can you bill for your time after a long interview process?

A reader writes:

A friend recently sat for 29 — yes, 29 — half-hour interviews for the position of senior director. The interviews included the CEO, president, COO, CFO, etc. The company’s hiring manager called her two references, both of which are highly respected in the field, and both of which attested to giving her stellar reviews. In addition, she has an unblemished record and excellent credentials. Regardless, she was not hired and the position remains unfilled.

Considering that the company took up so much of her time, should she bill the company for her time? If so, how would she go about doing so, a simple request by mail? Attorney? If not, do you suggest she voice her disapproval, assuming it is somehow constructive?

I answer this question — and four others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • Speaking to an employee who stayed late during a family emergency
  • Companies that have resigning employees leave on the spot
  • Do my coworkers all pity me because my job is boring?
  • Can I be friends with candidates who I reject for jobs?

{ 196 comments… read them below }

  1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

    #5 “I have had some applicants ask if we can be friends after I send them a rejection email.” Um, this sounds so much like a romantic rejection where the rejected one wants to remain in the background as a “Friend”, just in case you change your mind, but not because they actually want to be your friend. I wouldn’t take that seriously as real friendship.

    1. CmdrShepard4ever*

      I agree with you, but would also leave open the possibility that it is genuine. OP#5 does not have to agree to be everyone’s friend just because they ask. I get it making friends as an adult can be hard. I do think that runs the risk of people trying to be friends because they hope to use it as an in for a job in the future. Maybe OP could head this off by saying, “sure we can be friends but it would likely take you out of consideration for a similar job in the future due to the conflict of interest based on our personal friendship.” This way someone might be discouraged from being friends if they are looking to get hired in the future, or even someone who does genuinely want to be friends without any ulterior motive, but would rather not risk the closing of this avenue of work can avoid it if they want.

    2. Clisby*

      The question about “if we can be friends” sounds so bizarre to me. Are people actually asking the LW (a near stranger) if they can be friends? Or are they saying something more casual like, “I enjoyed talking to you, maybe we’ll run into each other again” ?

      I’m 67, and if anyone has ever asked me, “Can we be friends?” it must have been in kindergarten. It doesn’t sound like something any adult would say.

      1. Mayflower*

        It’s bizarre to me too, however, whenever I visit California, people do it to me all the time.

        A gushing “OMG YOU ARE SO AMAZING LET’S BE FRIENDS” is a California version of “good bye”, apparently ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

        1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

          I’m a California native, I’ve never met anyone over the age of 18 (and that’s stretching it) that would say that. I’ve had “We should have lunch/coffee sometime,” knowing that it’s not really an invitation for a specific event, but I’ve never heard “let’s be friends”.

          1. alienor*

            I’m not a native, but I’ve lived here for a long time and no one’s ever said it to me. I do have a serious case of RBF, so maybe they’re afraid to, haha.

      2. Amaranth*

        I’m also curious about the hiring process because in most cases the interactions just aren’t that…chummy. I mean, I love a personable hiring manager, but just how much time does she spend with each candidate, and how is so much of her personality coming across that they break that professional mindset and state they want to be friends? I’d want to look at whether I’m getting way too personal with them, or whether they really mean ‘can I keep you as a professional contact for the next job opening.’

    3. TWW*

      If this has happened multiple times, I’d be curious about what’s going on to prompt these friendship requests. Is OP unusually likable or charismatic? Could this come across as unprofessionally overfamiliar?

      1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

        That would make the most sense, but still in the realm of “friends” but not IRL friends. I can’t imagine that someone you met for an hour wants to see pics of your booze cruise to the Mexican Riviera or aunt Mildred’s 80th birthday.

      2. Clisby*

        Even that seems odd to me, but my FB is strictly personal. Are people “friends” on Linkedin? I deleted my account awhile back, and don’t remember, since I never used it. All I can recall are “connections.”

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        That’s still what I think — and my answer would be “let’s connect on LinkedIn.”

        1. Junior Assistant Peon*

          That makes sense to me. If I’ve had an hour conversation with someone during a job interview, I’m more acquainted with them than someone I had a 5-minute conversation with during a trade show and added on LinkedIn.

          Adding the person on LinkedIn makes sense. Trying to be personal friends, like connecting on Facebook or making plans to meet up for something beyond a professional networking coffee, would be weird.

  2. SheLooksFamiliar*

    OP1, your friend interviewed for a Senior Director role, implying she has some business acumen and maturity. If she’s the one asking about invoicing for an outrageously long interviewing process, she will assure the employer they dodged a bullet if she sends one. I don’t know why they declined her, but they did. That’s always a possible outcome during any interview process, and savvy people don’t have to like it but they do have to accept it.

    If you’re asking about this because you’re incensed, I get it. I’m in corporate staffing and I’m incensed, too. This was a ridiculously long process! But sending an invoice will not give your friend a no-nonsense-take-no-BS reputation, just a very bad one. Commiserate with her but do not encourage this idea.

    1. Grim*

      Probably someone who interviewed her had heard about her habit of billing for her interview time from a previous employer/coworker and voted NO THANKS.

      1. Frank Doyle*

        Wait, what? There’s no indication that she’s done this before, in fact it’s implied that she hasn’t, because she’s asking how to go about it. She’s just frustrated.

    2. Kes*

      Yeah, 29 is outrageous but trying to invoice them will only make her look bad; her only recourse here would have been to withdraw rather than continue with the interviews, and she would have been well within her rights to do so. For a senior leadership position it’s certainly reasonable to have a few more interviews than usual, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anything approaching 29

      1. Lady Meyneth*

        I’m mostly disturbed there was a link to a very similar question. Just how many people think billing for an interview is a thing that could/should happen?

    3. CH*

      I interviewed for a job and the process took ~12 hours of phone calls and in-person/panel interviews. I was disappointed when I got a call saying they weren’t going to offer me the position. Three months later, I got a call from the recruiter — there was a misunderstanding with one of the interviewers and they wanted to offer me the job at 10% more than the original budgeted salary amount. I took it and have been extremely happy in the role for the last 2+ years.

      Moral of the story: Always take the high road! If you spitefully bill the employer over their (admittedly long) interview process, you will certainly destroy any goodwill you may have built, and you never know what karma may come back around.

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        CH = I had the exact same experience; I traveled to Florida at my own expense, got my foot in the door at a software firm, had a day of great interviews, even talked salary, handshakes, etc.

        Then I heard nothing. Then seven months later (long story) they called back and one of the interviewers (the CEO in fact) thought I was in there for a sales position, but I was there for a tech/consulting role.

        Unfortunately, I had moved on… and just started a new position and could not, ethically, consider it at that point.

    4. JC*

      We had a junior level candidate tell us after the interview and rejection that he wanted reimbursement for a flight in and hotel stay. HR forwarded the email request to my boss asking to approve the costs. He had not mentioned any travel needs or reimbursement to anyone before the interview and also had a local address on his resume…so we were all flabbergasted when he asked for money- the guy was brought up in conversation for years because it was so outrageous.

      1. Cat Tree*

        Yeah, that sounds weird and probably a scam. Did he provide receipts?

        Most companies would pay for a flight and hotel, but it would be arranged up front. And not for someone with a local address.

        1. JC*

          He did have receipts and had told us during the interview he had travelled and his residence was in another state, but it was the fact he sprung the bill on us after the rejection- he had not asked or mentioned travel costs at all before or during the process. To be honest, he didn’t interview well and we dodged a bullet.

      2. SheLooksFamiliar*

        Sounds like the candidate used a local address to get the interview, maybe he assumed that being out of the area would tank his chances. It also sounds like he breezily assumed his expenses would automatically be reimbursed because that’s what prospective employers do.

        Did your company reimburse the guy?

        1. JC*

          He was not reimbursed and according to HR he did not mention the fact he was out of state or expecting travel costs at all. He was rejected a week after interview and the bill came in shortly afterwards. My bosses view was the role was clearly advertised as based in the city, and it was his choice to attend an interview, and discuss with hr in advance if needed. He wasn’t headhunted or invited to apply, and it would be highly unusual to fly someone in when the local candidate pool could fill the role. Definitely sympathetic to the fact address can hinder application, but in this case the role was junior, city based with no relocation.

          1. SheLooksFamiliar*

            Oh, I agree with the boss’s rationale, I was just curious because I’ve been in the same situation (30 years in corporate staffing). I’ve had hiring managers bend over backwards to pay expenses while my VP and I were not so inclined, for the same reasons the boss had.

  3. Jennifer*

    Lol, I wish you could, but I doubt this would go over well. I think she should have removed herself from consideration when it was clear the process was getting ridiculous. Until you have an offer in hand there are no guarantees. Just have a glass of wine with her and let her complain, then help her move on.

    1. yup yup*

      The thing is, the longer an interviewing process drags out, the more convinced you are that you’re getting hired. It might be a sunk cost fallacy, but it’s natural to not want to back out.

  4. Heffalump*

    I once worked for a company where resigning employees were immediately shown the door. As I heard it from my manager (who eventually got this treatment), the owner assumed that anyone who had given notice would then sabotage the company somehow. It was a real “the devil wears Prada” situation, and let’s say that if a departing employee wanted to lower him/herself to the owner’s level, sabotage would have been tempting. When this outfit fired me, it came as a relief.

    1. Not Australian*

      A lot of official bodies in the UK work on that basis, too. I know someone of unimpeachable character who was ushered out of her job at the Tax Office within half an hour of handing in her notice, not even allowed to say goodbye to friends and colleagues; they just assumed that anyone who wanted to leave *would* sabotage the place, no exceptions.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I was pretty much escorted out from my job at the railway that day for it (put on gardening leave so had 3 months paid doing naff all). I was one of the two people who held the sysadmin privileges to the encryption systems.

        “We love you but you’re banned from the network”

        1. Clisby*

          I worked for years in IT and that was pretty much standard procedure. I would have had permissions to wreak havoc at my job if I had just been left to work out a two-week notice. (I wouldn’t have, but we’re talking business here.) If my company had fired me, they’d have taken away all my credentials before giving me the news.

          1. Mimi*

            Anywhere I’ve worked (and I also have those permissions), involuntary terminations are treated very differently than voluntary departures. Accounts get disabled during a termination meeting, but an employee leaving in good standing, with goodwill, was generally allowed to finish up things they wanted to.

          2. medium-sized glass of water*

            I work for a team that supports our internal IT, and I can confirm- people with sysadmin privileges in most companies I have worked for have that sort of protocol for terminations and normal resignations- it might sound harsh to people in other fields, but it’s really a pretty typical security measure.

        2. Nope.*

          With that level of access, I’m not surprised at all. Entirely normal procedure. It’s not personal, it’s logical.

        3. Artemesia*

          No harm, no foul if they are paying you during the notice period. Here the OP is I think referring to being fired and left unpaid for the two week notice period. In this situation, the person should agree to start immediately with the new job on the assumption they will be dismissed without pay when they resign. If they aren’t — well then they can either re-negotiate the new start or say ‘well today will be my last day.’

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          Nope, definitely not illegal. If they’d not put me on gardening leave then it would have been.

          (Realised later that with the level of access I had I could have shut down the company in a few keystrokes, although you don’t get that level of access if you have any evil destructive tendencies at all)

        2. londonedit*

          That’s the whole point of ‘gardening leave’ in the UK – you’re removed from the company so you can’t be privy to any trade secrets or sensitive information that you might be able to take to a competitor, but you’re paid to sit at home (doing the gardening) for your notice period. Perfectly legal as you’re being paid for your notice period.

    2. Suzanne*

      Where I live if a company terminates you immediately after you resign the company still has to pay out the wages of your notice period. So it’s really a win for the employee. LOL

      1. Usagi*

        “Hello, I’d like to submit my resignation letter. Yes, my notice period will be 20 years.”

    3. Working Hypothesis*

      My first job in my present career was at a wellness clinic which terminated me the day I put in my notice. It was particularly frustrating because they accepted my notice when I gave it in the morning, and then only told me when I was finished work for that day that it would be my last day! So I didn’t get to say goodbye to any of my clients or my colleagues… the latter had all gone home by the time they told me that I couldn’t come back anymore. (I assume that the only reason they ‘let’ me work that day was because I had clients on my schedule whom they would have had to find a way to reschedule if they hadn’t kept me through that day.)

      I was furious, and it was an incredible act of self-sabotage on their part. I’m sure they did it because they were afraid that I would try to poach their clients for the next place I was going to work… but I had a non-solicitation agreement and I took it seriously. What I really meant to do by giving them plenty of notice (it was about six weeks before I really had to leave) was to make sure that I had time to tell all my regular clients that I was leaving and see them properly handed off to other employees of THAT clinic who would make them happy, so that they’d be well served and continue to stay there. By firing me on the spot, they didn’t get that closing help from me, and the result was that many of their clients got annoyed with the clinic, finding me suddenly absent without warning or transition. A couple of them even sought me out in the future, having chosen to terminate their relationship with that clinic and follow me despite absolutely no effort in that direction on my part… I didn’t even get to tell them I was leaving, let alone to where. (Since I didn’t encourage them to do this, I was clear under the terms of the non-solicitation agreement and free to keep them as clients.)

      But it always saddened me that I lost friends I had worked with who never knew that I would have loved to stay in touch, or had a way to contact me, because I wasn’t even allowed to leave a note on the break room bulletin board with my email address. I did run across one of them years later, when he applied for work at the clinic I was working for then. I put in a good word for him gladly — he was excellent at his job — and he was hired, so we saw each othern pretty often for a while. He asked me why I had left without goodbyes and was visibly astonished and outraged to hear that I hadn’t been allowed to say them.

      1. The Rural Juror*

        This is very similar to how my last job (before my current position) had ended. I gave my company 3 weeks notice because I was a salesperson and had about 15 clients I would need to transfer to someone else on the team. They thought I was leaving to go work for a competitor, so they told me to leave right then. I guess they thought I wouldn’t honor my NDA and would try to poach clients. I was actually leaving sales altogether…

        My poor coworkers ended up having to pick up the pieces. I had clients calling me over the next couple of months asking what had happened because their projects had gone off the rails after I left. That company lost LOT of business because they chose to cut off their nose to spite their face. The last I heard, they had to layoff a most of their employees and were struggling to stay in business. I don’t think that was entirely because of me leaving, but because the decisions they made were driving people away (including me).

        1. Mannheim Steamroller*

          If the company failed entirely because of one person leaving, then that company was already mismanaged and deserved to fail.

          1. Lady Meyneth*

            I’ll bet they did this to every person leaving, and then pressured the overworked remaining employees to pick up the slack. So definitely it was already mismanaged and deserved to fail.

    4. TWW*

      Is is it really such a bad thing? The one time I resigned a job, serving out the two weeks’ notice was so grim, I would have happily forgone it.

      When I gave my notice, I had already tied up loose ends, updated all my process documents, put all my personal belongings in a box, etc. I can’t even remember what I did for those two weeks other than endure having to be a job that I had already mentally left.

    5. pleaset cheap rolls*

      My spouse worked at a company like that, so she didn’t tell them when she accepted a new job. Then, during the period when she was still working her boss and HR were rude to her on an unrelated matter, so she quit on the spot and walked out. “Cost” her about 5-8 days of pay for the days she’d planned to keep working, but it was worth it because other employees thought she was totally legendary, and many of them left the company and remained key contacts of her.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      I got escorted out when I was laid off. They eliminated my position and I had to take my things immediately. So did my coworker who also got laid off. But I did get six weeks’ severance, which helped a lot. I don’t think my state does the notice period payout; it’s not a very worker-friendly place.

      When I got fired from Exjob, they were going to send my things to me but I made them wait while I packed them. No way was I gonna leave anything.

      If I’d resigned from both places, I doubt that would have happened.

    7. turquoisecow*

      My old company would usually walk people out if they were going to work for a competitor, which I thought was dumb because if they were going to give away secrets they would have done so already (and that sort of thing wasn’t likely to happen anyway). However, when one guy gave his notice to work for a competitor they didn’t walk him out because his job was notoriously difficult to fill and couldn’t easily just be dumped on another person with similar responsibilities.

      To use the teapot painting analogy, this guy worked with particularly complex teapots and while the actual painting process was similar, these complex teapots needed a bit more attention to detail than most other painters wanted to work with. So they let him work his two weeks, which I think he was actually kind of disappointed about haha.

      My current place doesn’t make people leave immediately, but they do refuse to have official going away parties for you, which they have for people who retire. There was some controversy a few years ago when an employee moved out of the area to work at a similar business several states away. Even though we weren’t direct competitors because of distance, management refused to hold him a party (they let others do it but wouldn’t sponsor one). Even though he was kind of a jerk and people were happy to see him go, it seemed kind of petty for management not to show appreciation after he’d been there for a decade or more.

      1. hbc*

        The point about sabotage timing is the one that makes me smack my head. What kind of idiots do you think you’re employing if they plan their sabotage for *after* they’ve announced they’re leaving, when they know eyes are on them?

        I bet there are tons more cases of unintentional “sabotage” from people who left an open yogurt in their desk drawer or didn’t get a chance to sort those files than real acts of malice committed after you’ve accepted their resignation and treated them like a trustworthy human being. I mean, the people who quit with fish are not doing it 80 working hours after serving polite notice.

    8. RC*

      I worked at a company where this was SOP for resignations too. The stated reason for the policy to prevent anyone stealing company data/customer lists, but the real reason was that it was a hella toxic place to work, and they didn’t like having people stir the pot for two weeks on their way out the door. This was also a place that made people hand in a resignation letter rather than lay them off, or else they wouldn’t receive their severance (not to mention stock options, sales commissions, vacation time, etc.). Yeah, it was that kind of a shitty place. Everyone looked forward to it as a two week paid vacation between jobs.

  5. OliveJuice90*

    For #3, If you give a two week notice and are then terminated during that two week period, would you still need to tell people that you were “fired” from a position later on? My father gave a two week notice at his last job before retiring and was fired by his manager for “insubordination” around a week in. (This manager was seriously heinous and ended up being marched out of the building by the district head of HR only a few months later due to quite a few shady dealings.) My dad felt that he had to tell people that he was fired, but I told him I was pretty sure that his two week notice superseded that.

    1. Muze*

      It’s definitely what you should tell your unemployment office. Depending on your local laws, you are likely eligible for unemployment for that week, perhaps longer if the other job falls through.

    2. Roll Another Joint*

      By definition, yes, he was fired. And it’s never okay to lie when job hunting.

      But, it is acceptable to provide context by stating he was fired after giving notice.

      1. Hiring Mgr*

        I don’t think it’s a lie at all… The OP resigned – the mgr may have just changed the notice period.

      2. WellRed*

        What?! You think once someone says they are giving notice, the company overrules that and says “no, you’re fired!”?? He resigned. he wasn’t fired. Otherwise, people that could are actually fired could just say, “No, I quit.”

        1. Muze*

          No, he was fired. He resigned effective April 1, and he was fired March 15. So his resignation wasn’t effective at the time he was fired.

          If someone is “pack your bags and leave now” fired, they can’t quit after that because they’ve already been fired. If someone is “We don’t need you anymore after April 1” fired, they can resign prior to April 1.

          The notice period is basically forward dating a resignation – until that point, things can happen.

          1. TurtlesAllTheWayDown*

            Semantics. In no way would you be obligated to explain you were fired at a later date because a vindictive boss decided you didn’t need to work out your notice period.

    3. Jen*

      We’re they trying to deny him a pension or something? If so, I hope any retirement benefits got reinstated. Otherwise the guy was just mean.

      1. OliveJuice90*

        I think he was just extremely angry that my father was leaving. He was about to turn 64 years old and was trying to transfer to another location of this extremely large corporation to finish out his last year or two. He ended up deciding to just retire a year early. The guy was super mean- after he was fired- he camped outside of the building across the street watching people come into work in the morning. It was apparently terrifying to my father’s friends who still worked there. I think the company ended up calling the police though it was difficult because it wasn’t illegal to just park across the street and watch. He finally ended up moving away apparently.

        1. sacados*

          It sounds like your dad’s situation is very much an outlier — and really silly of his company too, it’s pretty pointless to “fire” someone who has already given notice.

          But I think in the usual circumstances where this sort of thing happens, it’s not meant to be punitive, and therefore is more like “OK you have resigned and given 2 weeks notice but we have decided that today should be your last day.” So it’s still a resignation, the employer just chooses to make it effective immediately.

          1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

            Exactly. I once worked in a place where a pal resigned. They asked him to leave the next day but would pay him out for the standard two-week notice.

            Someone called in after hours looking for this guy. The call went into an operations area. Someone said “he got fired”.

            It turned out to be the guy’s new employer, and after hearing that, was prepared to rescind the employment offer to him. He sent a letter to his new boss asking for a chance to explain his situation, and also engaged an attorney in the event the new job didn’t come through for him.

            Long story short -the director of our site wrote a letter to the new hiring manager, explaining the situation ; in essence, an apology. And a memo went through our office saying that if someone leaves and there’s a phone call from someone looking for him – explain, without comment, that he/she no longer works here AND THAT’S ALL.

        2. jenny20*

          I think it depends on the context. Sounds like your dad is retired, so I’m assuming he’s not job hunting… If this is just coming up in casual conversation, I think it’s fine to tell people that you chose to retire early. If the conversation is with a prospective employer, employment lawyer, or unemployment office, then it’s probably best to be more precise and say that he was terminated during his notice period.

    4. meyer lemon*

      There is the risk that the previous employer will say that you were fired if they’re asked, so it’s probably safer to say that you were fired after you gave your two weeks’ notice. I think any reasonable hiring manager is going to hear that and assume it was retaliation–what would be the point otherwise?

    5. hbc*

      “I resigned but they didn’t have me work my entire two week notice period.” Or, even better, “I resigned and gave two week’s notice, but my boss didn’t usually have people complete their notice period. I don’t know how it was recorded officially.”

  6. Bookworm*

    #1: Oh boy. I’ve been pissed when I go through the process (which can range from everything to multiple interviews to doing an exercise that can take several hours) and not even hear back but that sounds excessive. O_o

  7. Retro*

    Follow up question to #3, if the company terminates you when you give your two weeks notice and your next job doesn’t start until 2 weeks after, can you collect unemployment on those two weeks?

    A friend of mine’s work pulled this schtick all the time but weirdly, did not pull it with her. SHe was allowed to work out her 2 weeks notice and was super thankful that she hadn’t set her next job to start the very next week. Seeing as OP might be at the mercy of her employer, would she qualify for unemployment during two weeks between the two jobs?

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      Yes you can totally apply for unemployment for those two weeks! At that point they are the ones terminating your unemployment, not you, so you qualify.

    2. Jack Be Nimble*

      In the US, it really depends on the state laws. In the states where I’ve worked, you would be eligible, but I don’t want to generalize and say that’s the case everywhere.

      In my experience, a company that fires people instead of letting them work out their notice period is probably also the kind of company that’d fight the claim, so it might end up taking more time and effort than it should. Crappy companies usually try to make it so difficult to get the money you’re entitled to that you just give up instead of jumping through all their hoops.

    3. Muze*

      There’s also waiting periods of one or a few weeks sometimes, which work basically like insurance deductibles. So your claim might be eligible for ‘reimbursement’ (because terminations not-for-cause are covered), but if the ‘damage’ (length of time unemployed) is within the ‘deductible’ (waiting period), you won’t actually receive anything.

      So you would be eligible for unemployment, but not collect any.

  8. Eat My Squirrel*

    I could use some more friends, can we find out where OP5 works so I can interview with them and get rejected?

  9. Jen*

    Oh, OP5, they don’t want to actually be friends. They’re hoping to parlay this into getting hired.

    1. Antilles*

      I agree. It seems likely to me that many (most?) of those requests are really code for “Let’s chat again…so I can change your mind because I am clearly the right person for the job”.
      Though I wonder whether it’s possible that OP is just completely misinterpreting things. For example, candidates are replying with a standard phrase like “I’m sorry to hear that, but let’s keep in touch going forwards”, which OP is interpreting in a social sense even though it’s really meant just in terms of being able to send another email the next time they see an opening posted.

      1. pleaset cheap rolls*

        Probably. I had a finalist for a job reporting to me connect on LinkedIn and she’s done nothing of the sort – just expanded networks. We are in the same field, so it makes sense to me.

    2. LadyByTheLake*

      Well, they might want to be friends, but they probably mean “work friends.” This is how networks are built. I meet someone from my industry I click with, we keep in touch (mostly about work stuff) and maybe eventually we become “real life” friends too. As Allison says, start with lunches or coffee or maybe a happy hour, and if you click, keep going. That’s how life works, and how I’ve met and kept some great work contacts who turned into real friends.

    3. Person from the Resume*

      I think you’re probably right. Did they mean friends on LinkedIn, twitter, and other social media just so they can keep in touch for job networking purposes. (I don’t think FB is useful for this as FB is personal versus business social media.)

      I just can’t imagine that the LW rejects applicants and multiple people have responded by saying “you seem really cool, let’s hang out.”

      I wonder if the LW’s own loneliness in a new city is leading to her misinterpretation of this communication.

    4. Alexis Rose*

      I’ve hired lots of people…no one I’ve rejected has every wanted to be friends with me, nor I with them.

  10. cncx*

    I had a stupid long interview process. something like six or seven interviews in their office 3 hours away, including one where she called me out to the office 3 hours away, then told me she didn’t have time and to come back tomorrow. it was the first time someone had that kind of audacity and i took the job anyway, which was a mistake as it was the worst job and worst boss i ever had (turns out she had huge disrespect for my time all the time, not just in the interview process, but karma got her eventually, not the point here tho). After that, i bow out of interview processes if they are too involved; at my level in my field, three separate interview sessions (regardless of attendees, like, you had three chances to get people together) is about what i will put up with as a candidate, maybe four or five if there are really extenuating circumstances (like europeans who take a month off for vacation in the summer).

    Anything else is a red flag either about how organized the company culture is or how the hiring manager does things daily and my lesson learned from that horrible experience was there are things i just will not put up with as a candidate now, and that would be my advice to OP if it weren’t an old letter- this is data for next time and while senior director roles need to have more stakeholder involvement, especially in the time of covid if this can’t be grouped up, well, do you want to work there.

    1. Bethie*

      I totally agree with you. Im in government so the most we would do is 2-3. I could see that as a big giant red flag. You cant deciede you like me enough for the job after interview 20?? Then Ill pass :)

  11. Dust Bunny*

    I’ve stayed at work through several dicey surgeries (all of which ended well, thank goodness) on close family members because I can’t be there, anyway; I can’t help them; and I feel a lot better having something else on which to focus.

    Yes, definitely check in to make sure your employee didn’t feel like she had no alternative, but also be OK with the idea that sometimes having something else to do is a useful distraction when you’re not ready to process something.

    1. A Genuine Scientician*

      This. When I was in my late 30s, my brother was murdered. (He was at home; it appears to have been a burglary gone wrong). I showed up the next day to teach my classes anyway. It’s not that we weren’t close — we were, we talked 5 or so times a week — but….he was going to be just as dead if I curled up in a ball on my couch as if I went and lectured about biology that day. And, if anything, I appreciated having *something* to pay attention to other than his death. I told my department chair, who immediately started telling me about the bereavement policy (which I appreciate existing! But I didn’t want to use it myself), and it took a bit to convince him that I would rather keep up with my teaching, I was just telling him so he had context in case my reactions seemed strange for a little bit.

      Absolutely let someone know that they’re not expected to stay at work when things like that happen, but also be open to people making decisions about what is best for them that might not be what you would decide for yourself in that situation.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        oh my god that’s horrifying. And I would still have gone to work, too, or it would all have filled the void at once and I’d have been in much worse shape.

        1. A Genuine Scientician*

          I honestly think the main reason I was able to convince my chair that I didn’t want time off for this was that I was able to say “My mother died in the summer between when I graduated college and I started grad school. My experience then taught me that it was a lot easier for me when I had other things to do, rather than just focus on the loss. It will be better for my mental health to continue on with class,” though they did become a little more flexible with my grading deadlines for a couple of weeks.

          I’d gotten the call from my dad around 1am, got off the phone with the detective a little after 2, and then sent an email to the faculty member I was team teaching with the following day of “This just happened, I’m planning to be in class tomorrow but in case I wake up in the morning and am unable to force myself to get out of bed, I wanted you to know what’s going on.” Thankfully that faculty member knew me well enough — I’d worked with her before — to accept that I knew myself well enough to figure out what I needed.

          I’m glad things like bereavement leave exist; it’s a definite kindness to offer it. I just also feel it’s important to be OK with the fact that grief is weird and different people are wired differently. The last thing anyone who’s lost a loved one needs is the emotional labor of needing to perform grief in a socially accepted fashion, if that’s not the way they’re wired emotionally, just to appease third parties.

      2. Here we go again*

        I went to work the day after my grandma passed away and a couple days after my mom died. Two separate incidents. I didn’t want to sit home and think about them dying all day. Work was a welcome distraction. Sitting around not doing anything sucks when someone dies. When something goes wrong I want to do something like clean or work.

      3. calonkat*

        I was remote and caring for my mother, but worked late on the day my sister died. My job is a lot of spreadsheets and data checking, and that night, my choices were crying or checking data. Checking data was much better for my mental health (with some crying on occasion, but it gave me a reason to refocus). So even with being at her house while she was dying, and helping with the aftermath, I still ended up with 7 hours of work. With the pandemic, I couldn’t have been with a group of people, so I’d have been alone and work was a salvation. Long explanation to agree that everyone processes grief in different ways, and not everyone is better off taking time off.

    2. RainbeauxStego*

      Yes this. And does your workplace provide a reasonable amount of PTO/bereavement leave? I had a year where there were multiple family losses at the end of the year when I had taken a long trip and used up all my PTO. If they did not provide bereavement leave I wouldn’t have been able to take any time off without disciplinary action! (And at that, they only give 3 days leave per death.)

      1. Susie*

        yes, second this point. When my dad died, my boss told me to take all the time I needed. But had I done that, it would have been largely unpaid after all the days off I took to be with him before he passed. I also needed the structure of going to work, so I didn’t actually mind having to go into work.

        While this LW should reinforce that it would have been ok for her staff person to leave, I found to tone very judgmental of the staff persons’ decision to stay. If that conversation was had, I hope that the manager could see how there are different ways of processing grief and to convey support whatever the staff person decided to do.

    3. TWW*

      Depending on your age and family size, losing cousins can be a routine experience, sadly. It’s possible she thought she could take it in stride and didn’t realize how hard it would hit her until later in the day.

      1. The Rural Juror*

        When my grandfather passed (after a long struggle with multiple ailments), it was both expected and a bit of a relief. I was volunteering at an event for a nonprofit I support when my mother called to tell me. It was a once-a-year event that we all had spent months preparing for, so I didn’t feel comfortable leaving, even with the news that had just been delivered. I was “fine” for a long time, until the event started winding down and I could feel how physically and mentally exhausted I was.

        The employee might have wanted to stay for a variety of reasons, but the weight of the news and the long day of work probably caught up to her. That’s definitely how I remember feeling.

      2. Charlotte Lucas*

        Yes. I’ve gone in to work after losing members of my extended family. Generally, I assume that I might need to take more time to get things done, but keeping busy helps me. (I would never assume this to be universal.)

      3. jenny20*

        I’m not even old, but I have a lot of cousins and I’m not especially close with many of them. I haven’t seen a few in over a decade. There’s a huge range when it comes to relationships with extended family.

    4. MissBaudelaire*

      Truth. My mother was in the ICU due to a stroke and I went to work in the same hospital she was in. I didn’t have magical healing powers that required me sitting in the ICU staring at her or anything. I would just be in the way. If I went to work, I was at least keeping busy and paying the bills.

  12. Jen*

    For OP1: if your friend really is on a war path, tell her to go talk to an attorney. Because they’ll explain to her exactly why she has absolutely no legal right to bill for an interview.

  13. KoolMan*

    I know of a certain top tier investment bank which does this for all levels during recruitment and people recruited here seem to be a bit snobby.

  14. Keymaster of Gozer*

    For number 1: yes that’s a bizarrely high number of interviews. Yes it would be nice if they showed some kind of appreciation for the time put in!

    But it’s not mandatory. At the end of the day you can’t bill for time spent going to interviews because it’s not a paid job (unless there are professional interviewees out there – which I guess celebrities could be..).

    Image is also a key part. I griped like heck to the husband unit over the job interview that required me to drive for 2 hours to get there (in 2020) but I’m pretty sure had I asked for money for it (goddamn my back was agony) I’d have a reputation with a certain large software firm of being a ‘bellend’.

  15. Bend & Snap*

    IBM rejected me via text afer 13 interviews and a month of silence. I’m still not over it.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Big tech firms are a bit…notorious for this. Ironic since they’re in the industry of electronic communications.

      1. Bend & Snap*

        I’ve worked for a bunch of big tech companies and IBM was by far the worst as far as the interview process. Horrendous.

        1. Polly Hedron*

          I worked for IBM for 12 years, as well as for other big tech companies. IBM was the worst to work for, too.
          It may help you to get over the rejection if you consider that when IBM didn’t hire you, you dodged a bullet.

        2. Keymaster of Gozer*

          Never applied for them, but two big database software manufacturers were frankly appalling.

    2. a sound engineer*

      I got rejected for a summer internship once the spring *after* I applied to it and went through the process… so about 6 months after the summer the internship was for had passed.

  16. Amanda*

    Follow up question for letter #1: how many interviews would you go through before withdrawing from the process?

    1. LadyByTheLake*

      Depends on the job and the level of the new position. Senior jobs are very interview intensive and there is an expectation of a long, multiple interview process. That said, I would have probably noped on out of there somewhere between 15 and 20.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      I haven’t been in a situation where I’ve had to have so many individual interviews, but I would think it’s hard to put a firm number and then hold to it because there really could be extenuating circumstances to have “just one more interview” with some VIP. And if you really need the job, it’s hard to walk away if you think you can make it through the hoops.

      It could also be industry specific. This is my typical experience for mid- to senior level tech positions: 2 phone screens (HR and hiring manager) and then a circuit round of interviews where I would meet with multiple people for about 30 min each for most of a day. Sometimes I also give a 30-40 min presentation. This is what I’d normally expect, so shorter/fewer interviews would be fine but more would seem excessive.

      So individually that adds up to 7-10 interviews, but only three sessions where I had to dedicate my time. If I were asked to show up 7 separate times over the course of weeks/months, I would find that unacceptable. That’s asking way more of my time than spending one day meeting with everyone they want me to. If I were in that situation, I hope that I would have the presence of mind to ask about the overall process after the third interview and then to push back or withdraw if the process either sounds lengthy (they admit up front it will be up to four more separate interviews) or if they say “just one more” and then come back after that with “oh and also one more.”

    3. Anon today*

      One of my parents went through the interview process for a CEO position. They were headhunted for it, they were the retiring CEO’s first and only choice (although others were invited).

      While it wasn’t 29 half hour interviews, I have no doubt it was probably at least that amount of time input and involved people from board level, exec team, unions and even working partner orgs.

      They got the job and recently had to hire a new CFO, again, it wasn’t 29 interviews but it was a significant amount of time input into the process and they were happy to walk away without hiring someone rather than hire the wrong person for the job.

      Interviews for positions at that level are just a totally different ball game.

    4. Antilles*

      Preface: I am interpreting the “interviews” as something akin to individual trips/standalone phone calls – not like “I went to the office Friday morning and in the four hours I was there, they ran me through a carwash of two dozen people”. A four-hour office tour where I meet everybody might be exhausting, but I’d mentally count that as one interview.
      That said, by the 4th or 5th interview, I’d be polite-but-direct in asking what remaining steps there were. If the answer to that was vague or unclear, I’d immediately mentally write off the company as probably not happening – may or may not explicitly withdraw from consideration, but mentally deciding “time to redouble my efforts elsewhere”.

    5. Here we go again*

      In my field I would’ve bounced after four or five, I would’ve said thanks but no thanks. I need to know if these are going anywhere because I would be arranging time off of my current job and extra childcare. But one or two interviews is the norm for my career.

    6. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Personally, 5 is my limit. Maybe 6 if it’s a really good role. Anything above that speaks of a company that doesn’t have its act together.

  17. Binderry*

    #4 – I have a lot of respect for people who work in data entry. It’s not an easy job and it is super important. I agree with Alison, while it might not be a glamorous job, it’s vital to many organizations. In fact, I know of one non-profit that was shut down because of inadequate record keeping that would not have been an issue if they had someone working data entry.

    1. Ms_Meercat*

      As someone who was once part of a team of 3 spending the wee hours of the morning (yes, it was 2-4am) in a hotel lobby in Mexico, cross-referencing our Master list because we suspected we would have wrong data and needed to make sure all of the 7 different groupings people were part of, hotel nights, airport transfers etc squared up (and no, these are the memories that don’t make me miss events)… or being someone sifting through data to not just “gut-guess” a change we wanted to implement, but actually have a rational basis for decisions… or someone who has pulled their hair out at the disorder of more than one salesforce databases… I do appreciate any and all data entry jobs, particularly when done well, because they allow me to do mine better.
      Also, I used to work in an NGO where my job was more of a support kind of role. But for me it always motivated me that I was contributing to the overall mission, by making other people’s lives easier / ouput better etc (as Alison pointed out). I don’t know if that thinking will work for you, but it helped me.

      1. KRSone*

        I work in nonprofit accounting and I can’t tell you how many times people remark they are glad to not do my job! But it’s been clear it’s meant in a joking way and also with the sense of respect and trust that they know I’m on top of it. At the end of the day, it’s really just small talk and I wouldn’t interpret it as a slight. I think they also understand I would want to do their programmatic or client facing work and I’d be as awful at their job as they would be at mine!

    2. ErinWV*

      I do and have done a lot of data entry and records-keeping. I do look at it as vital work and work that not everybody can do. In one job, I was one of two employees producing government documents, and after printing, we would switch them and check for errors. I found constant errors in her docs, and she found not very many in mine. Can attention to detail be taught? My co-worker left to get an MFA in abstract art, so she definitely found her lane.

      Accurate documents and records mean fewer mistakes and headaches down the line, and a generally smooth workflow for everyone. Also, as @Ms_Meercat notes below, when you can pull concrete numbers for stuff lickety-split, it means a lot for prioritizing and decision-making, stuff way above the data entry paygrade.

    3. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I do data entry now and it’s the perfect job for me, I actually love it. My coworkers constantly apologize for giving me info to put into our database and I always say no worries, that is in fact why I’m here. And tbh, I far prefer having that data entry to do than having to figure out what made up tasks I should do to keep myself busy while waiting for the next data entry tasks.

      For OP4, it might help you to know that I also like to tell myself that my job is the most important job in the org and I’m only half joking. Maybe you can tell yourself the same thing.

    4. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Have been a DBA. I absolutely adore anybody who can do data entry well. Thank you all for making indexing/data views etc actually work.

    5. Joan Rivers*

      If it’s any comfort, at least you’re working for a worthy cause, doing something valuable, without needing to interact w/clients who are in a crisis, if that’s not your expertise. I worked at a non-profit w/a medical clinic, counseling, and a rape crisis center, so was glad I was in administration instead. Everyone has their own area they work in.

  18. New Mom*

    For #2, the employee might have been in shock. My dad died unexpectedly when I was working on my master’s thesis and it didn’t even occur to me that the college would let me take time off during the shock-haze. I remember emailing my advisor asking for something like a weeklong extension and both her and the department head sent me really kind emails, and told me that they were pushing it back by six months and encouraged me to go home to be with family. I think I was just on autopilot due to the shock of it all.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      I’ve had several friends who went through exactly this. One actually called me in the middle of the night in a panic because she was too upset to move forward on a project and I was like, they won’t let you take time off?? She hadn’t thought to ask. And they did. The school was very good about it and she was fine, at least academically.

  19. Hazel*

    I’m really sorry that the employee in #2 felt like she needed to stay and work. Unfortunately, I can relate. Last year one of my closest friends was in hospice, and I thought that since I knew it was coming, I would be OK and didn’t need to worry about taking time off. I was wrong. After I got the call saying that she had died, I tried to stay at the office, but I couldn’t stop crying, and I needed to go home. My boss was completely understanding.

  20. Jen*

    I was at work when my mom called and told me my uncle died (he had been sick for a very long time and it wasn’ta surprise). I also finished out the day. There was nothing I could do and at least at work I had distractions.

    1. Jen*

      To be clear, I am not saying I would expect someone to stay at work in thr same situation and someone should not be obligated to. Just to.point out she might have wanted to stay and making people go home would also be the wrong choice.

      1. arcticshimmer*

        Very much this. I’m guessing we have whole books about not telling grieving people how to act and how to grieve, but to listen and be there if they need it. Some might want to work and the process hits later in, and that’s ok.

      2. MCMonkeybean*

        I agree, I think a lot of people choose to work through it because they want the distraction. I also think that given that she first said she would come in the next day, then decided to take time after all, it’s possible she hadn’t really processed yet.

        I do think it’s worth checking in with her and making she knows she never feels like she *has* to keep working at a time like that, but I wouldn’t tell her you were horrified about it or anything like that. Just make sure she knows she is free to choose whatever works best for her.

    2. CupcakeCounter*

      I found out about many deaths at work and only ever left for one. I had just gotten to work when my MIL called in hysterics to let me know my FIL died (he had Parkinson’s but his passing was very sudden). She had tried her sons multiple times but couldn’t reach them. I burst into my boss’s office and said my FIL died, I have to go now, and I don’t know when I’ll be back and left. There was stuff that needed to be done and I could help so I did. All the others were either very old and in frail health anyway or so far away that I didn’t even end up attending the funeral. Leaving work early wouldn’t have been useful to anyone (granted the only one I was close enough to that their death had a deep impact on me was my maternal grandfather but his quality of life was shit and the last several conversations we’d had were about how he was ready to die and would it just hurry up already so it was more of a relief that his suffering was over whelming grief).

    3. TiffIf*

      I was at work when my mom called letting me know my grandmother had died. I started crying and knew I wouldn’t be able to focus on work even though there was nothing I could do directly with the family and funeral plans because I lived 2000 miles away. I told my supervisor my grandmother had died and I was taking the day off.

      Some people may want to work and need the distraction. Some people may not be able to focus and need time off.

  21. Person from the Resume*

    RE Letter #1 Has anyone ever asked if they bill a company for an extremely long interview process after they received a job offer?

    No, because it was worth it to them to get the job. Anyone who asks this question is upset and bitter that they were rejected for a job that they hoped to get. Outrageously long interview processes are outrageous, but nobody has to continue interviewing when it gets ridiculously long. They can bow out.

    1. Skippy*

      LW1: dodging that bullet and not getting an offer from that company is worth more than any sum of money your friend could invoice them for. In my experience the way that organizations manage their job search is almost always a reflection of how they manage their employees, and if they are that indecisive and/or rude, it’s probably for the best that she didn’t get the job. Asking a candidate to do 29 interviews is absolutely ridiculous.

      I think three rounds of interviews, maybe four, is just about my limit. Anything after that they’re usually just spinning their wheels.

  22. Lobsterman*

    I see no reason why LW1 can’t name and shame, so people know not to interview there – or at least to require an answer by Interview Five.

      1. Clisby*

        Yeah – I’ve never been up for a senior-level position like that, but I think I would have noped out around #15 out of sheer exhaustion.

      2. AntsOnMyTable*

        I have a hunch that this sounds worse written down than it was in reality. If they were really bringing her back 29 times just to do a half hour interview at a time she should have known to bow out long before. But if she is going there three times for interviews and seeing 8-9 people each time that isn’t nearly as excessive. Maybe instead of having a 1-1.5 hr interview with three people they rather do half an hour each so that one person can focus on what they need to ask. Throw in a couple screening phone interviews and that could easily be the 29 interviews she was talking about.

        1. Willis*

          Yeah, I would tend to count interviews in terms of how many days I need to set aside some chunk of time, not by the number of individual sessions I have within each chunk. A half day with 8 short interviews I’d count as one. But, if it really was as ridiculous as it’s written – 29 separate interviews – that’s pretty inconsiderate of them but also on your friend for not putting a stop to it earlier.

  23. Grim*

    Probably someone who interviewed her had heard about her habit of billing for her interview time from a previous employer/coworker and voted NO THANKS.

    1. arcticshimmer*

      You commented that twice here, but I still don’t see any indication that warrants this kind of speculation. I don’t think this is useful or kind, the interview process seems to have been excessively long and frustrating. I only see disappointment and frustration speaking in the letterwriter’s letter.

  24. I should really pick a name*

    Now I’m curious how many interviews I’d go to before saying that I’m not coming back…

  25. TWW*

    #1 That would be such a surefire way of thoroughly burning a bridge, why even consider it? Is a one-time payment of $3000 (or whatever) really worth gaining a life-long reputation as “that person” in the industry?

    Consider it a lesson learned/bullet dodged and move on.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      Draft the invoice, put it in an envelope, seal the envelope, then run the envelope through a shredder. Almost all the satisfaction of invoicing the cads for the time they wasted, but none of the inevitable unintended consequences of actually going through with it.

      Try to avoid putting a stamp on the envelope, though; postage is going up again.

  26. Sled Dog Mama*

    29 separate half hour interviews seems a bit excessive to me when put that way, but it’s only 14.5 hours of interviewing. Assuming that includes the entire process (initial screen to final interview) that doesn’t seem that bad to me but it does say to me that the company (or maybe the Hiring Manager) isn’t very organized. It seems like some of those could have been combined. Maybe your friend should take this as a sign of what working for this place would be like and view this as a bullet dodged.

    For comparison I think the longest interview I’ve ever had was in the neighborhood of 18-20 hours over 3 days and 3 worksites plus maybe and hour total of phone between the two owners (they were interviewing me for 2 different positions in one go). Longest interview for a single position was about 12 hours (4 really long phone calls…I was really worried that this place didn’t have their stuff together) and one 8 hour day of interviewing (at 2 sites) with multiple people. Turns out they really wanted to move on my candidacy quickly and were shoe-horning things in around schedules as fast as they could.

    1. Clisby*

      I didn’t think about that – were some of these “separate” interviews on the same day? That is, in an 8-hour day there are 16 half-hour slots. They can’t all be back-to-back, but a company maybe could fit in 8 half-hour interviews over the course of a full day of interviewing.

    2. Doc in a Box*

      Some of this may also be field-specific. I interviewed at four places for my first job out of training, which ran the gamut from 7 or 8 half-hour meetings to a 1.5 day visit of about 15 meetings to one place which flew me there twice! But that is par for the course in my field, and if you are thinking about a senior level position, I can see how meeting with multiple stakeholders would be critical.

  27. Florida Fan 15*

    I tend to think LW4 is projecting her own feelings on to her co-workers. She said she’s already been feeling stuck and frustrated with the repetitiveness. Her co-workers’ comments didn’t cause that and are a bit of a red herring.

    And with respect to Alison, I don’t think the question she posed was answered. She asked how to deal with feeling her job is unimportant and feeling uninspired and uninvolved. The advice given was that her job is important (which it is, but doesn’t address how to deal with her feelings) and to ignore what her co-workers said. I’m not sure how much that helps.

    1. Florida Fan 15*

      Although, to be fair, I don’t know that I have much useful advice to offer myself, so I shouldn’t criticize.

      When I’ve felt my work was unimportant, uninspired, etc., the only thing that helped was to wait it out. Intellectually, I knew it mattered; I just had to wait until my emotions caught up. It also helped me to find meaning outside my job, so that I could see it as “just” a job, to a certain point. (I work in state government, so I get wanting to feel what you do matters, but it’s really easy to go overboard on this and get worn down by things not changing no matter how much you want them to. Letting go to a degree has done wonders for me.)

      1. Mr. Shark*

        I agree that I don’t think Alison really answered the question.
        For me in that situation, when I’ve had a lot of repetitive tasks, I would set goals, as in, how many can I do in an hour. It made it more of a competition for me, and kept me motivated to move forward. By doing this I had specific goals set, and that made it feel less repetitive and less uninspired.
        But I think the LW has to reframe it in her mind that the job is important and has to be done. Alison did say that if it wasn’t important then other people wouldn’t have to be pulled in to do it.

  28. FrivYeti*

    For OP #4: As someone who works in management at not-for-profits, the data entry person is extremely vital to the success and survival of any organization, regardless of size. Good data entry is the difference between smooth operations and me spending half my day apologizing to angry donors or patrons about messing up a donation, or a tax receipt, or sending mail to a dead person, or failing to sign them up for a program they really wanted…

    It feels like OP4 has two interlinked problems, though. One problem is feeling like the data entry isn’t important compared to the front-line work, but the other is feeling burned out by the repetitive nature of their work, which is manifesting as feeling like other people feel bad for them for having to be the one to do it. The question is, which one is leading to the other? Are you bored because you feel that the work isn’t important, or do you feel that the work isn’t important because you’re bored?

    My experience is that some people do really well with data entry; they can settle into a flow, find it relaxing or fulfilling, and get through it happily. Other people struggle to focus, get bored, and feel burned out. There is not, unfortunately, a strong correlation between those attitudes and whether you are *good* at data entry. If you’re actively getting burned out by it, you probably need to look for a path that lets you do less of it, not because it isn’t important, but because you also have to think of yourself. On the other hand, if recognizing how much your data entry work is helping your organization and fellows makes the work more fulfilling, stick it out. There are not enough people out there who thrive in data entry, and we need them.

    1. Ama*

      Yes, I came here to say that the database team at my nonprofit are some of my favorite coworkers and if I apologize to them about the work I’ve made them do it’s because I’ve probably made it harder for them due to either asking for a really quick turnaround or I know the data I’ve just given them is not really well organized.

      That said, this question reminded me a lot of my frustration when I was in an office manager job that had a lot of receptionist duties. I used to get extremely irritated by coworkers who referred to me as the “office secretary” because to me it felt like they just saw me as the person who answered the phones and ordered supplies (which was about 15% of my actual job) — but in reality that irritation was the sign of me not being happy with the receptionist part of my job and being ready to move on to something else. (No shade on anyone who loves reception work — it just was not for me.)

  29. The Original K.*

    My friend joked that he felt like he should be paid for his time after his fifth or sixth interview (each on different days with different people, so he went in that many times – not a case where he went in and met with six people on the same day), but he was definitely joking. I can’t remember if he was rejected or if he withdrew – he definitely didn’t end up working there.

  30. Bethie*

    I am kinda miffed I did a 30 minute presentation for a director level position and they havent even responded back to let me know I didnt get the job! (It’s been a month and I am in government, so it’s been filled). I probably would have opted out around the 4-5 interview! That’s an insane amount of interviews.

  31. Bethie*

    My grandfather passed in January. I work from home, but I knew he was going to pass – he was already in a nursing home and the facility allowed some of my family to come in and say goodbye (during COVID where no visitors are allowed per the usual). So it wasnt unexpected. I missed a meeting to gather myself, but finished the day. No one would have blinked if I had taken the day off – but what could I do? I had to travel to get the the funeral so it wasnt like I could go to my grandmother’s house right then. So, I understand your employee. And kudos to you for planning to tell show her compassion with your words of affirmation.

  32. Llellayena*

    I’m actually someone who came out of an interview with a new friend. We clicked on choral music, which had absolutely nothing to do with the job I was interviewing for, and she invited me to join a choir she was in. We met up regularly for a few years until I moved away for a while. I’ve since moved back and we recently reconnected. I didn’t get the job with her and actually ended up in an entirely different field (my move away was for grad school). So it can work, but it’s rare and needs to be based on more than just “hey, you’re cool, wanna hang out?”

    1. The Rural Juror*

      That’s a good point. It’s one thing if you find something you have in common that you don’t share with a lot of other acquaintances. “We both enjoy watching rugby” on its own is probably not a qualifying reason to pursue a friendship. “We both enjoy watching the England National Rugby Union Team at 6am on a Saturday” is a little different because you might not have other friends that want to join you.

  33. Elizabeth West*

    #1–I agree that billing the employer would make the OP’s friend look very bad. That said, TWENTY-NINE INTERVIEWS is totally banana crackers.

    I’m pretty sure Alison has answered letters regarding excessive interviewing and suggested language like, “We’ve talked [3 or 4] times now and it’s really hard for me to continue scheduling these around my other commitments. Given that, do you have some idea of your hiring timeline from here and whether it makes sense to keep moving forward?”

    Or whatever, but YE GODS. OP, tell your friend to let it go; this is a bullet dodged, fired from a very disorganized or overly picky company.

    #2–I’m willing to bet this person stayed because they’re new. Or, maybe they saw someone penalized at a previous workplace for leaving during a project, or it happened to them.

    Either way, OP, if I were them, I’d love to know that it’s okay to let you know and leave if I have an emergency. I would want to know my boss has my back on life stuff, even if the situation never comes up again (or if something else does).

  34. Persephone Mongoose*

    TWENTY-NINE (29) interviews?? Alison is correct, of course, but I absolutely understand the impulse to want to bill for that time. Good heavens, why on earth would any company need to conduct even half that amount?

    Your friend may not be able to bill them for their time, but they can certainly pay the company’s GlassDoor profile a visit and leave some candid feedback. Don’t burn any bridges, but people should know about something this absurd.

  35. WellRed*

    What?! You think once someone says they are giving notice, the company overrules that and says “no, you’re fired!”?? He resigned. he wasn’t fired. Otherwise, people that could are actually fired could just say, “No, I quit.”

  36. PoppySeeds*

    The employee who stayed late to work…..A little perspective here – I am a counselor and in many many cases, the students come to school shortly after or even the next day after losing a loved one. Sitting at home thinking about the loved one can be excruciating and having the distraction of work to take your mind off of things can help. This hit home for me because when my dad died this school year the only thing that kept me grounded was work and being able to think about something else. We were distance learning and I could work from home and it kept me from sobbing all day every day as I worked through my grief. Don’t judge.

    1. Nanani*

      Yeeeep. Sometimes going through the motions of a normal day is a way to keep your shit together.
      Personal experience talking here.

    2. WS*

      I agree – a co-worker lost a young family member in traumatic circumstances, took one day off, and then was desperate to be back at work rather than being stuck at home with her elderly relatives. But I still think it’s kind to tell the person that it’s not an expectation and that you will support them if they need time off – the co-worker in question did take some time off about a month later when she and her husband could have time to themselves rather than having to perform grief to their extended family.

  37. Mannheim Steamroller*

    After 5 to 10 interviews, I would withdraw from the process because they clearly don’t intend to hire me.

    1. Frank Doyle*

      That doesn’t really make sense. Why would they be wasting their own time as well by interviewing someone they had no intention of hiring?

      1. irene adler*

        Because they are not able to tell a candidate “no”.

        They hope the candidate will simply stop showing up for the interviews. Or withdraw their application entirely.

      2. Jennifer Thneed*

        That is the question of the year! They probably don’t interview people they *know* they won’t hire, but it sounds like they aren’t ruling out anyone they’re only lukewarm about. Anyway, they probably don’t step back and look at their own process as an outsider would see it. (Most people don’t. It’s tricky. Like editing your own writing.)

  38. twocents*

    Re #3: if they paid out the notice period, I don’t think it’s inherently nefarious to say “we don’t need you to serve out your notice.”

    Early in my career, I worked near a collections team, and that’s what they did. It’s a role with high turnover, significant customer impact if the one going out doesn’t care about what mess they leave behind, and while there’s a lot of regulations to follow, it’s an entry level position — no one collector leaving is leaving the company in dire straits.

    So maybe I understand being insulted if this happens, I also understand why a company may have good reason to say, “thank you for the notice; you are welcome to leave.”

  39. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

    OP#4, I do something at work that requires other people to get involved from time to time to help out. And that’s when people ask ‘this is what you DO? Wow, this sucks, I would’ve quit/started drinking years ago/whatever statement.’ It’s not them trying to tell you that your job is pointless, it’s them trying to say that they appreciate that you are there to handle it so they do not have to. It is slightly obnoxious when it comes across as ‘oh I thought your job was easy until I had to help’ but in the end, they’re trying to convey that they appreciate you.

    But at the same time, maybe use that as an in to ask if you can help with their projects so you can see what they do and decide if its something that you might want to move into? Also, their jobs may not be as glamorous as you are thinking they are.

  40. logicbutton*

    #4: …but also, the coworkers really shouldn’t be making jokes about how they can’t believe LW4 doesn’t have a drinking problem – because they don’t actually know that!

  41. Nanani*

    LW1 – maybe write up an invoice to get the feelings out, then burn it (or delete it, or archive it)
    Absolutely do NOT actually bill them, but drawing up a fake invoice with outrageous amounts for wasting your friend’s time and PITA fees could be cathartic.

    Just don’t send it.

    1. Amaranth*

      Frankly, I wouldn’t put the company’s real name or address or the friend’s name on it because I’ve seen incredibly odd things show up on the internet….

  42. Rain rain go away*

    I had a very junior employee call from the hospital first thing Monday morning to review a report that he had to send out that morning. He had not told me that he was in the hospital until I asked how his weekend was. I let him know that he did not need to complete this report and in the future to let me know that he was sick (or in the hospital!) when he was able to, because there was zero expectation that he work while sick. We had just had a conversation about coverage when out on vacation and he didn’t see the difference. I told him his focus while sick was should be on getting better and no manager would ever expect otherwise. He insisted on reviewing the wine he had done, which I shut down. He was definitely underperforming, and we’d had several conversations about the areas he needed to improve and I think he really thought this was the same.

  43. AthenaC*

    OP #4 – As an auditor, I get that “I’m so glad I don’t have your job!” from clients somewhat often. But in my position, I usually just laugh and tell them that since I’m glad I don’t have their job, I guess it’s good that I have my job and you have your job!

    In your shoes, it sounds a bit like it stings because you maybe also wish you didn’t have your job? But maybe the lighthearted delivery that I usually do can help the situation be a bit lighter? Just a thought.

    1. KRSone*

      I just posted something similar above. As a nonprofit accountant I get that line a lot and my response is pretty much word for word what you posted!

  44. Anne*

    I work in an industry where if you are high -level you are asked to leave that day, but you get paid your two weeks because you are offering to work out your two weeks. It works as a free 2 week break before starting a new job. I’ve never known a place that asks someone to not work out their two week period and NOT pay them.

    1. Just Another Manic Millie*

      I guess you don’t know one of my former companies then. An employee who attempted to give two weeks notice was promptly shown the door, not because TPTB were afraid of sabotage, but because if that employee didn’t want to work there anymore, then they didn’t want him. We were constantly told that if there was something about the company that we didn’t like, then we should get a job somewhere else, and it would take them only five minutes to replace us and ten minutes to forget that we ever worked there.

  45. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    The only possible exception to the “don’t invoice for interview time” rule would be if you were asked to prepare a pitch or similar materials, then didn’t get the job, but they used your proposals anyway. This unfortunately happens more than zero times in real life (get a specialist IP lawyer if necessary). But even then it would be a consultancy fee, not an interview fee.

    And yes, I’m 99% joking about doing so even under those circumstances.

  46. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    #4 – it’s kind of bad manners to commiserate with someone about their actual job tasks, if it’s unsolicited or otherwise unprompted. For example, in a grocery store, saying “wow, that last customer was so rude” is sympathising about something that isn’t core duties, but “gee it must suck to have to check people out” is pretty insulting.

    People like different kinds of jobs, and different tasks within those jobs. I’d hate to work outside; other people hate to work alone. And that’s before you even get into whether someone’s current job was their first choice or best/only choice. Unless you’re expressing regret about something you caused which is impacting on their work (“I’m sorry this means you’ll have to stay late”) then just don’t comment.

    For what it’s worth, a chunk of data is just what I like. Headphones on, get it tidied up, make everyone’s lives easier.

    1. Frank Doyle*

      And, how does that work out? Has anyone ever paid up? Or do you do it just to make yourself feel better?

      1. Jennifer Strange*

        Judging by their name I’m assuming this may be a What We Do in the Shadows reference.

  47. Decidedly Me*

    #5 – I had someone that I interviewed that I had a ton in common with – in ways that it’s hard to find others with these things in common. It was really uncanny. Throughout the interview process, I was terrified that something would take them out of the running and was wondering if there would be a way to reject them and also see if we could stay in touch.

    Thankfully, they checked all the boxes and were hired. We’re really close friends now (they don’t report to me). Come to find out, they were also thinking about how to ask me to stay in touch if they were rejected! So, it was mutual.

    That said, I’ve interviewed a ton of people and this is literally the only time I’ve had this inkling. I doubt that it will happen again, too. I’m not sure if I would have followed through if I had to reject them. My worry then was that it would have made them uncomfortable (here’s some bad news! want to be friends?). If you’re new to an area and looking for friends, there are a lot of other ways to do that than through rejected job candidates.

  48. Wishing for a do-over*

    #2, when I was very early in my career, a very close childhood friend died suddenly and unexpectedly (it happened on a weekend, so I went in to work as normal that Monday.) Her funeral was later that week. I worked in the entertainment business in a freelance-type job where there aren’t sick or vacation days built in. I told my boss at the time that I needed to attend my friend’s funeral, and I did, but then I CAME BACK TO WORK instead of staying a while at the reception to be with my friend’s family! I don’t remember if my boss asked me to do that or if I just felt internal pressure to do it, but I’ve been furious for the 30 years since then that he didn’t insist that I take the day. Sometimes young workers need a wiser boss to let them know what the appropriate parameters are.

  49. MrsFillmore*

    Re: LW#2, they seem like a thoughtful manager and Alison’s answer was a good one. The phrase from letter “We work for a very employees-are-people-first organization” really jumped out to me when juxtaposed with a question about an employee who had worked until 11p to complete a project. If that’s happening once, maybe twice a year, then okay. But if it’s more than that, I’d also encourage the manager to ask themself some hard questions about what it really means to operationalize “employees-are-people-first.”

  50. Indy Dem*

    LW#4 – I’ve worked in patient facing roles in both non-profit and for-profit fields. One thing I frequently hear from my support colleagues is how much value they get from the times that they are able to meet and interact with the people we help/serve. Are there any meetings, conferences, or fund raisers that you could attend that would bring you into contact with the people your company helps, so you can hear their stories, and hear how the company, that CANNOT function without your support, has helped others. Maybe your co-workers aren’t expressing it the best way, but they don’t have your skill set, they can’t do the vital job that you do as well as you can, and they know that you bring value to the company’s goal of helping others. Definitely ask your manager or those in charge of patient contact if there are ways to connect with others.

  51. Friendly Comp Manager*

    In response to #2, the day my grandmother passed away, I stayed at work for the rest of the day. It was not particularly busy, she was out of state, and staying at work was the ONLY THING keeping me from just going home (I lived alone) and just being by myself with my feelings when I was not ready to be, so I stayed at work (I was not crying at my desk and really wasn’t struggling in that moment — I can compartmentalize really well when I want to). Definitely talk to her, especially since she said she was having a hard time “holding it together ” — and to make sure she knows she could leave!! But in my case, I knew I could leave, but did not want to. Healthy or not, I personally just completely ignored my feelings and thoughts until I could go home and be get ready for the airport and meet my family, and THEN I felt like I could really lean into everything.

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