interviewer became rude after I got his name wrong, coworkers keep asking to see my baby bump, and more

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

1. My interviewer become rude and disinterested after I got his name wrong

I was recently laid off and got an interview after applying for the position within two days. I should have given myself more time to get prepared but was excited and decided to take it head on! Right off the bat, I made a very bad impression by calling the interviewer by the wrong name, and the interview eventually ended badly.

I had checked my email before the call and the sender’s name was stuck in my head, which led to my confusion and I called him by the wrong name. He called me out on it, which I apologized for, but after that I noticed the mood shifted and he no longer seemed interested in what I had to say. At one point, he even picked up his phone to text while I tried to get the interview back on track. After that, he asked if we could stop sharing our video and finished up the interview early.

No matter what I did, it seemed like there was no saving myself. Looking back, I wish I had just stopped the interview after I felt disrespected and knew there was no chance I would be considered for this role. I would love to hear your thoughts on how to handle bad interviews from bad first impressions. This one kind of got to me — it made me feel like my past professional experiences were inadequate and made me second-guess myself while I was trying to job search.

Accidentally calling the interviewer by the name of someone else you’d been corresponding with isn’t ideal, but it’s not an outrage. It happens; people slip up and forget names. Candidates have called me plenty of things other than Alison (Elizabeth is popular, for some reason), and I don’t care in the slightest. I mean, yes, if the person seemed like a disorganized mess in other ways, that name mess-up would look like part of a bigger picture — but an otherwise good candidate who got my name wrong upon meeting me for the first time? It would be crappy hiring to hold that against them.

I say all that because your interviewer’s reaction was over-the-top. Letting the whole mood shift and losing interest in what you were saying? It’s possible he’s just rude in general and would have been texting and ignoring you throughout the conversation even if you’d gotten his name right. There’s no way to know — but what we do know is that he’s rude and you didn’t cause that.

To your broader question about how to handle bad first impressions in an interview, sometimes you can address it directly — “I worry we got off on the wrong foot when I fumbled my answer to your first question. If you’ll give me a minute, I’d like to speak to that again, now that I realize what you were looking for.” … or “I’m worried we got off on the wrong foot when I tripped you in the hall! I’m mortified — I’ve never done that before, and obviously it’s not the impression I wanted to make! I promise you I’m not normally walking around tripping colleagues.” … or so forth. But with a guy who reacts this strongly because you got his name wrong, I’m not sure that’s something you can salvage on your own.

That said, in a situation like what you described, sometimes it’s reasonable to politely call out the behavior — as in, “I’m getting the sense I’ve lost you. Is there something different you were looking for?” or even ““I’m getting the sense I’ve lost you. Does it make sense for us to keep talking?” … but if you’re at the point of asking that, it probably doesn’t make sense to keep talking, and it would just be a way to decline to be treated disrespectfully.

2. Should I let my boss know we can see he’s following sexually explicit accounts?

I started a new job recently and did some cursory googling of my new supervisor. I don’t follow or friend anyone I work with on social media, but I did see that he has a public Instagram account that goes mostly unused. However, since it’s public, I can also see accounts and hashtags that he follows, the latter of which includes the name of someone who appears to be an adult model and the hashtag brings up nude and sexual images.

I don’t really care that this is something he is or was interested in having on his feed, but I know from my short time on the team that he would be mortified to know this was visible to anyone who searches his name, particularly since we work in education in student-facing roles (in higher education, so adult students, for what it’s worth). I feel like we have developed a good rapport, and our work environment is fairly casual; people feel comfortable with occasional cursing in conversations with colleagues, we wear t-shirts while we’re all still working from home, and he is around my age. I’m not sure whether this is something I should mention to him though, partly because I don’t want to embarrass him and partly because while the possibility of anyone else finding this exists, well, I doubt other people are really searching the hashtags he follows on Instagram and I don’t want him to think I’m a creep.

Leave it alone. You’re new, there’s a not-insignificant chance that it’ll make him feel uncomfortable around you (which can play out in subtle ways that aren’t good for you professionally, even without intent on his part), and it’s not yours to solve. It’s a kind thought to want to tip him off, but you’re better off just pretending you didn’t see it!

3. My coworker keep asking to see my baby bump on Zoom

I am pregnant with my first child and am due in two months. My coworkers haven’t seen me at all since I got pregnant, as we are all working remotely since the start of the pandemic. My boss and coworkers keep jokingly asking to see my baby bump on Zoom, or commenting if they catch a glimpse. For some reason, this makes me deeply uncomfortable. I know they are just excited for me, but how can I nicely say, “Stop asking me. It makes me feel weird displaying my pregnant body for you on camera!”

“I know you didn’t realize, but I’d be grateful if you didn’t ask me to do that; it makes me really uncomfortable! Thanks for understanding.”

4. I wasn’t even interviewed for an internal promotion

I recently applied to a position that would have been an internal promotion for me. The role would serve as the division director for my team; I thought I was an ideal fit. My current director encouraged me to apply since she was not interested in it. So, I applied and never heard anything from HR or the hiring manager. Three weeks later, I was told the new division’s director would start in a week. I was stunned because I wasn’t even offered an interview. The current division director (who is being promoted to another position) hired an outside person with the same amount of experience and education that I have. I felt and still feel disrespected.

Granted, companies can hire whomever they choose. Still, as a current tenure employee, I would have thought the division director would at least met with me and provided an explanation as to why I wasn’t offered an interview. I assumed he and I had a decent and respectful working relationship.

How do I approach this issue going forward? I want to ask my division director why wasn’t I afforded an interview without coming across as being emotional.

Yeah, when an internal candidate applies, they should get some sort of response — not just hear nothing until a hire is announced. Ideally the hiring manager would have contacted you to explain why they weren’t offering you an interview, if nothing else. But it doesn’t always happen that way.

Am I right in thinking the job would have been at least two steps up (since it’s a higher level role than your current boss has)? It’s possible that they saw it as more of a stretch application from you, figured you knew it was a stretch, and didn’t think they needed to explain their decision, who knows (although they still should have). In any case, you can certainly email the division director and say something like, “I was hoping for a chance to at least touch base with you about the role while it was open. Would you be willing to meet with me to talk about how I can position myself more competitively for similar roles in the future?” That’s different than “why wasn’t I interviewed?” — although depending on how that conversation goes, you could also point out that it stung to hear nothing at all and suggest that be handled differently going forward. That’s also feedback you could give to HR right now — but again, it would be less “why wasn’t I interviewed?” and more “can we communicate better with internal candidates in the future?”

5. While interviewing for a remote job, when should I mention that I’ll be moving?

I’m in the midst of interviewing for two remote positions. Either would be a step up for me, come with a significant pay increase, and be an opportunity to escape my dysfunctional team. Both roles require significant travel (when that is possible again).

However, I’m also in the midst of a move. Now I live near a large airport, facilitating this work travel. In the next month or so, I’ll be relocating to a smaller city. My new town has a regional airport, but I’d have to take connecting flights each time I head out of town for work. Both employers have expressed a bit of hesitation with a remote employee — not much, but a bit of concern.

When do I mention the move, if at all? After getting an offer, were I to be so lucky? Not say anything at all, until I accept and actually start work? I have a bit of flexibility in the move date, too … should I even consider pushing it out?

Definitely don’t wait until you’ve already accepted the offer! It’s information they’re entitled to know before they decide whether to offer you the job. For one thing, if you’re moving to another state, that will have legal and financial consequences for them and could be prohibitive. (If they’re not already set up to do business in that state, having you working there can mean they have to charge sales tax to customers there, as well as pay taxes to that state. They’d also need to buy worker comp insurance there and comply with the new state’s labor laws, which might be more restrictive than the ones they follow now.) If the move isn’t to a new state, the airport change (and the ease of flights and cost of tickets) is relevant info that they’re entitled to consider. Plus, it’s possible that they’re factoring in your location in ways you don’t know about — like wrongly thinking you’ll be right near their second biggest client and easily able to take over those accounts.

For those reasons, if the move is a definite thing, it makes sense to mention it now. If it’s not 100% definite, you could wait until you have an offer and say it’s something you were planning on in the near future and ask if that would be an obstacle for the role. But do mention it!

{ 305 comments… read them below }

  1. RC Rascal*

    OP4– I would start this inquiry by talking to your boss and find out what she knows. There is a management grapevine and it’s possible your boss has picked up some information that will be helpful. For example, maybe an external hire was preferable for political reasons. Or they need a certain skill to achieve a new initiative, and it’s a skill your organization can’t develop internally.

  2. Goody*

    #2 – I only have an IG account because I couldn’t look at a particular cartoonist’s posts without one, and I’ve had multiple attempts at hacking in the last year or so. I wonder if the new supervisor is in a similar situation but never set up the 2-factor authentication that stopped the hackers from being able to commandeer my account.

    1. Glorified data entry*

      On a platform like Instagram, you’ll get follow requests from accounts like this occasionally. If your boss doesn’t even post on Instagram, he could easily have unthinkingly clicked “follow” back.

      1. raktajino*

        I have followed so many accounts by accident because of a finger slip. Accidental follows or hacking are both super likely.

    2. TWW*

      For that matter, there’s nothing to stop any random person making a social media account with your name and picture that you’d never even know about.

      Furthermore, if someone goes so far as to Google me, then click on my Instagram, then look through the hashtags I follow, and then click on those hashtags to see what kind of content they lead to, that says more about my Google-stalker than about me.

      Finally, as a user of an XML standard known as “DITA” I can report that certain words spilt search space between two very different types of content.

      1. jbird*

        I agree with your second comment. The OP didn’t stumble across this – it takes a bit of digging to get to that point.

      2. Selena*

        …Furthermore, if someone goes so far as to Google me, then click on my Instagram, then look through the hashtags I follow, and then click on those hashtags to see what kind of content they lead to, that says more about my Google-stalker than about me….

        This is the most important reason why LW shouldn’t say anything: they were pretty much cyberstalking their boss.

        When i saw the title of the entry i thought it was going to be about LinkedIn. Or maybe about a cursory Google search or maybe the entire team is on Facebook.
        Seeking out someone’s forgotten social media account and hyperanalyzing that account reflects very poorly on LW.

        1. Girl Alex PR*

          This. I am a communications director for a federal agency and do a lot of social media for my role. Even with using social media professionally and personally and my job being well known among staff, I cannot imagine confronting someone I work with over anything like that. OP- it’s creepy. Don’t tell him and stop doing it. Who he follows isn’t your business and it doesn’t affect his ability to do his job.

    3. Cercis*

      One of the professional accounts I follow was hacked and taken over by a sexually explicit account. It hadn’t been active and only had about 200 followers, but all 200 of us looked like we were following this sex star (they changed the account name so it took quite a bit of triangulating to figure out which account it was).

      1. Twitter (@@)*

        I hadn’t used my Twitter account for a long time, then I was using it to tweet during the debates for 2016. I was just tweeting away without realizing my profile had been hacked and my picture was changed to boobs until the next day.

    4. Case of the Mondays*

      This is one of those times I think an anonymous note would be kind. I’d do an email from a burner account so he doesn’t know it’s from an employee. I’d say “Hey, I think your Insta has been hacked. It’s following a lot of sexually explicit stuff. If you aren’t hacked, you might want to make it private. Have a good day!” and leave it unsigned.

      1. Selena*

        If you are doing a burner account anyway you might as well be explicit: ‘dude, your picture is on a pornsite, if i could find that than anyone can’

        Having said that, the transgression of this boss (a single naughty tag between normal tags) absolutely does not warrant all that effort.

  3. Unkempt Flatware*

    #3– do you have the kind of relationship with your team where you could go, “Heeelll No!” and keep it moving? I know mine would laugh and move on themselves knowing not to ask again.

    1. Kristina*

      I don’t quite have this with my coworkers, but I still say a hearty, happy “Nope!” when my coworkers get pushy. One in particular says annoying things like “Stand up, stand up!” and my least favorite, “Look at you!” (Why look at me? Because I am a circus sideshow? A source of entertainment? It doesn’t feel like wonder or respect.) I try to dismiss and move on because she does equally annoying, invasive things otherwise all the time and I just have to brush her off and move on.

      1. Technical difficulties*

        Can you “accidently” disconnect every time someone does that? Oups .. technical difficulties…

    2. YA Author*

      One of the worst parts of being pregnant at work, for me, was how public it was. A very personal thing was happening to my body, it was visible to everyone, and coworkers felt comfortable commenting on it. A lot. I often found that acutely uncomfortable and at-odds with my typical work persona/boundaries. It didn’t help that the first time I was pregnant, maternity business wear was much softer and more frilly than my usual work wear, which made me feel different at work.

      1. another scientist*

        I was actually wondering if another possible response to the coworkers would be the tried and true ‘of course you were all joking’ reaction. So next time they ask to see your bump, to say “ha ha, good one! But seriously, it’s been so nice by the way of remote work to go through these huge physical changes in private and not feel like my pregnant body is of everybody’s business!”

      2. anonaccountant*

        Honestly this seems like one of the worst parts of being pregnant, period. People feel this weird entitlement to talk about pregnant people’s bodies and ask invasive questions. You would never ask someone the details about their coloscopy/hysterectomy/weight gain at work or on public transit, but for some reason people feel like it’s fine to ask about about pregnancy and delivery. People also share extensive details, unprompted, about every traumatic event in their experience, which must really suck for the expecting person. It’s bizarre how few boundaries there are.

        1. LemonLime*

          As someone who has been guilty of it in the past- It’s not so much coming from an entitlement stance but more of a excited for you/not ignoring an obvious aspect of your life. For example, if a colleague came in sporting a new hairdo or wearing a new engagement ring, you feel almost rude not mentioning it/ engaging them in conversation.
          Now I realize pregnancy is a long drawn out process and discussing it day in and day out might get tiresome and a woman has every right to not want to discuss. However my post is just a friendly reminder that alot of the talk is well meaning awkwardness. An attempt to bond with a coworker (like seeing them driving a new car would be a reason to talk cars). So maybe take a breath and don’t snap.
          Now the caveat of course is when someone goes “WOW! YOU’RE HUGE!” you can glare at them with a thousand daggers of hate.

          1. Case of the Mondays*

            When I was young and a new employee, I made the mistake on commenting on how huge someone had been while pregnant with twins. To me, it was just utter amazement and what the human body can do. She was a tiny person who got giant with twins and returned to her tiny person body very quickly after having a kid. When I commented, she appeared shocked and offended and I had no idea why at the time. After getting older and reading the perspective of lots of pregnant people I know either online or in real life, I now realize the giant (ha, no pun intended) error of my ways.

          2. Sigh*

            Why is the responsibility always with the recipient of (possibly dozens or more) comments to be understanding and not snap, and never with the potential commenter to think about what they’re about to say?

          3. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

            But you know you can just….not say anything, right? It’s not only possible but very much encouraged to have a thought without sharing it out loud? This is exactly why I was so grateful to spend my third trimester in isolation; even a global pandemic is better than dealing with strangers and coworkers who feel their excitement about my private physical and personal situation overrides my right to privacy.

          4. anonaccountant*

            I get it can come from a well-meaning place, but if you noticed someone come back to work after having plastic surgery, you still wouldn’t comment on it, right? When someone announces it, saying congrats or asking how they’re feeling is fine. But that’s totally different than the other weird things people who are pregnant or have newborns get asked (like whether nursing is going well, are they chafing, what kind of birth did they have, was there tearing, etc. which are all questions I’ve heard asked.)

            I’m not saying you should snap at anyone who says anything, but I think YA Author did a great job of explaining why it’s such an uncomfortable topic for some pregnant people. It’s a private medical event, and yet it’s up for public consumption for some reason because we’ve decided culturally that it’s acceptable to talk about.

        2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          For me the belly-rubbers were the worst. One kept at it even after the owner talked to them about keeping her hands to herself….

          I just never understood it at all.

          1. Just Another Zebra*

            One of my coworkers was particularly “touchy” when I was pregnant, so I wore a shirt one day that said “I’m pregnant, not a petting zoo”. When people asked me about it, I very cheerfully explained that some people needed a more visible reminder not to touch me. The petting stopped shortly thereafter.

          2. SimonTheGreyWarden*

            I was so lucky. I had one friend who ever tried to touch my belly and while I wouldn’t have let anyone else just do it (honestly, I have issues with touch and even my mom had to ask to touch the bump) I understood that my friend’s culture saw that as being a sign of blessing/good luck/etc. to rub the bump… So I allowed it. but damn, without that and without knowing my friend as well as I did…. All I can say is I’m glad I am fat and that I really didn’t show a bump until fairly far along in the process!!

          3. Lecturer*

            A person might get away with that once if I was so shocked I froze. The next time I would say ‘don’t touch me’! If need be I would say ‘why are you being a pervert’?

          4. CaliUKexpat*

            I may have instinctively slapped a few strangers hands for this…

            FIL was really intense with the rubbing which I didn’t really like, but MIL passed away shortly before I got pregnant so he was the only one I just let carry on with it. Pretty much everyone else got a slap, nobody went back for seconds after that!

        3. Sleepless*

          And then you have people like my coworker who, while she was pregnant, brought it up constantly herself. Me: Do you have those TPS reports? Her: Yes, and speaking of TPS reports, did I mention I’m PREGNANT?

        4. LabRat*

          I’ve had friends experience the traumatic detail sharing, so I try to make sure that I frequently share the story of my friend who had an epidural, labored for 3 hours essentially pain free, and then had the baby. I hope it helps counteract the scary stuff they hear!

      3. meyer lemon*

        I have a rule where I won’t bring it up at all with a coworker unless they mention it first. If they make an announcement, I’ll congratulate them, and if they want to share something, I’ll have a conversation about it, but I don’t raise the topic myself at all.

      4. Just @ me next time*

        It really is gross how entitled people feel to a pregnant person’s body. I have never been pregnant, but between being “fat” (for the sake of reference only and ignoring all the problems with classifying weight, my BMI fluctuates between the high and low end of “overweight” and I usually wear a large/size 12-14), having some sort of digestive problems that can cause spectacular levels of bloating, and sometimes wearing dresses or tops that gather or bunch around the waistline, my belly can sometimes look pretty distended. It’s amazing how many people will loudly congratulate me or ask when I’m due in a professional setting. I’ve had it happen while running a cash register, while working props backstage for a local theatre company, while taking my cat to the vet, and most recently by the project manager during the round table portion of a large project meeting.
        I just want to shout from the rooftops: “My gender and age do not make my body public property!”

    3. SuperDiva*

      Or say a cheerful “No thanks!” and then change the subject or just mute yourself and leave it at that.

    4. preggo on zoom*

      Also in late pregnancy, and something similar to this has worked for me. I usually go with a laughing “Nope!” followed by some cheerful comment along the lines of “it’s been a nice perk of work from home to not have the baby bump so on display!” In my experience that has shut it down very effectively without making it A Thing. And I try to remind myself that these kinds of comments are coming from a well-intentioned if misguided place–everyone is starved for good news and personal connection after a year and a half of *waves hands* all of this, and their enthusiasm is just coming out in socially awkward ways.

  4. Erin*

    I might be way off base here, but I wonder if the interviewer was a POC and the email sender was also a POC from the same community and they get confused for one another all the time because their coworkers can’t tell the difference between the two Asian guys or whatever, and that’s why it made him hostile.

    1. Drag0nfly*

      “The All You People Look Alike” factor? I wondered the same thing. But it could also be a situation where someone named “Jean” is angry she pronounced it “Gene” instead of “John”-with-a-French-accent.

      I once knew a French woman who was irritated by a common American mispronunciation of her extremely French name. Her name wasn’t something simple like Marie, but more like Mireille (rhymes with Marseille) or Anaïs for an example. She was also ethnically Asian, so both possibilities (minority with a hard-to-pronounce name) could be an issue, too.

      Either way, OP dodged a bullet.

      1. Willis*

        But, the OP straight up said a completely different name (the name of whoever sent the email she just read). It doesn’t sound like a case of mispronunciation.

        1. Drag0nfly*

          Okay, in the French woman’s case the mispronunciation landed on an actual name, just not *her* name. If the man is French (let’s say) then saying his name (Jean) as Gene is a mispronunciation that also lands on real name. Two completely different names. The point was to show how OP could honestly make the mistake.

          Otherwise, the Alison –> Elizabeth factor applies here, then, where it’s not a mispronunciation but just straight up wrong. I experience the same thing with my own popular-amongst-English-speaking-people name. It’s mindboggling when people do that, but also not worth getting bent out of shape about

          1. Drag0nfly*

            From your comment below I see what you’re getting at. In that case, Erin’s suggestion is a plausible reason why “Tony” would be so bent out of shape about being called “Scott.”

            Even in that case, though, OP dodged a bullet.

          2. Yorick*

            OP says she called him by the name of someone else who sent an email, not just that she got his name wrong.

      2. The Original Stellaaaaa*

        If someone named Jean works with someone named Gene and can’t figure out how the mistake occurred, that person deserves to be offended.

        That’s probably not what happened here though.

      3. Janet's Planet*

        I think the idea of dodging a bullet in these situations isn’t always accurate. This interviewer seems to be an HR rep, possibly only doing recruiting. In a big company, OP may never need to deal with this person again.

        I think it’s become too easy to dismiss bad interviews (on either side) as “they dodged a bullet”. In many cases it comes off as “the grapes were sour anyway”. People need jobs, which is why they’re interviewing, and most people would be happy to get past one bad interviewer if there was a good job on the other end.

        1. Selena*

          Agreed: in a tiny company the hr-manager is also your boss so you should be weary of any weirdness, but in a big company the hr-person is just a gatekeeper with whom you’d have little further contact.

      1. John Smith*

        Very much. OP1, you’ve dodged a bullet there. If that’s his behaviour for getting his name wrong, what’s he going to be like when something bad happens? Reflect on what went wrong from your own perspective and forget about his reactions. Good luck in your next interview.

        1. MK*

          I don’t know what happened with this person enough to say whether it was a dodged bullet, but I agree that the OP should be better off just focusing on what she can control, as in, in the future don’t get too overexcited about the interview to the point of skipping preparing for it. Maybe this was an unreasonably touchy person, maybe a generally rude one, ultimately it doesn’t matter. (By the way, the letter doesn’t say, but I am assuming the OP profusely apologized about the mistake. If not, I can see the interviewer being offended, though it still doesn’t excuse the rudeness).

          1. ToodlesTeaTops*

            For OP’s sake. She did say she apologized and she did say she prepared for the interview. She totally dodged a bullet here. That’s not a normal reaction to being called the wrong name.

            1. MK*

              “I should have given myself more time to get prepared but was excited and decided to take it head on!”

              Actually what she did say was that she didn’t give herself enough time to prepare. You are right that she did apologize, I missed that.

              1. Crabby Patty*

                If an interviewee called me the wrong name, I’d laugh it off and move on. If I did think about it, I’d chalk it up to interview nervousness.

                To me, such a simple mistake has nothing to do with preparedness. Sheesh…

                1. SheLooksFamiliar*

                  I’ve been called the wrong name by candidates – similar names like Cheryl instead of Sharon, but also Terry or Karen. I can overlook it once, because, hey, it happens. Even confident, prepared people can make a mistake due to nerves. A second time might irritate me but, hey, it also happens. A third time would probably put me off but I still wouldn’t ‘check out’ of the interview. That’s not professional nor kind.

                  OP, you didn’t make a horrible, unforgivable mistake, please don’t beat yourself up.

                2. Uranus Wars*

                  yes and it was a name out of left field – it was the name of the person who set up the interview! It seems like such an over-reaction to me by the interviewer.

            2. Caliente*

              Sometimes these comments are hilarious. Both in a comment section and in real life.
              We can say the reaction was extreme but then how often do we say people can react however they want and other people just need to deal with it?

              1. Charlotte Lucas*

                I think the comments are generally that people are allowed to feel how they want, but they still need to act like professionals.

                You could be offended by being called an incorrect name, but that doesn’t mean you check out of the interview.

                1. UKDancer*

                  Definitely. I think it’s fine to feel how you want to feel but it’s important to behave professionally. So I can feel intensely irritated that one of the senior people in my company abbreviates my name in a way I deeply dislike, but I can’t respond by punching them in the face or swearing. What I do is ask the senior person very politely if they would use my full name.

          2. Brisbane*

            I just interviewed a candidate who called me the wrong name throughout the initial phone screen and the in-person interview. A similar name to mine, but not my name. I corrected him every time. Still wouldn’t rule him out for the role based just on that, but the two major skills for the role are attention to detail and the ability to listen to clients in order to gather important and sometimes subtle information. That initial and continued mistake raised a little flag that led me to notice lots of other little red flags. I continued the interview, though, because I thought he might offer something in the way of a balance of skills in other areas, or an explanation for the danger signs. He did not.

            Coincidentally, that same day, another candidate insisted on calling me by a very formal version of my name. Think “Hi, my name is Jen.” “Nice to meet you, Ms. Jennifer Brown.” “You can call me Jen.” “Thank you, and when would this job start, Ms. Jennfer Brown?” He was technically correct, but it weirded me out every time. Again… just a little flag. Not a deal-breaker.

            But then we had another candidate who didn’t put any flags on display. All three were at the same level of skills and experience. But we hired #3.

            OP – It might be they wrote you off after that little error, or they may have had stuff going on in their head that had nothing to do with your interview. Whatever the cause, they were the one displaying a flag here. Recognize and move on.

            1. PT*

              I worked a lot with diverse populations, and part of the cultural competency required for me to do my job correctly and well was being aware that if I introduced myself as “Hi my name is Jen,” I was likely to be called “Ms. Jennifer Brown,” or “Ms. Brown,” or “Ms. Jen” in return.

              Considering that a red flag would have been a red flag…for my boss, to replace me.

              1. Brisbane*

                Wow! Thank you for that, I didn’t consider and will have to look into that further. We just went through a whole thing with one employee refusing to call another employee by their preferred name and pronouns, so I may have been on heightened alert.

              2. Amtelope*

                But there’s a real difference between dealing with clients/customers/patients/etc. and hiring an employee. Of course you need to be responsive to the culture of people your organization serves and let them call you whatever they consider to be polite. But I’m not going to hire an employee who won’t follow my directions to follow work norms for our business and use the version of my name that I prefer. If I’ve said, specifically, “You can call me Jen,” and they won’t call me Jen, that’s a hard no from me for failure to follow directions and respect my preferences.

              3. A Library Person*

                I understand this, but it’s also true that using different names for someone who has made their preference clear is considered rude in the US (and, in many cases, the type of assumption that gives “Jennifer” for “Jen” is incorrect). I intensely dislike it when I clearly state that my name is [common abbreviation of multiple common US names] and people use one of the full versions. That’s not my name. I just told you my name. Please use my name and don’t make assumptions because you think my name is or should be something else.

                I’m thinking more along the lines of first names here, not the addition of an honorific or the use of a surname, although in many contexts that can make me, personally, uncomfortable as well.

      2. Roscoe*

        Is it? This site likes to look for subtle racism in a lot of places, and this is one of those places where I feel it can be a very likely situation.

      3. Rayray*

        I agree. Leave it to the internet to stretch and come up with wild theories about how someone is a racist and ignorant over a simple name slip up.

        1. Observer*

          No one is saying that the OP is racist. However, the scenario itself (where people of the same race or ethnicity are called by the same name because of being of the same race / ethnicity) that it’s not a really big stretch to think that the interviewer’s perception could have been affected by this.

          1. John Smith*

            There’s all sorts of reasons why people can get a name wrong. For example, my friend (and secret crush) “Jason”… For about a week after I first met him, I called everyone Jason (even Michelle in Accounts). And names that begin with the same letter – that trips me up. “Hi Michelle, I mean, Martin. Really sorry – I’ve no idea why before you ask”.

            1. Kal*

              There are all sorts of innocent reasons to get someone’s name wrong, though that’s irrelevant since we already know the reason in this case – OP got the name of the interviewer mixed up with the email sender. But the interviewer doesn’t know the reason. If the interviewer is someone who has experience of a pattern of being called the name of someone else simply for being the same ethnicity, its entirely possible the interviewer read that pattern in OP’s actions, since the interviewer can’t read OP’s mind and see their intentions.

              Whether that’s what really happened or not, we can’t know, since we can’t read minds either. We don’t even know any context beyond what OP has given us. But within the information we have here, it is still a possibility.

      4. Aerin*

        I immediately had the same thought, though. For someone who has spent their entire life dealing with people mangling their name or just deciding they’re going to call them by a similar-sounding Anglo name (or even an entirely different one) they find easier to pronounce, they are probably going to be sensitive to the issue in a way that might seem irrational to someone else.

        If that was in play here, the interviewer still could have handled it better. But, like, I get it.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I have a long last name that is pronounced exactly how it’s spelled and people STILL get it wrong. All. The. Time. It’s just a thing that happens.

          He definitely could have handled it better, especially if the candidate corrected it after the initial mistake. People are nervous in interviews; they stumble sometimes. This is also a thing that happens. I think he’s just a crap interviewer who would probably be a crap boss.

    2. Willis*

      Did the OP call the interviewer by the name of a co-worker who scheduled the interview? Or just by an unrelated name of someone else the OP just got an email from, unconnected with the company? The letter is not really clear. Neither is a reason I’d rule out a candidate, but the first seems like a particularly innocuous/common slip-up. The second case makes the OP seem a little more distracted but still, not a big deal. This guy sounds rude and like a bad interviewer.

      1. Paulina*

        I’m coming to this late, but just in case anyone reads this:
        I read the OP’s post as saying that they called the interviewer by the name of the person they got the interview scheduling email from. To me that suggests that the interviewer’s excessive response could have had an elitist component to it. IME when interviewers aren’t sending these emails themselves then the emails are being sent by support staff, so if there’s any particular edge to this mixup, it’s potentially that the interviewer is annoyed at the implication that the OP didn’t realize who they were talking to (position-wise and status-wise), not just that they’d gotten the name wrong.

    3. Eden*

      That doesn’t really change the advice though. Even if that were the case, the interviewer’s overreaction would still be an overreaction and what Alison said holds.

    4. BethDH*

      Maybe the name was just the last straw in an interview where OP’s lack of preparation was more obvious than they realize? Like, say, not having noticed a major initiative relative to the position that was on the main website. Then by the time they got to the name issue, the interviewer just had something really obvious to call out.
      The reaction is still really rude, but it makes more sense to me than it really being just about the name.
      That said, Erin’s point above also seems possible. Calling Jorge “Juan” has an added hint of racism that calling Allison “Elizabeth” does not and I could definitely see someone being more sensitive to that.

      1. EPLawyer*

        Even if it was the last straw, the interviewer was rude. If it was the last sraw, you know you aren’t going to hire the person, you don’t check out of the interview while continuing it, you politely wrap it up. The interveiwer wasted time just to show his pique at being called the wrong name.

        Dodged a bullet. This is someone who would not be a good manager if this is how they behave over something not going the way they think it should (hello welcome to life)

    5. Colette*

      Or it’s the name of someone the interviewer hates, or a sibling’s name that they’ve been called by people who weren’t paying attention.

    6. Boof*

      I’m not sure how helpful this sort of speculation is for the op. There could be all manner of reasons why the interviewer might have an over the top reaction to a simple mistake. But per the letter at least it was a simple mistake and the interviewer seemed to react disproportionately negatively. That’s on the interviewer not the OP.

      (also, this is why I never greet anyone by name I can never remember anyway)

      1. Claire*

        I think the point is that if the interviewer experienced a racist micro-aggression, it puts his reaction in a different light; it may be that it wasn’t so much of an overreaction. Also, I would argue that it is ALWAYS helpful to become aware of how we may have inadvertently committed a racial micro aggression. If this is in fact what happened, the OP can learn from it and try to refrain from doing something similar in the future.

    7. rachel in nyc*

      I got misnamed for my sister all the time in school- and at home. (Don’t give your kids names that start with the same letter, especially if they’re both from the old testament.) Personally, I don’t care. I joke I’ll answer to any female name from the old testament because it’s probably true if someone regularly got my name wrong. I’m just not that bothered anymore.

      But some people get really annoyed by it.

      I don’t particularly understand the feeling- on the other hand, my mom’s inability to get my name right meant that she was always less annoyed with me by the time she was done with my sister, the cats, and my dad’s names.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        (Don’t give your kids names that start with the same letter,

        Seconded. Emphatically.

        Source: My sisters first names both start with the same letter as mine, and one even has the same middle initial.

        1. SimonTheGreyWarden*

          The only reason this was ok for my sister and I is there were 8 years between us and due to family moves, the only school we went to in common ended up being our smaller, liberal arts college and while she had a few of the same professors I’d had, she had them 8 years after I graduated. While our last name is very rare, and I know at least a couple asked her if we were related, it was not much of an issue.

          But we have same first, middle, last initials and our middle names are very similar; luckily we don’t use those!

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        My mom and her siblings have those sorts of names – their nicknames are something akin to Johnny, Joni, and Jenny. (And, yes, Joni and Jenny, who are only about a year apart, get called the other’s name all the time.) My granddad got to the point that he’d start with my grandmother’s name and run down the list in rapid succession until he got to you. I’ve been called “Helen, Joni, Jenny, NAM!” more than I can count (my younger sister is “Helen, Joni, Jenny, NAM!, Jane”) – he always stopped at the right one, though.

        You think that this would have dissuaded her, but, no, Jane and I are also named Joni and Jenny, called by a middle name to avoid confusion with our elders. This may eliminate confusion within the family, but both of us have spent our lives on the class roster as, “I’m-Jenny-but-call-me-Jane.” (rinse, lather, repeat).

        I have reached a point that I answer to nearly anything that could reasonably be construed as my name/nickname.

        1. SimonTheGreyWarden*

          Not exactly the same but my first name is incredibly common. When you think of top baby names from the 80s, I guarantee you know it. I use a nontraditional form of it as my name now, and have since I was about 7 — so if it is Margaret (it isn’t), I use Mara as my name. No one calls me Margaret except my dad. I have had: several friends growing up, two different college roommates, more than one coworker at any job, and currently my director, who all have the same name. Almost all of them go by Meg or Maggie, and therefore anyone who learns (at work from email, or however) that I am a Margaret immediately defaults to Meg or Maggie even though I have never used (and in fact hate) both nicknames.

          Where I am now, I have dealt with students using Meg for me for so long that even though it is not my name, and I don’t like to respond to it, I have found myself responding when someone calls out for “Meg” even though on one level I know they might mean my supervisor.

      3. Cercis*

        I totally agree Rebekah. ;-)

        I think women, as a whole, have been socialized to roll with our names being wrong. I respond to names close to mine and even names not close to mine but that are common mistakes (Rachel/Rebekah/Jennifer all seem to be interchangeable for folks for some reason). I don’t respond to nicknames and I’ll say “oh, I don’t go by a nickname” the first time. After that, I’ll respond back to them with a nickname of their name. It rarely takes more than once of doing that before they get it, one man took about 4 times before it stuck, but he has lots of other issues that have caused me to tell folks that I will never work with him ever again.

    8. Nanani*

      I thought something similar. If the interviewer is 1000% done with privileged people getting their name wrong for (insert specifics here), that’s actually okay?

      Ditto if LW1 misgendered/deadnamed a trans interviewer or something like that.

      Sometimes people have very good reasons for not putting up with something that seems minor to those who don’t deal with it.

      1. Hamish the Accountant*

        Ehhh. Even if one of these things happened, which is a leap, interviewer’s reaction was not great.

        OP called the interviewer by the name of a different person they had been corresponding with about the job. They didn’t mispronounce the correct name, or masculinize a feminine name, or whatever.

        I’m a trans guy. My chosen name is not very familiar to Americans. And I still often get read as a butch woman. What annoys me is when someone looks at my name tag, and looks at my face, and calls me “Hannah.”

        But if a candidate has been talking to both me and Bob, and they call me Bob? Whatever.

        Or, honestly, if the candidate has been talking to both me and Roberta, and they call me Roberta… I’m not going to be thrilled but I also wouldn’t blame them or discount them as a candidate because of it. Just correct them and move on. The thing to judge them for is if they’re cruddy about being corrected.

      2. Bananers*

        No, it’s not okay to be dismissive and rude to an interviewee who made an innocent mistake. The person had been communicating with someone else before the interview and mixed up the names. There is absolutely no indication that this has anything to do with any kind of privilege, prejudice, or anything else. Be professional.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          Yeah, interviewees sometimes mess up my name, but I just offer a quick, polite question and then move on. It is not be a disqualifying mistake, in my mind, unless someone refuses to adjust when corrected or tries to argue with someone about the “correct” pronunciation of their name (which, yes, I have seen).

          I interviewed for a job where one of the project managers was horrifically rude to me for the entire interview, and I have no idea why. She insulted my alma mater, my major, my then-current employer/position, and made it clear she thought I was not terribly bright. I got on well with the rest of the team, and I’ve no idea what I did/said to set her off, but I was not offered the position and wouldn’t have accepted it if I had been.

          1. Observer*

            It is not be a disqualifying mistake, in my mind, unless someone refuses to adjust when corrected or tries to argue with someone about the “correct” pronunciation of their name

            Yup. Or if they are dismissive about the mistake. Which the OP was not – they DID apologize.

        2. Æthelflæd*

          I think it’s important to take into consideration the trauma that many trans folks face around their names. That isn’t an excuse for the interviewer’s behavior (which, I found gross), but it’s important context to remember why some people might have a negative reaction to being called the wrong name.

          I work with our LGBTQ+ group at work a lot, and one of the best pieces of advice I received from an openly trans man was that to many trans folks, using the wrong name is akin to being slapped in the face for many because of their past trauma. Now, that doesn’t give them an excuse to be a dick (which this interviewer was), but having a knee-jerk reaction is understandable, I would say.

          Look at it this way: if you have a friend who has been traumatized by a mugging, you wouldn’t be angry if they reacted negatively to you sneaking up behind them, right? Same thing.

      3. Observer*

        If the interviewer is 1000% done with privileged people getting their name wrong for (insert specifics here), that’s actually okay?

        Please. I’ve been at the receiving end of disrespectful name mistakes. So I DO get it. But as an adult, it’s important to realize that just because some people are entitled jerks, it doesn’t make it ok to jump down the throat of every person who makes an innocent mistake, or even someone who might plausibly have made an innocent mistake. Sure, if you have reason to think that it’s due to the “they all look alike” effect, keep your eyes open for that. But, as an interviewer, you have a lot of power and if you see that that’s what is going on, then you can do something about it (keep the candidacy from moving forward) without acting like a bratty toddler. And if it turns out to have been a reasonable mistake, then you need to deal with it.

      4. Tobias Funke*

        Serious question: How do you deadname someone you’re interacting with for the first time and have only ever known by their correct, current name? I can’t see how OP even would have known Interviewer’s hypothetical deadname to do it? I feel like Fox News Uncle asking this, but I don’t get the logistics.

    9. Astro*

      I had the same thought. It’s a common annoyance People of Color face, so I could see them seeing it as part of a pattern they have no interest in engaging in, especially if they have a history of doing it. I had two colleagues from India and a coworker constantly messed up their names. When I called him out, he blew it off. But the coworker was able to keep all the white people’s names straight.

    10. Not Robert*

      There are certain names that get confused all the time. I’m Richard, but when people get my name wrong, at least 50% of the time they call me Robert. It’s my most-called wrong name. They remember the “R” and say whatever comes to mind I guess? ‍♂️

      1. Not Robert*

        Ha, that was supposed to be a shrug emoji. Guess that doesn’t work, right, Robert? lol

  5. Beth*

    #2: In most roles, I would completely agree with Alison. The thing that’s giving me a bit of pause is that you’re in student-facing roles; I’m in higher education as well, and I know for a fact that some students do look for this kind of thing, and some do gossip about it. I’ve seen screenshots of professors’ dating profiles passed around, for example. My social media is all pretty tightly locked down as a result, even though I’m only a grad student/TA.

    If there’s a way you can work it into casual conversation, you might mention that you keep your social media locked up for that reason, and complain about how much is visible if you don’t make special effort to keep it private. That might nudge him to revisit his own settings, without putting it on you to be all “I know it’s a bit creepy that I went digging, sorry, but I thought you’d want to know I could find all this.”

    1. Drag0nfly*

      Exactly, if his role wasn’t student-facing I’d say OP should ignore it. But your suggestion for how to bring it up without being creepy should work.

    2. BethDH*

      Yes. Friend of mine (a teacher) had students find a silly photo of his from about ten years earlier. He came into school to find they had cut out the face and were wearing it as a mask. It wasn’t anything inappropriate, luckily, but it would have required a much deeper dive than the one OP did and students won’t shy away from mentioning it.

    3. Pocket Mouse*

      Yes. I’d also add in something like, “I make sure to check all my privacy settings periodically and double check what is publicly visible—sometimes I even google myself to be sure.”

    4. kittymommy*

      I’m wondering if he even remembers about the IG account. Truthfully, I have a lot of social media accounts, some I barely remember and definitely don’t know how to get in them (pretty sure I have a Tumblr and Snap and no clue what my username is for either – it’s entirely possible there are others).

    5. Beatrice*

      I see professors (which would be student facing roles) post crazy sexual stuff all the time these days. If people even so much as mention it being inappropriate they are torn apart by commenters and the profs themselves. Two days ago an English prof from one of the most prestigious universities in the US posted a full nude of themselves on twitter. When called out they accused commenters of kink shaming and scoffed when told that their students might be uncomfortable approaching them after seeing their overtly sexual social media feeds.

      No, if the female secretaries in their departments tried this, I’m sure they would be disciplined. But, such is life.

      1. Beth*

        So this I can’t fully agree with. The problem with the scenario you describe isn’t the male teacher not experiencing consequences for posting a pic on his personal twitter; it’s the fact that if a female teacher did the same, she probably would experience consequences for it.

        The thing about teaching is, it’s a job. It’s not your entire life. People SHOULD be able to have lives outside their jobs (including sexual lives! including online sexual lives!) regardless of what their jobs are. The idea that teachers are somehow in this special category where they have to present a perfectly clean, perfectly PG image at all times and in all parts of their lives? It’s weird. Teachers SHOULD be able to post near-nudes on their personal social media accounts if they want—limited by twitter’s community guidelines, but that’s a twitter issue, not a teacher/professionalism issue. Same goes for the professors whose dating site profiles I’ve seen people pass around screenshots of; they didn’t do anything wrong by having a profile, even if it’s clearly thirsty and looking for hookups. That goes double for teachers of adults; a college professor’s students are of an age to know that people post all kinds of things on the internet, to decide whether to go hunting with that in mind, and to deal with it themselves if they choose to go hunting and find more than they bargained for. unprofessional that it popped up for some student.

        (This would be different if the professor was actively sending nudes to his students, or actively messaging them on dating sites, or otherwise actively seeking to engage with them sexually. That would be wildly inappropriate. But having less-than-pure content on their personal social media? I don’t think that’s even mildly unprofessional, much less inappropriate. That’s not a professional space.)

        My reasoning for keeping my stuff locked down isn’t that it’s somehow shameful or inappropriate for my students to see my thirst traps. It’s because I do like to have some privacy and have chosen to keep them out of that part of my life. I know people do gossip, and I don’t particularly want to be the subject of it; it feels invasive to me, so I minimize the odds of it happening. That’s a personal choice, not a professional obligation.

        1. SimonTheGreyWarden*

          Eh. I chose to go into teaching, and I can choose to set my privacy settings. I’m not a private figure who gets yanked into the limelight; I do have a forward facing role. No, it isn’t an obligation, but I do consider how my students would see me if they searched me up. So for example, nothing about my family is public; all of the social justice issues I follow are. If someone were to search, I would want them to see that I don’t just talk about these things but actively make it part of my life.

          However, I’ve never been one to post romantic things online; never been with a dating service; never would post nudes. I’m ace, over 40, and fat, so those things are kind of incomprehensible to me — but more power to people if they want to do it.

          1. Beth*

            Yeah, I think we agree that it can be *beneficial* to have strong privacy settings on things—that people are allowed to lock things down and that there are a lot of pros to consciously controlling what you do and don’t make accessible. That’s why I suggested OP find a way to bring up privacy settings around this colleague; I think we all deserve to be informed on what’s accessible and know how to make it private, so we can make those decisions in an informed way.

            My quibble with the comment I replied to is that it shouldn’t be *mandatory* to do so. It should be up to the individual and what they want to do. (This is definitely somewhat a reaction to the nonsense that comes up occasionally, where a teacher is found to have been a sex worker in the past/have a sexy dating profile/be involved in kink/otherwise have a ‘salacious’ element to their sex life, and it turns into a big puritan stink where they get fired for ‘inappropriate behavior’ even though they never brought that side of their life to work and it only got revealed when someone happened to stumble into their private stuff.) It’s not unprofessional for an adult to have a dating profile that shows they’re open to hookups. It’s not inappropriate to post sexy pictures of themselves on their personal social media accounts. And being a teacher doesn’t change that. Even if a student does stumble across that content, it doesn’t mean we did anything wrong.

  6. kqao*

    This may be a stretch of an assumption but maybe it could also be a salary issue.

    Our HR basically told one of our supervisors why he hasn’t been given a promotion and it’s because the next level up for him would give him higher salary but since due to the nature of his work and himself as well, he’d be without overtime pay since he’ll be in a managerial level already and it would be a cut to what he’s currently taking home right now.

    His part of why he incurs a lot of overtime is his lack of delegating tasks to the staff. We’d tell him about that but he keeps saying that he prefers to do it right once than letting others do it and correcting them ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (which is also a concern if he ever becomes a manager)

    1. Cj*

      That is a problem at his current level, and who ever is in charge, whether hr or his current manager, needs to tell him that is not acceptable.

    2. Cj*

      I gotta admit I do not get this. If he is not a manager why would he be delegating work to staff in the first place? Why doesn’t his manager in charge of the workflow delegate some if his work to other people if he is not a manager?

      1. kqao*

        As far as I know, he’s been tenured here long enough to know how the process well and the rest of the staff are basically his assistants. His manager has told him that but never took it further in discussion since as far as they’re concerned, the deliverables come on time which earns another ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ this time, for his manager.

      2. PollyQ*

        It’s pretty common for an employee to supervise and assign the work of a few other colleagues without being their official manager. However, given that he’s earning 1.5x overtime for not delegating, I am surprised that his manager hasn’t stepped in and made it clear that he absolutely must start delegating, and can only work overtime if it’s been pre-approved.

        1. doreen*

          I have an acquaintance who did something similar – he worked a lot of overtime on his own initiative and without asking anyone’s approval to “get the orders out” rather than because he wouldn’t delegate but the owners allowed it while business was good and only stepped in when the pandemic hit and business dropped and he was still working OT. (which probably was never necessary to begin with)

      3. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

        I’m not a manager, but I am in a team lead role. Our mutual manager delegates which projects we’ll be working on, but the lead developer on the project is the first point of contact for delegating and prioritizing individual tasks (and going back to the manager to let her know when we expect to need more work).

        Of course, since we’re all exempt, there is no financial incentive for me to work overtime doing all the work myself.

    3. EPLawyer*

      If pay is an issue, then someone involved in the hiring should tell OP that and let OP decide if they are willing to take a paycut to get the promotion. It’s not anyone else’s decision to make.

  7. Maxie*

    #2: “I can also see accounts and hashtags that he follows, the latter of which includes the name of someone who appears to be an adult model and the hashtag brings up nude and sexual images.” If were your manager, and you came to me with this, I would be pretty creeped out that you were searching out my social media accounts, researching and analyzing my follows and clicking on the links. You decide a name sounds like an adult model and you keep clicking to see sexual images?
    This isn’t cursory Googling and this isn’t concern for your manager’s reputation. This seems to cross into internet stalking to serve your own prurient interest. If you are doing this from your workplace, you might spend your time instead doing your new job. If nothing else, this will come back to bite you if IT sees you have been viewing porn at work.

    1. MK*

      Why would you assume the OP did this googling at work?

      Also, I don’t agree that this is in any way stalking, but I think there is a point to be made that it can sound more involved when explained. I had the same thought when I reread a letter linked in yesterday’s post, the one about the OP who found out about her coworker lying about her husband’s death: very likely the search in another person’s social media took all of a three seconds, possibly with unthinking clicking. But describing the search actually takes longer than doing it (first I googled because I was curious, then I clicked on that, etc) and makes it sound like a deep dive search.

    2. Anonyymouss*

      Yeah that sounds a little excessive to me as well. My accounts are public and I mostly use them professionally. I follow a couple of personal accounts linked to a rare disease that I have, and someone doing such a search on my accounts would find them. Not a big deal (I don’t post about it but it’s not a secret I have it) but I would be a bit creeped out that someone would have gone to these lengths to check my accounts before taking the initiative to reporting back to be about what I follow with their opinion on whether I should do so publicly… Same if it were about someone in an adult industry.

    3. Roscoe*

      Exactly. As I said in another post. Its one thing to check out someone’s insta in order to get a sense of who they are. like “oh, John has 2 cute dogs” or “look, he was on vacation in Spain last year”, another to go as far as checking out who they follow and clicking on those hash tags.

    4. Red Swedish Fish*

      I agree , I would be creeped out if someone at work told me this even if it wasn’t about me. Its stalkerish that the OP went to follows and stated checking hashtags. I doubt this was done at work it wasn’t quick or cursory, Op got a snack and sat down to do research.

    5. JayNay*

      checking out who someone follows on a social media account is literally how people use the internet though. If your accounts are public, those things are findable. That’s not the LW’s fault. I like the script people talk about in the other comment above – mentioning how easy it is to find such things and leaving it at that.

      1. Lyra Silvertongue*

        It’s how you can use the internet, but it still goes against a few social norms. It would be weird if you accepted a coworker as a friend on Facebook and they started going through your friends list, weirder still if they started messaging you about people on your friends list or pages that you follow. You can see mutual follows/followers easily on Instagram, but to Google someone, find their account, look at who they follow and look at the hashtags is something someone can only do deliberately. Sure the information is out there and publicly available, but in 2021 I think we can also acknowledge that coworkers’ social media accounts that they have not shared with you are not something you should seek out.

        1. Chilipepper Attitude*

          It is not against social norms! I check on who people I know follow to get good ideas about accounts I want to follow. That is exactly how social media works. And more than one younger than I person has told me to look at accounts they follow to get good ideas for me.

          1. Lyra Silvertongue*

            Asking you is the key bit. I’m talking about Googling your coworker, who you only just met, finding their account, which you do not follow, and then bringing up what you find with them unprompted, which is what the LW wants to do. I’m not saying it’s against social norms to use social media, I’m saying that using it in this specific way is against social norms.

            1. pancakes*

              Very, very few people are advising the LW to bring this up with the coworker. I haven’t read all the latest comments yet but I’ve only seen one so far, and they said they’d do it from an anonymous burner account. (For clarity, I don’t think that’s necessary or advisable).

              The idea that anyone has to get to know a person well before googling them – likewise the idea that people shouldn’t look at who their own contacts are following, which is what Chilipepper is talking about – are pretty out of step with the way many people use social media. Commenters here seem to take a “please don’t perceive me without my permission” stance far more often than social media users I know.

          2. EventPlannerGal*

            Honestly I do think that it’s still a bit weird if it’s someone you don’t really know and they don’t know you’re doing it, as it seems like was the case for you. I mean, have we all done something like it out of boredom or nosiness or mindless scrolling? Absolutely. Does it make you an irredeemable weirdo? No. Is it something you should admit you’ve been doing to your brand new boss? Also no. Even though Instagram offers the functionality to do it, it’s just… don’t tell people you’ve been doing it, you know?

      2. Yorick*

        I mean, I understand googling him and going to his social media page. That’s not weird, it’s how people use social media. But I usually stop at seeing what people post, I don’t care who they follow. If they don’t post much, I just think they’re not an active user. Unless they were reposting sexual images or those accounts were tagging them in posts, I wouldn’t know they were following them.Why would you think, “I didn’t learn enough about him from his posts, I’ll check out all the pages he follows?”

      3. Roscoe*

        There are a lot of things you CAN find on the internet that doesn’t mean you should go looking for it. I CAN find out how much my colleague spent on their home. But its still kind of sketchy, IMO, to go searching for that info. I CAN find out how much my friends wife makes since she is government employee, again, that doesn’t mean I should

      4. Lecturer*

        No it is not. Social media is boring. I used Facebook once in a while to group chat to 2 friends who moved away years ago. Now we’re on a what’s app group. I’m still on Facebook but I never post, just randomly look at a few profiles/pictures a few times a year.

        I’ve never used Twitter or Instagram.

        1. Jennifer*

          You don’t really use social media then so it’s not really a fair comparison.

          1. Lecturer*

            What? I don’t use social media because it is boring. Reverse your assumption the opposite way.

    6. OP2*

      Hey, thanks for your feedback! To clarify, I did not do this during working hours, and it wasn’t that the name sounded like anything in particular – it was the only hashtag he follows. I can see why you might think it was a deep dive, but it was a page one Google result. That said, I think Alison’s advice to pretend I didn’t see it is good!

      1. Mike*

        I don’t think it was at all weird or stalkerish for you to be curious and look him up on social media. Doesn’t everyone do this sometimes? But I think it’s also part of the code to act like you didn’t and never mention it.

        1. OP2*

          I do think people have the wrong idea about the depths I was going to, but in text it looks like more effort than it was – he follows exactly one hashtag that was at the very top of his “following” list, and I did not click through any other accounts he was following. That said, I am more than happy to now ignore it forever!

          1. Reba*

            Yeah, as MK described above, it sounds more intense when you narrate it after the fact, even though it was just a few clicks in the moment!

            That’s why I’m on the “stay quiet” side on this one — you don’t really know each other, and while you would be doing this person a favor there is a high likelihood of it coming across weirdly.

      2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        If nothing else, Maxie’s comment shows how easily your actions in looking him up can be misconstrued as weirder than they actually were. When you explain it this way, it does not seem creepy, but there is always a risk of it looking weird. I am glad that you agree with Alison’s advice on this one! And I have to say, Maxie’s comment sounded rather harsh (though again, still helpful in that it pointed out a potential problem with discussing it with your boss that could have major repercussions for you), but your response to it is very polite and not defensive.

    7. anonymath*

      Yeah…. if it’s in the top 6 on the first Google page and the hashtag is something like a woman’s name or something about surfing or something like that, this is 6 seconds of boredom.

      Front page of Google = not stalking.

    8. pancakes*

      I can certainly understand being uncomfortable with learning that a coworker found one’s Twitter or Instagram account – I don’t use my real name on mine because I don’t want that to happen. But clicking on someone’s “Following” tab really doesn’t involve research or analysis. It’s one click. Similarly, to notice that someone follows adult models wouldn’t necessarily require any more analysis than a glance at the the account’s avatar, and/or combination of their avatar and account name.

    9. MsClaw*

      Is that the only thing the hashtag brings up? Because people running various scams will tag themselves with anything they think will get people to click on their stuff. Maybe it’s a mistake, maybe she’s got a name similar to his niece, maybe she is his niece, maybe he was hacked by the scammer who runs that account. Whatever the answer is, I’m glad you’re following the advice to ignore it. This really isn’t a problem.

      1. PT*

        One of my friends just lost her IG account to hackers over the weekend. They changed her password and locked her out, the account is likely gone. And another of my friends just had her Facebook account cloned by scammers last week. They stole her profile picture, made a new account with her name, added all her friends, and then messaged them (us) saying “Hi how are you I am good did you know about the COVID relief money from Department of Health Human Services?” at which point I blocked said scammer because it was pretty obvious they were phishing for Social Security numbers.

        1. Chilipepper Attitude*

          For Facebook, there is a setting where you can set 3 to 5 people who know you who can help you verify you are you (and the spoofers are not you) and can help you get your account back.

    10. Jennifer*

      Meh…this isn’t stalking. At least not by today’s standards. People google each other and look at each other’s social media. If there are things you don’t want the public to see, you have to change your privacy settings so they can’t.

      Ultimately, I agree with Alison’s advice. He’s not doing anything illegal. He’s not forcing the OP or anyone else at work to look at explicit photos. OP just needs to put this in the “not my business” file and move on.

  8. Maxie*

    #3, if Alison’s script doesn’t work, tell them, “Stop asking to see my body. “

    1. Grr Arrgh*

      Or “have you never seen a pregnant woman before?”

      This letter just gives me another reason to hate people.

      1. JustaTech*

        I had two coworkers who had kids in the past year and one of my other coworkers kept asking one of them (but not the other) to show off her belly in meetings/social zooms.

        Sometimes the pregnant person stood up, but other times she said “not today”, and my coworker didn’t push back, but I was uncomfortable with the whole thing. Like, it’s one thing to ask to see the cat or dog, but “let me look at your belly” is a thousand times more intrusive.

    2. Jack Straw*

      This is my favorite suggestion on how to shut it down. Clear, concise, to the point, leaves no room for misunderstanding–and it points out the absurdity of the requests.

  9. Matthias*

    Re LW1, I had multiple interviews where the person actually doing the interviewing was somebody new and not necessarily who I have been in contact with before (or a quick replacement), and when I double-checked the messages they also didn’t show up there.

    Going “Hello Susan, I presume” when the other person was not was rather common, and usually people would introduce themselves and make sure everybody knew who everybody is.

    You do not need to feel bad about this, and you would expect people to quickly correct you and introduce themselves, not go nuclear.

    1. Clorinda*

      Yes, it really seems like a normal sort of situation that the interviewer reacted to very strangely. Also, not that many people get every name right every time. Those of us with odd names get mispronunciations or replacements of our odd name with a similar “normal” name. People with normal names get similar normal names and unsolicited nicknames. And everyone forgets a name from time to time. Let’s be kind to one another and respond with gentle reminders, not great umbrage.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I would like to meet the person who has never in their life been called the wrong name. I have questions.

          1. John Smith*

            Well, seeing as you asked….

            I did a brief spell whilst at uni for a catalogue company. In the induction where they demonstrated the database, we got to titles. And guess what? There’s one Elizabeth Windsor named as a customer! Yes, that one! Except….

            Trainer: “. Here we have titles. For example, The Queen is a customer, and her title is HRH”.
            Me: “Erm, shouldn’t that be HM for Her Majesty?”
            Trainer: “No it’s HRH. It says it there. She’s royal so it’s HRH.”
            Me: “But her shortened title is HM, not HRH. HM is for the monarch, the others for her children.”
            Trainer: “if you’re going to be disruptive, please leave”
            Me: Packs up things and runs.

            This company – a British company with a Royal Warrant (allowed to display the royal coat of arms as a supplier to royalty) – couldn’t even get her title right. And they prided themselves on attention to detail (and listening to staff).

        1. Mouseshadow2001*

          I have been asked to spell my surname on previous occasions…..smith (which in the UK is a very common surname) however the person thought for some reason I was someone completely different with a much more unusual surname

    2. Chester*

      Interesting though that this was a zoom interview by the sounds of it (ie she talks about ending the shared video early). My experience with zoom is that your name is right there on the screen. It depends on the interviewer’s displayed username, of course, but given that it’s a work account, it’s reasonable to assume it was their full or part name, not a nickname. It’s easy and forgivable to get someone’s name wrong if you just met them, less so if they are wearing a name tag

  10. WordNerd*

    Psst, Alison – ‘disinterested’ does not mean the same thing as ‘interested’.

      1. biobotb*

        Unfortunately it may be gaining that definition, as so many people use it as a synonym for uninterested.

        1. Kora*

          Eh. The original meaning of ‘uninterested’ was ‘unbiased’ and ‘disinterested’ meant ‘not interested’. Then there was a long period of the words being used interchangeably, then they moved towards their contemporary meanings which reversed their original definitions. So people who use disinterested to mean ‘not interested’ are actually the ones following the older linguistic tradition. I mean, if you want to get technical :P

      2. raktajino*

        wait what? Disinterested and uninterested aren’t synonyms? MW says they are, though disinterested has a second meaning.

        *throws up hands* *gives up on language*

        1. John Smith*


          Disinterested:. “John the manager didn’t have an employee nephew up for “employee of the year” award and so he was chosen to sit on the panel as he had no vested interest in who would win.”

          Uninterested: “John the manager passionately hated his employer and colleagues and really couldn’t give a s**t if he tried as to who won the stupid 10% discount voucher from Nandos for Best Llama Makeup award. John just wanted to be in the pub figuring out how much his divorce is gonna cost him.”

          Hope that helps :)

    1. fhqwhgads*

      Psst, WordNerd: there’s a “report an typo” link directly above the comment box. If you genuinely wanted to point out the need for a correction, you could’ve used that – and gotten the message directly to the source much more efficiently than putting it in the comments and hoping it might get read by the intended recipient, who has stated many times she doesn’t read every comment.

  11. EventPlannerGal*

    OP2: I understand doing a cursory google, but once you’re at the stage of clicking into his following list and then clicking on accounts and hashtags he’s following to look at their contents, that’s a bit more than cursory. No judgement, I think we’ve all gone down online rabbit holes on occasion, but at that point it’s just weird to bring up the results of what you find IRL.

    1. Tara*

      Yeah, and there are literally no consequences for her for not saying anything, but there are definitely negative ones if she does.

    2. laura*

      yes! this takes some digging, it’s not right there. 99.9% of people aren’t going to dive into who someone is followin g just so they can act outraged! if someone brought this up to me I would be extremely weirded out.

    3. Joielle*

      Yep. I absolutely have done the same thing before, no judgment from me. But you never tell the person you did it!

    4. Rayray*

      I agree. This is one thing I really hate about social media is that people can see anything I do. I do put on privacy settings as much as I can because of this and basically stopped engaging at all on Facebook because it announces to the newsfeed if I so much as comment or like something.

      I enjoy Instagram and follow some different kinds of accounts and would prefer to just do so in peace without judgment or ridicule.

      1. pancakes*

        I’ve never had a Facebook account so I’m not well-versed on the privacy settings, but you can set an Instagram account to private. You can also create a second account quite easily, for following different accounts or doing whatever it is you want to do that you don’t want your main account followers to be able to see.

    5. MCMonkeybean*

      I agree, the account may have been on page one of the google search but clicking through and perusing the “follows” list is a little far for a cursory coworker search IMO. That doesn’t mean that students won’t do the same so sure it would probably be a good idea for him to lock that account down… but I still don’t think you should tell him that you did that.

      1. TWW*

        So what if students do the same thing? They discover he follows a sexy IG account? Then what? It would be equivalent to seeing your college professor at the cinema going into an NC-17 rated movie. Maybe you laugh about it with other students, but other than that, what’s the big deal?

    6. Shan*

      Strongly agree… I would be so weirded out if anyone did this to me, multiplied by about a million if it was a relatively new direct report.

    7. Insert Clever Name Here*

      OP2 replied to a comment upthread (June 2, 2021 at 8:51 am) that this was a first page Google result and the manager only follows one hashtag – about three seconds of clicking, though it does sound much more involved by the time you type it out!

      1. EventPlannerGal*

        No, I do understand how easily you can end up doing this but to me it’s not about the time it takes. I think that checking out someone’s Following tab and then actually going into the hashtag to look at the posts is what takes it from cursory to not-cursory. Even if it only takes a few seconds I just think that demonstrates a level of curiosity beyond “oh yep this is his account, cute dog” or whatever, and therefore makes it weird to bring up.

  12. Nobby Nobbs*

    OP2, I feel like this is the time to make up an anecdote about an imaginary friend who accidentally left their Instagram set to “public” and caught grief from their mom/boss/client for it, then work it casually into conversation. If you can’t find a natural place to work the story in, take it as a sign you don’t have the right relationship with your boss to be the one tipping them off.

    1. Janet's Planet*

      No, please don’t advise this. People see right through this kind of thing, and it’s insulting when they do. Then they’ll feel embarrassed, insulted and manipulated.

    2. kathy*

      This is a new employee who doesn’t know her boss yet (therefore the googling) or the company culture. I feel like this is the time to mind her own business!!!

      I’m senior and well-regarded in my field. My boss, colleagues, and clients like me. But I have a wild hair colour. It’s not by accident, but rather it was a conscious decision which has helped me to stand out and establish my own ‘brand’. An imaginary anecdote from a new hire about how my hair is unprofessional would be most unwelcome.

      And yes, I realize it’s not a perfect analogy as OP2 is assuming her boss’ links are NOT intentionally public. My point is that OP2 doesn’t know her boss well enough to know what she is thinking. Why stick her nose into this???? I agree with Alison, there is absolutely no upside to OP.

    3. Mental Lentil*

      I really wish people in the comment section would stop suggesting lying or making something up as advice to letter writers. That’s just never a good policy.

      Most of the time, Alison’s advice is to use your words. But on occasion, her advice is that it’s best to say nothing. This is one of those times. LW was hired to help run a department, not run their boss’s personal life. (And as this is his personal IG, this is his personal life.)

      1. Pikachu*

        Thank you for saying this! It is shocking how often people in the comments recommend making up stories to get a point across. I would be interested to see what Alison thinks of these types of comments. If you feel like you need to straight up lie to somehow address something, then it is likely not your business.

        (There are some exceptions, like the OP with the sex injury… but my point stands.)

        1. Mental Lentil*

          If you feel like you need to straight up lie to somehow address something, then it is likely not your business.

          Exactly! Honesty is the best policy 95% of the time, and silence is the best policy the other 5% of the time.

          1. Kristina*

            Learning that just being open, direct, and honest is best is the #1 most useful thing I have learned from advice columns, not having learned that growning up. A terrifying number of cities promote this passive aggressive as the standard form of communication.

      2. Guacamole Bob*

        I’m also trying to figure out how I would work that into a conversation with my manager that would come across at all naturally. It’s bound to be super awkward! Either bring it up or don’t, but steer clear of the made up cautionary tales.

    4. Lyra Silvertongue*

      I’m not sure why on earth you would need or want to tell your new manager that you looked them up on Instagram. The proper social media etiquette is not telling on yourself if you go seeking out colleagues without their invitation!

  13. Bookworm*

    #1: There’s always the possibility the interviewer/org didn’t really like you as a candidate but needed a “pool” for an interview. Getting the interviewer’s name wrong might have been an excuse to throw out your application.

    #4: I can relate. Was once up for an internal promotion, was led to believe I’d get it and had an “interview” with a disinterested upper manager. Head Manager (who had encouraged me to apply!) asked if I heard back, I said no, I’m not really sure what’s going on. Disinterested Upper Manager gave me some lines about how I wasn’t quite what they were looking for and they hired an external candidate. Who flamed out within 3 weeks.

    Head Manager pushed my application without asking DUM, it seems. That might be the case with you. And I’m sure it hurt, but depending on how that convo with your super goes, it might make sense to be cautious in the future. If this is how they treated an internal application, I’d be a little skeptical of the org going forward.

    Good luck!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      #1 Agreed there was probably more to the story in the background. And from an interviewee’s perspective, it’s really bad PR for the company. It makes them appear to be a company that goes into meltdown if someone makes an error on names. Jeepers, I don’t wanna work under those conditions, I will surely make that error and similar errors within the first few days of my employment. If they can’t handle a small and common misstep in conversation how can they even hope to handle bigger things- like running a profitable, successful business?

      But yes, I would conclude that they already had their person in mind and they had no intention of hiring anyone else.

    2. Ellbird*

      Last year, I applied internally for a role that was a perfect match for my background and not only did my direct supervisor agree I’d be an excellent fit, my grandboss did, as well. I got an interview which went well, or so I thought. Several months later, I received a form email rejection, with no personalization. Not even a phone call from the recruiter! I asked her for feedback and got radio silence. That was when I realised how little the company actually valued me and I gave up on them quite a bit after. You can reject internal applicants, of course – but they should get something more than a form rejection or a complete lack of one. I feel so bad for OP #4, it can feel like a slap in the face to be treated like that.

      1. AnonPi*

        I was set out to be done the same way for a job I applied for within my small group. It was just before covid, and as we were getting ready to pack stuff up to take home, I pinned down my manager to ask about the status. They admitted they were hoping I wouldn’t ask, and was just going to send me an email that I wasn’t selected – probably the standard rejection email sent by the application system.

  14. Mannheim Steamroller*

    OP 4…

    Some companies automatically reject all internal candidates and hire only outsiders for all positions. If your employer is one of them, then you’ll have to look elsewhere for a promotion.

    1. Junior Assistant Peon*

      Considering how quickly the new hire was announced, I suspect it was already a done deal at the time the OP applied.

      1. Marny*

        This was my same thought. They already had an applicant in mind who just needed to be rubber stamped- 3 weeks from job posting to hiring is pretty fast.

      2. Aerin*

        Pretty much the exact same thing recently happened to my spouse. Saw a higher role posted, applied, was told at a meeting a couple of days later that someone else (internal from another team) had gotten it without any acknowledgement of his application. Turns out the job posting was just a formality, in that the background requirements were basically copy/pasted from the other guy’s resume. He was pretty bent that they didn’t at least contact him about his application, but honestly, “we never actually considering anyone else for the role” is not the sort of thing they can just come out and say.

    2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I’ve worked at these places. The logic seems to be “if you’re dumb enough to work here, you’re not smart enough for the next level.”

  15. Lucious*

    About LW#4 : was there a clear plan for who’d fill the LWs role if they got the internal promotion?

    It’s an easily overlooked thing- but not by HR or management. If an employee is good at Job X and there’s little or no prospect of training a capable successor , the organization will frequently hire outside. It’s less risky to do that as there’s just one employee to train. The more specialized an employees knowledge, the more likely this will happen .

    A lesson I learned the hard way is this- if you want to move up in an organization, make sure your work is documented so someone else can easily succeed you on short notice.

    1. Mockingjay*

      You bring up a good point. Internal promotions and transfers are usually weighed by how much value to the business the employee provides in their current role against how much value they would provide in a management or other role. It’s not that companies don’t want to promote people – good companies do as a retention incentive – but sometimes a productive employee has to stay where they are because that’s what the business needs most.

      But the company should have communicated that to OP4.

    2. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Oh, this is a good point. I once had an employee apply for another open position under me, and she did great in her interviews. Unfortunately I wasn’t in charge of the hiring (even though I was the manager) so someone else was hired. The big reason given was that it would be hard to replace her. We lost her a couple of months later to another job anyway (and rightly so) and the person we did hire was a thorn in my side and a crappy employee for the year that he was there.

      1. Pikachu*

        company: we can’t promote this internal employee because we can’t replace them
        employee: ok, bye
        company: *shocked pikachu*

      2. Momma Bear*

        I was thinking along these lines. In some companies (or federal work) you can be blocked from an internal transfer by your boss. Sometimes the blocking is punitive, and sometimes it’s because they can’t afford to lose someone (and they know that if someone is just a few years from retirement, for example, they’re stuck).

        1. Lucious*

          This is another dynamic ive seen.

          Example- Jane Smith is a go getter carrying her boss’ metrics. Jane applies for an internal promotion, and her boss does the math. It’ll take time to interview, hire and train a replacement who possibly may not perform at Jane’s level. Better for the boss’ short term numbers if Jane doesn’t leave their team, to say nothing about the time the boss will spend interviewing replacements.

          So the boss quietly – or openly- scuttles Janes application.

          1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

            Happened to me. Boss wasn’t even quiet about the scuttling. I quit the company for a better job after that happened.

          2. NotAnotherManager!*

            That dynamic is so frustrating – it doesn’t even make sense! Do those people not expect that a go-getter, being denied an internal promotion, would look for one elsewhere? Given the choice of losing a good team member to an internal promotion and losing a good team member to an outside opportunity, I will take the former.

            I have been with my current organization quite and have been promoted internally more times than I can count. I received mentoring (and advocacy) from supervisors and their peers, and that’s what I try to do for my team. I have someone (who is amazing) right now that we’re getting ready to transfer to a higher-level role on another team. I doubt we’ll find someone as amazing as they are to replace their current role, but they’ve done the work for a promotion and locking them into a low-level position they’re overqualified for doesn’t help anyone.

          3. fhqwhgads*

            Except in this case it sounds like OP’s boss encouraged her to apply, which would be an odd thing to do if she intended to scuttle it. Could’ve just discouraged her by telling her it was too much of a stretch in the first place.

    3. Khatul Madame*

      If the higher-ups are convinced that you are essential and irreplaceable in your current role, no documentation will convince them otherwise. Ask me how I know.
      Even if your current job involves developing team members and positioning them to grow into your own position… see above.
      This leaves a move to an outside company as a means to get a higher title and compensation.

      1. Lucious*

        Sometimes, an employee really is essential and irreplaceable. But when there’s clear documentation about the job and it’s details, that reasoning moves from valid justification to “managerial excuse used in place of a far less savory reason”.

        I’ve experienced both examples.

  16. Roscoe*

    #1. As someone who has a fairly common name, but is called the wrong name CONSTNATLY (think being called Nate when my name is Nick), I don’t love what the guy did, but I can honestly say that I can see how that could be the thing that makes you not always like the person. Hell, my email is, and my name is in my signature, and people are always calling me the wrong name in email correspondence. When my name is on Zoom, it still happens. It does make me think that people are just not being bothered to pay the slightest attention. Would I have acted the way he did? Probably not. Do I get it on some level? Yes.

    #2. This seems like a bit of an overreach on your part, honestly. Its one thing to casually look at someone’s instagram to try and get a better sense of who they are. But to decide to look at who or what hashtags they follow too is a step too far IMO, even if its public. I’m not clear why you feel this is something you wanted to know, except to be nosy. So yeah, if I found out someone was snooping in that kind of detail, my opinion of them might change as well. Plus, he is an adult, if he wants to follow adult entertainers, thats fine. For a reader site that likes to talk about “sex work is work”, you seem awfully judgy about the “workers” he follows.

    1. OP2*

      I didn’t provide this context in my OP, but if it helps: at my previous institution, coworkers followed our institution’s offices on campuses (both the one we worked in and other resources), so I was scrolling for those, not knowing if our office had one or not. I promise I wasn’t combing through his friends list or anything and truly do not care who he follows, including the hashtag!

  17. Dizzy Belle*

    If the LW1 called the interviewer by the wrong name right off the bat, I am not sure how to understand “after that, the mood changed.” Just that the interviewer sounded friendly when he said hello? Sounds like the interviewer could have always been a grumpy pants who wasn’t terribly enthusiastic about doing the interview for whatever reason, possibly the name error being only a minor factor.

    1. Tomato Frog*

      Yeah, unless you had like 15 minutes of the interviewer being super friendly and then ice cold right after you called them by the wrong name, I would say the most likely thing is that the interview was just rude and there was no reaction happening. Or they may have been reacting to the OP’s answer to a question, but the OP, in their heightened state of self-consciousness, assumed the reaction had to do with their most obvious flub.

      We tend to interpret other people’s rude or unhappy behavior as them being upset with us or judging us, and we’re wrong a lot.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      Yes! I feel like so many people who write to Alison make assumptions based on the extremely limited information or limited interactions. When I read the letter, I wondered how the LW knew that saying the wrong name was the cause of problem.

      There’s very much an “if only I hadn’t made that mistake” the interview would have gone much better, but lots of things are out of our control. It seems irrationally that small mistake to sour the interviewer so much. Maybe it was that but maybe it was any number of other reasons too including a bad or uninterested interviewer. It think Alison’s advice on how to try to get things back on track is good for many situations.

      1. Jack Straw*

        “I wondered how the LW knew that saying the wrong name was the cause of problem.”

        Agreed. Especially when this sentence was a red flag for me: “I should have given myself more time to get prepared but was excited and decided to take it head on!”

        I think the interviewer probably was a rude jerk, but that tidbit leads me to believe there may have been reasons the LW contributed to the reaction beyond just the name snafu.

        1. Lecturer*

          I was once interviewed by a panel where 2 people were messing around and texting. They offered the job. I said no and they kept calling me to offer me more to take the job! Having said that their behaviour did not affect me accepting the job offer. People can be very childish in professional situations.

        2. Yes Yes Yes*

          I agree! It sounds like the applicant may not have been as prepared and professional as the interviewer was expecting, and things may have gone wrong in the interview for reasons beyond the name.

    3. MissDisplaced*

      Actually, you can just TELL. If you’ve interviewed enough times you can tell the interest and engagement changes.

      It’s kind of like that feeling you get when someone wants to end an otherwise pleasant conversation but doesn’t wish to be rude to you. Subtle clues (not so subtle in this case with the mobile phone), change of voice tone, short or curt answers, loss of eye contact, etc.

      1. Smithy*

        Generally speaking I do agree with this, but I think for those of us who feel confident in that empathic ability – it’s always important to gut check of the +/- that might through off the reading.

        In my current job, I felt like I’d be a very competitive candidate. I knew the hiring manager, talked to her prior to applying, and generally speaking met the job description. At the same time I was interviewing with another organization where every interview was almost to the level of a love bomb around how perfect I’d be. So when I had my first HR interview with the first org, the HR rep barely seemed engaged. If I were to just go on that gut feeling, I was never getting out of the HR interview – and even then enthusiasm was just far more measured than the other place where I was interviewing.

        The overall offer and experience still made me very happy to choose that organization – but it helped in being really mindful not to rely entirely on my read of the emotional engagement. To have the mood change just after initial greetings is far different than after 15 minutes. So to pinpoint it with that much confidence seems more like analyzing every detail in a way that I’m not sure is wildly helpful to someone job searching.

      2. Esmeralda*

        Yep, friendly and enthusiastic on the phone, walk into the interview room, see the faces fall.

    4. Wandering*

      How nice to see your name, makes me miss a friend who went by that moniker in her personal life for a while.

  18. NewAtThis*

    LW1: As a person with a non-Western name, I kinda get why your interviewer had an OTT response (as you interpret it). We’re tired of being disrespected in the workplace in this way, and this may have been the last straw.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      I think though it wasn’t that OP mispronounced the name, it was that they mistakenly called the interviewer by the name of the person who had sent them the email arranging the interview.

      Again, not great because some would say it shows a lack of attention to details. But it also seems rude to completely disengage with the candidate.

      1. Me*

        Exactly. Regardless of “reason”, the interviewer was unprofessional. Full stop. You don’t start texting someone during an interview.

        It’s also completely bizarre not to introduce yourself to the person you are interviewing. You’ve never met before – its just polite. We always do this.

        1. Colette*

          If you’re the candidate, you can’t text during an interview. The interviewer can; that’s just how it is. (They shouldn’t, unless there is a good, work-related reason to do so, but they can.)

            1. Colette*

              I don’t think social rules – where it would indeed be rude – apply at work. If, for example, the network is down and no one can work, it might be necessary to answer the text about who is on call during an interview. Yes, the interviewer could have apologized before answering the text – and maybe she did – but sometimes your actual job takes priority over your interview.

              I worked for a manager who was always distracted by her computer/phone at work, even when in a 1-on-1 conversation. It wasn’t a personal thing – she did it all the time. It’s true that it was a bad habit and I would have appreciated her full attention – but if I’d taken it personally every time, I wouldn’t have been at that job for 5 years.

              1. Sarah*

                It’s still rude! Why is this discussion still going on? Yes, people do it, and it’s rude and disrespectful.

                1. Colette*

                  If I’m talking with someone at work about something non-urgent, is it rude for me to interrupt that conversation for something more important?

                  I’d argue that rudeness doesn’t come into it – I am being paid to prioritize my work and do the most important stuff first; it’s reasonable to interrupt less-important stuff if something more urgent comes up.

                  Of course that kind of thing should be minimized when interviewing someone out of respect for their time, but it will still happen sometimes.

                2. Sarah*

                  Colette, it’s rude to be distracted and not excuse yourself from the interaction you’re already part of. Interviewing someone and you get a text that your whole staff just walked out? Sure, that is the priority but you still need to excuse yourself from the interviewee, not just “check out.” And yes, managers who are “too busy” to give their employees mindful attention in 1-on-1 conversations are rude, yes. They need to either recognize the 1:1 isn’t a priority and cancel/reschedule, or turn themself away from the distractions to give the employee their attention. Being habitually distracted/disengaged in 1:1 meetings because other things are “more important” than helping your employees? Not acceptable.
                  And in my experience, it’s more junior managers or those who want to seem important who are distracted. More senior leaders know how to be mindful and respectful, which may include having to reschedule something because an urgent issue has come up; they know better than to not be fully present when connecting with their team members.

                3. Yorick*

                  It’s still rude. You could explain that there’s an important work issue and that you have to respond – then it’s not rude. But just texting while you’re supposed to be having a conversation with someone is ruder in this context than it is in a more casual, social setting.

          1. Rayray*

            As a candidate, I understand how bad it might look and that texting during an interview may negatively affect my candidacy. As a candidate, I am there to assess the company as well and an interviewer who texts and is distracted would reflect badly to me so I also have the power to make the choice to decline an offer or to post an interview review on Glassdoor about it.

          2. NotAnotherManager!*

            I have a high-level position in a client services organization, and I do occasionally have to respond to urgent emails during an interview. I always, however, explain this to the candidate, apologize for the interruption, and then reset the table before resuming, “You were telling me about the time that you herded 12 llamas in a rainstorm… how did that turn out?”.

            It’s also not unusual, within my industry as a whole, to have people checking their phones or responding to urgent needs. It would be considered far more rude to take an hour to respond to an email/voicemail. It’s just the pace at which our business moves, and it’s accepted. If there is someone involved who’s less familiar with the norm, like a candidate, I will take the time to explain that a VIP required a response for a meeting in 5 minutes and both apologize and thank them for their patience. I may also use it as an example of what “fast-paced environment” means in the job description.

            1. tangerineRose*

              That makes sense. When I read these posts about texting, I keep thinking about a co-worker – while that co-worker’s spouse had a serious health issue, the co-worker would always check his phone if there was a call or a text. Totally understandable.

      2. MCMonkeybean*

        Yeah, from the headline I was expecting it to be a pronunciation issue, but just saying the name of a different person that you had been communicating with leading up to the interview should definitely not be a big deal.

    2. Crabby Patty*

      How is an honest mistake a show of disrespect? And how does anyone know whether the interviewer’s name is non-Western?

      Could we please just stick to the information provided rather than contorting it into a stage for airing our own grievances?

      1. Yorick*

        Yeah, there’s nothing in the letter to indicate that. The letter says OP called him by an entirely different person’s name, because she received an email from that person to schedule the interview and got confused.

    3. Myrin*

      We have absolutely no information about the geographic/linguistic home of the interviewer’s name (or the OP’s home, for that matter; this could be happening anywhere) – this is a big speculation with not much basis in the letter.

    4. Khatul Madame*

      As another person with a non-Western name in a diverse working environment (all kinds of accents), I usually cut people some slack in getting it right.

      1. Rayray*

        I think this is a very nice thing to do. I really do believe most people are trying their best to pronounce foreign names correctly. I mean, I have a very white name and foreigners have mispronounced it. I can understand it being frustrating if if we’re a daily occurrence but I don’t need to fly off the handle If they’re making an effort.

        Besides all this, it is a social norm or custom to introduce yourself usually with a hand-shake or a non-touch alternative these days and to say your name to the other person. It’s also normal to cut people some slack when first meeting them, even if you’re a regular Bob or Sara, people may still slip and forget your name especially if they’re nervous.

        It sounds like OP simply mixed up the interviewers name with someone else in the office though, and the interviewer was rude and unprofessional. Whether it was because of the name mix up or because they’re an unpleasant person.

        1. Lecturer*

          1: People are surrounded by other people who have disabilities. Clinical mental health illnesses result in serious cognitive deficits. Remembering names is impossible for people like me unless there is repeated contact over an extended period of time.

          Even if someone has had extensive contact with me, if I haven’t seen them regularly my head will simply swap them with someone else. I remember the name but think they are someone completely different! Due to this I avoid using names unless I am 100% sure it is that person. My lovely family and a few friends who know will answer bizarre questions (like the time I asked my sister ‘who is that woman’? Her answer: your uncle’s wife!)

    5. Person from the Resume*

      This doesn’t work for the situation …

      Candidate walks in and says: “Hi Joe”
      Interviewer says: “My name is Bart”

      That’s not disrespect of people of a non-western name. He said he called the interviewer by the wrong name, not that he mispronounced the name.

    6. Lecturer*

      Your name could be Bob or David and I would still get it wrong due to my cognitive deficits. Self-absorbed much?

  19. Pikachu*

    #1 – is it at all possible that the interviewer’s attitude was unrelated to you? Maybe something came up right beforehand that soured the mood and might explain the texting. Some people just take their frustrations out on an easy target (like the interviewee, not their boss). Perhaps the wrong name was the last straw after a total crap day.

    Regardless, it is not your responsibility to manage others’ attitudes. You made a mistake and learned from it. That’s a positive thing.

  20. Crabby Patty*

    LW1: What you did is so forgiveable that I wonder if you dodged a bullet here. Interviewers know they hold the cards and some are only too happy to take full advantage.

    I’m sorry you had to suffer such a fragile and precious big baby.

  21. SomebodyElse*

    That’s too bad for what happened for #1. Honestly I can see this from a lot of different angles. The one question I had was how did the interviewer do this “He called me out on it”. I mean did he chastise the OP or correct them? I would expect someone to correct me if I accidently called them the wrong name.

    At any rate, I suspect all of it could be one or a combination of the following:
    -Crappy interviewer
    -Over excited OP
    -Something totally unrelated to the interview blowing up in the background demanding interviewer’s attention
    -Interviewer annoyed over the name thing
    -OP wasn’t what the interviewer was looking for skill wise
    -OP made another mistake without realizing it

    All of the above doesn’t really change the advice of what to do in that situation. It’s a matter of cutting your losses and ending the interview as soon as possible or continue to attempt to get it back on track or frame it as practice for future interviews and plow on with no expectations.

    1. Purple Cat*

      I finally realized what was bothering me about this letter. The OP says they called the interviewer the name of who sent the emails. Were there no introductions at the start of the interview? Did HR not walk the candidate in and introduce them? Or did the interviewer not introduce themselves first to get started? Or did LW just “waltz in” and say “Hi John how’s it going?”, when it was really Bob. I’m wondering if the “mix-up” wasn’t bigger than LW realized because it showed they weren’t paying attention during the introductions.

      Granted, interviewer’s reaction does seem a little over the top. A gentle correction, “actually it’s Bob” and then continuing on would have been more appropriate.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        I kind of wondered that, too. I start interviews (in-person or Zoom) with an introduction – my full name, my title, and what I do at the organization. I try to throw candidates a softball or two at the beginning try to ease nerves. I also interview a lot of recent or soon-to-be college graduates, so I also like to give a short overview of what I plan to cover during the interview and an invitation to ask questions at any time – they’re interviewing me the same way I’m interviewing them.

  22. CatFanatic*

    Re LW4: I’ll be completely honest, I’ve never understood the expectation that just because you’re internal you’re entitled to an interview. I’m just so curious as to where that mentality originates as I always thought they should be treated as an other job application, and while I understand that internal candidates wouldn’t require the extent of on-board training an external one would, that just never seemed like a strong enough reason to expect an interview? Does anyone know where this comes from/is it actually a common expectation? I’m new to the work world so still learning the norms surrounding things like this!

    1. Colette*

      Good companies want to keep employees, which means they should seriously consider applications from their employees – if an employee is applying internally, they’re at least considering changing jobs. That doesn’t mean they’re entitled to an interview if they’re not qualified, but if they are reasonably qualified they are at least entitled to a discussion about why they’re not being interviewed.

      1. The Rural Juror*

        Or, at the very LEAST, an acknowledgement that the application was received. Sounds like the OP just got crickets.

    2. SomebodyElse*

      I don’t think that internal candidates deserve an interview, necessarily, but I think they deserve extra consideration. I’ll interview borderline candidates, I’ll talk to candidates that I decline to interview, I’ll talk with candidates who were interviewed but not selected and offer support.

      My company really does try to advance employees and promote from within, so it’s expected that hiring managers do take extra care and effort with internal candidates and support their own employees for finding and advancing opportunities within the company.

    3. Guacamole Bob*

      Some of it may depend on what sort of internal candidate you are. If it’s a company with 50,000 employees and someone is applying to a totally different department and has never even met the hiring manager, maybe internal candidates don’t really need special consideration.

      But often enough it’s applying for a promotion within the department, or a related role with colleagues that the person works with regularly, and then there’s a much more personal aspect. Knowing that someone you work with saw your application, decided you weren’t even qualified for an interview, and then continuing to work with that person without knowing why they made that decision is just awkward and demoralizing. Candidates in that position deserve a brief conversation, at least, and possibly more. Especially if the hiring manager is also in their current chain of command!

    4. Smithy*

      While I understand policies that avoid mandatory interviews of every internal candidate where there’s a wild mismatch of experience, providing those internal interviews really does help the employer as well as the employee. First, employers get a better sense of staff’s interest in growth and can better think how to cultivate and develop employees who will be good candidates for those jobs who also have that institutional knowledge.

      However, it’s largely helpful to employers in that it does offer employees a genuine professional growth opportunity. Applying for an internal opportunity is a chance for a resume to be updated and to practice resume skills in what can be a more supportive environment. If your manager is supportive of the application, the may even serve as a mentor on how to put together the strongest resume possible (at least for your current employer). Interviewing for jobs is also a skill that can get better with practice, so having those opportunities – especially for stretch roles – is a great way to identify where you’re strong, where you can improve, etc.

      No doubt there are people who get internal interviews and are upset if they don’t get hired (rightly or wrongly) – so I can see perhaps a desire to swerve those situations unless someone’s incredibly competitive. However, with the right holistic attitude – this can be a huge benefit to staff in keeping their resume and interview skills fresh.

    5. Metadata minion*

      I think giving an interview to someone who’s clearly unqualified just because they’re internal wastes people’s time and can come off as really condescending, but I do think an internal candidate deserves some sort of personal message rather than just a form “sorry we’re not considering you” note (or the complete lack of response that most applicants so often get…). Obviously that gets tricky when the real answer is “we had a specific external candidate in mind and weren’t seriously considering anything else”, but if the answer is that the internal candidate doesn’t have enough experience or they were looking for someone with stronger X skills, the employer can then even support their employee in gaining those needed skills and applying for a similar internal position down the road.

      (There are obvious exceptions for cases where Bob the Gumption Intern thinks he’s qualified for absolutely every position and gets very testy if you explain that he needs skills beyond working the copier. This is all assuming basically reasonable people on both sides.)

    6. GothicBee*

      I’d say it’s about fostering an environment where your employees are more likely to stay and work towards advancement within your company rather than leave. If an employee is good enough to keep around, then they should be worth interviewing (assuming the new role is applicable to their current skills). And if an employee isn’t qualified to interview for a different position, then you should at least offer some explanation/advice on what they should work on and, if possible, the company could even offer opportunities for professional development.

    7. MCMonkeybean*

      I think an interview is not always necessary but if they are not granted an interview they should at least be told why they wouldn’t be considered so they know what they should be working on improving (or know to adjust their expectations if for some reason they applied to something way outside what they would ever be considered for)–especially if their manager encouraged their application.

  23. AndersonDarling*

    #3 I was recently in a zoom meeting with scores of participants and the host asked a pregnant participant to stand up and show everyone their baby-bump. I was just a fly on the wall for the meeting, but I felt uncomfortable for the pregnant mother. It’s like saying “Hey, why don’t you give us a big smile!” Kind of a body on demand thing.
    I think it’s safe to say that there is a time and a place for sharing mother experiences, and those shouldn’t be “Stand up and give everyone a twirl!” moments.

    1. virago*

      It would have been so tempting to say, “Ok, now, bald guys, lean toward the camera and show everyone whether you’ve lost any more hair because of COVID stress!”

      But this will never happen because the penalty for Existing While Female is that your appearance — especially changes therein over which you have no control — is always up for public comment.

  24. NotRealAnonForThis*

    LW #2 – a thought about the hashtag – I just unfollowed a sports-related hashtag that in the past three months has turned into an overtly sexualized T&A (mostly A, if I’m being honest) fest for no obvious reason. There is no reason for it. In other words, if someone had looked at my follows, they might assume I have a serious arse in sports gear fetish.

  25. Workerbee*

    #2 An adult who works in adult education and who follows other adults doing adult things on a social media platform? Yes, there are different interpretations of “adult” there, but I worded it that way on purpose. For I am not sure why this is cause for concern, especially as one would have to voluntarily choose to click to find out more, as the boss’s Instagram was just sitting there not being a public nudity & sexual display itself.

    1. Alexis Rosay*

      I wouldn’t mention the IG account. Maybe he doesn’t use IG any more and doesn’t realize what the feed is.

      I used to follow my wedding photographer on IG, who later pivoted to very sexual semi-nudes. I unfollowed later but if someone were to look at my feed then, it probably would have raised eyebrows (I also work in education).

  26. AvonLady Barksdale*

    #5: Yes, do mention it! Alison brings up the necessary points, but I will tell you that I have been there, sort of. My current job is 100% remote, but they really wanted someone in this area because it’s a major territory for the business and the clients here needed more attention than the previous rep had given them because she was further away. I was planning a move while interviewing and I would mention it in the course of conversation, and every single time my interviewer would look surprised until I assured them I was just moving to a new neighborhood. An interstate move would likely have been a deal-breaker.

    1. Momma Bear*

      Some companies have a “tax nexus” and having boots on the ground in the wrong state can end up with serious tax-related consequences for them. Tell them.

    2. Message in a Bottle*

      I’m a bit curious. If you’re 100% remote and the other rep was remote, how are you able to give the clients more attention?

      If it’s all online, then even if you moved you would still be able to give them sufficient attention, no?

      Just curious.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Time zones, maybe? An EST servicing an EST is going to feel more available than an EST servicing a PST or a PST servicing an EST, even if the hours are all nominally the same (e.g. 8a-5p locally).

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Client visits. We’re all remote in that we don’t go to an office, but we’re expected to visit clients, like #5. I live in the city where we have major clients, and I can schedule meetings with them with very little notice, plus I can visit the ones in nearby cities without too many complications.

        1. Message in a Bottle*

          I see, thanks! For me 100% remote, means I could be in Zanzibar or something! But your role does have a in-present aspect to it that it is important.

          I can see why an interstate move would be a deal-breaker, especially with the last-minute meetings.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        If you’re moving far enough away that your airport options are that different, you might as well be moving states. I’m talking about territory implications, not tax or anything like that. San Francisco to Palm Springs can still be a big deal, as can Miami to Key West. So staying in state doesn’t change my advice– you should tell them.

  27. Database Developer Dude*

    I will never understand for the life of me why people think they can treat pregnant women that way. I’ve chastised people in public for walking up to a pregnant woman THEY DID NOT KNOW and touching her belly. WTAF? She’s not a circus sideshow put there for our amusement! *smdh*

    1. Mental Lentil*

      I completely agree. It’s almost as if the moment a woman gets pregnant, her body suddenly belongs to everybody. Ummm…NO IT DOES NOT!

      (Much the same thing can be said about POC and hair. Some people just really feel entitled!)

    2. Esmeralda*

      Haha, NOBODY ever dared to touch my belly. I walk around w RBF — I guess people read my face as “don’t F**n touch me, F**er”

      Now, plenty of people SAID things about my pregnant body…

    3. Brisbane*

      My friend has one of those bellies that appears pregnant when she is not. Whenever anyone tries to touch it (which happens depressingly often) I start handing round the popcorn ’cause girl has some impressive martial arts skills!

      (Not condoning violence, but if there’s anyone who deserves a roundhouse kick, it’s people who touch other people without their consent.)

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I once asked an unwanted belly rubber if they had confused me some how with a Buddha statue. They really didn’t seem to understand why I was grabbing their wrist and yanking it off my body.

        Said above, I really just don’t understand why some people behave in such inconsiderate ways to other people. We are people, not cardboard cutouts places to amuse you.

    4. tangerineRose*

      “I’ve chastised people in public for walking up to a pregnant woman THEY DID NOT KNOW and touching her belly.” Good for you! I don’t understand why a stranger would touch a woman’s belly like that.

  28. SwingingAxeWolfie*

    I feel your pain OP3, I announced my pregnancy in April 2020 so naturally had the same thing where colleagues didn’t actually get to see me pregnant. I happened to be in the same town as one of my colleagues last June and she was like… so weirdly excited to see my baby bump and how it was such as shame they don’t get to see me pregnant. I just coldly said “it suits me just fine” and moved on.

    1. tangerineRose*

      I’m confused about why so many people are excited about the baby bump, what someone looks like pregnant. I mean, it’s one thing if someone you’re close to is pregnant, but for a co-worker to be that excited seems so odd to me. Has she never seen a pregnant woman before?

  29. twocents*

    #4: I actually don’t think it’s weird or unusual to not hear anything in an internal application if you’re not a qualifying candidate. My caveat is that I work for a very large company, so just because you’re internal to the company, that doesn’t actually get you extra comms that you would get if you were external.

    I also have experience in seeing a department head that has a philosophy that all internal (to his department) gets interviewed. Period. The idea is to encourage people to stick with the team, but I’ve noticed it has the downside that bad candidates think they’re much better candidates than they actually are, because of how far along they get in the interview process. (The company has a pretty standard interview process of application -> phone interview -> in-person interview -> decision; higher level positions have a second or third round in-person.) Getting all the way to the in-person interview indicates that you’re a strong candidate, who already passed two rounds of screens (application & phone), and that’s frustrating for the employees who know how the company works, but keep going through application after application just to be declined. That’s because, in reality, the department knows how weak of a candidate they are, and they have no shot at getting further promotions.

    As others have said, there could be other politics at play, but I’d also consider asking your manager or a trusted mentor to take a look at your resume and cover letter. It’s possible you were way off base for what the company expectations are. What gets you in the door to your current role may not be what’s expected for continued promotions.

  30. Exhausted Trope*

    IMO, interviewers get put off way to often by trivialities. His feelings got so hurt that he shuts down when OP used a wrong name?! Instead of accepting her apology and moving on like a professional would. Sheesh. I’ve been in recruiting for years and if a candidate got my name wrong, I laughingly correct them and move on. People get my semi-unusual name wrong so frequently and it’s no big deal. If a recruiter reacts so poorly to something so minor, they ought to rethink their career.
    OP, this sucks but I think you dodged a bullet here.

      1. Empress Ki*

        I wouldn’t want to risk seeing my boss belly in case she agrees….and then have to show mine.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Lol – I used a variant of this with an older relative who kept demanding pictures of my growing baby bump (not recent – the kid in question is now in middle school). Told them they’d get pictures when she sent me hers. Didn’t quite end the demands – but did lower the volume.

    2. Jack Straw*

      I’d be worried folks would readily agree, which then has the LW showing her baby bump.

      I really like shutting it down with the comment someone else suggested — “Stop asking to see my body.”

  31. Hiring Remote Staff*

    OP5: Absolutely disclose your move during the interview process. Our remote worker agreement explicitly states the city/state from which a given worker will be working, as well as that any future move needs to be disclosed and approved in advance. It’s for all the reasons Alison lists — mainly the business nexus and labor law issues, but also considerations like proximity to clients, airports, and other factors that we may take into account.

    Alison — On that note, do you know of anywhere that has a compiled list of the unique labor laws/considerations for each state, that a potential employer could use to help weigh decisions around hiring a remote worker in a state where they don’t currently have staff? We’re open to hiring a remote worker in a new state, but I know some locations would open a can of labor law worms (CA, for example) that we may not want to deal with.

    1. Daisy-dog*

      There isn’t really a master list of all 50 states with everything that you would want to consider. You can access certain things through SHRM or certain employment attorney websites, but it really is best to go to the specific state’s website. The other factor is city – certain cities may have requirements or taxes that have not been passed at the state level. For instance, Denver, San Antonio, Seattle, NYC, etc.

      It really can be company-specific how flexible they are willing to be to with remote worker locations. Some may only do it if there is a business reason to be in that state. Some may be open to a lot of locations and have a system in place to verify all the requirements.

  32. Dr. Rebecca*

    OP2, I’m not saying this is the reason in this particular case, but there are legitimate reasons for people in higher ed to discuss/follow sex accounts on social media. I am in higher ed and in a student facing role, and I research a very niche sexual topic (so niche I won’t list it here because it would dox me). I discuss, post about, follow accounts about, and participate in conferences on this sexual topic; it’s all over my social media, and in my bio/handles. But even if I didn’t, people in higher ed are allowed to be adults on their timeline–that includes drinking, talking about sex (in general, not graphically), posting bathing suit type photos, etc.–and should be able to do so without professional repercussions, so long as they’re not doing so at work/with students.

    1. Empress Ki*

      I once believed that someone was looking at porn in an internet cafe, until I realised she was a student midwife ! But that can’t be the case here.

      1. Dr. Rebecca*

        That’s where the second part of my comment comes in about being allowed to be an adult in public. “Adult does adult things on social media” should not be making headlines in this the year of our internet 2021.

    2. pancakes*

      Of course, but how many people are so context-blind as to be unable to tell the difference between an account belonging to someone who works in higher ed. and, say, an account in an entirely different field being careless, like the time the US military’s Fort Bragg account was tweeting about sexual things it wanted to do to a particular adult performer? (Initially they claimed to have been hacked, then blamed it on an admin the next day). There’s no particular reason to believe the letter writer can’t pick up on any sort of context around what they saw.

    3. OP2*

      To be clear, I’m not shaming him for this, and if he were to knowingly have this public I would never have written. I just know from our interactions that this isn’t something he would want out there and is most likely a case of not being super social media savvy. That said, I’ve read all the comments and will definitely be taking Alison’s advice not to mention it because it’s not really any of my business!

  33. awesome3*

    The most common wrong name I get called is also Elizabeth, what’s that about I wonder?

  34. CommanderBanana*

    I’d be inclined to think that the interviewer was just rude and disinterested, not because you got his name wrong – although that being said, I get testy when people persistently mispronounce my name after being corrected a few times, but that doesn’t sound like that’s what happened here.

    I have had so many bad interviews, and it’s usually because the person interviewing is 1. unprepared 2. is doing an initial interview and has no idea what the actual position is / can’t answer questions 3. just bad at interviewing.

  35. Tuesday*

    Wait, tripping people in the hallway makes a bad impression?? Darn, if only I’d known that before my last interview!

  36. Pandemic & Pregnant*

    Ohhh the baby bump comments. My entire pregnancy was during lockdown, and we had DAILY Zoom check-in meetings. Every single day, one of the same 2-3 coworkers would ask me to stand up and show them my bump. I declined every time, and then the jokes were always about whether or not I was actually pregnant.

    They would also say I must be ashamed of being pregnant and when THEY were pregnant, they weren’t embarrassed by their bodies. That pissed me off so much. Not wanting to stand up and show you my stomach on camera doesn’t mean I’m not absolutely thrilled with my pregnancy and amazed by what my body is doing.

    I dreaded Zoom calls and told them every time I would never do what they were asking, but I wish I would have directly told them to stop asking me. Or I wish I would have asked them to stand up and show me THEIR stomach on camera.

  37. Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii*

    “Candidates have called me plenty of things other than Alison (Elizabeth is popular, for some reason)”
    Thats random yet somewhat abstractly sensical all at the same time!

  38. Jack Straw*

    I do not doubt that, based on the descriptions of behavior (eg phone out), the interviewer for LW1 is likely a rude jerk and a poor interviewer, but I also read the second sentence in the letter as a small red flag: “I should have given myself more time to get prepared but was excited and decided to take it head on!”

    Again, I agree that the interviewer is at fault, but I do think the LW’s admitted lack of preparation could have contributed, at least partially, to the reception they received. Lack of preparation can be many things–from not writing down the name of the interviewer (understandable) to not taking/having time to research the company (less understandable).

  39. Observer*

    #4- You’ve gotten some good feedback. Do NOT ask why you weren’t interviewed, except perhaps when talking to your boss who encouraged you to apply. And if that, ONLY in an informational way, as in “what do you think would have needed to be different for it to have made sense for them to interview me?” type of way.

    With GrandBoss and HR? Stick to “how do I make myself more competitive?” and “Could you clarify what career progression might look like?”

    With HR, mentioning better communications might be worthwhile as well, if they are good at their jobs and you have a decent relationship with them.

  40. Lecturer*

    3. The one saving grace is you are not in the office with them touching your bump. Make it very clear that you don’t want to show them anything. This will then prevent the unwanted touching. If you’re still pregnant when you go back to work be alert for someone trying to touch you. If/when they do, step back, put your hand out in a stop motion and say ‘I don’t want anyone touching my body’

  41. Krabby*

    OP3 – If you want a fun story about a company messing up the internal application process, a friend of mine had interviewed for an internal stretch position. Her and all other candidates got the following message.

    SUBJECT: Update on your application
    MESSAGE PREVIEW: Congratulations on taking the first step toward a new…
    MESSAGE: Congratulations on taking the first step toward a new role within COMPANY. We regret to inform you that, though your application was stellar, we had many qualified applicants and you were not selected to fill ROLE.

    She was livid! Her and 3 other coworkers who had applied all went and chewed HR out. It worked though, they changed their rejection template right away.

  42. Astro*

    #1 It sounds like the interviewer was over the top, but if he was a person of color, they often get called the wrong name and it’s a part of a pattern they experience, so he could be sensitive to that. (I’ve had coworkers that seem to refuse to learn how to properly pronounce names or blow off corrections when they continuously get someone’s name wrong- like calling my Indian coworker Raj, no matter what his name is)

    I also have a name people love to shorten without permission (think Beth or Liz from Elizabeth or Bob from Robert) and it is a big pet-peeve of mine- though I don’t think I’ve ever been rude about it. I do make a mental note because it feels invasive that people think they can call me something without my permission.

    I know that wasn’t the case here, but just pointing out that patterns can make people extra-sensitive to the wrong name. That doesn’t mean he should have been a jerk though.

  43. Message in a Bottle*

    Question to hiring managers about #1.

    If the job description says, ‘needs extreme attention to detail’, would not reading that e-mail promptly dismiss this candidate from your mind as a prospect?

    I apply for jobs that say that and try not to make any mistake. Which is stressful and difficult. But I don’t know where that line comes from, you know? It may currently be a hot mess in there and need a detail-orient person desperately. Or they may all be sticklers for details and that’s the company culture. So I often think an understandable mistake, wrong name, typo, anything would dismiss me from candidacy.

    Still no reason to be rude about it, but could that be a reason why the interviewer was put off?

    1. Hillary*

      An understandable small mistake isn’t going to derail your candidacy – I think it just wasn’t that interviewer’s day. There was probably something else going on and he latched onto this. Or he’s just a jerk.

      Over the course of my career I’ve been called Hilary, Heather, Hannah, and Harry enough that I remember, plus random one-offs that I’ve forgotten. It’s definitely generational for USians, which one I get depends on what H name was popular when the person speaking was in middle school. At this point I just make sure they meant to send/talk to me and move on.

  44. Selena*

    I assume Alison/Elisabeth is because people have ‘Lize’ in their head and mentally jump to the most famous name that starts with that sound

  45. Lecturer*

    Another fail! This post was meant to be a comment, not a reply.

    1: People are surrounded by other people who have disabilities. Clinical mental health illnesses result in serious cognitive deficits. Remembering names is impossible for people like me unless there is repeated contact over an extended period of time.

    Even if someone has had extensive contact with me, if I haven’t seen them regularly my head will simply swap them with someone else. I remember the name but think they are someone completely different! Due to this I avoid using names unless I am 100% sure it is that person. My lovely family and a few friends who know will answer bizarre questions (like the time I asked my sister ‘who is that woman’? Her answer: your uncle’s wife!)

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