depending on specifics and industry*, I would actually worry about a phishing incursion. But my industry is having a huge problem with that this past few weeks, so I’m on edge about the possibility. (If the boss has laid eyes on the employee at all during this period and so is reassured it’s not an incursion, or a DV situation for that matter, then never mind.)

    1. C M*

      I agree, and mentioned it elsewhere in the thread. Hacking and phishing have become common enough for remote work that it’s not unreasonable to be suspicious, although it probably is just forgetfulness from stress/isolation. At my company, we are supposed to report anything suspicious. It’s not our responsibility to investigate and determine if it’s a real threat, but it is absolutely our responsibility to report it so the right people can investigate.

  51. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

    LW 4 I had a bankruptcy several years back. I am a Dave Ramsey follower on Baby Step 4 now. When someone or place wants to run a credit check on me I let them know I have a 0 score (last time one was ran all 3 places literally had no info) and all they will find is the discharged bankruptcy because I am on the Dave Ramsey plan and have no debt and a budget for each month. I tend to find the people running them already know about Dave Ramsey or ask me about him. I’ve found most places have a work around in place for no credit scores.

  52. JSPA*

    I’m going contrarian here.

    Not that this is an impersonator, per se.

    But we’re all human beings, regardless of rank. If everyone acts like everything is normal when it’s not normal, it’s going to be harder for the boss (who’s also human and under stress–because we’re all under stress) to believe that they alone are noticing that’s very “off.” Pretending everything is OK is the path of least resistance. But it’s far from the best path, if someone is suddenly performing this dramatically differently than their norm.

    So while it’s not AT ALL your job to suss out or fix the problem, it’s perfectly reasonable to email something to the boss like, “I don’t know [coworker] closely, but all those questions during the call struck me as unusual. If you talk to [coworker] and it turns out there’s some temporary issue, I can swing a higher workload for two or three days, if they’re in need of a lighter load.”

    That’s not “impersonators!” or “aliens!” or “coworker is an F-up!” or “I’m telling you how to do your job!” It does say, “you’re not alone if you noticed something,” and it says “I’m a team player,” and it says, “concerned for wellbeing of [coworker].”

    By setting a time limit on your offer, you’re actually less likely to be swamped for weeks than if coworker is fired or has to take long term leave. Which is to say, it also indirectly reminds the boss, “it’s often better to be a bit proactive than to watch people flame out at a distance.”

  53. DataGirl*

    LW4- I went through a bankruptcy and foreclosure in 2015, due to husband being laid off then unemployed for 3 years, and then was later hired by 2 different jobs (early 2017 and late 2017, quit first one after 6 months because it was on a Hellmount) both of which said they performed credit checks. I can’t really say if they ran them or not, but if they did, it didn’t affect me getting hired. HTH.

  54. Tidewater 4-1009*

    #3 – Be sure you have in writing that you tried to follow up with HR and IT about your former boss maintaining your accounts. That way if there is trouble down the road you will have proof that you tried to prevent it.
    If you think it’s safe and won’t be used against you or them, also warn your coworkers in writing and save that. If you don’t think it’s safe, keep a log of the date, time, and content of the conversations and with who.
    Your former boss sounds like an unethical person and you should take every precaution to protect yourself, just in case. Documenting doesn’t hurt anyone!

  55. Hank Stevens*

    I am currently interviewing candidates in person with all involved wearing facemasks. We also have candidates do a COVID screening before the interview starts and their temperature is taken. I think that is appropriate and responsible. We have done some Facetime and Ring Central interviews also. The jobs I hire for are not remote, so they would need to come into work if hired anyway.

  56. Sleepyhead*

    LW1: it’s also possible something has happened that is affecting him/her cognitively. I suffered a concussion a few years ago. I looked the same, but my memory was affected significantly; for almost two years I couldn’t remember the names of people I had met many, many times, would ask the same questions multiple times, and had to be reminded of things I already knew (or had been told the day before).

    It sounds crazy (and it was), but it didn’t seem as severe to everyone else as it actually was, because they were seeing the same person and just thinking I was rude if I would ask the same person multiple times what their plans were for the upcoming weekend (or – awkward – like when I forgot that someone died).

    I generally would warn people up front, but I couldn’t always remember who I told, and worse, people would generally forget and not understand why I was so confused.

    Now I’m about 98% back to normal, but it’s absolutely possible that someone could brush off the signs of a concussion and not realize what was happening (in retrospect, mine was likely a second concussion, but the first seemed so minor that no one linked it to my cognitive abilities. Neither were sports-related). Medications can also affect people, as can a variety of medical conditions. It seems like a stretch that they would have someone take over their job for them and not assist them in any way. Either they are getting their work done or they aren’t, in which case it actually doesn’t matter whether it’s your colleague or a teenage substitution.

Comments are closed.