I interviewed a candidate who didn’t know what was on his resume

A reader writes:

For several years now, my company has outsourced a particular function to contractors, who use a well-known model, which I’ll call Model A. I oversee these contractors so have some level of familiarity with Model A. We recently decided that we want to bring this function in-house, so we are looking to hire someone.

We received one candidate whose resume stated explicitly that he currently uses Model A at another company. During our interview, I asked him about his daily responsibilities, telling him that I was familiar with Model A. He told me that he didn’t know what Model A was. I pointed out that it was on his resume, but he insisted he didn’t know that term. He didn’t seem particularly embarrassed or concerned about the fact that he didn’t know what was on his own resume, but did seem somewhat surprised that the term was included there. He did turn out to be well-versed with the model, even though he does not know that it’s called that.

How much should I care that he probably just copied and pasted his current job description onto his resume without actually reviewing or fully understanding the content? I am considering not hiring him because of this, along with a vague feeling that he may be a good talker and a less good performer, but I can’t decide if it’s really that big a deal.

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

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • Employees keep saying, “I don’t understand why we’re doing X”
  • I accidentally described myself as outgoing when I’m not
  • Ethics of recruiting an employee from my previous job

{ 205 comments… read them below }

  1. Lemon*

    #1 – Any chance his resume was edited by a recruiter before you got it? I only ask since you note he seemed surprised that the term was on there. If not, then I would agree that it’s a yellow flag.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          If they have Adobe Acrobat Pro, it doesn’t even make editing a résumé harder.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Yeah, I’ve had people scan a physical document and save it as a PDF because they think that makes it where it can’t be edited. All a person has to do (if they have Acrobat Pro) is perform text recognition on it, save it as a Word document, and edit away. (I may be going about it the convoluted way, but that’s what I did when I needed to edit a hard copy document).

            1. Emmy Noether*

              you don’t even need acrobat pro anymore. Word itself has a halfway decent text recognition now, you can just open the pdf directly there (though the formatting usually goes to hell).

      1. cautionarytail*

        Exactly. I’ve had my resume changed by a recruit in the past. When the company started asking me about these items I said ” I did not put that there and I’m currently looking at the resume I sen the recruiter. I ended up sending my unaltered resume directly to the company and we then could proceed.

      2. Who Am I*

        You can do anything to a pdf these days. You can make edits within a pdf or even export it to Word, make the changes, then resave it as a pdf. I don’t now if there are any uneditable documents anymore.

    1. Butterfly Counter*

      This was my thought as well. Or he had someone ask him what he typically works on, they realized it was Model A, and they edited his resume to reflect that without telling him what it meant.

      1. KRM*

        Given what I’ve seen some recruiters do, my money is on this exactly. LW said he was quite familiar with the structure of Model A when asked, so it’s not like he lied on his resume. He has just never called it Model A. He probably got off the interview and was looking at the resume HE sent to the recruiter like “WTF I don’t know where they’re getting all this ‘Model A’ stuff!”.

    2. Don*

      This was the very thing I was going to ask. It’s not a thing I am aware of happening anymore but twenty years ago I had recruiters slice and dice my software engineering resume before they handed it to a potential employer. Doesn’t seem like a big leap for an unscrupulous recruiter to flat-out add a buzzword or two, though how that doesn’t bite them in the ass later is beyond me.

      On the other hand, if I was in an interview and someone said something was on my resume that I hadn’t put there? I’d be pretty damn interested in pulling on that thread some more and figuring out just what they were talking about. A candidate who seems completely unmoved to hear that seems weird to me.

      1. PotatoEngineer*

        I’ve always heard that you should bring a copy of your resume to your interviews, and I’ve always done that. It helps if a resume-processing program has parsed the poor document into illegibility, or if someone has gotten creative between your submission and the interview.

        1. Antilles*

          You definitely should bring copies of your resume to the interviews. Even without recruiters or quirky software glitches, there’s very often interviewers who forget to bring a copy or maybe they were unexpectedly roped into it or whatever.
          And frankly, even if they do come prepared with a copy of the resume, it never hurts to have a copy of your resume right there that you can easily reference and/or use as a reminder of stuff you want to discuss.

      2. quill*

        Also in STEM, I did bomb a couple interviews because recruiters didn’t understand my resume and “fixed” it. They subbed in words that meant completely other things for technical terms, etc.

        Sometimes I think it might even be algorithmic, because for a while I had people calling under the impression that Science = Engineer = Licensed HVAC ‘engineer’ (Technician).

        Like, at least understand that not all job descriptions with the same word require the same qualifications! A chemical engineer has no business driving a train or building bridges!

        1. Susan Ivanova*

          When my whole team got dumped they included resume editing services in the severance package. Then we all got together independently to go over our resumes, whether we’d used the service or not. Some of the service resumes were OK, but one of my co-workers had had commonly used acronyms expanded (we all know what URLs are), industry-specific terms described incorrectly, and other errors that made it worse than his original. As he was younger and not a native English speaker, he would have accepted the “professional” edits if we hadn’t told him it was complete rubbish and fixed it properly.

          And while LinkedIn skills are separate from the resume section, they’re not to be trusted. With the default settings anyone can add anything they want. Some overly helpful person who wasn’t on my team seemed to have the logic of “Susan’s team uses X. Therefore Susan knows X.”

        2. tamarack & fireweed*

          This is a possibility – reviewer plugging in some keywords that the candidate at their previous job didn’t use, jargon being sometimes inconsistent.

          And I’d also not completely exclude that there was some sort of brain flub going on. Maybe the candidate prepared this part of the CV a while ago and forgot the term they used (and use a different one in their day-to-day work), or either the candidate or the LW used some sort of initialism in their mind, or pronounce it differently.

          Because, the key part for me is that they *were* well versed in the model, and so clearly the CV quite rightly listed it. So this is the opposite of an attempt to deceive.

          I’d of course have another interview (if this candidate is otherwise under consideration) and poke a bit more at it, but with a positive expectation.

    3. BritChickaaa*

      Surely the pertinent info is that the applicant IS very familiar with the model, the only issue is that he didn’t know that one particular name for it?

      Hard to tell without any context, but surely the most likely answer is that different companies use different names for that model, hence why he was familiar with the model but not that specific name – he knows it under a different name?

      It really doesn’t make sense that he’s “well versed” in the model yet simultaneously doesn’t even know it’s name – how can you be “well versed” in using something you’ve never heard of? The only answer that I can see is that calling the model “A” is not universal and he simply knows the model he uses by a different name.

      1. Raboot*

        OP’s problem doesn’t seem to be “he doesn’t know the model”, it’s “he had a term on his resume which he didn’t know, and didn’t know why it was there”.

      2. Myrin*

        OP says that his “resume stated explicitly that he currently uses Model A”, as in, he used the exact same name for the model OP uses as well, in a document he presumably wrote himself.

        1. tamarack & fireweed*

          Well, yes, and he demonstrated that he’s in fact well versed with it. I still think some weirdness about overlapping jargon terms is likely.

          For example it just happened to a graduate student I know that she was asked “so you’re an expert in imaging spectroscopy?”, and she wanted to say “uh, no?” – and I had to jump in and clarify that it’s just a different word for what she calls hyperspectral imaging. She might even have copied “imaging spectroscopy” into a CV document at one point and then forgotten about it, being an ESL speaker. Terminology can be deceptive.

        2. BritChickaaa*

          Why assume he wrote the document himself? The fact it had a name he’d never heard of us pretty good evidence that the recruiter edited it without him knowing, which as we’ve seen from a million posts here is pretty common for recruiters to do.

          1. marvin the paranoid android*

            I would say that it’s somewhat possible that when he applied for the job, he looked up the term used in the posting, realized it was the same thing he was experienced with, changed the term in his resume and subsequently forgot. I like to think that if I did something like this, I would remember once it came up in the interview, but if enough time had passed, or if I applied for enough jobs, I can see myself totally forgetting and then being confused.

          2. Myrin*

            I said “presumably” because I was speaking from OP’s perspective and the OP assumed that he wrote the resume himself.

          3. Myrin*

            And in fact I just went to re-read the original letter (when it was first posted in 2017) and OP confirmed that there was no recruiter involved at all.

      3. Gnome*

        That’s what I was thinking. There have been places where everyone called something X and the rest of the world knew it as something else. For instance, if you said IE and the standard was “internet explorer” or something like that. Then a recruiter might change it to “internet explorer” for clarity to the outside world, but it doesn’t change the experience level.

        I’ve found that, in my area in particular, there are things I’ve been doing for years that now have special names and are taught in school. I don’t actually know all the names for them, but I’ve been doing them since before they had commonly known names. Every time I see a resume from someone straight out if school I Google all the words I don’t know and go “oh, so they’ve got a word for that now”

      4. Elenna*

        Yes, but the question is how the specific term “Model A” got on his resume. But I agree, not a huge deal.

        1. Blueberry*

          I’ve run into a scenario like this. Was interviewing at a place using a specific type of software – some call it by the original name, others the rebranded name, and some the developer company name.

          I looked up the software they referenced in the ad, because I wasn’t familiar with the name, and it turned out to be software I was currently using. So I used the term form the ad so they would recognize it.

          Interview was over a month later and when discussing various software they used, it of course came up, and I stumbled. I didn’t want to shuffle through my papers to confirm if that was the software they were talking about or if this was something new. I ended up explaining that we refer to it under a different name and like this scenario explained how familiar I was with it.

          At the end of the day it was lack of preparation. I had reviewed my resume as a refresher but didn’t really put any emphasis on noting the software name being different than what I was familiar with. It was only the second they mentioned it that any familiarity with the alternate name exited my brain in a hurry!

      5. TMP*

        This was my thinking also. Once it was determined that he did know it seems the interviewer would have realized it was a terminology disconnect not that he had lied on his resume.

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          It doesn’t sound like they were worried that he lied on the resume, but rather that he maybe didn’t put a lot of effort into it if he did things like copying the language directly from his job description or something. Like Alison said though, I don’t think even that is necessarily an issue unless written communication skills are an important part of the job.

    4. NYWeasel*

      We had a candidate come from an employment agency, and it’s possible the recruiter edited his resume before sending it to us, but the interview was like this the whole time:

      Us: So tell us a little bit about what you did when you were a chocolate coordinator at Global Teapots.

      (Candidate looks down and reads his resume)

      Candidate: uh, so I coordinated chocolate at Global Teapots.

      The whole interview was like this. Some nerves might have been involved as he was very junior, but at some point you need a little extra detail about what they’ve done or else there’s no value to the interview. In OP’s case I would be willing to overlook the one gap if they came through a recruiter and there were no other red flags, as it sounded like this candidate did know the technology once they talked a bit about it.

      1. Essess*

        I had a guy come in for an interview and was so nervous that when I asked his name (so that I could contact the interviewer), his face went totally blank and he opened up his interview pack and had to read his own name out loud from the interview letter.

        1. marvin the paranoid android*

          As someone who is in the process of changing my name, basically every time someone asks my name these days, my brain short-circuits for a moment as I try to figure out which name makes sense for the situation. I realize that this probably seems weird to the person who is asking me.

    5. learnedthehardway*

      Since the candidate turned out to be familiar with whatever Model A does, even if he didn’t know the term, I would put it down to the fact that he knows it by another name, and wouldn’t hold it against him. An awful lot of terminology is very company-specific.

    6. Emily*

      This was my immediate thought as well. We used a specialty recruiter for people experienced in a particular software we use and it was obvious that every resume had been generated by the recruiting company (same format, all contact information removed). The information was basically accurate, but I could see a recruiter swapping out lingo and not mentioning it.

  2. honeygrim*

    #1 – I recently started a new job that involves the exact same kind of work I was doing in my old job, using very similar (though not identical) software, and in a field with jargon that is pretty much understood only by the people in the field. Sometimes I can’t understand what anyone at my new job is talking about. Turns out this place has its own very specific jargon that people tend to use instead of the more general terminology used at my previous jobs. I wonder if #1’s situation was something like this?

    1. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      I don’t think so. It sounds like you knew about the similar software, and know enough to know it’s similar even if some terms and menus are different.
      For example, I use Adobe Indesign, but know very well that QuarkXPress is similar (and have used both) though it’s been years since I used Quark. But I know how to do layout, so I could likely pickup Quark again if a place used Quark.

      1. Mr. Shark*

        Gary Patterson’s Cat, Quark Express still exists? I haven’t heard that in a long time. I could definitely see that if someone were using Quark Express, InDesign, PageMaker, or even Publisher. But either way it’s strange the person didn’t know that it was on his resume.

      1. honeygrim*

        That’s true. I was trying to think of a reason why he wouldn’t know the term but would know the thing the term was referring to. I agree that it’s possible a recruiter changed it, maybe to better fit the terminology in the job description.

        1. Beth II*

          It makes sense that he knows the program but doesn’t know the name – I could see that happening a lot especially if the company called it something different, but it’s the fact that the name is listed on the resume.

        2. Ope!*

          I wonder if it’s a “all squares are rectangles” or “Kleenex / tissue” type of situation. In my field (libraries) almost everyone has worked in an Integrated Library System or Library Management System (ILS / MLS) but if you only know the brand names (Sierra, ALMA, etc.) or vice versa, you might get tripped up by hearing it referred to the other way.

            1. Sillysaurus*

              Maybe he wrote the bones of the resume a long time ago? When I went to brush up my resume in 2020 I saw that it said I was proficient in a software that I didn’t initially recognize. Then I realized that I use this software every day but my resume was listing the version of it that runs on hardware I haven’t used in years. I could have easily had a weird moment like this in an interview if I hadn’t caught it.

    2. I Speak for the Trees*

      I was wondering about that, too. I currently work in a software system that my company calls by one name, other companies call by other names, and is officially called a third thing altogether. Perhaps it was a similar situation and a recruiter/friend/resume professional edited the resume to reflect the more commonly known name of the software?

    3. BritChickaaa*

      Yeah, the only way that “well versed in a model he’s never heard of” makes even a lick of sense is if the model goes by different names, he knows it as Model X not Model A, and the recruiter simply changed A to X on the resume because LW’s company uses the latter name.

  3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    #2: the answer is “Because the old process sucks in a lot of ways, and X is better for the company overall”

    Half the battle of process improvement at the implementation level is getting people to see beyond their own small sphere of concern.

    1. Loulou*

      I wish this were always true. Just as often the answer to “why are we doing X?” is “because we’ve always done it” or “because we don’t have enough money or staff to change course now that we’ve invested in X software” or “because we didn’t consult with stakeholders like you enough to see that X is problematic” or some equally frustrating reason. I’ve dealt with that person who assumes any resistance to New Process X is because people hate change, and they are often really wrong!

      1. No Name Today*

        I feel you. I’ve been there. But I also think that this is different than what OP is getting. Your situation should (in a perfect world) have stakeholder staff asking, “why are we doing this?” and following up with real concerns.
        I have a “but WHYner colleague” who hates change, cries at new processes, complains “I don’t know WHY we are doing this.”
        One time, after getting a valid answer, she tried it on me. I repeated valid answer, and asked what don’t you get?
        “It’s just that changing the process is stupid.”
        Another time, after getting an answer along the lines of “well, yeah, but now we are stuck and doing it this way until we have another option,” she whined to me.
        Yeah, it’s not great but we have to, what don’t you get?
        “It’s just that changing the process is stupid.”
        Not even that it was a bad change! Just the part about change. I was like, yeah, now we have to do X and Y. She blew right over me talking generalities of change sucking.

        1. tamarack & fireweed*

          This is a possibility. But another one is that “WHY are we doing this?” means “I don’t like that we’re doing this because it’ll make my job a lot more complicated in ways that I don’t believe you have understood or care about, and I don’t feel I have the power or social capital to bring this up constructively”.

        2. ellex42*

          I have a “but WHY” coworker as well, and finally got her to stop with the answer “because people a lot higher up in the business, who make a lot more money than we do but also have a lot more responsibility, decided that this is the way they want us to do it. Why did they decide they want us to do it this way? I have no idea. I wasn’t consulted. I’ve never even met them. But that’s what they decided.”

      2. anonymous73*

        Yes I’ve encountered the “because it’s always been this way” a lot in my career. But if I’m documenting a process and you feel there is a better way, tell me! Then we can figure out if it’s feasible and change it (or not). Don’t just keep asking WHY over and over and expect a different answer each time. IME most people fight process because they’re too lazy to implement it.

        1. LittleMarshmallow*

          Lazy is sort of a strong word. In my experience, corporate desk jockeys looooove to push new processes on their employees all the time without any thought for real resource management or consideration of whether people even have time to devote to a roll-out of a new process. I’m currently working 60 hour weeks and our corporate bigwigs are trying to roll out 4 new processes all at once to our already overworked, overwhelmed staff. We aren’t lazy. We just don’t have time to care. And I get why those processes have value… but for me the why is “why right now?” Couldn’t we have done some of these rollouts in stages or maybe not all at once to lighten the load. And if the answer is no, then managers need to figure out what needs to pause or go away to make room for the new process, and I’ve literally never seen the roll-out pushers do that in my 15 years in corporate America.

          1. anonymous73*

            Yes it is and that’s why I said IME. A few jobs ago, I worked in support. We had a ticketing system. People would constantly walk up to our team and explain a problem and expect to have it resolved right then and there instead of creating a ticket. This meant there was no record of the issue in case it came up in the future, and my team was constantly interrupted. So we started enforcing ticket creation. It’s easier to walk up to someone’s desk and ask for help, then it is to follow the process to get it fixed properly…lazy. It’s like someone who always goes to a person for help without trying to figure it out themselves. Lazy. There may be exceptions in the case of an urgent issue, but there’s a reason for processes and they’re not always to make people’s jobs more difficult.

      3. LikesToSwear*

        This exactly! The IR department where I work fails to consult with HR/Benefits every single time they make a change to our HRIS system. So it breaks something benefit related, and we are constantly having to clean up the mess.

        We don’t mind changing things, in fact, there’s a lot we *want* to change. But they really need to keep Benefits in the loop so that the changes work for everyone!

        1. Rainy*

          I was working in an HR-adjacent role during a big software update, and the “Change Coordinator” and the mucky-mucks got together and decided what custom features from the old build would be made for the new build…and they didn’t ask anyone who actually worked with the system day to day.

          So once the system actually updated, all our reports were gone, and they’d had a genius idea that they would only let us use pre-loaded report types to improve efficiency or something, so there was also no way to kludge something together that would have the same effect. The screaming was actually audible when everyone went to use the post-deadline report that allowed us to check that certain things had gone through correctly. They’d left us with no way to check on those things. The meeting where they tried to justify themselves became extremely…acrimonious.

    2. Susan Ivanova*

      Sometimes the big picture people don’t know what *really* has to change to support process X. If we’re doing X because that’ll let us do Y, I’ll do it differently than if it was going to let us do Z.

      If you tell me to pull the wood shingles off the house and prep for an update but don’t say you’re going to replace it with tile, then I won’t know to update the load-bearing walls and your house is going to fall down. And you don’t know anything about foundations because you are only thinking about how the house will look.

    3. turquoisecow*

      Oh man yes. My current company has had to drag people kicking and screaming to newer, better systems just because they’d done it the old way for 30 years and didn’t want to change. Unfortunately for them, there were very real system limitations that meant the systems HAD to be changed.

  4. Gary Patterson's Cat*

    If you need skills for Model A and he does not have skills (or even familiarity with Model A) do not hire him. Simple as that. Unless there is some remote possibility that the person is from a region that calls “Model A” by a truly different name like “Series 1.” I say remote, because if that was the case, they would’ve brought it up in some way and known that if they had done any preparation for the job interview.

    1. bubbleon*

      “He did turn out to be well-versed with the model, even though he does not know that it’s called that.” Sounds like the possibility isn’t that remote.

      1. River Otter*

        Yes, I have been the person who worked extensively on Series 1 and had no idea that other people called it Model A.

    2. Public Sector Manager*

      Not hiring them seems like an overreaction.

      My office uses an XML editor we call Model A. No else knows it as Model A. So if an applicant’s resume listed Model A, it could be that the candidate does have XML editor experience, and someone told them to list experience with Model A instead.

      But it’s an easy follow-up question to have:
      “I don’t know what Model A is?”
      “It’s an XML editor. Do you have any experience with XML?”
      “Oh sure! I’ve used Model B and Model C at my last three jobs and have 15 years experience using both programs.”

      Now, if they don’t know what an XML editor is, then you don’t hire them.

  5. Blue Umbrella*

    #2 If you work in process improvement, getting people on board isn’t something that gets in the way of the job – it is a huge chunk of the actual job and you need to manage it really well.

    1. cubone*

      I just made a similar comment below because …. Yeah. Anticipating and responding to these questions is a HUGE part of effective process improvement and will make a huge difference in the long term sustainability of the improvement. Would definitely recommend OP explore some change management, persuasion, or interpersonal relationship type coaching or training.

    2. Texan In Exile*

      It’s the hardest part! The technical solution is the easy part! Getting people to change – very difficult. (And requires executive support. A friend did his OR dissertation on why large-scale implementations fail. Almost always, it’s because of a lack of leadership support.)

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        It’s the hardest part! The technical solution is the easy part! Getting people to change – very difficult. (And requires executive support. A friend did his OR dissertation on why large-scale implementations fail. Almost always, it’s because of a lack of leadership support.)

        That’s interesting. I would have figured it would be because what’s better on paper is often worse in real world.

    3. Alice*

      Yeah I wonder if this is indicative of a bigger issue. I’m going through something right now in my role where the change team are rolling out process changes they “think” we need, without stopping to ensure we do need and want it. It’s a massive frustration and waste of resource. Poor communication and planning has been highlighted several times. I wonder if OP2 is in this boat and users are actually frustrated?

      1. All the words*

        I’m a pilot user for our department’s new software. I think I’ve been a pilot user on every major software change the department’s had since I’ve been here (very long time). Sadly the only feedback that’s wanted is technical. Do the features work? I’d love to offer feedback on design issues that make the new software user unfriendly. Think visual strain or bad ergonomics. This type of feedback is met with confused silence, like “why are you even mentioning such things?” Well, because if one is doing this task 300 times a day, repetitive motion is a thing, even in an office.

        Sorry co-workers, the new software works fine, but it’s rather user unfriendly and nobody wanted to hear about that.

        Some people are resistant to change. Sometimes change managers ignore valid feedback.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          Another thing that isn’t always considered is the temporary loss of productivity that goes with adopting a new process. The new process may be great – after you’ve had the time to re-learn the muscle memory and instinctive use that years of experience. The months in between, when you are working longer hours to compensate for the learning process, can suck. So the management needs to make it clear that the measurement of productivity and evaluation will be adjusted as needed during the learning process.

      2. Hogwash*

        I’ve worked in places where the processes changed anytime there was a new ED, which was like every 6 months (huge bank, constant reorgs). Got to the point where no one knew what the correct processes were or who the SMEs were. I left that job-it became untenable b/c I spent more time figuring out how to do stuff than actually doing it, and we all kept having to rework stuff while the deliverables piled up.
        Not saying that’s the case here but there’s a learning curve to any new process and that means more work in the short term even if time is saved in the long term. Enough short term pile-ons and people will burn out before you realize the benefits.

  6. Kit*

    #2 I think it might help some of the why-askers to know what’s bad/wrong/not working with the current system/process, not just what’s good about the new one. If the benefits of the change change seem marginal, they’ll be outweighed by the pain of changing at all.

    1. Grace Poole*

      And it’s also good to get people on board before the changes need to be made. There have been instances in my workplace where decisions have been made on high, and the people on the ground doing the actual work had very little input into what’s happened.

    2. a tester, not a developer*

      I’ve found that a lot of the process improvements I’ve been involved in are an improvement for a ‘high-level’/business critical area (like corporate finance), but may cause more work for client facing/admin staff. It’s hard to get buy in from your operations people when the ‘improvement’ doesn’t help them at all. And just saying “The people who asked for this are more powerful than you” generally doesn’t go over well. LOL

  7. SleepyHollowGirl*

    I recently heard a story of a story where the interviewer asked “Do you know SQL”? And the applicant, who was from a different country, did know SQL, didn’t pronounce it the same way as the interviewer and didn’t know what the interviewer was talking about, and so said “No”.

    1. bubbleon*

      I’m familiar with SQL and used it a few times in my last job, didn’t ever hear anyone say it out loud for years and then had no clue what they were talking about for the longest time.

      1. Don*

        In the late nineties I had an employee – a very talented programmer – make a comment about the puh-suede-oh-code. He’d said it once before and I didn’t know what he meant but I’d let it go because it wasn’t pertinent. This time I tried to clarify and I realized he was referring to PSEUDOCODE. Somehow this fellow had never heard – or never realized what he heard – it spoken aloud, but had read and written it umpteen times.

        1. Texan In Exile*

          My professor: As noted in your text, Gerta said blah blah blah.
          Me, frantically looking at my Norton Anthology of English literature for anything about Gerta.

          And seeing nothing but Go-eeth-ie.

            1. Public Sector Manager*

              Reminds me how people have changed how they pronounce “Uranus” during my lifetime and the infamous “gif” versus “jif” debate.

              1. Windchime*

                Also in programming, we used to always pronounce “char” like it’s written; “char” with the ch like “Chair”. Now people come along and start pronouncing it “kar”. I see why, but…..really?

                Maybe I’m just old. Also, you kids get off my lawn!

          1. DataGirl*

            Now I’m having flashbacks to my art history professor having a fit about how Americans pronounce Van Gogh.

              1. DataGirl*

                Americans who don’t know any better usually pronounce it Van GO. In Dutch it is apparently pronounced Van KHOKH.

                1. Environmental Compliance*

                  …..excuse me while I go look up how to pronounce that because how my brain is reading it probably is not correct.

              1. DataGirl*

                Yep. I’m American, my first name ends in ‘a’, when I lived in Germany people always pronounced the ‘a’ like ‘Aye’, so if my name were ‘Diana’ they’d say something like Diane-Aye instead of Diane-ah. They’d argue if I wanted to pronounce my name with an ‘ah’ sound at the end it should be spelled ending in an ‘e’ instead.

                1. Myrin*

                  That’s very strange, because German “e”s are literally never pronounced with an “a” sound anywhere, not even a short/aspirated one. “e”s at word endings (and unstressed “e”s in general) are always pronounced as a schwa sound [ə].
                  (To be fair, I’m not getting how I would pronounce the “aye” in your example because I’ve always heard that said like the letter “i” but that doesn’t change the schwa thing. Quite apart from that, though, it’s pretty rude to tell you you should be spelling your name differently if you wanted it to be a certian pronunciation! Accepting that different languages pronounce letters differently goes both ways!)

                2. DataGirl*

                  I’m not sure why I can’t reply to you Myrin- let’s hope this nests correctly.

                  In my example I was pronouncing ‘aye’ like ‘hay’ without the ‘h’. Not sure how else to spell that out. So to give another example, if my name was Christina they would pronounce it Christine-(h)ay, and said if I wanted it pronounced the American way of Christine-ah it should be spelled Christine.

                3. Nanani*

                  Out of nesting, but at Myrin many speakers of American English who do not have lingusistics training will not know what a schwa is and “a” is as good a guess as any when trying to describe “vowel that exists where I don’t expect it”. Others might describe it as an “uh”?

                4. Emmy Noether*

                  There must have been some misunderstanding along the way, because that is exactly backwards. I am German and I can tell you that an a at the end of a word is always pronounced “ah” in German. Diana is “Dee-ah-nah”, Christina is “Kree-stee-nah”. An “e” at the end is pronounced closer to your “hay”, so for example Anne is “Ann-ay” or like the schwa sound Myrin is referencing.

                  Either someone was messing with you or there was something else very weird going on (arguing that you need to change your spelling is already weird and rude in itself).

                5. tamarack & fireweed*

                  This thread suffers from American English speakers having a ton of diphthongs but no concept of them, calling them long vowels instead, and (nearly) no long vowels that aren’t diphthongs, and no non-leniated vowels that aren’t also stressed….

                  What DataGirl means by “aye” is the /e/ vowel.

              2. londonedit*

                I’ve never seen Frozen but I gather that Princess Anna’s name is pronounced ‘AR-ner’ in the film, which boggles my mind.

          2. Myrin*

            To be fair, the English pronunciation of “Gerta” is actually closer to how “Goethe” is pronunced than the “Geuthee”-thingamabob I usually hear from native English speakers.

        2. Beth II*

          I read a ton and have a pretty strong vocabulary but often don’t use a lot of words out loud in the moment because I’m pretty sure I don’t know how to actually pronounce it. And sometimes I know the correct way, but I just say it differently in my head – but that means it may pop out how I say it in my head.

            1. Butterfly Counter*


              I had an embarrassing moment with macabre (MACK a ber). But probably not as bad as your with banal.

              1. wittyrepartee*

                For me: Paradigm and prodigious (I said pro-go-dee-us for some reason, I thought they were two different words).

              2. CatMintCat*

                My Dad always said macabre like it was an old Scottish warrior clan – the MacAbers. I have lovely visions in my head of ghouls and ghosts descending on the enemy brandishing claymores.

                I’ll see myself out now.

            2. Lucien Nova*

              I will admit I apparently never knew how to pronounce this word until I was at the very ending of the latest Final Fantasy 14 expansion.

              Knew exactly what it meant. Just not how it was pronounced.

          1. wittyrepartee*

            Same! I started listening to audiobooks in grad school though, which smoothed that out. But no one should make fun of people’s pronunciation, it just means they read a lot.

    2. Mme. Briet’s Antelope*

      I work in a niche industry with a fair amount of acronyms, and sometimes will get asked about my experience working with [full and complete name of the standard which nobody in my field uses ever], and it always, ALWAYS takes me a minute to realize that they’re actually asking about [acronym]. I also once completely forgot that a standard HAD a name, because it was just The Way Things Were Done and we didn’t ever actually refer to it by its proper name. It happens!

    3. Anon4This*

      I can totally see that happening. Both ‘S’ ‘Q’ ‘L’ and ‘Sequel’ are common ways to pronounce it. I think ‘Sequel’ usually gets used more in conjunction with the Microsoft product ‘SQL Server’ but if someone is coming from a non- Microsoft background they’d probably pronounce it as the individual letters.

      I used to program in ColdFusion and got a lot of confused non-programmers (like HR/recruiters) wondering what my IT background had to do with nuclear reactions.

      1. Kimmy Schmidt*

        Thank you for this comment. I’ve always pronounced it S – Q – L, and I wasn’t sure how else it could be pronounced to leave people confused!

        1. Windchime*

          I’ve been an SQL developer for years, and I’ve always pronounced it “sequel”. I think both ways are correct, though.

    4. KateM*

      I recently started working with it and was worrying before I started about which competing pronounciation was “in” in my new place lest I will be looked down for wrong pronunciation!

    5. ForeignLawyer*

      In my interview for my current position I was asked if I was “familiar with Excel”, but because the interview was in a foreign language I heard “excel” as “Axel” and assumed they wanted to know if I knew a certain person named Axel…..

      I told them I had no idea who “Axel” was but I’d be happy to meet him at his convenience. Still headdesking about that, even though I did realise in time to correct my answer.

    6. Curmudgeon in California*

      This happens a lot with non-native speakers and people whose vocabulary, both technical and non-technical comes from reading, not speaking.

      One person a while ago mentioned that they had to caution teachers *not* to make fun of kids who mispronounced big words, because the way those kids learned those words and their meaning was from reading. I know I have had to look up pronunciation of stuff often, either in a dictionary, or when the web started having audio dictionary pronunciations I would use those. Both my spouse and I are older, and we still have this issue with mangling words that we learned from books only.

      SQL gets pronounced “squeel”, “sequel”, “ess-cue-ell” or even “structured query language”, and heaven knows what else.

      1. Susan Ivanova*

        Getting laughed at for “be-a-u-ti-ful” in second grade put me off reading out loud for *years*.

  8. cubone*

    I could be off base, but I feel like OP #2 (“employees keep saying “I don’t know why we’re doing X””) should ask for or explore more training in change management maybe? It surprises me a little that someone whose job is “process improvement” is surprised by these questions. Stakeholder engagement and responding to resistance is part of the change management process. It might help them to learn more about this to get some tools to anticipate and respond to these kind of questions, because honestly I can’t imagine a process improvement where resistance never comes up. It’s completely normal.

      1. cubone*

        lol we are so clearly on the same wavelength with this because I just responded to your comment agreeing as well!

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      I am wondering just how far apart is the LW from those who must implement and use the process improvements. The very fastest way to cause resistance is to ignore the user and/or do a top down “You must do this, this way”

      I’ve learned that working with production and field techs and understanding where they are coming from is the best way to get things changed. I think it helps also, because my predecessor did not.

    2. anonymous73*

      While true, you can’t keep asking the same WHY question and expect a different answer. Most of the time if I see something being done one way and I can see what I think of as an easier or better way, I’ll say “is it possible to do it this way” or “maybe it would be easier to do it this way” and then they can either explain why it’s being done their way or take my suggestion and modify it.

      1. cubone*

        I don’t disagree, but from my limited experience studying change management (it was 1 course in a much larger management program), it was basically drilled into us that people will resist change until they believe in its purpose and accept it. There’s a lot of other things that go along with this – is the purpose understood in relation to their needs, do they actually have the skills/knowledge/training to participate in the change, is the new process/behaviour being modelled, rewarded and reinforced, etc.

        I see your approach as being more collaborative for sure, but it assumes that a) the explanation OP is providing as to why it’s being done their way is sufficient to counter the resistance (clearly not, because they’re still begin asked); and b) they may not be able to make those modifications or suggestions, or have already ruled them out. Which will possibly create more resistance. As AAM said in their response, what the OP is hearing is pointing to a below the surface meaning of “I don’t believe in/understand this change”. That should be a big big flag that people aren’t okay with the change, and OP will likely continue to encounter resistance (or they won’t encounter it, but it will continue to exist and threaten the likelihood that these process improvements are adopted and succeed long term). Telling people they can’t just ask the same question over and over is avoiding the root of the issue.

        1. anonymous73*

          “Telling people they can’t just ask the same question over and over is avoiding the root of the issue.”

          Why are we doing it this way?
          Because of reasons X, Y, and Z.
          But why are we doing it this way?

          It’s definitely a collaborative effort, and OP may need to change her approach to answering the why questions. But you simply can not ask the same exact question over and over and expect different answers. That was my point. Yes people are resistant to change, and IME most people don’t want to follow a process because either “we’ve always done it this other way” or they’re lazy and just don’t want to. So if you ask why, and the other person provides reasons, either ask more follow up questions to better understand the process or let it go and move on.

    3. Smithy*

      I completely agree with this – I’ve been on two teams that had to change from Skype to Teams and based on how painful that was, it always surprises me when more complex process, system or organization changes are met with even more resistance, anxiety or questions.

      I get that change management can feel a little bit like hand holding or babying colleagues, but finding ways to do that in a manner that still does feel professional is a great tool.

  9. I'm just here for the cats*

    In regards to number 2. Make sure you are being clear and ask for feedback. I had something like this happen to me at a past job. I worked primarily over the phone and through email with clients. We changed to a new database system. We all understood why we changed. It was going to be more integrated, when they called their information would automatically populate. However we didn’t understand why they did it in the way they did. Thye released the updated system in stages. and we lost access to very important information. So now when client X called in we couldn’t tell who his sales person was or his client manager. So if he wanted to buy something or had questions that we couldn’t help with we had no way of getting him to the correct person. we ended up sending a ticket to the department and they would get back to them within 2-5 days. As you can imagine this caused a nightmare. There were other problems with the system roll out too but its been over 5 years and I don’t remember everything.

    But we all said the same thing Why are we doing X?

    1. Llama Mamaa*

      I think this is a good point to make. That sometimes “why are we doing X” could be referring to whatever step in the process. So if the response is “the change will provide us better way to manage our data” (and that keeps getting repeated ad nauesum) but the steps to get to that better place create frustration or are messy I would keep asking “why are we doing X” as in why are these the steps we’re taking to get to that (so called) better place? So I think it’s definitely worth finding out what the concerns are about the changes are that you’re making not just for the final end goal but also the steps along the way.

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Where I work is in that middle teething stage right now, and yup it’s awkward at the moment. We’re National in size with lots of smaller branches – and they are moving from the smallest branches to the largest branches – why, because doing the smaller units first has allowed them to learn and get faster – and also to tailor the training courses on the new software for the different user groups. In the end it will be a very good change, but there is a lot of “why, why, why” going on at the moment (some related to why are we changing this at this particular moment in this specific way; but yes there is still plenty of I hate change why’s happening as well).

    3. I'm just here for the cats*

      Another thing is (that actually just came up a few moments ago) is that X might not make sense to them. In my case, the powers to be have cracked down on spending and ways we can purchase items. Before if we could get item X anyway it was cheapest. Now we can only get it through one vendor which is way more expensive. Us staff members are saying “we don’t understand” and we get
      “We have a contract with Vendor.”
      “yes but we don’t understand why”
      “We have a contract with the Vendor you should have been doing it this way all along”
      “Ok good to know. Why do we have to spend 3 times as much for the same items?
      “We have a contract”
      It just goes around and around. OP Make sure you are not just repeating yourself and actually listening to your employees

  10. Heidi*

    For Letter 3, people aren’t always great at describing themselves. I don’t think anyone is going to remember, much less hold you to, what you said in the interview. Plus, “outgoing” is pretty non-specific and there are no real criteria that people could point to and prove that you’re not outgoing. It’s not like you said you could use Model A when you in fact do not know what Model A is.

    1. Xavier Desmond*

      Agreed, outgoing covers such a broad range that as long as you are not going to be sitting in office all day, never interacting with anyone, you will be fine.

    2. Beth II*

      That’s why it’s just not a good question. I hate when people put qualities on their resume – I need examples and explanations of what they do in certain situations and then I can determine what their qualities are.

    3. Pam Adams*

      I AM introverted- need quiet alone time to recharge, but in my job, need to BE very outgoing. I spend my days talking to students, both one-on-one, and in groups.

  11. No Tribble At All*

    For #4, make sure you don’t have a non-solicitation/non-compete in your contract with the old nonprofit. A few jobs that I’ve had included “no actively recruiting our current employees for X length of time” clauses in their departure paperwork.

    Are those enforceable? Probably not, because you don’t work there… but make sure you don’t have anything actually prohibiting you from recruiting your former employee.

    1. ArtK*

      If there is such a clause, check with an employment lawyer. I already know that they aren’t enforceable in California (because I asked.)

    2. LTR,FTP*

      Haha, or you could have signed NO non-solicitation/noncompete at all with your former company, but their lawyer sends you AND the head of your (large, global) company a cease-and-desist order claiming that you did! Because this is what happened to me a few years ago, when I recruited a former colleague.

      I never laughed so hard. I wrote back that I’d gladly respond to their claims when they sent me a copy of the agreement I’d signed, and I never heard from them again. Fortunately my new managers were cool about it and laughed it off, too.

    3. Beth II*

      Also you can just have the HR department or someone else contact them instead. Then you aren’t actually recruiting them – I know that’s what people do in my industry.

    4. FinalCountdown*

      Yup!! I am in the process of leaving my job and I just signed one of these yesterday.
      And it was worded quite oddly. It was between certain hire dates and I fell within the one range so I am wondering if there was a time when it wasn’t enforceable in my state and now it is.
      But how can they prove it? Anyone can look at the job postings for the company I am going to and apply and get a job on their own merit.

  12. High Score!*

    #4 reminds me of a small growing company I worked at years ago. We added a new department hiring a manager for it first. She promptly recruited her former employees. After she’d hired several people from her old company, they started making legal threats. Our companies’ lawyer told her to do what she wanted bc they had no case. Eventually she hired all her former employees. It was hilarious.

    1. Elenna*

      And I assume her former company spent all their time making threats, without bothering to spend any time thinking about why all their employees were willing to immediately jump ship. :P

      1. irene adler*

        Yeah! In fact, they could have schemed a way to hire folks back. But I guess threats are the easier way to handle this. Sheesh!

  13. River Otter*

    Sometimes “why are we doing X?“ Also means “I understand the problem with our current process, but why aren’t we doing Y or Z?” So adding a few words about why X was the best solution as opposed to Y or Z might help a little bit with at least a few of the people who are asking.

    1. SimplytheBest*

      If you want to ask “why aren’t we doing y or z” then those are the words you should use. Asking one question and hoping you’re going to get an answer to a different question is going to leave everyone unsatisfied.

  14. LizB*

    My husband runs coding interviews for the tech company he works for, and was very surprised initially at how many candidates say on their resume that they’re super well-versed in Programming Language X (which the position largely works in), use it all the time, are completely comfortable with it… and then ask to do the coding exercise in some other programming language. The exercise can be done in many languages, so that’s not technically a problem — and if someone is clear on their resume that they need to brush up on Language X that’s a different story — but saying you’re great at Language X and then showing your work in Language Y instead is at least a mildly orange flag. Doesn’t knock them out of the running, but puts a bit of a question mark on them.

    1. Curmudgeon in California*

      Heh. I kind of have this problem. I will spend a year or two a Place A writing code in X. Really deep, lots of hours. Then I will go to Place Y, not write a line of X for three years, but write little bits of Y and Z plus lots of config files, which are in their own format. So I have been expert in X, but now I’m technically not because it has been crowded out of active memory by Y and Z.

      Over the past mumble decades I’ve written lines of code in at least a dozen different languages, between compiler, scripting and macro languages. (I don’t count “markup” languages in that number, though.) How do I keep them straight? I don’t! I have to look up specific syntax for everything except maybe the language that I have used in the past week. OTOH, I learn new languages very quickly, unless they are a really radical divergence from any of the others. I also forget them quickly too.

      Lots of interviewers haven’t done that, so of course they expect the interviewee to know all of their languages completely like the day they graduated college, because the interviewer does. I fail those interviews badly.

      1. LizB*

        From what I understand, if you say “I was an expert in X two jobs ago but have been working in Y and Z the past few years,” my husband wouldn’t even think twice about you doing the exercise in Y or Z. It’s the people who say they’ve spent the last three years working deeply in X and then ask to interview in Language J that he goes “huh?” about. But even that is a minor factor among many factors — along with Language X, his company works a lot in a pretty obscure language that basically everyone they hire will be learning that from scratch, so they’re more interested in testing candidates’ overall approach to the problem than the very specific code they write.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          Yeah, I agree that’s a little bit odd. I’ve definitely had to learn new languages at new companies, so for me it wouldn’t be odd.

          When I’m too far between languages I tend to write everything out in pseudocode anyway, just to get the logic down, then deal with the syntax.

  15. Mags*

    I actually interviewed someone like that once. He was FAR AND AWAY the most qualified candidate as far we could tell by the application, and to be honest we expected the job to be his. Then he came in and he had absolutely no idea about anything. The entire, extremely compelling application was a mixture of puff piece and complete lie. Multiple times he’d just spend a couple of minutes sitting in silence before passing on a question or saying something so bizarrely out of left field that we actually flinched.

    Afterwards my colleague did some discreet gossiping and found out that the guy’s wife had been writing his applications for him. He’d gotten a dozen interviews. She was REALLY GOOD at it.

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      It sounds like this guy did know the process under question, but not by that terminology. OP’s issue seems to be that the candidate did not appear troubled by the fact that a term completely unfamiliar to him was on his resume.

  16. Umiel12*

    #1: I interviewed a candidate for a technical position that required previous experience with Medicaid transactions. During the interview, I asked the candidate a question about Medicaid, and she said that she googled Medicaid the night before and that she didn’t think she had any experience with it. The project manager and I looked at each other and the PM said, “Your resume says you have two years experience with Medicaid transactions.” The candidate replied back, “That should say zero years. It’s a typo.” We ended the interview right then.

      1. irene adler*

        Sounds like someone took the ‘modify the resume to match the job description’ a little too literally.

    1. Hiring Mgr*

      I can put all the great things i’ve never done on my resume as long as I make sure to note i never did them :)

    2. Jaydee*

      I’m dead now from laughing! This is the sort of thing that sounds like it’s straight from a sitcom like The Office. But obviously it’s not because probably most sitcom writers don’t know enough about Medicaid to write a show that involves people doing technical work related to Medicaid transactions. And also because this is the sort of magnificent nonsense that has to be real because you can’t make something like this up!

      “That should say zero years. It’s a typo.” My new life goal is to find ways to say things that are false and then, when called out, to claim they were typos.

      1. Garden Gnome Goals*

        YES! This is stuff of legend and I will use this technique.
        I feel I’m ready for anything now!

    3. Umiel12*

      After she said, “zero years,” the PM and I looked at each other, and the PM whispered to me, “Do you want to keep going?” I told her no, so the she looked at the candidate and said, “We don’t think this is a good fit, so to avoid wasting any more of your time … or ours … we’re just going wrap things up now.” I will always remember the dramatic pause before the PM said, “or ours.” I still giggle about it when I think of it.

  17. Tupac Coachella*

    For anyone in #3’s boat: “Outgoing” is definitely subjective enough that I think this LW probably ended up fine. I am a SUPER introvert, but I’m not particularly “shy” per se, and I am also professionally friendly and a decent networker (even though any kind of structured networking typically leaves me exhausted). I’ve had people refer to me as “outgoing” in professional situations multiple times as shorthand for being engaged and pleasant. Unless you have a very extroverted, social workplace with lots of small talk, the bar for “outgoing” is basically just generally professional behavior with a side of smiling.

    1. allathian*

      Yes, this. I’m not super introvert, but more introvert than extrovert, and I’ve heard something similar. “You talk so much and you’re so friendly, I really don’t see you as introvert.” And then I go on to tell them that after a day of talking, socializing, and being friendly and engaged, I just want to go home and zone out. It’s one reason why I picked a job that doesn’t require much synchronous collaboration, and the vast majority of requests I get are submitted in writing.

  18. Kimmy Schmidt*

    I misread the title as “I interviewed a candidate who didn’t know what a resume was” and I was so curious to learn what they submitted instead.

    1. Usagi*

      English isn’t my first language and when I first moved to the US and started applying for jobs, I was very confused when the application process included submitting a resume.

      As in, play, pause, resume.

      I had to ask my then-fiancee how exactly I was supposed to do that.

      1. Usagi*

        I reread my comment and realized it potentially could come across as “how dare you forget that there are people who don’t speak English” and that’s absolutely not how I meant it. It was just meant to be “haha I was silly and your comment made me remember this funny story.”

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          For whatever it’s worth, I definitely read your comment in the ‘haha silly humans’ way.

          1. Usagi*

            Thank you! Between the difference in language, and also the difference in sense of humor (Japanese humor is very sarcastic! Sometimes it sounds very mean and teasing if it’s directly translated to another language) I get worried sometimes writing online.

      2. Critical Rolls*

        That little accent over the e makes a world of difference — too bad Americans only use it a fraction of the time! (Said as an American who would probably have to copy & paste from Beyonce’s wikipedia page to get that thing into a document.)

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          Yeah, it’s kind of difficult on US keyboards to get the accented or otherwise marked characters to come out right. I’ve even had to resort to the & plus character number followed by a colon unicode method get things like “é”, “ñ” or “ö” (e with accent, n with tilde, o with umlaut). Macs seem to handle it well, other OSes not so much.

          1. tamarack & fireweed*

            Nah, I switch between Mac, Windows and Linux and am in the US – you just have to select the “international” version of the US keyboard that is available in the system options.

            1. Curmudgeon in California*

              Ah. I wasn’t even aware there was a difference. That shows how much attention I pay to those settings.

  19. Lora*

    OP2: If you can get your hands on Kotter’s 8 steps for change management, it may be helpful to you. Basically, if any of the 8 steps (urgency for change, forming a coalition, creating a vision and strategy, communication of the vision, remove obstacles, creating short term wins, building on the change and anchor the changes in the corporate culture) are missing or poorly executed, the change will fail.

    Asking Why could be because the asker doesn’t feel any urgency to change (doesn’t understand what is driving it – pricing, competition, etc), could be because communication about the change wasn’t great, doesn’t understand that other groups affected need the change to happen, the vision and strategy is unclear to them, or…yeah, they could also fall under the Remove Obstacles part, where people who don’t get on board the Change Bus get run over by it. Whenever senior management rolls out a new Change Initiative, I always ask
    -What’s the budget?
    -Who are you willing to fire/demote if they don’t get on board with this?
    If the answer is, “we’ll spend $1000 for a motivational pizza party” and “fire anyone? goodness me no, we would never fire someone who doesn’t want to make this change!” then it’s not a real change and this is all just Change Theater. But in any case, Kotter’s model (there’s a book and a lot of online stuff) breaks down pretty clearly all the components necessary for changes to happen, and why it’s so hard to get things to change in real life.

    It also explains a lot of how the pandemic was/is mishandled by so many governments, which is another rant…

    1. hodie-hi*

      Thanks for recommending this. I am beginning the process of quantifying how my work brings value to the company and hope the result is more than just a better tool for me, more on the level of a cultural revolution. I will explore Kotter’s 8 steps and look for more resources.

  20. Llama Wrangler*

    #2: “I don’t understand why we’re doing X” can mean:
    * This is going to create extra work for me and I don’t see a benefit.
    * This is going to cause confusion / cause problems for my co-workers / create a big mess that I’m going to have to clean up when you are gone.
    * We will not be able to do our jobs as quickly / effectively / at all if we can’t do what we used to do.
    * Hmm, maybe it’s time for me to start looking for another job.

    In short, “I don’t understand why we’re doing X” doesn’t mean you need to talk over them and tell them why what they’ve been doing is wrong or you know more than they do.
    It means you need to ask some questions, LISTEN to what they are saying, and consider that the people actually doing the work might know something you don’t about the best way to get the job done. Ideally you’d have these conversation well before you start rolling out any changes.

    1. 3DogNight*

      I’m wondering if they’re asking a broader question than what OP#2 is answering. Like they’re saying “Why do we have to use Excel for this, now” and OP2 is saying “Because–insert valid reason” And the questioner says, “yes, but why do we have to use Excel for this, now?” Meaning not why we made the change, but maybe why they made the change they did, or maybe why they changed it now, instead of 7 years ago when we first asked for it, or why did we pick Excel over Lotus Notes.
      I’ve discovered through asking a lot of questions myself, I’ve not always been answering the question that’s really being asked, so I’m a little more sensitive to this now.

    2. SimplytheBest*

      The person you’re asking can’t read your mind. So if you want them to know it’s going to create extra work or confusion or stifle productivity, you actually have to say that. “I don’t understand why we’re doing x” doesn’t say any of that.

      1. tamarack & fireweed*

        But the LW isn’t asking anyone. They’re being asked. They have no control over how the people ask or why – they can only learn to do their job better managing the change they’re implementing.

    3. Worker bee*

      I have always been a “I don’t understand why we’re doing X” person. I’m not trying to be disagreeable or lazy, but because it helps me remember if I know the reason. If we’ve always used silver widgets with all teapots, but now we are using silver widgets with everything but blue teapots, I want to know that it’s because the metal in the widgets is reacting badly with the blue paint.

      However, I’ve also said that when I think whatever new procedure is a bad idea or not well thought out. Several years ago, my company launched a new program. I asked if everyone was going to be trained on how to use our software, since they need to know how it works to make the program successful and was told they weren’t. I made some suggestions, all were shot down, and we’re still dealing with the mess its made. And the suggestions I made years ago have resurfaced (with others suggesting them) and now they are viable, brilliant ideas, because they are solutions to a problem, rather than feedback on a potential thing.

      My company has a terrible habit of deciding we’re going to do something and not getting any feedback from the people who actually do the job or use the process on a daily basis. I used to be all gung ho about trying to improve things, but now I don’t bother unless I’m explicitly asked.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this. I need to understand the reason for a change to buy into it. Sure, sometimes change gets handed down from on high and it’s necessary to simply bite the bullet and implement it, even if grudgingly. But if I understand the reason for the change and can understand that it’s necessary for the organization as a whole, I can buy into it, even if it makes my job slightly harder, at least in the short term.

        All that said, I absolutely despise change for its own sake.

  21. Wintermute*

    I had a recruiter do this to me! They slipped in keywords on me in my “software expertise” section. I found them and removed them, and, being rather bold, confronted the recruiter. The recruiter assured me that it’s perfectly common practice and they do it with everyone because otherwise resumes don’t get past overly zealous keyword filtering even if you have the expertise for the role.

    I took this as a useful data point both on the IT field, the ethics of my recruiter, and the likely behavior of my competition, but I stood firm precisely because of a fear of just this happening. If they’re NOT just filtering for keywords and will never ask about it in the interview, I don’t want them to serve up a softball question that gets a complete mind-blank from me because I don’t actually know what I have “claimed” to know.

  22. Raboot*

    I feel like a lot of people responding to letter 1 need to reread the letter. The candidate had the name “Model A” on their resume. The candidate didn’t know the name “Model A” or why it was on their resume. The candidate seemed well-versed with the actual details of Model A, without knowing it was called Model A. Lots of answers are misreading at least one of these facts.

    1. irene adler*

      Thank you! The candidate DID know about the workings of Model A-per the LW. Just not the term. Maybe it’s been a while since candidate actually read over their own resume. Not smart, but hey, it happens.

      The advice to probe into this is sound. Seems that the LW did do this to ascertain that the candidate did know the Model A stuff.

      I find I don’t know things by the terms other companies use. Or they have terms for an entire function (think quality, documentation, stability, etc.) that I don’t recognize. I’m at a small company and lots of things get mushed together. I forget that big companies have clear separation into departments or discrete programs.

      Frustrates the heck out of me. I probably come off as some rube.

  23. Dezzi*

    I once got a resume from a candidate who had clearly copied and pasted from a template on Monster, changed a few things without proofreading the result, and sent it over.

    One of the bullet points in her list of “strengths” just said “Child Abuse”.

    I have no idea what she meant, but I’m pretty sure that wasn’t it.

  24. Curmudgeon in California*

    I’ve had this happen, where the recruiter added buzzwords to my resume. Some were okay, like like renaming tool “Fooey” to tool “Frazzle” because the name had changed in the time between the interview and when I last used it. (I covered this with knowing the background, that tool Fooey was renamed Frazzle because of a namespace type conflict.)

    Another time is was “Ummmm…. what? I don’t recall having used that…” and looking at the horribly mangled resume they had with my name, sort of my experience, and bad recruiter edits all over it. I keep my resume in a very simple format, and they had butchered it almost beyond recognition, including substituting their address and phone number for mine in a really gross font and crooked. I gave them a real copy and we went from there.

  25. 5’o clock somewhere*

    I trained myself in a program that is very important in my field and it was only when I started interviewing that I discovered that it’s name is pronounced completely different from the way I was saying it in my head! Maybe it’s like that?

  26. J3*

    #1– I’m a little surprised by how generous Alison’s answer here is! I’m someone who tends to give people a ton of benefit of the doubt and I would be very concerned if someone wasn’t familiar with the meaning of a phrase on their own resume. Totally understandable to not remember what from your background/experience is or isn’t included on a given version of your resume, but the situation described here would be a huge red flag for me.

    1. BritChickaaa*

      Even when it’s obvious the candidate IS very familiar with the programme in question, but simply knows it by a different name? And when we all know how frequently recruiters change people’s resumes without telling them?

    2. tamarack & fireweed*

      It would only be a red flag if the candidate had been unable to demonstrate familiarity with that “Model A” thing. Jargon can be downright byzantine, and misunderstandings can happen.

    3. Kevin Sours*

      There’s a lot to unpack. I think we sometimes lose focus on the point that the interview process is supposed to answer the question “is this candidate going to be able to do this job?” That includes things beyond skills a like integrity and ability to communicate. But interviewing is high stakes, people get bad advice, and people do stupid stuff as a result. It’s worth drilling down to find out *why* that term got on there. Because “I had somebody write my resume for me and didn’t realize they used that word” or “I used the term because it was in the job description and looked it up but forgot in the interim because we use this other term” are things that don’t exactly speak to an intent to deceive. And that’s leaving aside recruiters messing with things in transit. And gets back to the overall question of “can I see this person doing the job?” Because if the answer is yes, standing on ceremony isn’t in anybody’s best interest.

  27. Environmental Compliance*

    #1 – it really sounds to me like this was a recruiter edit to the term that your company uses rather than what his company uses. It is *kind of* weird that he was pretty unbothered, but that could have just been nerves.

    #2 – one of phrases that is the bane of my existence in HSE- the perpetual “whyyyys” and the “but we’ve always done it this way”. This is when you start asking more questions and try to figure out why they’re questioning why. Maybe they tried to do XYZ 7 years ago and it didn’t work. Maybe they see this causing a lot of extra work. Maybe they just hate change. But you need to do some investigating to see what’s actually behind the why-ing, because there just might be a really good reason behind the pushback.

    1. Kevin Sours*

      That *is* weird. I’ve had the “wait, what, is that on my resume?” moments before (and I can’t even blame a recruiter) and I pretty much said literally that. If it happens, being candid in the moment and explaining how it got there (or expressing perplexity about how it got there and providing a copy of the correct resume) is the strongest play.

  28. womp womp*

    #2: A huge number of my coworkers, when asked why they suggest we do X, will explain what problem X is attempting to address, why that problem is important, and give examples of things that could go wrong if we don’t address the problem… but they don’t actually link action X to the problem in any way. Any chance you’re focusing on the goal and not explaining how the new procedure achieves it?

  29. Worker bee*

    #1 – I’d also wonder if a recruiter made some edits. The software my company uses is called “Sockpuppet” and I had worked there well over a year before I realized that, since I used a part of Sockpuppet called “Wheat”. I’m now also very familiar with another part, called “iFork”, which I log into separately from Wheat.

    When I started in my new position, I had something called “DogJoy” on my computer. I had been there for several years and that was the first time I heard people mention it, so assumed it was something I’d never use. A couple of months later, my boss had IT add “Toys” as a shortcut on Wheat. I didn’t realize for months that Toys was a part of DogJoy and that DogJoy is part of Sockpuppet.

    Which is my very strange and longwinded way of saying that I could see myself putting that I know Wheat and iFork, but if recruiter changed that to Sockpuppet, it might take me a minute to know what they are talking about, since my company really only talks about Sockpuppet when we’re submitting a ticket or rolling our eyes about how annoying the software is to use.

    Gotta go! My at home version of DogJoy is alerting me to the fact that I haven’t used Toys in a few minutes and will soon prevent me from typing if I don’t take care of the situation.

  30. Sheldon Cooper*

    I had something similar happen last week. It was a new grad that had interned two summers ago. I asked about some of the bullet points (like, the bullet point was that he painted teapots and I asked him to tell me more about the tea pot painting he did at ABC Company) and his answer was “That was two years ago, so I’m not sure.”

  31. cmcinnyc*

    I once got halfway through a really great interview when one of the people asked me, “Tell me about A! I’m so intrigued by this!” And…what? Turned out they had someone else’s resume in their hand. It was so awful, because things had been going well and the rest of the interview was “wait, I might have it here” and “let me try to pull it up on my phone” blah blah blah and backtracking that they weren’t talking to Sally they were talking to Jane. I was a finalist for the position but nope. And I blame Sally’s resume.

  32. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

    This happened to me once as an interviewer. The candidate then said that his wife had written his resume.

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