update: will it hurt my chances of getting hired if I can only do video interviews?

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

Remember the letter-writer who was worried she was less likely to get hired if she could only do video interviews? (#2 at the link) Here’s the update.

It’s been a little over a year since you published my question about remotely interviewing for a job in a different country, and oh my goodness, it almost feels like a completely different world, doesn’t it?! For a company to turn up their nose at doing Zoom interviews now is almost unfathomable. What a wild year it’s been since then.

Anyway, as I mentioned in my first update, I applied to a great job at a company who didn’t bat an eye at the prospect of interviewing me remotely, and I got the job! :) That was mid-December of last year, I moved to the UK on the 7th of January and started at my new job on the 8th. It was, in a word, incredible. I managed to find a flat and moved in just ten days later, I attended our industry’s biggest annual conference in London, I joined a few fellow new hires for a day at our main London office, I made very good friends with several people, and then in mid-March our entire company highly encouraged all employees to work from home if at all possible – I ended up being one of about 20 people left in an office of 120. We knew the lockdown was coming though, so all our managers began helping us check, configure and setup things at home so we’d have plenty of time to fix or solve any issues before the official order to stay at home came out. We were also allowed to take literally anything we wanted from the office, just as long as we notified the office manager; I took a monitor and a few cables (plus several office plants) but I had coworkers who took literally everything, including the office chair. It was brilliant.

I’m not gonna lie, it’s been tough, but it’s been tough for everyone, you know? And I can say with absolute certainty that I got this job at the exact right moment. I had enough time after arriving in the UK to properly rent a flat, take a couple of work trips, arrange all my legal documents, and setup my bills and internet connection, all that before the world fell into chaos. If I were still in my home country I honestly don’t know what would’ve happened to me – the nature of my old job required me to be at the office from Monday to Friday, so my coworkers were still having to take (highly overcrowded) public transport and work at the office until around mid-April, which is insane – whereas my new company is extremely supporting of all of us, highly concerned with our mental well-being, have been extremely accommodating of any needs, reimbursed people who had to purchase office equipment, have been keeping us updated in regards to our financial gains and losses, and overall made minimal cuts in the staff by simply not replacing the few coworkers who left for better opportunities in the past few months. They’re not perfect and have made a few mistakes during this process, but considering everything they’ve done and are still doing (and how earnest I know the leadership team is in making things as least bad to everyone as possible) I feel like they’ve handled things honourably by owning up to the mistakes made and being sincere in their wishes to fix things and avoid the same mistakes going forward. As a good example of how well things have been handled, I have ADHD, and due to working from home I’ve struggled with keeping focus and being as productive at home as I am in the office, and my boss has been super understanding and has been doing all that she can to help me through it. Overall it’s been a blessing and a privilege to work for this company and I’m so happy to have found such an amazing group of people that have definitely made getting through this crazy year that much easier, all things considered.

All of this also means that I passed my probation period in July with flying colours! I’m enjoying the work very much; It’s challenging, the customer I work with is really kind, and the product I provide support to is incredible and has won several industry awards. I’m very proud of the work we do and have not regretted my decision to take this job in the least, which is SO refreshing to be able to say! The hardest part is how much I miss my family, but I’m finally going home in December for three and a half weeks to spend the end of the year Holidays with them, and I’m counting down the seconds!

Thank you so much Alison, your blog is a welcome reprieve and a soothing balm as always. May you and all the readers have a lovely end of the year season, and here’s hoping that things start getting back to normal as soon as possible in 2021 ❤

{ 38 comments… read them below }

  1. Office chair 'borrower'*

    Glad it worked out! One genuine question though:

    “We were also allowed to take literally anything we wanted from the office, just as long as we notified the office manager; I took a monitor and a few cables (plus several office plants) but I had coworkers who took literally everything, including the office chair. ”

    Wait, didn’t everyone do that? As a manager I told people to take their chairs and proper equipment – saving months of referrals to occupational health if everyone’s got bad backs from hunching over their laptop on a kitchen chair for months. I assumed this was common sense? Nine months of remote work later I’m so glad I have a proper monitor and keyboard!

    1. local gov worker*

      I work for local government so we have a bureaucratic process for everything. I took my keyboard and mouse home with me, but it was without official permission. After the first few weeks we were given permission to take our desk chairs (if we fill out a Desk Chair Relocation Form, lol) and to get a spare monitor (also with a form), but we can’t take desks home.

        1. OldMonitor*

          As a local government employee, just this week I was finally allowed to borrow an old, spare monitor from work that they had already decommissioned from someone else’s desk, nearly 9 months after they first said we could work from home (it was highly frowned upon to WFH pre-COVID and only allowed infrequently in exceptional circumstances). This is after they announced at the end of ~August~ that they were working on a plan for remote work equipment, and then in early October asking us for our requests. Then it had to go through a vetting/prioritization process. This was their plan…to finally let people borrow old equipment they were probably going to take to electronics recycling anyways. I mean, I appreciate the sustainability aspect, but this monitor is so old it almost makes it harder to do my job, rather than easier. *sigh*

    2. Unregretful Black Sheep*

      Husband’s office didn’t let them take anything. A few months ago, they opened the office at night in shifts so people could grab personal items that had been there since March, but not office supplies. Hence us purchasing new home office chairs after he broke both of ours. They’ve supposedly been talking about letting people grab their monitors/chairs/etc., but nothing’s official.

    3. Tacos*

      Nope. I was working at a smaller place then and they just sent us home. I bought myself a monitor and should’ve fought to get it reimbursed, but things were really hectic there and I was overwhelmed so when I got an offer from a much better place I just gave my notice and didn’t bother. I think the new place I’ve been at since April let people take things home (I’ve never even seen the office so I had nothing), but I have friends who could only take things home in May when their company finally realized the lockdown was going to go on more than six weeks.

    4. ATM*

      We got to take our computers/monitors, cables, etc. home, but chairs were considered too much of a liability for my workplace. I’m assuming it’s because of what it would take to sanitize them, but I’m not sure.

    5. Forrest*

      We got to take stuff when we initially left, but then they shut down campus until it was “COVID-secure”. Once it was clear that we weren’t going to be back in after a week or two, they organised a system to let people book to come back on and take things away. So if you didn’t have a car or a way of getting big things home on a random day in March, you were basically stuck til June!

    6. CLD*

      We were given up to $50 to purchase supplies like a keyboard and mouse. We are not allowed to remove anything from the office unless you had obtained it under disability policy (like a special mouse). This means no monitors and no office chairs (unless you get a Drs note). I have bought a chair pad and a laptop monitor platform to help, but I definitely feel the effects of not having a proper set up every day.

    7. LW*

      OP here! yeah I can see on the replies here that a lot of people weren’t given this option, unfortunately, and I’m not surprised. The desks were the only thing we couldn’t take home, but that was because we have those looooong ones with dividers in between them. A few months ago the company rolled out a very detailed questionnaire that we were instructed to answer as sincerely as possible as to how ideal our working from home equipment was, explaining how things should be arranged in order to not cause long lasting aches or injuries, and people who responded that their setup wasn’t ideal and how so were given a HEFTY budget to buy essential office equipment like chairs, desks, keyboard, mouse, footrest, etc. (monitors were the only thing not on the list of things you could be reimbursed for because they’re really expensive and you could still take a monitor from the office in case you decided what you had wasn’t ideal)

      I know I’m the exception, but I also know I shouldn’t be. This was what every company should’ve done to support their employees during the pandemic and it’s sad to see other people’s stories don’t reflect this.

  2. Aly*

    I am glad it worked out for OP, but seriously: you’re FLYING across the ocean during a PANDEMIC to see family, which all the public health experts have told us not to do, and you’re not even quarantining? You need to rethink this.

    1. WellRed*

      I’m not going to judge her choice to travel, but cannot see what gave you the idea she’s flying, let alone over an ocean.

    2. Maltypass*

      They could be – there would be time to quarantine and to see family after, or maybe they’re testing when they get there. I’m as stressed as anyone by this pandemic, but let’s assume the best of OP?

    3. Two Dog Night*

      Don’t you think it’s a lot more likely that the LW is in Europe? It’s very unlikely that someone in the US would have got a job in the UK in December and moved on January 7.

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

        Yes, she never says she was in US. She said home country. I think if she had been from the US she would have said anything.

        1. Moeg*

          Aly also didn’t mention the US. The UK is an island, they’re still most likely flying to whatever home country it is.

          1. Forrest*

            There are ferries to Ireland, the Netherlands, France and Spain! We always go to Ireland by ferry.

            1. Forrest*

              (Though it probably isn’t Ireland as they’re currently telling people not to come home for Christmas. :-( )

            2. Moeg*

              You can get ferries to Norway, Denmark, and Sweden as well, but I still think flying is more likely. More destinations, more likely to be closer to an airport than the right port at either end, etc.

          2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            And quarantining is enforced in the UK with hefty fines for those caught not doing it.

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

            There is a tunel that you can drive through that goes from England to France. It’s called the Channel Tunnel or Chunnel. You can drive from England to France, and then go on to wherever. as long as she isn’t going against those countries health precautions, she is ok

            1. londonedit*

              I mean, you can’t drive through it, but you can drive your car onto a train that goes through the tunnel and ends up in Calais. Or you can get the Eurostar passenger train from London to the continent.

      2. Nitpicker*

        In her first update, the OP mentioned being ten thousand kilometers away from the UK. That most likely means another continent. And flying. But not necessarily the US.

        1. A*

          Good eye. As much as we should be compassionate, that kind of intercontinental travel really does need to be cut back, especially during the peak holiday season.

          1. A*

            (and I say this as someone who hasn’t seen my family since last Christmas and probably won’t until next Christmas. I do sympathize)

    4. Randomity*

      UK coronavirus advice allows for some foreign travel. I wouldn’t do it in OP’s shoes, but I’m not gonna tell her not to.

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

      The OP never said she was from the US. She is probably from a country in Europe and would be able to drive from England to the continent via the Channel Tunnel. Keep in mind many US states are farther apart than many European countries. People are going to different states in the US it wouldn’t be any different for going to Germany, from England. Let’s not judge her.

    6. LW*

      hey Aly! OP here :) as someone mentioned in the comments here, yes, I will be flying to go back home; there isn’t any other way, unfortunately, as home is, indeed, in another continent (although not the US for those of you curious!) I’ll be taking as many precautions as possible though: I’m isolating myself in my flat for two weeks before the trip, I bought N95 masks with respirators to use from and to the airport, and I plan on getting tested as soon as I get home to make sure I didn’t get sick during the trip. I know the risks as much as anyone else, and I’m taking all precautions available.

      I understand that the ideal thing at this point in time would be to not go back home at all, and I really do understand your concerns, but I booked the tickets back in February, before things exploded the way they did; I thought, foolishly, that things would have improved by now. I spoke to my family about the risks and the precautions we’ll have to take for this to work and we’ve all agreed to go forth with me going back home for the holidays. I know it’s not the best, but I haven’t seen my family in nearly a year now, and due to a few personal reasons and things that happened while I was away I just really need to do this.

      I hope this makes sense, and that you guys can respect my decision. Trust me, I know how dire things are; I was using masks before they were proven to work, before they were made mandatory in the UK. I barely stepped outside my flat during summer. I have breathing problems. I am taking this extremely seriously, and while I am indeed a bit scared to fly, I’m also incredibly relieved and excited that I can soon see my family again.

    7. Batgirl*

      A friend of mine travelled from the UK to Dubai in the summer for her new job; it was perfectly in line with guidance. She just had to be tested first that’s all. Other countries have isolation policies before you fly.

  3. Tips pleeeeease*

    OP, so happy things have worked out well for you! I hope next year you’re able to spend more time exploring/ etc., but it really sounds like you’re in a good spot.
    Wondering if you had any tips on working from home with ADHD – I struggle with the same, but don’t really know how to approach it, and would love any ideas!

    1. MarMar*

      I workout at lunch time now and it’s definitely helpful for my ADD. By the middle of the day, I’m ready to move my body, and it’s a nice break.

      Also I force myself to sit at my desk all day. If I sit on the couch, I end up on my phone for hours.

      Last one, if you have trouble paying attention in meetings, do something with your hands. Folding laundry is a personal favorite. Something like that is just enough to keep my mind from wandering. I actually have to do this for personal chit chat calls as well, otherwise I zone out.

    2. LW*

      all ADHD brains work differently, but here’s some things that help me:

      – I write down everything I have pending to do at the beginning of the day, and then go down that list one thing at a time; seeing it dwindle is extremely satisfying and helps me keep motivated. I also try working on the easy wins first, because they show me that progress is being made, and makes me ready to tackle harder stuff later on;
      – I take a five to ten minutes break in between tasks, as both a reward and a way to rest my brain, sort of reset it from the finished task so I can get started on the next one;
      – if I have a taks that demands my full attention, I close down Outlook and put an instrumental playlist to get me in the groove (songs with lyrics usually make me fight to keep my attention on the task at hand – I really like this song and want to sing along to it, but also I need to focus on what I’m reading/writing – and instrumental songs don’t really have that issue);
      – the daily calls with my boss are a really good way to replace the usual social interaction I had during the day in the office, either in the kitchen or just in the middle of the day when I needed a quick break. try scheduling a fifteen minuted daily call with a coworker struggling the same way you are!

      These are some of the things that help me personally, but it’s entirely likely that others might do the trick for you. I say try things out and see what sticks! I know it’s hard but you can do it!

      Good luck!!!

  4. Forrest*

    Ha, this letter came up a coupe of weeks ago in one of the algorithm-recommended “you might also like” and I commented at the time that it aged really badly and really quickly! Congratulations on your job, OP!

    1. LW*

      HA! talk about 2020 vision (or lack thereof!)

      but yeah, I’m excited at how this is going to open up the global market for people working for any company from anywhere around the globe without needing for them to necessarily relocate, or at least not have hiring managers turn up their noses at video interviews. It was a bad (the worse) possible way to get companies to learn that, actually, WFH and video interviews are not The Worse Idea Ever, but I’m glad that in the end at least some good things are going to come out of this year.

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