I’m left out of work events, interviewer thought I was drunk, and more

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

1. I’m physically separated from my team and I’m getting left out

I transferred to a new role in a new building a few months ago. Half of the floor where my office is was full, the other half empty, with the two halves separated by patient exam rooms. Due to space, the only open office is at the complete opposite end of the floor, all by itself. While my coworkers are friendly when I venture out at break and lunch times to chat, there seems to be a habit of forgetting I’m here when it comes to social things. Examples would be ordering lunch out as a group, birthdays, etc. A couple of times before a holiday, staff was allowed to leave early, and nobody told me. I literally walked out to discover I had been in the building alone for what I found out later was a couple of hours. At Christmas, the front desk was decorated with a stocking hung for each employee — except for me. Apparently there is now a potluck and grab bag also planned for tomorrow, and nobody told me about that either. I scheduled patients during the event since I didn’t know to block time off.

I really don’t think it’s anything personal, as everyone has been friendly. I really think it’s geography — there is nothing at this end of the building anyone needs, so they forget about making a special trip just to find me. I would love to be able to move to an office by everyone else, but there truly isn’t one open.

I have made some comments about it being lonely down here and I don’t always know what is going on, and I always cheerfully did what I could to participate when finding things out at the last minute, but I haven’t directly said I’m feeling excluded because I don’t want to come off as overly sensitive or make others feel bad. But I’ll admit, I’m really starting to feel hurt when this keeps happening. What is a better way of making the point I want to be included without coming off unfavorably?

You’re not being overly sensitive! Most people would feel excluded in your shoes because you are in fact being excluded, even though it doesn’t sound like it’s intentional.

Is there one person who organizes most of these events, or one especially social person on the team? If so, talk to that person directly and say you’d like to be included in social stuff but think you’re being overlooked because you’re far away and ask if they can give a heads-up when those events are being planned.

It’s worth saying something to your boss too. Some of what you’ve been left out of sound like official team things, and it’s part of your manager’s job to ensure you’re included in those. Explain to your boss what’s been happening, say you really want to be included with the rest of team, and ask how you can ensure that you’re not left out in the future. You could suggest sending communications about team stuff to a team email list or in a team Slack channel where everyone will have the chance to see it.

Think, too, about ways you can stay visible to your coworkers. For example, if your team uses Slack, can you make a point of being active on there? Or stopping by the other part of the floor a few times a day (maybe getting your coffee there if that’s an option, or just having a conversation in person that you otherwise might have used IM for, etc.)? Putting yourself physically in their space more often might help you stay visible.

2. Interviewer thought I was drunk … it was side effects from a medication

I used to work in tech, as a web developer. I was looking for a job, and landed an interview at a super trendy business, with really good pay and benefits. I was thrilled.

I was also on the edge of a panic attack. I had mental illness issues, and they were not only not well managed, but I didn’t have access to good care. So the clinic doctor prescribed me Ativan to keep my panic attacks under control, and I was even told I could drive while on it (this would turn out to be false, and I’m VERY lucky I didn’t wind up in an accident back then). The Ativan worked great. I felt like I was the smartest, most confident person in the room.

Because I’d had panic attacks at previous interviews and had subsequently tanked them, I made sure I was loaded up with my wonder drug so I could ace this particular interview. I’d never had it for my interviews before, but I’d taken it at events so I knew I’d be great on it. (This is where you should be noticing the foreshadowing.)

I had my interview, did the code test, and went home thinking I’d mastered it. I should have seen the writing on the wall the next morning when I woke up, swore, and realized there were half a dozen other ways to have done the code test, all of which were better than what I did. But I was sure they’d have been paying attention to what it was I was trying to do instead, and I was charming and intelligent, so I was sure I’d be accepting a hiring email soon. The next day I got an email telling me they were not moving forward with my application. I asked what I could have done to improve, and the guy I’d interviewed with said, “Honestly, we don’t hire people who show up drunk to interviews.”

Turns out that confidence was me, acting like a drunk person, and I’m an obnoxious drunk. I never took the Ativan again.

How should I have handled this at the time? I was (and still am) utterly mortified at my behavior. Could I have explained the situation to the interviewer? Should I have told them I was not, in fact, drunk, but on a medication that had unforeseen side effects?

Oh no!

You could have written back something like, “I’m horrified that you thought that! I’m adjusting to a new medication that has side effects I didn’t foresee. I can assure you I have never drunk before any work event, let alone an interview, and I’m mortified if it appeared that I had. I’d be grateful for a chance to interview without the side effects in the way, if that’s something you’d consider.”

They might not have agreed to a re-do, but you’d have set the record straight in a way that would probably help if you ever wanted to apply there again (or, even if you didn’t, could still be helpful reputation-wise).

3. Surprise interview for an internal promotion

I recently applied for a promotion. Both my manager and I knew I did not have the desired experience, but my manager wanted me to apply so that I would be on the hiring manager’s radar when I do have the desired experience.

The hiring manager sent me an email asking for me to stop by for a “brief chat” later that same day. As the extent of my relationship with this individual was the occasional “hi, how are ya?” in the hallway, I assumed it would just to be an informal get-to-know-you. When I got to their office, it turned out to be a full-on job interview with the manager and their #2. I did not feel I was at my best because I had not prepared at all for a job interview and was not able to mention my full array of experiences that show I would be able to learn quickly in the new role. Am I wrong for thinking it was very unprofessional to have a “surprise interview”?

Agggh, I don’t know why people do this! If it’s going to be an interview, they should call it an interview. It’s inconsiderate not to, it doesn’t set you up for success, and it doesn’t set them up for success either, since they might have gotten a better sense of you as a candidate if you’d known what the conversation was going to be.

That said, it’s possible they took this approach because you and they both knew you didn’t have the experience they were looking for and so they were treating the process more informally than they would have otherwise. They might have seen it more as a perfunctory meeting they had to check the box on than anything else, and they might not have been fully in the loop on your manager’s “get on their radar for down the road” strategy.

For what it’s worth, I’m not a huge fan of what your manager suggested! Unless it’s a norm in your company to do that (and in some places it is), applying for a job you’re clearly not qualified for can come across as if you’re naive about what it takes to do the role or not accurately assessing your own skills. I wish she instead had encouraged you to set up a non-interview meeting with the hiring manager to express your interest in moving into that type of role in the future and to get advice on how to best position yourself to do that.

4. Declining to travel for a work event that feels unsafe

My role is 100% remote, but my team wants to get together for an in-person meet-up. We live around the country, so this would mean flying out to the meet-up place, spending multiple days in hotels and restaurants, and then flying home. I have an immunocompromised family member, and specifically looked for a remote role to keep them safe. I don’t feel safe or comfortable being part of this activity, but my team is very much pressuring everyone to participate. How do I politely decline? Is it possible to do so?

Unless your workplace is wildly dysfunctional, it should indeed be possible to decline. I’d say it this way: “I’m not able to fly or do trips yet because I have an immunocompromised family member who I’d be endangering. I’d be glad to attend virtually if that’s an option though.”

Read an update to this letter

5. Job posting asks for candidate with “low ego”

What does it mean when a job posting says they need someone with a “low ego”? It feels concerning but I can’t put my finger on quite what it implies about the workplace.

Often hiring managers are haunted by their last bad hire — meaning that when they’re hiring, they get disproportionately focused on avoiding whatever the problems were with the last person (often at the expense of screening for other important things). So it’s possible that’s what’s happening here — that the last person was heavily ego-driven, it caused problems, and they want to avoid it this time.

But it’s also possible that it says something about their culture — like that you need to have an unnaturally thick skin because you’re going to be harshly criticized all the time, or that you won’t get credit for your work. In fairness, it could be less negative too; it’s possible that it’s something relatively innocuous like “we have a specific voice for our brand, it’s hard to master, and you need to be comfortable with a real learning curve as you do.”

Since there are so many possibilities, you should ask if you end up interviewing. It’s fine to say, “Your ad said you’re looking for someone with a low ego. Can you tell me more about why you included that for this role?”

Read an update to this letter. 

{ 315 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Please no comments about which prescription narcotics you believe are better or worse to be prescribed or otherwise giving medical advice. I’ve removed some comments doing that below. Thank you.

  2. MK*

    OP2 has nothing to lose by sending the explanatory email, but the cynic in me says telling the interviewer “I wasn’t drunk, honest!” might not make a difference. These things happen, but the interviewer has no way to know if it’s just an excuse.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Nesting fail I assume, but: LW1 is in a medical office so they probably can’t work from home.

        1. Amanda*

          Depends on the work they do. Nurses can’t room patients from home, but I’m administrative. I can…and do…work 100% from home.

          1. Katt*

            The LW seems to want to be part of those team events, too. Working from home would not help that situation. Anyway, they mentioned scheduling a patient during one of those events, so presumably they see people in their office.

    1. allathian*

      I agree that “I wasn’t drunk, honest” would probably not make a difference. And I’m not really sure that having to explain that I appeared drunk because I was adjusting to new medication would be much better. It’s certainly more medical information than I’d be comfortable sharing, especially with someone I barely knew.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Acting weird because of a new medication is something that can happen, and I’d be very sympathetic towards someone who had that experience, like the OP.

        However, with someone you’ve just met, and only interacted with in person when they were in an chemically impaired mental state that was indistinguishable from being drunk, I’d be really wary of believing them when they claimed to not actually have been drunk, honest, it was just a new medication. There’s no evidence one way or another, and hiring someone who shows up drunk to an interview is something you really don’t want to do.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I think the benefit to OP would be along the lines “If I encounter someone from that interview in future, then they might be more open to giving me a second chance to make a positive impression if ‘that was a bad drug reaction’ is out there as an explanation.”

          1. Colette*

            Yeah, exactly. I wouldn’t expect it to make a difference to this job, necessarily, but it might make a difference in the future, and it at least raises the possibility of a different explanation.

          2. quill*

            Yeah, it says less about your judgement and makes it appear far more likely that it won’t happen again. It probably won’t give you a do-over on the interview you tanked, but it probably prevents people from speaking about how unreliable you are.

        2. Michelle Smith*

          The fact that the person didn’t smell at all like alcohol would be a huge clue that they were, in fact, telling the truth about the medication. Someone who has been drinking a lot smells like it, in the same way you can often tell someone is a smoker just by sitting in the same room as them.

          1. Cj*

            I got fired from a job once because they claimed I was drinking at work. Like the OP, I had taken a new medication that did make me seem like I was drunk. But like you mentioned, I would have smelled like booze if I had been drinking. They were walking,/sitting, extremely close to me and there is no way they want to smell that if it really was the case.

            They tried to deny my unemployment, and this is the one of the things that came up at the hearing. They had to admit they never smelled alcohol on me.

            They violated laws and their own rules by not testing me, and allowing to go into drug rehab if I really had been drinking. The unemployment judge actually commented on this, and was kind of hinting to me I could sue them offer these violations. But I hated that job, and was glad I was out of there.

            The worst part is it’s hard to explain when asked if you were ever fired from a job. At least the OP doesn’t have to deal with that. I hope their industry isn’t small enough that it gets around.

          2. Cait*

            Yeah, unfortunately that’s not ironclad. Even if they couldn’t smell booze, OP could’ve been high for all they knew. I think an explanation couldn’t hurt, esp. if the OP doesn’t want it getting around the industry that they show up intoxicated to interviews and potentially hurt their chances with another employer. It may not completely stop the gossip but it would at least put an asterisk on it.

          3. Ana Gram*

            Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. I’m a cop and certain liquors, like vodka, are basically impossible to smell on people.

            1. Generic Name*

              Hmm, the “smell of alcohol” isn’t the smell of a certain drink, it’s the smell of alcohol metabolization, which has a very distinctive odor. So you’re not smelling whiskey or a mint julep or whatever on someone, you’re smelling a person’s body breaking down the alcohol.

            2. BdotL*

              Yeah, this is the oldest “myth” in the books. My grandfather was a drunk who swore by vodka because it was, he thought, indiscernible. Instead, he reeked of alcohol on the regular.

              1. Ana Gram*

                Weird, I could never smell vodka on people. Tequila, scotch, Bailey’s (thanks, alcoholic mom…) etc. all had obvious smells but never vodka. Could just be me.

              2. Butterfly Counter*

                It depends on the vodka. The cheap stuff high schoolers can get their hands on stinks to high heaven. I drank it in high school and swore off vodka for the next 20 years.

                But the “good stuff” doesn’t have much taste or smell to me. There is some, but I’ve found I actually like some vodka after actively HATING it for decades.

                1. Ana Gram*

                  Yeah, that’s probably a factor. I don’t drink (alcoholism runs in the family) but I could typically sniff out everything but vodka. Most people I arrested for public intoxication were very happy to tell me what they’d been drinking but I never asked about the brand!

            3. Nanani*

              You might just have a lower-than-average scent sensitivity.
              Or are often dealing with it mixed with other strong smells like tobacco.

            4. Cj*

              This was a thing that went around when I was in high school. We thought that if we drink Vodka for going to a school dance or whatever, that nobody would be able to smell it. My husband can smell it on me, so I think it’s probably an old wives tale

          4. Two Dog Night*

            Apparently the ability to smell alcohol varies a lot by person. I used to work with an alcoholic, and I never could smell alcohol on them, while other people could.

          5. Caroline Bowman*

            I think this was a remote interview, but honestly, I have no idea why, during the interview, they didn’t stop and say, OP, you sound quite slurry / high / drunk. Have you been drinking or is there a reason for this? They went through the whole thing and said nothing at all till after.

          6. justabot*

            I think the biggest issue is that they were in an altered state of mind which is a huge red flag. An adverse reaction to a medication is one thing, but when you’re clearly amped up on some kind of benzo or narcotic or upper, I don’t know that it makes much difference if you blame it on a medication.

        3. SheLooksFamiliar*

          I’d be sympathetic, too. I was once prescribed a muscle relaxer that made me a ‘happy drunk’ at work: ‘Awww, I loooooove you guys! Really, you’re the BEST! You brought me coffee? Awww, you guys! (giggle fit)’ And so on.

          My boss knew I wasn’t drinking on the job – no alcohol smell, and she saw me take the meds – but my team wasn’t really sure at first. Took a while to live that one down.

          Yeah, I’d be sympathetic to the OP.

        4. Yorick*

          If I received the response, I might wonder if they were really telling the truth. But I would at least know it’s possible they weren’t drunk, and I might give them a second chance in the future. And if I told anyone about it, I’d include “but they claimed it was a side effect of medication,” so it might help their reputation.

        5. Wintermute*

          That’s kind of where I come down. “medication side effects” is overused to the point of trope. It’s the new “tired and emotional”– celebs use it when wanting to not admit to being drunk or high (and I cannot count the number of celebrities that have used that excuse on one hand), it’s a tainted excuse it just rings false to a lot of people’s ears.

        6. Observer*

          However, with someone you’ve just met, and only interacted with in person when they were in an chemically impaired mental state that was indistinguishable from being drunk, I’d be really wary of believing them when they claimed to not actually have been drunk, honest, it was just a new medication. There’s no evidence one way or another, and hiring someone who shows up drunk to an interview is something you really don’t want to do.

          I think that I would not hire them. But I do think that it could be useful for helping to repair long term reputational damage. If I were really convinced that someone showed up drunk to an interview, I would probably mark them as “Do not hire ever”. If that person gave me reason to believe that they might not have been drunk, then I still probably wouldn’t hire them, but I also wouldn’t mark them as no eligible to hire. Which means that people who don’t know the person don’t have this black mark in their heads about a person they don’t know.

          For instance, we have a drug free policy where I work. We’ve never done testing, because no one cares what you do on your own time. Just don’t show up impaired nor bring the smell of weed into the office. We had one staff person who was bringing the smell in – I’m not sure but I suspect that they were actually taking a smoke break to get a few puffs in. In any case, they were spoken to and nothing changed. They’ve been let go, and no one who was involved with them will ever consider their resume again – and I suspect that this will be the case even if those people move to a different company. (By the way, they never denied that they were using or that the smell was something else that smelled like seed.)

          If they had been let go just for the flakiness, their reputation would have taken a MUCH lower hit.

      2. Cthulhu's Librarian*

        Also, aside from how comfortable you are sharing the information, the truth is that sometimes, if the behavior is problematic enough, the reasons behind it don’t matter to the people making the decision. An extreme but real example from when I worked as a substitute teacher – “I kissed a student on the lips because my new medication altered my behavior” and “I kissed a student on the lips because I was drunk” didn’t really have a difference where the parents, school board, or administration were concerned.

        1. cubone*

          This is a really underrated point. It’s unfair and stigmatizing, but I definitely think there are people out there who would think if the physical reactions you’re experiencing on a new medication can be confused for drunkenness, then you should’ve asked to change or move the interview, regardless of how necessary the medication is for your health.

          People are good at saying “it’s important to prioritize your health” but a lot of them mean “if the impacts of taking care of your health don’t impact me or make me uncomfortable”.

      3. Batgirl*

        I’d probably just go with: “This feedback is more useful than you know because I didn’t realise I appeared drunk. I was under the impression that some medication I was on was working brilliantly, and for obvious reasons I don’t remember the problems that were so obvious to you. This is clearly important information for me to have, so thanks again.” I wouldn’t expect much from it, but I would just have to explain and show gratitude that they were frank!

    2. Julia*

      I disagree – if I received the email Alison suggested, I’d believe the candidate. It’s professionally written, she offers a specific reason for the behavior, and she acts appropriately mortified.

      I admit I’m having trouble putting myself in the position of someone who would not immediately correct the record if this happened. OP, weren’t you desperate to clear your name? I get feeling embarrassed for a while, but surely it would feel more embarrassing to let them go on thinking you had been drunk.

      1. Wendy Darling*

        I can absolutely imagine myself just trying to pretend that never happened and never showing my face near that company again! I’d probably assume they wouldn’t believe me if I tried to tell them and/or that “I’m adjusting to a new medication” would be taken as “I wasn’t drunk, I was HIGH!”

        This is because I am also very anxious. When my anxiety is kicking off I assume everyone thinks the worst of me.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          ^ also there IS stigma against a lot of medication and while OP obviously wouldn’t disclose what the medication was or was for, a lot of us on medication are hesitant to believe that sharing that information would work in our favor.

      2. Beth*

        I can absolutely imagine myself in the position of someone who would not immediately correct this if it happened. Step 1: get this email. Step 2: be wildly and paralyzingly mortified. Step 3: resolve to hide under my bed for the next decade. Step 4: Change my name, change my look, reemerge into society under a new fake identity, carefully never speak to any of these people again just in case they connect the dots to my former self.

        Having done a fair bit of therapy work on my anxiety at this point, I wouldn’t *actually* follow this plan. But I’d be very tempted, and I can easily see how a person might spin out and not manage to write a professional response in a timely manner.

        1. Julia*

          Haha, I do, actually. I’m on four different medications. But my anxiety manifests in different ways, I guess. In a situation like this my anxiety would make me reach out rather than keep silent. But this thread is certainly educational as to how anxiety can manifest!

        2. Ccjr*

          I could definitely see it going both ways. I’m on anxiety meds and would’ve ruminated on this until I did something, so definitely would have responded through email. If it were a phone call, I probably wouldn’t have been able to, but it would’ve bugged me so much I’d have followed up with an email, even if that didn’t make a lot of sense for the situation.
          Anxiety can manifest in a lot of different ways, and for me it definitely includes an inability to just drop things and move on.

      3. KateM*

        Do you need anxiety medication? If not, it’s not particularly surprising that you can’t put yourself in OP’s poition, is it.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, I agree. I’ve fortunately never been anxious to the point of paralysis, and I’ve never needed medication for it, but I can easily imagine that someone might be so mortified by a situation like that that they’d just want to move on from it. For big deal things like interviews, I usually only get slightly nervous. My anxiety hits me out of nowhere in little things. For example, I almost always wear pants with pockets, and I keep my keys in my right front pocket, but whenever I’m out of the house, I keep checking that I still have them there umpteen times a day.

          Given the stigma that mental illness carries, I’m not sure that revealing that you’re impaired because you’re adjusting to a new anxiety medication would improve your chances for getting the job as opposed to being impaired because you’re drunk. I’d only ever consider revealing this if I was looking for a job with a non-profit that’s involved in mental health advocacy, or something.

            1. ecnaseener*

              Definitely not! Plenty of medications for non-psychiatric conditions have mental side effects.

              1. Curmudgeon in California*

                Agreed. One medication I was on made me feel and act completely stoned. When on it, I felt like I was floating, untethered, 6 inches off the ground. I would sit for hours, mesmerized by the screen saver on my work computer. I was spacey and ineffective.

                It wasn’t supposed to be psychotropic, and my doctor at the time was dismissive. I had to get my spouse to back me up to get him to switch it.

                The medication was for preventing seizures.

                1. Rainy*

                  Yeah, I was going to say–there’s a pretty common anti-migraine med that causes a ton of side effects, extremely variable by person. I’ve had a couple of friends who’ve tried it in the past. Some can tolerate it, but I had a friend who had constant low level expressive aphasia while taking it, and another who got stupid and giggly.

              2. Princesss Sparklepony*

                Definitely! I got put on different birth control pills and it made me nuts. I didn’t realize until the six week mark when in one day I slammed a freezer door on my SO’s hurt shoulder and then kicked a box with a big AC unit in it and broke my big toe. (Can’t remember why I was so mad and it was abnormal behavior for me.) Had a chat with my SO who said I’d been getting progressively nuts over the past month. Did some thinking and bingo, the new BC pills was the only change Called my gyno the next morning and got new pills that afternoon. They knew it was a possible side effect. (Gee, thanks for the crazy making pills…) A few days later, right as rain.

          1. Anon for this one*

            I don’t think LW has anything to lose in this situation, though. They don’t need to specify what condition the meds were treating.

            As it is now, the interviewer thinks LW showed up drunk. That’s very bad. If LW discloses that they were taking a new medication with unexpected side effects, I can see three outcomes:

            * The interviewer doesn’t believe them. No change in the situation.
            * The interviewer believes them, and gives them a second chance. Great outcome.
            * The interviewer believes them, but for whatever reason doesn’t give them another chance. Maybe the position is filled, maybe the interviewer thinks that taking an untried med for the first time right before a job interview is poor judgement, who knows. But they’re still no worse off than they are now.

            As I see it, when the status quo is “interviewer thinks you showed up drunk”, there are few ways to make it worse.

            1. Willis*

              The fourth (and most likely option in my mind) is that they don’t know what to believe and don’t care to find out, particularly if they have other equally qualified candidates that don’t present a dilemma for them.

              1. Umiel12*

                This is the position I would take. I worked as a substance abuse counselor for years, and I had many experiences of job candidates showing up in an altered state, as well as guest speakers, new hires on their first day, etc. I realize most of you are not in this situation, but I would rather err on the side of caution than risk hiring someone who showed up in an altered state of mind regardless of any explanation they offered.

        2. Observer*

          If not, it’s not particularly surprising that you can’t put yourself in OP’s poition, is it.

          That’s not really it, though. @Julia says that she actually does take anxiety meds, and I can believe it. Between my experience with people who have anxiety and stories I’ve seen (including on this site*), it’s very easy to believe that someone’s anxiety would push them to clarify – even to a point where it’s counter productive.

          *The most memorable one that I can think of is the person who flipped out that a coworker went home without saying good night. It was whole drama that lead to that OP being fired. Things finally got better when they found a better therapist.

          1. Julia*

            Yes, thank you for bringing that up! That example was actually one I was thinking about in this context, because I could relate to that letter-writer – I mean obviously that was an extreme example, but I could relate to the impulse of constantly wanting to reach out and clear the air. When I think people don’t like me or have rejected me, my first impulse is always to reach out. Often that is not the right move because my anxiety has completely fabricated the problem and they have no idea what I’m talking about. But yeah, it’s all an example of the different ways anxiety can affect your behavior.

      4. Forrest*

        Oh man, I’m not at all anxious, but I absolutely can. I would almost certainly write the email, read it over, realise that it all sounds like a high-pitched excuse of dubious honesty, and not send it. The chances that it’s going to inspire someone to give me another chance are slim; the chances that it’s going to make them think better of me (but not actually re-open the application process) vs. think worse of me seem about even. But frankly, I don’t care that much about “clearing my name”: there is no difference to me between someone erroneously thinking the wrong thing about me or correctly thinking the right thing about me if it’s not going to have any material impact on my chances of getting the job.

        This is not to say that bad drug experiences don’t happen or that anyone who sent such a message would be in the wrong, just that, for me personally, the bar of “is this actually going to change anything or just make me sound desperate” is going to land firmly on the latter side and I would simply cut my losses and run.

        1. londonedit*

          Same…I don’t have anxiety (well, no more than anyone else who’s lived through the last two years) but I can be extremely self-critical and I think the utter mortification at having so spectacularly cocked up the interview would mean there was no way I could bring myself to try to explain. I’d just want to crawl into a cave and never speak to anyone connected with that job again.

          1. new*

            Yeah, but people change organizations all the time. Clean it up as much as you can for the future.

    3. Myrin*

      Yeah, if she had had this advice when the situation happened, I would encourage her to follow it, but only because I’d think that it might make a difference – but it honestly might as well (and maybe even likelier) not make a difference at all.

      1. Covered in Bees*

        There’s nothing to lose, at that point, in trying to set the record straight. There’s also some peace of mind in knowing you tried.

        1. allathian*

          Maybe. I’m still not convinced, simply because if it becomes widely known that you have a mental health issue that’s severe enough for you to need medication for it could be just as much a black mark against you as having an alcohol abuse issue that’s severe enough that you’re drunk during working hours, depending on the field and the company. Sure, it’s illegal to discriminate on the basis of someone’s mental health status, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, or that you’d have any recourse if it does happen. Employers will find a reason not to hire you regardless.

          1. Antilles*

            “New medication” on its’ own doesn’t read as “mental health issue” though. There are plenty of medications unrelated to mental health with weird side effects.

            1. fleapot*

              Agreed! It would be hard to draw any reasonable conclusion about a person’s health from the email Alison suggested, just because there are *so* many medications that could make a person seem “drunk.” Anxiety meds, sure. But also pain meds, muscle relaxants, antihistamines…

              Which is not to say that some employers won’t leap (illegally) from “groggy from pain meds” to “has a serious condition that will inconvenience me.”

              (Based on my own extremely negative experiences, I always advise people to think very carefully before they disclose a disability to their employer.)

            2. SarahKay*

              So true. I got put on a high dose of Co-Codamol when I was suffering a particularly bad attack of sciatica. I felt tipsy on it, and on top of that I suffered massive nausea if I stood for too long. I imagine I might easily have looked like someone who’d drunk too much to someone who didn’t know me.

          2. Annika Hansen*

            But you don’t have to specify that it is a mental health issue. I believe that you shouldn’t have to hide mental health issues, but I also live in the real world where I realize there is a stigma. We had a new hire that just started a new diabetes drug. It caused her blood sugar to drop suddenly. She seemed like she was drunk. Luckily, her officemate knew she was a diabetic and recognized the symptoms. The new hire was horrified. We were just happy she was OK.

          3. Anon all day*

            Maybe this is a cultural thing? Because I find it so odd that you think it’s a bigger reputation hit to be on some kind of medication rather than showing up drunk to a job interview.

            1. Joielle*

              Yeah, same. A solid 75% of the people I know take some kind of medication for anxiety or depression (me included) and so to me, it’s a MUCH MUCH smaller deal for someone to think you have a mental illness than to think you were drunk at a job interview. I wonder if that’s partially generational – I know my mom, for example, would rather die than acknowledge that she or any of us have anxiety (hyperbole, but barely).

              1. Properlike*

                But see, if someone mentioned “medication” I wouldn’t necessarily assume it’s mental health related! Maybe because I’m one of those people for whom any given medication usually doesn’t act in the same way it acts for most people. In high school, my teacher thought I was high because I kept nodding off in gym class. I’d taken cold medicine. *Non-drowsy* cold medicine.

                Yeah, not so much.

            2. Nanani*

              The problem is that letting a potential employer know you have health issues -at all- is a thing a lot of people want to avoid, for discrimination reasons. Especially in places where employment and healthcare are tied together.

              1. pinot*

                Yes but it’s better than letting them think you showed up to an interview drunk. The OP needs to choose between one bad possibility and one possibility that’s not ideal but is a lot better.

        2. Forrest*

          There is something to lose! There’s my time in writing that email, and the kind of low-level “will they get back to me, is that door still open, are they reading that and thinking even worse of me” niggle. For me, that would be a much greater discontent of mind than, “Oh crap, they thought I was DRUNK?! Yikes, well, I wasn’t, not going to take Ativan again, onwards and upwards.”

          It’s just a trade-off– for some people, they’ll get closure knowing they sent that email off and tried, and others will get closure knowing they made the decision not to send that email and not to try. Both are perfectly legitimate ways of moving on, and neither is better than the other!

          1. Empress Matilda*

            Oh, interesting – I never thought of it that way!

            Personally, I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night without at least trying to explain why I bombed so badly. Even if they don’t believe me, I would much rather try to explain than leave them thinking I didn’t care at all. But on the other hand, there’s also value in letting the interviewer think whatever they’re going to think, and writing the whole thing off as a learning experience.

            Either way, OP, it’s time to let it go now! It sounds like this interview was a while ago, so there’s nothing you can do about it any more. Maybe write that apology email in a Word doc, if that would make you feel better. But otherwise, try not to beat yourself up about it. You did the best you could at the time, and that’s all anyone can ask.

          2. justabot*

            I can see sending the email and apologizing for the behavior and state that it was due to a medication, but I would not ask for another interview. I think that ship has sailed.

    4. Oakenfield*

      Honestly, the fact that OP took extra *Ativan* “made sure I was loaded” in fact, before an interview comes across as wildly reckless and as poor judgement. The interviewer has no way of knowing they took too much, and saying they were adjusting to a new medication seems disingenuous when in fact they had recklessly up-dosed. It’s possible that particular job wouldn’t have come at a good time for OP and that the company dodged a bullet.

      1. Anon for this*

        Not trying to give prescription drug advice here, but Ativan is like magic for anxiety, however, I found I could take a much lower level than my doc started me out with. It’s powerful stuff and if you’re not used to it I can totally see how this would have happened.

      2. Evan Þ.*

        FWIW, I didn’t interpret that as taking extra Ativan; I read that as OP making sure they took their normal dose.

      3. ---*

        There’s a lot of judgment in this comment. I read the OP as taking medication to ensure they were off-setting the anxiety before it set in, with “loaded up” being a turn of phrase here. That’s not poor judgment or reckless, that’s reasonable.

        You’re introducing the recklessness element twice over and deciding that that is actually what happened, then calling them “disingenuous” because of it.

        It’s not helpful.

        1. Anonymous Lawyer*

          Well, if you don’t mean you took a lot, “loaded up” is a pretty flip way to describe taking benzos in advance of an interview. Whether it was the recommended dose or more, it still comes off as being an intentional and poorly thought out decision.

          Doesn’t make her a bad person, just, it isn’t so different from being drunk at an interview that it would justify a re-do (in my opinion of course) and this “unexpected reaction to meds” approach does not change that at all in my opinion. It does show a poor judgment call. So, take your lumps, and don’t repeat the error.

      4. Batgirl*

        I thought it was merely OP being expressive; I didn’t get the impression she upended the lot into her wide open jaw!

      5. Anonymous Lawyer*

        To me, there is almost no difference between interviewed drunk and interviewed high on benzos, which is the truth. Whether she has anxiety or was prescribed the drug or not that is what happened (no judgment on taking anxiety meds- I do that too). Taking a medication people abuse regularly before an interview without thinking it through sounds about like having a cocktail first. You might seem fine, or it could knock you on your a$$. If it didn’t occur to someone to google a medication they weren’t used to before taking it for an interview, that is not great planning. And its not like doctors give it out like candy without mentioning it can get you high and can be addictive. If this was unintentional, it was reckless. Pass.

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          It doesn’t sound like they were given very reliable info about the meds in that she thought she could drive while on it…

    5. moonstone*

      Yeah, I would just let this go. While I’ve never been drugged in one, I tend to be very inarticulate when I’m very nervous and some of my early career interviews were doozies. Pretty sure the interviewers thought I was crazy. I still cringe when I remember them but whatever, I survived. I never saw the interviewers again.

      1. moonstone*

        That being said, if I had gotten the email accusing me of being drunk, I probably would have responded with something along the lines of what Alison wrote and an apology, but I wouldn’t ask for another interview. It would just be to set the record straight so they didn’t think I got recklessly drunk before an interview.

  3. MT*

    OP5, I’ve heard one of my more positive traits is that I am low ego. In this context, it was that I never took correction/change/readjustment personally and rolled with the punches. Boss had 10 back and forth changes to a PowerPoint? Sure, I don’t care, I have no emotional attachment to how this looks. If I’m being creative while making some flyers and my boss goes “oooh, sorry we actually wanted this completely differently,” I’m fairly whatever about it. If someone makes a mistake that makes my life harder, I don’t automatically assume they’re out to get me. It’s probably just an accident. Etc. Also have heard low ego and low drama as something that went hand in hand

    1. Allonge*

      Thanks for the example, I was having trouble visualising what low ego means in practice, but this makes a lot of sense and indeed desirable.

      1. Siege*

        That is really not always the case. My job requires low-ego investment in the way MT describes. In practice it means putting out substandard products because I’m not allowed to be invested in the best practices I’ve studied as the only designer and only person with a design background on the team. It’s good to not be pitching a fit when someone asks for a reasonable change; it’s bad to be required to be a doormat.

        1. Allonge*

          it’s bad to be required to be a doormat

          Oh absolutely, that is why I was confused by this requirement in a vacancy – I would expect very few companies admit they need doormats.

      2. Wintermute*

        I have worked in fields where “low ego” absolutely is a requirement and another way it can look as “I present ideas but I have no massive attachment to the ideas I present. If client/boss/whoever goes with another idea that isn’t mine I can detach myself from thoughts of ‘but My idea was better!’ and be enthusiastic and dedicated to delivering on the idea we did go with.”

        It can also look like not having too much of a stake in solutions because they fall into your wheelhouse. If we have four automation techniques that we use in the business, and we have a project to automate a bunch of stuff, or three programming languages we use in-house and several different kinds of applications to code, your specialist technology will be the best fit for some, will not fit well for others. Low ego can mean admitting when the thing you’re really good at is not the best tool for the job as opposed to getting a bad case of “I have a hammer, all problems MUST be nails”.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      Also, someone who can easily admit when they’re wrong, or when they’ve made a mistake, is happy to share credit when it’s due, doesn’t get involved in pointless territory battles and pissing contests, and is more concerned with things getting done properly than increasing their status. Note that being passive aggressive rather than aggressive-aggressive isn’t low ego, and high ego can manifest differently in different cultures.

      As with many positive personality traits, going too extreme can also be problematic – you do need a certain amount of willingness to blow your own horn and claim credit, or defend yourself against false accusations, or it can get you into trouble.

      1. Smithy*

        I really like how these are summed up – and also think it’s worth viewing why any specific position calls itself out as low ego. Some jobs typically attract and are well served by people with higher egos that are fed by credit, seeing their ideas adopted, having and maintaining domain over an area, positively representing themselves/the company externally etc. So if you have a kind of job, where even in the most functional and well run work environments people benefit from ego driven rewards – and they are seeking someone low ego….that’s something to explore.

        I will say, that while there’s a number of ways to interpret this from afar – this does strike me as something that could be indicative of a very self reflective and thoughtful workplace….or something weird and reactionary. Just that it’s not frequently seen in job descriptions, so definitely worth asking questions.

      2. Ama*

        Yes, I think they might be using “low ego” in place of the very common “sense of humor” that a lot of job postings use (which usually means they are looking for someone who can roll with the punches and not take it too personally when things go wrong). But it’s so uncommon that I think it may not quite read the way they think it does.

        1. moonstone*

          The problem is that it is vague. A lot of the characteristics people have described in this thread are very good ones to have in a job, but then the job description should be more specific about which one it is. Personally, my initial thought when I read “low ego” was “low self esteem”. Basically, an employee who was a doormat who wouldn’t stand up for their rights if they were being exploited, which doesn’t make the job sound very appealing!

    3. Chili pepper Attitude*

      I’m like MT, I don’t take those kinds of suggestions and experiences personally. And I agree those kinds of things are often described as low ego. But I think we can not take them personally because we have a well-developed ego and strong sense of self that is not dependent on others.

      So I think all those things, as well as the examples added by AcademiaNut, are what the employer in this case probably wanted, I think they are the sign of a well-developed ego that is not dependent on outside validation.

      1. Emmy Noether*

        This is interesting. I think in common usage, “ego” is often used to refer to negative behaviors. Having a well-developed ego like you mean it, in the sense of being secure in one’s self-esteem, is ironically probably the best basis for the desired “low-ego” behaviours. It’s more of a “low-maintenance ego”.

      2. Forrest*

        Yes, this is how I use ego too. I think a strong ego is someone who is secure in themselves and perfectly capable of taking criticism, being flexible, rolling with punches, letting slights roll off them etc, and someone with a low ego as being someone who needs constant validation, bigs themselves up, gets arsey over criticism and so on. So I’m always surprised by people treating “low ego” as a positive.

        1. AY*

          When I first read the letter, I interpreted it the same way. But that negative version of low ego that you’re describing and I was envisioning is really just low self confidence.

        2. ecnaseener*

          Yeah, that’s my interpretation too. To me, low ego sounds like low self-esteem so I would’ve steered clear of this posting. (The dictionary tells me we’re both right: egotism and self-esteem are both listed as definitions of ego.)

          1. ecnaseener*

            PS: I googled “low ego” to see how it’s commonly used, and I mostly got results for how to build up “low ego strength!”

            So i would probably say job postings should pick a different word to avoid confusing their applicants. Humility maybe.

            1. Empress Matilda*

              I also read it as “low self-esteem,” and I would have serious concerns about any job description that included that as a requirement! But yeah, they probably did mean something like “team player, willing to accept feedback” kind of thing.

              Feedback for whoever wrote that job ad: use unambiguous language so as not to scare away potential applicants. :)

        3. Antilles*

          Interestingly, I actually see this as the exact opposite.
          Someone who’s got a “big ego” is someone whose arrogance gets in the way of their actual performance – too prideful to admit mistakes, doesn’t listen to the idea of others, etc. So it’s past self-confidence and over the line into hubris (also known as “ugh, that jerk”).
          Whereas someone with “low ego” isn’t prideful and is willing to do what it takes to get stuff done – you just care about getting the right answer even if someone else suggested it, you admit to errors immediately when they’re still fixable, you’re willing to get your hands dirty if that’s what it takes.

          1. Anon all day*

            I agree with you. I see low ego as someone who isn’t “me me me” and doesn’t think that everything they do is perfect.

          2. Jora Malli*

            I think low and high is the wrong way of characterizing it. Everyone has an ego, and saying some people’s egos are bigger or smaller than others feels kind of like saying someone’s “a little bit pregnant.” I think the difference is more about whether or not you’re tending and maintaining your ego. A well tended ego is less likely to be threatened by external changes and will probably be less visible to other people, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

          3. Squishy*

            I am a software developer who recently moved to a new company and knew it was going to be a good fit when the hiring manager told me that they had a low-ego team. I think it depends on the context and industry. The “low ego” reference here means exactly what you said, @Antilles — a way to signal the antithesis of the stereotypical toxic rockstar developer who thinks they are going to come in and singlehandedly fix everything. It signals collaboration and openness to feedback.

          4. londonedit*

            Yes – I’ve never heard ego described as ‘low’ or ‘high’ but I certainly have worked with someone who had…let’s say a highly developed sense of their own importance. It was a nightmare. They were almost solely focused on how they could get ahead and how other people saw them, and as a result they were the opposite of a team player. They didn’t see why they should do the bits of their job description that were designed to directly help me do my job properly (because there was, as they saw it, nothing in it for them) and after they’d kicked up a huge fuss about (and got) a promotion, they then refused to do the bits of their job description that they deemed ‘beneath them’, lest anyone think they were still ‘just’ an assistant (it was a really small team and we ALL had to pitch in and do everything, even the boss). I’d call that having a big ego – strutting around like you own the place and not understanding (or wanting to understand) how to work as part of a team.

        4. Koalafied*

          I’m not sure I’ve even heard the term before, so it’s definitely weird and without a sufficiently commonly understood meaning. “Big ego” and “small ego” – yes, those are well known. A big ego is one that takes up a lot of space – it’s not necessarily strong or confident, but it’s going to make its presence felt by sucking up all the air in the room. A small ego might be rock-solid and reassuringly competent, but isn’t filling the room and demanding to be paid attention to and trying to run the show all the time the way a big ego would.

          But “high ego” and “low ego?” That sounds totally different, and too much like “high self-esteem” and “low self-esteem” for me to feel confident deciding whether it means “low self-esteem” or “small ego.”

      3. Anon for this one*

        “Strong sense of self” and “well-developed ego” are not the same thing!

        I would consider that I have a strong sense of self, and that ALSO I have a low ego! I don’t need to be noticed or prominent or any of that stuff that gets associated with ego. I know I’m awesome, I don’t need to be grabbing credit everywhere for all the big projects and get that external validation. I never in a billion years would have seen “big ego” as a positive for someone I want to work with, though I know a lot of people do see it as one. I don’t need that kind of drama.

        So you would see “he’s got a big ego” as an indicator that someone is pleasant and easy to work with? Wow!

        1. Koalafied*

          To me your response illustrates exactly what makes this such a weird phrase – the opposite of “big” isn’t “low” – it’s “small.” While short people are indeed both smaller and lower to the ground than tall people, the two qualities don’t always map together that neatly.

          For instance, if I said something made a “low-level effort” I’m most likely saying they didn’t try very hard relative to what I think they could have done. If I say they made a “small effort” I’m probably suggesting the job was a small one that didn’t require a lot of effort.

          If I say a creek is low, it probably means there’s a drought and the creek has much less water in it than usual. If I say a creek is small, it probably just means it’s a small body of water.

          “Low” seems to be much more value-laden in implying that something is lacking or incomplete, whereas small is more of a value-neutral description of the size of something.

      4. Properlike*

        Having worked in Hollywood, to me “low ego” means “willingness to be abused, screamed at, do all those ridiculous personal tasks for a helpless adult, have no boundaries, never complain.”

        All the other definitions sound completely workable, in terms of collaboration. I would have self-selected out of any job that listed this without that context.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          Having worked in Hollywood, to me “low ego” means “willingness to be abused, screamed at, do all those ridiculous personal tasks for a helpless adult, have no boundaries, never complain.”

          All the other definitions sound completely workable, in terms of collaboration. I would have self-selected out of any job that listed this without that context.

          I’ve never been to Hollywood, but everywhere I’ve worked, “low ego” has been a defacto polite way of saying “easily and effectively bullied.” I’d self-select out without a second thought as well.

      5. Smithy*

        I’d first like to say that because ego has both academic context/definitions as well as common usage – using it in a job description outside of psychology is likely to have a high likelihood of confusing people. If the reality of a job is that it will not involve much external credit and require taking on a lot of constructive criticism/editing, there are likely more clear ways to frame that.

        I’m a fundraiser – and honestly, I’d say many of my colleagues have elements of our personality that are ego driven. In overly simplistic terms, we respond well to star charts. This isn’t to say that people who do the job well don’t have self-validation, in fact that’s very often needed. That internal voice that says “I’m good at this and can do it”, but then also enjoying and feeling professionally rewarded from having that check arrive from someone in your portfolio.

        While this may be how I see my coworkers….I’m don’t know if all of them would agree. And I can’t imagine putting “ego driven” or “high ego” on a job description being helpful.

    4. LPUK*

      I can also see a positive slant in low ego if the company is heavily collaborative in culture. maybe they want people who can work well together without taking all the credit, who are more committed to getting the job done right than they are for being seen to be the ones doing it? In fact, low ego sounds like a much less political culture I would probably enjoy. Worth asking the question Al

    5. Squidhead*

      I’ve used the term similarly, to describe someone who is focused on getting to the meat of what needs to be done, and not worrying too much about who does it, or (sometimes) whether it’s specifically their job. Examples (I’m an inpatient nurse): 1. Some nurses feel slighted/inadequate/second-guessed if another nurse does something for *their* patient. If I give your patient medication, or help them up to the bathroom, it’s not because I’m trying to undermine you or show you up…it’s because the patient needed something, and I was available to do it before you were, so I took care of it. The *need* in question is the patient’s, not the nurse’s ego. 2. Sometimes, you just need to solve the problem. Our housekeepers are understaffed and they only empty the trash in the patient rooms once or twice a day. Sometimes the trash is overflowing, especially after a procedure. One option is to call for pickup (and wait), one option is to noisily huff about it and cram more trash in, and one option is to just tie off the bag and take it out. Sure, our job isn’t housekeeping, but when the trash is becoming an impediment, the right answer is to remove the impediment. (No, there aren’t union rules about nurses touching the trash bags or anything like that.)

      These are my favorite kind of nurses to work with, even though I recognize that they could be vulnerable to being taken for granted, either by co-workers or by the administration.

    6. Just Me*

      I have sooo many mixed feelings about this. Low ego is often a good character trait and positive in an employee, but it also feels weird to advertise for it using those exact words. It seems like “go with the flow,” “open to feedback,” “likes to collaborate and is open to new ideas,” “willing to work in an environment with constant brainstorming,” etc. seems more appropriate.

      1. Office Lobster DJ*

        Agreed! In addition to being ambiguous, it feels weirdly personal to say “low ego” in a job posting, as if this random, as-yet-faceless company has a right to dictate my sense of self.

        To get at the positive qualities, I like your suggestions much better.

    7. Office Lobster DJ*

      I can see the positive side of “low ego” from these examples, and I agree that the things you describe are excellent qualities to have in a workplace. In a job posting, though, I would still read it as “We will constantly criticize and undermine you, refuse to give you even an ounce of recognition, and explode if you push back on any of it.”

      1. Indigo a la mode*

        I concur. Like most things, I think it’s better if you just spell out what you mean. My team is apparently also low-ego, and our job postings say something like (forgive the quick paraphrase), “This isn’t the kind of team where you get to the top alone. We aren’t winning unless we’re all winning. People who thrive here seek out an environment of iterative constructive feedback and almost aggressively spread credit where credit is due.”

        In general, I think traits in job postings could use a couple rounds of “what does this actually mean to us? X? Okay, write that down instead.”

    8. Joielle*

      Yep, this is how I thought of it too, and it’s also one of my more positive traits! I have often said “I have no ego about this” when people apologize for editing my work. And I don’t! I’m not attached to the exact words I put on the page, I just want it to be right. If someone else has a different perspective or thought of something I didn’t, I’m very happy to get their feedback and never offended at all.

      I think “low ego” is akin to “team player” – someone who cares more about the overall work quality than getting personal recognition.

    9. ChubbyBunny*

      Agree – I just had a performance review that said I was quick to pull in subject matter experts in areas I wasn’t as familiar with, which demonstrated my self-awareness and “no-ego approach” to helping clients solve problems. I got a promotion so I guess no ego is the way to go!

    10. cubone*

      “Low ego” can also be genuinely important in some creative environments, where you really need to be able to generate a lot of ideas and not be precious about them.

      1. Dragon*

        Or just run with carrying out someone else’s ideas. I’ve heard of some singers/musicians who are happy to let someone else handle the creative side of things. They just want to get behind the mic or on the stage, and perform.

    11. Mademoiselle Sugarlump*

      I’ve gotten that feedback too, for the same reason. I rarely have strong opinions about work stuff, I’m ready to listen to other ideas, I don’t mind being corrected.
      I do have a big ego in other parts of my life but whether the headings should be 14 pt or 16 pt just isn’t a big deal for me.

  4. Viette*

    OP#2, I’m sure disappointed that none of the people prescribing or dispensing the Ativan for you properly mentioned the medication effects — it sounds like you now know about some of them the hard way, and are hopefully able to access accurate, complete information about the effects and risks of Ativan as a medication.

    Given the drug at hand, I’m not surprised that “loaded up” on a short-acting benzodiazepine, you behaved much like you would have if you were drunk. I do agree with Alison’s advice, but there’s a decent chance that if you acted really super drunk (and you may well have!), the interviewers will assume that you *were* drunk and are now lying about it. Not entirely fair, but they have very limited information to go on in terms of your actions, reliability, and believability, and they definitely don’t want to hire someone who actually *did* show up drunk to an interview.

    Email them and explain, but unfortunately also be ready to accept it if they don’t reply or don’t believe you.

    1. Viette*

      Also I don’t know about OP#2 never taking the Ativan again in response to this! It’s still a good medication for panic attacks! No medication is for everyone (and I don’t personally take this one) but hopefully with dose adjustment most folks can find a middle ground between “hyperventilating” and “drunk as a skunk”.

      1. Tussy*

        Come on, it’s completely reasonable to never take Ativan again after this. It’s pretty clear that they react strongly to it and it is not for them. There are plenty of other medications.

        I’ve never taken Ativan again after a similar experience and not once have ever regretted it.

        1. Wildcat*

          I’ve taken medication and what LW is describing is my nightmare scenario. It’s not just that they were perceived as drunk but their lack of awareness of how they were behaving and their inability to read the situation that would have me never taking the meds again. Not being able to trust your perception is the nightmare scenario and a perfectly legitimate reason to avoid a medication.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              +2. If the drug impairs your perception of how you’re coping/behaving/interacting, it’s very hard to evaluate it. And you might be blowing up your life each time you try another run on the drug.

          1. Laney Boggs*

            Yeah, I have had extremely bad reactions to every anti-depressant I’ve ever tried, with two being just a mental fuzz that I never could have picked out myself. I was living at home at the time and both times my mom was the one who said “hey, something isn’t right with you.”

            It’s high up on the reasons I’m not willing to try antidepressants again while I live alone. I can’t observe myself from the outside and there’s a high chance that that’s where the problem would be.

          2. Observer*

            Not being able to trust your perception is the nightmare scenario and a perfectly legitimate reason to avoid a medication.

            Very much so. Unless the OP really can’t find something else to help them, it really makes sense to take this off the list of available options.

          3. Batgirl*

            Yeah it’s a drug that makes you think everything is fine; can you imagine? Every time you take it, you think you’re fine but you’d need to check with someone who’s perception wasn’t impaired by this medication!

      2. neeko*

        There are other medications they can try – not uncommon for people to have strong reactions to benzodiazepines.

      3. Your Local Password Resetter*

        They’re best positioned to make that choice, so I’m assuming they have other methods for the anxiety attacks.

        If they don’t, I’d hesitate to throw these meds out entirely, unless you knew you only get anxiety attacks when you can’t be (seen to be) heavily impaired.
        Either way, they definitely need different meds for these work situations.

      4. generic_username*

        Yeah, I’d probably see it as something akin to Nyquil – I’ll take it to make my day better/make myself feel better, but I’m also going to acknowledge that it means I can’t do anything else that day but lay in bed watching TV or sleeping

    2. Budgie Buddy*

      Yes – OP #2 is a good case study for “Be extra careful with medications” and “assume you are more noticeably impaired than you think you are.”

      Take it easy next time, OP. Aim for competent instead of charismatic – it will serve you better.

    3. Fierce Jindo*

      In my experience, it’s incredibly common for doctors to prescribe benzos without any discussion of risks. Including that they can be very dangerous when combined with alcohol!

      I’m very sorry for the OP’s interview experience but glad they’re otherwise ok and didn’t crash their car.

      1. Viette*

        Oh for sure! I don’t mean to downplay the commonness of not being properly informed about the medication, it just sucks and is disappointing. And yeah, huge relief that they didn’t have a worse thing befall them.

    4. lunchtime caller*

      In my experience, the doctor usually saying something like “make sure to try this before anything important, so you know how it affects you!” and then leaves it at that. The unfortunate part in this story is that the LW did in fact try it, but they thought it made them AMAZING and found out the hard way this was not the case. Definitely a nightmare scenario, but I know so many people who take a little something before big events or flights or what have you, that I would not be totally shocked to find out this was what happened with a candidate.

    5. Cj*

      I also notice that they said they loaded up on the medication. This makes me think that they took more than the prescribed amount, I may have not had this reaction if they had stuck to the correct dosage.

      1. Budgie Buddy*

        This was also what I wondered. I can’t tell if this was just an energetic way of telling the story or if the OP 2 took more than prescribed. If they did go over the average dosage then it’s worth trying a reduced dosage and see if that helps the anxiety without the side effects.

        I’ve definitely had meds where half the “minimum” dosage works for me–I’m a lightweight! But they still work as long as I’m consistent and don’t make any sudden changes in dosage. No “loading up” before a stressful event.

  5. Heidi*

    I can see why an employer would want to hire someone with a huge ego, but it’s interesting that the employer in Letter 5 doesn’t even want someone with a normal amount of ego. At first I was thinking that they might be extremely chill and don’t want to disrupt that vibe. But then I realized that they didn’t say that everyone was low ego, they just need the person in this role to be low ego. Hopefully they’re just bad at describing what they want; I’m having a hard time imagining a scenario where a low ego would be necessary for job that wasn’t dysfunctional or extreme in some way.

    1. Heidi*

      Ugh, y’all know I meant, “I can see why an employer would NOT want to hire someone with a huge ego,” right? Sleepy.

    2. Boring Nickname Rachel*

      My manager has complimented my “low ego” before, by which he means I welcome criticism and am always willing to admit when my solution isn’t the best one. I think a better way to say it is humble. I think it means low ego*centrism*.

      When we hired someone else for our team we actually talked about keeping the team “ego free,” which of course didn’t mean “no self esteem for any of us!” but rather “we all prefer learning over basking in our mastery.” But we didn’t say “low ego” or even “humble” because of the potential that someone might think we meant that they’d be in for a lot of berating.

      1. londonedit*

        Yeah, when I’ve heard ‘there are no egos on this team’ it’s always meant that there’s no one person who shouts the loudest, everyone is very collaborative and people don’t get offended if their ideas are rejected or they’re asked to do their own admin tasks or whatever.

      2. BL*

        This is also how I would interpret low ego. I’m a woman in a male dominated field where we often have to troubleshoot mechanical or electrical problems. I’ve had a lot of people comment on my willingness to learn from people who work for me. To me it’s common sense: if this guy has been working in a building for 20 years, he may know how to fix the problem even if I’m stumped. Even if he doesn’t know how to fix it, hearing if it’s happened before, what they’ve tried that didn’t work, etc. is incredibly useful. This has won me a ton of credibility with my team. My predecessor would apparently decide what the problem was and how to solve it without input from others. When that went badly, he would double down and try to pretend stuff was fixed when it really wasn’t.

        High and low ego are probably weird phrases to describe this but I think that’s the general idea.

    3. Brightwanderer*

      I think you’re interpreting “ego” as “self-esteem” or “self-confidence” – and I’d definitely be very wary of a company who wanted someone with low self-esteem! But I think they’re using “ego” to mean “self-importance” or “arrogance”, in which case it’s less alarming, though still an odd way to put it.

      1. hbc*

        Yeah, what you ideally want is high self-esteem and low ego. In some roles and companies, it’s okay if you’re a bit flipped there–say, you get clear instructions that lead to you being able to always turn out work that is accepted and you’re often given praise for it. But when you have a role where your job is to make first drafts and get 90% of them rejected, you can’t have your self-worth hit by every rejection.

      2. DataSci*

        “Self-importance” or “arrogance” are exactly how I would use ego, and how most people have used it around me? To me using it to mean “self-confidence” would seem odd. Clearly from the comments here *both* are common, so maybe it’s not a useful word.

        1. Brightwanderer*

          Weirdly, for me, my understanding of it flips depending on context. If you describe someone as having a “big ego” or “high ego” I’m absolutely going to hear that as “arrogant” – but I’ve never really heard “low ego” as a phrase before, and I definitely did initially interpret it as “low self-esteem”. I think I would see it differently if it was “small ego”, for some reason.

          1. Heidi*

            I was thinking that when people say that someone “needs an ego boost,” that means confidence in themselves. And it seemed weird to me that they would seek that out unless they wanted someone who would put up with a lot of crap without complaining. It looks like a lot of the interpretations are some variation of not being a jerk to people as well. I hope the OP finds out and lets us know what they were really getting at.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I pictured Alison’s last example, where you don’t want a writer who will put their decisive spin on the existing product but instead match the current voice. Which is a perfectly reasonable goal to have in some roles.

      It could also mean willing to go with the official plan even if you think your way is better, or staying calm while the parameters of the project change around you and your great ladybug work-up now has to be about llamas.

    5. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      I think that job description is what you get when you’re replacing Sarah who rearranged the office procedures because her co-worker’s signature line accurately provided her title.

      1. Observer*

        That’s a real possibility. Alison is right that it’s not a good way to hire, but I do have a lot of sympathy for it.

    6. kittymommy*

      Maybe it’s just because the leadership groups at my place are reading it now, but this made me think that the employer has read “No Ego” by Wakeman.

    7. Jora Malli*

      Right. The thread above is a great example of how different people would interpret that phrase in different ways. It would have been better to replace “low ego” with more descriptive terms like “works collaboratively with others” or whatever the hiring manager is looking for.

      Frankly, writing “low ego” as a requirement for a job is not going to stop egotistical people from applying. In my experience, high maintenance people rarely think of themselves as high maintenance. If anything, it’s probably popping a red flag in the type of people this manager is looking for. I’ve had managers in the past accuse me of being self-centered for super normal things like asking for a day off, and I’m not in a big hurry to work for someone like that again.

      The hiring manager is probably better off focusing on interview questions that focus on the candidate’s reaction to having their opinions challenged in the workplace.

      1. DataSci*

        Or whatever the specific issue or issues are that led to them putting that description in in the first place. Maybe it was having their opinions challenged, maybe it was a policy of not putting names on Powerpoint decks, maybe it was everyone needing to chip in on the less-desirable projects.

    8. LinuxSystemsGuy*

      I feel like at the end of the day the phrasing is a bit weird, but it’s not necessarily a red flag in the job ad. It’s also not necessarily *not* a red flag. I would definitely ask about it in the interview. Lots of people have pointed out potentially positive interpretations, but there’s definitely also potentially negative ones.

      In the end it’s a data point and something to find out more about, but i ot a deal breaker.

      1. cubone*

        Yeah, I would want to understand if it’s a weird phrasing for a company-wide CULTURE thing (eg. We aim to share lots of ideas and be open to feedback on them). I would honestly love to work in an environment like that, I’ve thrived most in places where it isn’t especially competitive and there’s a good sense of teamwork and helping one another.

        But it could also be a POSITION thing eg. In this role, you need to have a low ego … because you’re going to get regularly criticized or torn apart. If the expectation was that certain roles had to have “low ego”, but others don’t (eg. Executives), I’d run for the hills.

    9. Nanani*

      I’ve worked with people who interpret anything other than mindreading as “ego”.
      Like they’ll offer criticism that is contradictory to the style guide and/or to past criticism, and pointing out the fact even by asking for clarification gets “you need to have less ego, just fix it”

      Which is very frustrating because it guarantees the cycle will repeat, since the only way to not get criticized is to read their mind – you certainly can’t rely on their past feedback or anything they’ve committed to in writing.

  6. Tussy*

    Oh my god, something similar happened to me on Ativan, and it also completely messed with my memory so I was kept taking it because I kept forgetting that I had decided not to take it because it was making me act weird.

    I acted strange in my job and almost failed a uni course because of it (luckily I got a doctor’s note detailing my side effects and they let me re-submit the insane assignment I had written and submitted).

    Like honestly, unless it is a tiny tiny tiny dose I really don’t think it should be prescribed unless you are in hospital. And even on a tiny dose you don’t know how you are going to react.

    1. Alex M*

      I disagree a little bit.

      Yes, Ativan can be very strong, and it should be used with caution. Doctors should warn people, especially when it comes to the higher doses.

      But there are people who legitimately do need those higher doses, even outside of a hospital. I have friends who have needed high doses of antivan in order to sleep, or function and do their jobs, and even though they were taking 15x the teeny tiny dose that does the trick for me, that worked for them (and I never thought they seemed drunk!). It can come off as judgemental when you say that people’s medications – the ones that allow them to function with serious mental illness – shouldn’t be allowed.

      1. Stevie*

        Agreed! I’m not sure what a tiny dose is, but I take it on an as-needed basis and know it’s a helpful medication for me. People have different tolerance levels and in ideal scenarios, both patient and prescriber are periodically checking in to assess satisfaction with dosage.

    2. MiddleAgedTrainWreck*

      I also can’t agree that benzos should only be given in a hospital setting. Everyone has different body chemistry and there is no one size fits all. In my experience very low dose Xanax (.25) has worked for me as an as needed, occasional treatment for Anxiety with little to no side effects and no increase in dosage needed for n closed to 18 years. Ativan? An equivalent amount has me giggling like a sorority girl smoking weed for the first time. This lasts about 30 minutes and then, nighty night. Lights out.

      1. Lila*

        Exactly. I’ve had the opposite – Ativan has been a lifesaver at moments of anxiety (airplanes) but Xanax made me feel awful. But before I ever took Ativan for a plane trip, my therapist advised me to take it at a time when I had nothing to do so I’d know what it felt like, side effects, etc.

    3. AWR*

      I’m sorry you’ve had bad experiences with it! It sounds like you didn’t get the medication support around it you needed, and that sucks. That being said, the hospital thing isn’t universal. Being on a medium-low dose (as I have been for a decade) allows me to function, especially at work. Bodies are all different.

    4. AnxietyValkyrie*

      Honestly, it seems like doctor follow up failed with the prescription dose. When I was given ativan to survive getting to my psyc appointment a few weeks later, I was advised of its addictive nature, no alcohol with it, don’t drive unless you know the effects, but not much else. Thankfully I knew to look up what I was taking before taking it for more details and side effects. (Benzos were also featured in a game play-through I watched of all things, during a psyc scene, and that’s were I learned they could be serious stuff.) Also took the first dose in a safe situation prior to any dosing outside the house to see if I had any bad reactions and with my husband monitoring me.

      I disagree with only getting them in hospital, especially in the US. My panic and anxiety were keeping me from sleeping or eating but I knew it wasn’t enough to be admitted, so I went to urgent care and my PCP. (Hospital charges would have been wayyyy more money.) I was put onto .25 mg as needed, no more that .5 a day. I needed it to stop the downward spiral that was making me sick. Depending on the day, the dose can be unnoticeable to others or a slight social buzz, like a half serving of alcohol without the other side effects. Never to the point of drunk (thank goodness) or getting memory loss. I worry poor OP “loaded up” on too big a dose for their metabolism or ativan just isn’t right for them. Best that they adjust it with the supervision of their Dr.

  7. Bazza7*

    #1 I’m sorry this keeps happening. I’m pissed off on your behalf. This is important to you. You don’t seem to be on their radar let alone email. Most of these events would of been organised by the same person (I’d be mortified if I had forgotten to add the new person) and amended my lists or email group). You almost need a poster sized picture of you on the other side of the building to remind them you exists. And to find you could have left early, I’d be pissed off. The other things wouldn’t of worried me much, but this important to you, so it matters. They’re being rude, stick up the picture and tell them you want to be included. This should of been done automatically when you started the job. We’ve all be guilty of out of mind out of sight, but they take the cake.

    1. Annony*

      I actually had this happen a few years ago at a new job. It went on for 4 months – meetings I never knew about, after work outings – it just sucked the joy out of the job. And when I finally spoke up the answer was simple – there was an email called “AllStaff@myorg.com”. I was never added to it. Everyone else thought I did not want to participate or was stuck up. Getting added to the email group made everything so much better. It is worth speaking up, because maybe it’s as simple as this.

    2. Cj*

      You said you’d be mortified if you got to forgot to add a new person to a mailing list, and the person in charge of organizing stuff at the OPs job probably would be too. She should talk to them make sure she gets on it, and that might solve most of this.

    3. Corrvin (they/them)*

      I’d be pretty annoyed about not getting to leave early, but FURIOUS finding out I was left alone in the building. That is so unsafe– if an employee is alone and no one knows they’re in the building, what if they get hurt, or there’s a fire or a gas leak?

    4. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      I actually find it pretty odd that they are comfortable having a new employee so far away from everyone, because it takes a while to learn a new job. Even if it is a straightforward job and one you have done before, there are little differences in every work environment. If I were the manager, I would divide the staff up on both sides of the building so that no one is isolated, and I certainly would make sure I did not place a new hire in outer Siberia!

  8. Rayze_On_2B*

    I used to have a similar problem to OP#1 because of a combination of my office around the corner and down the hall from my team, sharing a an office in a suite with another team. AND having a brand new role not on anyone’s radar. Early leave, planning….even how to submit vacation or sick time were things I goth left out of the loop of. The worst was learning from security that my team had not given me the security code for a secure portion of the office and I had been setting off alarms at security after hours because my role had non traditional hours!

    I learned a couple of tricks:
    1) I would make SCHEDULED walk throughs (like, on my own calendar) a couple of times a day. Yes, it could have been an email or a call, but “hey, I was just down here anyway, and while I am here what is the expectation on x,y,z”. I would alternate a business reason with just a once a week “How are YOU doing? How was vacay/the kids/the dog? Etc.” I was nolonger out of site out of mind.

    2) I made a one on one with my boss that was “Hey, I have been here a couple of months and realize I’m looped out of business communications…can we go over whonIntakk to about being addwd to messaging, listservs, etc so I get the info?”

    From my current job, when I had to start working with another team at the start of the pandemic on something, after the first missed email I followed up with who managed the communications, then asked if we could chat for 15 minutes on the phone to get an idea of departmental communications and what I needed to be added to.

    1. YaasLadyKeladry*

      I had a similar situation too, I was off in my own corner of the building for several years in my current role. Sometimes there would be days where I didn’t see anyone on my own team, or sometimes anyone at all (!). I wish I had been more proactive about it and done more walk arounds and check-ins people have suggested here- it was really negatively impacting my mental health and job satisfaction. I didn’t realize how much until I got moved into a shared space where I’m actually integrated with my team and I see people all the time! Looking back, I was arriving late often, not very engaged, and just generally sad that it seemed like no one cared if I was at work. I always felt better on days when I had my weekly check-in meetings (and guaranteed human contact). I know now that the previous arrangement is not something I can ever go back to. I’d rather be in a cubicle in the hall near my team than go back to how it was before in my lonely office. That’s not really helpful of me to say I guess, but if things don’t get better with the things others have suggested, definitely talk to your boss before it becomes something that makes you dread going to work every day!
      My suggestions: What about a shared office/workspace with another colleague? My office recently moved and downsized to a much smaller space, and several people now share offices. It works especially well for people who are only in the office part of the week, but there are some folks who share their space full time.
      In our old building, they converted 2 larger offices into 3 smaller ones so more folks could have actual offices- maybe that’s an option? They also downsized a comically large conference room to add another office at one point. I remember being impressed with how simple the building folks made it seem – lots of office spaces are more modular/changeable than you think!

      1. Fran Fine*

        I know now that the previous arrangement is not something I can ever go back to.

        A long time ago, I had a job where I was stationed in a cubicle with extra high walls far away from my new team (I was a transfer from another department), and I experienced a lot of the same things OP #1 is experiencing now (only not to the extreme). When they would have emergency meetings, they would forget I was over in the corner by myself until someone would remember and come grab me, by which point I missed half the meeting and would need to be filled in later.

        I actually enjoyed the solitude since I listened to music all day as I worked anyway, and the isolation actually made me realize I didn’t want to really work in an office at all. But then a fully remote position seemed out of reach back then, though I have one now and am thriving. It sucks that you and OP, who clearly have different personality types than I do, have gone through this though and felt terrible about being excluded. I’m not sure about the shared workspace suggestion right now in the age of COVID, but OP should definitely ask to be moved closer to the team if possible and if not, should take the advice above to make scheduled trips over to the other side a couple times a day to chat with people and remind them she’s there. That may help to make things better.

      2. Toolate*

        I’ve been in the same situation. To the extent I really had a “team” (we were grouped together on the org chart but didn’t work on projects together) they were located together in a city an hour and a half away from my office. (I tried to visit one a week but it got kind of untenable.) I would go several days without seeing people, and many weeks my boss would just forget about our one-on-one. I felt the exact same things you felt – demoralized, completely disengaged – it was absolutely true that no one cared I was there or that I was doing my work. It was also my first job out of grad school when I really probably needed some kind of support/socialization/mentorship. In my performance review, my boss’s response was that I needed to adjust my style because the environment could not and would not change. So I quit.

        Comically I was then stuck alone in the house for two years because of the pandemic, which I intensely disliked, but at least everyone at work was in the same boat. But there are now options to work around other people, like going to a coffee shop or in to my office, so that is way better. I have yet to come up with a good strategy to ask about this question of work environment in job interviews.

      3. Bunny Girl*

        Where are you all getting these jobs where you are left alone for days at a time? Are they hiring? That’s been my dream.

    2. MrsMotz*

      Those are really good suggestions, and would probably work for many people, but be less feasible if someone is very introverted and/or colleagues are less than eager to get to know the new person.

      I would suggest also talking to the manager/team lead to let them know this is an issue, and ask if there are future plans for the team/department that could mitigate the situation. Are they planning to hire more people and putting them in the empty offices on the “far side”? If there are several teams on one side of the building and no seating to include new team members, maybe it’s time for a general rearranging, and the whole team could switch to the other side to make room for potential expansion of other teams as well. Are there individuals who would prefer more quiet space with less interruptions that are already well integrated into the team/department, so an individual switch may be possible?

      I can see many ways to fix this issue from a manager standpoint, but it could take some planning to ensure it doesn’t come off as “newbie was feeling left out, didn’t actively try to get to know anybody, cried to manager and landed the corner office”.

      1. Medievalist*

        I had the same problem as #1, as an introverted person—so endorse your point that methods may need editing depending on personality and circumstances. In my case, I was also significantly younger (15+ years) than my colleagues, and the only woman in my department. My colleagues did *not* drop by my office. I did get invited to department meetings, at least, but the lack of informal opportunities to engage with my colleagues was very difficult. Given my age, the power dynamics, personalities (this is higher ed, the personalities are *difficult*), I did not feel able to drop by my colleagues’ offices unannounced, even with work questions. I’m sure my introversion and these dynamics bore some blame in the disconnect between myself and my colleagues, as well a the physical distance between their and my offices.

        What I *did* find useful for combating the disconnect, though was: (1) cultivating the admin, who was located in the main department area. Stopping by her office regularly, even to print out things on the main printer that I could have printed on my personal office printer, and getting to know her helped me to feel more a part of the department. (We all know admins know everything and can help get you included in group invitations!); (2) doing internet research to figure out how the institutional systems worked on my own, so that I could operate independently and cultivate people to ask questions of who were not as stand-offish as my own department; (3) inviting my colleagues and their partners to dinner at my home one evening, so that their partners later reminded them that I was a nice young colleague whom they should support; and (4) bursting into tears at one point, when one of the older colleagues complained that they hadn’t seen me around the office for a while (not necessarily recommending this… but it was very effective at reinforcing my explanation of how I had to work long hours in my office to handle all of my new course-preps, and that my colleagues never came to say hello to me there… a couple colleagues started making a point of walking down my corridor to exit the building, rather than using the closest exit, which helped grow informal exchanges).

        1. Smithy*

          Whether someone’s an introvert or on a team with colleagues not looking for social engagement – your point of the printer is a really good one. Essentially finding “errands” to run in the main office area to put in face time can be really helpful. That can be using a certain printer or perhaps going to that office’s kitchen for coffee so many times a week. Sometimes those tasks can involve regular office chat, but it can also serve as providing face time that some offices do benefit from.

          While I’m an extrovert, I did once have a job in a sparsely filled/spread out office where the other members of my team were fairly introverted. To connect with other people in the office, finding ways to more regularly come into contact with other coworkers was really helpful. The fastest way to the toilets passed by no one, but once a day I could do the “loop” route to the toilets where I passed by my mailbox (rarely anything), maybe drop a dish in the kitchen, and then go by where the majority of other staff sat on my way to the bathroom. Very often it was just a once a day longer route to the toilet, but over time I was a more regular face with other colleagues and was able to more naturally build up relationships.

    3. Momma Bear*

      One of the challenges of any kind of remote work is being plugged in. OP should continue to remind people that they are present in the building vs working remotely. I think the walk throughs, physically attending meetings, talking about things going on in the meeting, anticipating events can all help. If there was a holiday whatever in the past, reach out and say you want to be included and could bring x. I’d go to whoever organized the pot luck and say you want to be included on the list for the future, as you didn’t know and scheduled patients. If I saw stockings for everyone but me, I’d go to the receptionist or whoever and say OF COURSE they didn’t mean to but you noticed…and get yourself added. I think at this point it’s OK to say you are feeling left out and ask how to be in the know.

      I also think it’s a good idea to loop in the manager/boss. They may not realize the effect this move has had on OP in the office and can take steps to include OP or maybe even get some office space reshuffled for better team building.

    4. Hannah Lee*

      Those are great suggestions Rayze!
      I would add that a non-trivial % of LW being overlooked is absolutely a managerial issue:

      It’s worth saying something to your boss too. Some of what you’ve been left out of sound like official team things, and it’s part of your manager’s job to ensure you’re included in those.

      – official team events? Yup, absolutely up to manager/boss to make sure everyone is included … BEFORE the event
      – any event, even informal, that manager/boss is involved in, even if it’s an informal ‘let’s get take out” or “Bruce brought in coffee cake” thing, manager/boss should loop in LW or prompt someone else to
      – and the “entire office gets to leave early” but no one bothers to check in with LW and leaves them alone in the building for hours? Or “the entire office is shutting down for xyz event” but no one updates the scheduling calendar or checks to see if there are any patient appts scheduled during that time? WTF! That is really bad management. Giving a perk to 95% of their employees and not noticing they left someone off? This doesn’t sound like a 1000 person company, maybe a couple of dozen? Even just as a safety issue, as a manager, I’d want to do a walk around and make sure everyone was out of the premises before I left for a holiday weekend, or do a cursory check of the office appointment schedule the day prior to a closure during normal business hours to be sure everything got rescheduled.

    5. calonkat*

      I’d also suggest that if IT doesn’t have group emails (like #team1 #team2) that the admins certainly should. And they should include OP2. We’ve people in my agency who have cross team purposes and somehow we manage to remember to include them on most emails even if they do sit in a different part of the building (or work elsewhere), but I will say that a lot of it is due to administration and more official emails always including those people. When you SEE it being done (#team1, persononotherteam, contractedperson) it becomes more automatic for everyone to do it.

  9. Gilgongo*

    Regarding “Low ego”: I’ve worked with people who did NOT take changes to their work well. Like, “Hey, the color of that button isn’t doing it for me. Can you try green?” and they have a mini melt down because their ego is intrinsically tied to their work.

    So… yeah, I get it.

    I learned, fairly early on, to not care too much about the work I produce. That way lies madness.

    1. allathian*

      Yeah, I agree. This is why the request to be passionate about your job is a red flag for me, it’s much easier to just let things slide when they don’t go the way you want if you don’t care too much about the result.

      My ego isn’t intrinsically tied to my work. I do want to do a good job, but that’s because I see myself as a good employee (even if I’m the first to admit that I’m no rockstar), and being valued and appreciated for doing a good job makes me feel good about myself. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not willing to take corrective feedback and act accordingly.

    2. LizardOfOdds*

      I agree, and most of us have probably worked with someone like that. I think there are other ways to frame the desired traits in a job description, though. “Ego” is such a loaded word. The job description could talk about how they’re looking for someone who’s collaborative in a team, has growth mindset, is comfortable accepting and acting on feedback… or a million other options. The way the job description was worded in this letter says more about the hiring manager or company than it does about the candidate’s skills and behaviors, and I think that’s the problem here.

  10. Rich*

    OP3, I’m sorry you were in that position. It’s really rough.

    I had something similar happen to me. I asked for a meeting with my grandboss to discuss advancement opportunities. In my mind, it was supposed to be a more relaxed Q&A session with me doing more asking and grandboss helping me understand what development was needed to be ready to move up. It turned out to be (effectively) an interview for a hypothetical position, and I bombed spectacularly. It was impossibly bad. I spent the weekend 100% sure I’d torpedoed my career and needed to find a new job. (I was wrong, grandboss was actually very understanding and did a little more coaching after. But man did I stink up the place in that meeting)

    One of my big take-aways from that was, while it’s essential to spend time with the higher-ups so you are, in fact, on their radar, agenda setting is incredibly important. Incredibly important.

    If I’m asking for the meeting, I try to be very explicit: “Could we meet for 30 minutes? I’ve been working on X and Y with Boss and Alphonse to help prepare for possible future advancement. I’d like to learn more about how my preparations fit your expectations for those roles.”

    If they ask for the meeting (or someone third-parties it, like happened to you), I reach out before-hand. “Could you help me understand the agenda — or at least the intent — for Tuesday’s meeting? I’d hate to walk in unprepared and make bad use of your time.”

    I don’t always get a ton of details. But I do get a much better sense of what to expect. Getting-to-know-you, pop quiz, discovery of my gaps and identifying resources to help me close them, actual (or as-good-as-actual) interview. No one has ever been upset that I asked.

    1. londonedit*

      I agree. Early in my career I was invited to a second interview that was presented as ‘We’d like you to come in for a brief chat and to meet a few other people from the team’. Which I took to mean ‘You’ve pretty much got the job, this is just a casual chat with some of the people you’ll be working with’. Turned out to be a full-on interview with HR, someone really high up in the editorial department, as well as the person who would be my boss (who I’d met before). And the ‘brief chat’ was an hour of HR-led competency questions. Unsurprisingly I was like a rabbit in the headlights and I did not get that job! Part of it was my lack of experience with interviews, but part of it was definitely the way it was presented. Luckily I’ve never had that experience since, and most invitations to interview will say something like ‘The interview will take the form of a 30-minute conversation with our Editorial Director, Tabitha Jones, and our HR representative, Wakeen Smith, followed by a short editorial test that should take no longer than 15 minutes to complete’. Which is really useful because then you know exactly who you’re meeting and what you need to prepare for. But if I’m not clear on the details for an interview, I’ll definitely ask. Otherwise it’s wasting everyone’s time!

    2. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      Not getting agendas for meetings is my pet peeve. I don’t even need much, but the majority of the meeting requests I get specify the case name and nothing else.

    3. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

      I had one of those. One of the internal leaders was scheduling informal “get to know you” 1:1s after my group was re-org’d into theirs. I walk into the room, there are two leaders instead if just the one, and the first thing they ask is “why do you think you would be a good candidate for X promotion?” My response was “I don’t know, what does X role do?”

      I did not get the job. But on the plus side, I didn’t want the job. That group had its own issues.

    4. Hannah Lee*

      “No one has ever been upset that I asked.”

      I’d add that if anyone ever was upset that they’re asked ahead of time, or turns it into some odd reluctance to share, they probably aren’t going to be a really helpful resource anyway. In those cases, prepare as well as you can, keep expectations of help low, and try to protect your flanks during the meeting the best you can, by not asking questions which could leave you vulnerable. (no offering of your weaknesses or experience gaps)

      A dismissive response to info on the meeting’s agenda, purpose shows that that particular upper management resource, team has a jerk side and you might want to consider looking elsewhere for advancement opportunities, even it’s to a lateral move to another department with more professional, competent, appreciative of up and coming human resources leadership.

    5. On Fire*

      Same. In my last job, I had inquired who would be taking on certain duties since an employee was leaving. Next thing I knew, I got a phone call asking me to chat over coffee. The caller explicitly said it was not an interview, we would just be chatting. It was an interview. And during the interview, he explicitly said he would not be managing the team; he was just gathering information for the higher-ups. Surprise — he was the manager. (And the absolute worst manager I’ve ever had, but that’s another story.)

      Ambush interviews are the worst. The interviewer isn’t learning how much the applicant knows, or even how well they think on their feet. But the interviewer is revealing some important things about themselves, like their lack of respect for the applicant’s time and … well, everything about the applicant.

  11. Turingtested*

    OP 2, it’s possible you need the dose adjusted down. A friend of mine took Ativan prior to public speaking and it didn’t affect her in that dramatic way, however she took only half her prescribed dose (with her doctor’s blessing.) It did stop her from panicking.

    1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      I love your username and I’m curious if you passed the Turing test :).

  12. Mannheim Steamroller*

    #1… [“I really don’t think it’s anything personal, as everyone has been friendly. I really think it’s geography — there is nothing at this end of the building anyone needs, so they forget about making a special trip just to find me. I would love to be able to move to an office by everyone else, but there truly isn’t one open.”]

    It happens consistently enough that the geography and lack of nearby office space might well have been planned to exclude you. (Has your red stapler disappeared?)

    Maybe print this column and post it in the break room. Then start job-hunting.

    1. Jellyfish*

      People being unintentionally thoughtless because OP is literally out of sight explains this far better than a whole team secretly conniving to hire someone on and exclude them. Most humans are more likely to be forgetful and focused on themselves than engaged in some long plot about office real estate.

      It seems to be a medical office where coworkers may not have a ton of direct interaction, and no one has made the effort to ensure OP is included. It sounds hurtful and frustrating, but not malicious. There are other options to try before assuming the worst.

      1. NNN222*

        Yes. It might have been intentional isolation if LW had been there at least a few weeks before being moved to the unoccupied portion of the building but this sounds like it’s the only office LW has had since being hired. It’s terrible management and making sure to include LW and possibly also considering moving some other people to that side of the office so LW wasn’t isolated are things a good manager would have done.

    2. Peachtree*

      Why don’t we take the OP at their word that there is no space for them to move to, rather than identifying a potential conspiracy?

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes. I tend to think cockup rather than conspiracy most of the time. The OP should definitely try other options before thinking this is due to some specific conspiracy against them.

    3. Myrin*

      I don’t know if this is a reference to something (the red stapler seems like it) but nonetheless, this is a very sinister outlook on something that is extremely easily explained by exactly the reasons OP describes at length in her letter so I don’t think we should try and start some kind of paranoia in her.

      1. Waffles*

        It’s a reference to the movie Office Space where the character who had a red stapler was moved into the basement as part of a series of crappy moves to encourage him to quit

    4. anonymous73*

      That’s an unnecessary reach for this situation. It’s not so egregious that OP needs to start job hunting. If OP doesn’t work near them or with them much in their new role, it’s understandable that “out of sight, out of mind” exists here.

    5. NYC Taxi*

      There’s no malicious intent or grand conspiracy at work here. OP works in what seems to be a busy medical office and it’s likely that everyone is focused on their work and the things going on around them, and aren’t thinking about OP, either to include or exclude them. They probably assume everyone knows about the get togethers, coffee runs, etc. and it doesn’t occur to anyone that OP doesn’t, especially as it seems that OP’s job has minimal interaction with them. OP has received great advice here about becoming more visible. Let them try that before any passive aggressive nonsense which won’t get them the attention they hoped for.

    6. Observer*

      The Office is not actually a reflection of how most offices behave.

      Your making a lot of assumptions and stretching here. And it’s really not helpful to the OP to encourage unfounded paranoia.

      The OP has a problem. They will get far more mileage if they stay reasonable and realistic than if they start acting on unfounded conspiracy theories.

      1. Wonderer*

        I guess we each have our own experiences to judge on this point. If this site has taught me anything, it’s that whatever craziness I see in my office is nothing compared to the things going on elsewhere.

      1. Petty Betty*

        It’s a reference to Office Space, based on the red stapler comment.

        If I were to continue, I’d recommend adding more flair to your uniform.

  13. PX*

    OP5: my experience of this phrase has been similar to what MT commented above.

    I’ve interviewed recently with a few companies recently where they mention being “low ego” teams or wanting people with those traits. In these contexts, it usually means people who are not too wedded to their ideas or being right all the time. Often they have been roles that are quite collaborative, so I think its a new way of saying “be a team player, willing to take input from others, change course based on new input and not get offended if people disagree with you”. The company cultures have all seemed pretty good – so I think this is basically a new buzzword/short hand for trying to capture that kind of vibe.

  14. AnonyNurse*

    Removed — I don’t want to host this kind of medical discussion here as I have no way to evaluate their accuracy. – Alison

  15. The Lexus Lawyer*

    OP3 – I sympathize with you. I was in a big city on vacation the day before New Year’s and thought I was having coffee with a friend in a legal field I was very interested in.

    Walked into a surprise interview with her and her firm’s name partner.

    Yada yada I am now in a completely different legal field.

    It did all work out and in retrospect I think she was trying to do me a favor and also that I may have embarrassed her since she expended some cred getting me before a guy who bills $1200/hour, but prepping me would have been much better for all parties involved

    1. Dutchie*

      Why didn’t she *tell you upfront* that partner would be there? Maybe I’m missing a piece here, but omitting that feels like setting you up for failure?

      1. Gracely*

        The only explanation I can think of is she thought it would be a nice surprise?

        Not that it would be, since most people would want to prepare for something like that, but I swear some people’s brains short-circuit or stop using logic when they think they’re going to give someone a nice surprise.

  16. AW*

    In my org., it means basically what MT wrote. Detaching “self” from the work. Another example is someone who is mission-driven, which in our case means being okay with the organization’s name (not theirs) being put on a major report they spent a year researching and writing.

    1. cubone*

      Yeah, I wrote this up thread but to me when I hear “low ego” my initial reaction is that it means “not being precious about your ideas” eg. We all contribute to the TPS Report and don’t fight over who did “the most”. If the culture is such that everyone is encouraging and collaborative, that can be a really positive environment for creativity. If it means “don’t be precious about your ideas… when an executive puts their name on a TPS report you did 90% of the work on”, that’s a different story.

  17. Mare*

    Nobody should be giving advice about medications in the comment section of a blog. Sharing personal experiences? Ok, but that is derailing and wasn’t the question. I would definitely send the email that Alison suggests. It will be closure for the OP and is very professional and will put their mind about it at rest.

  18. Dinwar*

    I’m going to be the voice of dissent on LW #5. I see it as an orange flag–not necessarily a red flag, but definitely something that would make me question their company culture. If I were in a managerial position of any sort I’d view it as a red flag. When they say “low ego” I read “We want someone we can walk all over”. In my experience that does not, however, shield you from blame. I’ve seen people end up taking the heat for changes that higher-ups made on reports or on field efforts–I’ve been left holding that bag a time or two myself–and it’s never good.

    If the job was a low-level worker-bee type job, sure, this makes sense. They want someone looking for a low-level worker-bee type job and to do as they are told, not someone who’s going to build a fief for themselves. But in any managerial job from foreman on up, or any job involving oversight, responsibility is supposed to come with autonomy. Being responsible for something when you have no authority over it, or where your authority is constantly undercut, sounds like torture to me, if you’re lucky. If you’re not lucky, it sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen.

    One specific thing I’d look for: Is everyone else “low ego”? Is everyone else collaborative and willing to make changes and emotionally separated from the final products? If they are, great! This is just a way to show their company culture and weed out people who don’t fit, which is what this process is supposed to do! If, on the other hand, people are fighting to have their vision be the one put forward, or a few people who make all the changes (and this is far more common in group dynamics), what they’re really asking for is for you to be the one to with their crap, day-in, day-out. At best they’re looking for someone they can push around; at worst they’re looking for a scape goat.

    1. Mona-Lisa Saperstein*

      I agree. I think “low ego” can definitely be a red flag. I would have to see the rest of the job description to see whether it’s just an outlier in an otherwise non-problematic job description, but it does set alarm bells ringing for me.

    2. OyHiOh*

      My organization uses the phrase “no pride of authorship” pretty regularly, when we draft things that are going to be sent around and commented on/edited heavily before final approval. I understood the “low ego” thing to be a stand-in for the kind of phrase my org uses.

      None of us are low level worker bees, and we’re a small non-hierarchical, collaborative organization where, I for example, will volunteer to draft the presentation that one of my colleagues needs, because she’s slammed, and I don’t have anything immediate on my plate. I put together a first draft and send it off to her, commenting that I don’t have any pride of authorship tied up in the rough draft and she should edit as needed. Depending on who has what going on, I may actually take her feedback and make the edits, or she may edit the document herself.

    3. Yorick*

      I think this is pretty much what Alison said, and why she recommended asking about it in an interview.

  19. Gruniorowa*

    To OP 1: I used to be in a similar situation. Can you ask for a couple other people in your team to be moved to your side of the building? I understand it’s empty, not taken up by another team.

    1. Dutchie*

      I was also wondering this. I understand there might be reasons this might not be possible, but having the LW, who is probably the newest member on the team, sitting alone seems to be the worst possible set-up. Why not have some colleagues join them? Or have a more established colleague sit alone so LW can get to know the team?

    2. Carrots*

      This is what I did. I was the only one on my team moved to the other side of the building. My coworker was supposed to also be moved, but that never happened.

    3. Lara*

      I was going to suggest this too – if the other section is completely full and yours is mostly empty it might even be appealing to people

    4. Bugalugs*

      If everyone one else is quite friendly with each other I can see this backfiring and causing those that move to be upset now that they’re out of “the group” and being resentful towards OP.
      I think it would be a good thing to do if it’s possible just splitting them in half but if they also all need to work together to accomplish their work it might also not be possible. OP mentions they don’t have to interact with them work wise regularly but that doesn’t mean they don’t have to interact with each other.
      On top of the other suggestions to be in their space. How about doing something to move them into your space more often. Move the water cooler or throw an potluck lunch or something that can be done where OP sits so that they need to come to them instead.

  20. Anonyone*

    “A couple of times before a holiday, staff was allowed to leave early, and nobody told me.”

    Even more than just being a terrible feeling, this is a real safety concern. They need to address this on that front if nothing else.

      1. Yorick*

        It’s bizarre that so many things appear to be based on geography. Sometimes it might make sense that you’d forget to walk over and tell your other coworker about the cupcakes that were brought in. But, for example, the stockings with names on them – did the person walk past everyone’s desk in order to count out and make the stockings? Surely you’d look at a list of the team members instead? And many of the others seem like they’d be done by email, and you don’t make an email list by walking down the hall and typing in the names you see.

      2. BradC*

        Someone in a prior commend suggested the new employee might have been not added to some key email groups or chat lists – that seems very plausible to me, and should be part of a conversation with the team manager.

        1. JustaTech*

          Exactly this. We’ve had a couple of new people start and even with our new onboarding system they’ve been left off of Teams groups, email lists and the like.
          If they were also sitting at the other end of the floor I would absolutely expect them to get forgotten regularly, not out of malice but simple “out of sight, out of mind”. Which is why it’s important for the OP to alert their manager, because at least some of this could be fixed by getting them on the various emails and Slack/Teams chats.

      3. Gracely*

        Sometimes it’s something that’s communicated only verbally for plausible deniability so no one’s hours are docked. Because it would suck to let salaried staff leave early, but make the non-exempt people stay. A “paper” trail might cause problems later.

        1. Oakenfield*

          You can pay people for hours they didn’t work. You don’t need plausible deniability for that. You can’t not pay people for hours they did work.

      4. Rocket*

        Because sometimes these things happen spur of the moment. This has absolutely happened in my office. You think everyone’s in front of you, so you just say it out loud. And you don’t think to send it over email or chat because this just pertains to people in the office, so why send it to the all staff distribution list (or whatever pertains to your office) if the people working from home don’t need the information.

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          But only *some* of these things would be spur of the moment. I cannot believe that literally every one of these things, including a potluck and personalized employee stockings, happened on the spot communicated only by happening to walk by someone’s desk. Those kinds of things require planning and lists and a series of communications.

      5. MCMonkeyBean*

        I know I’m so late on this thread but this letter is one of the most baffling I have read here. Do these people literally only ever communicate in person? I can imagine getting left out of something like “hey I’m grabbing lunch do you guys want anything” but how on earth are shortened workdays and company potlucks not being communicated in an email? I definitely think the first step needs to be double-checking there isn’t some email group that they forgot to add OP to.

  21. Rob aka Mediancat*

    Had something similar happen to a group in our building once as what happened with OP 1, though it wasn’t a social event. There’s a small group of cubicles in one corner for our Functional Analyst team, away from everyone else because sometimes their work actually requires privacy. Folks do occasionally forget about “Siberia,” but it was never so troublesome as the day a strong and unpleasant odor (the fake banana smell) permeated our building and everyone was told to go home —

    except the folks in Siberia, who were left there because everyone forgot to go tell them. It wasn’t intentional, and the analysts didn’t seem harmed, but this did jolt everyone into coming with a building-wide email group so nothinglike that would happen in the future in case something more significant happened.

  22. Rob aka Mediancat*

    Had something similar happen to a group in our building once as what happened with OP 1, though it wasn’t a social event. There’s a small group of cubicles in one corner for our Functional Analyst team, away from everyone else because sometimes their work actually requires privacy. Folks do occasionally forget about “Siberia,” but it was never so troublesome as the day a strong and unpleasant odor (the fake banana smell) permeated our building and everyone was told to go home —

    except the folks in Siberia, who were left there because everyone forgot to go tell them. It wasn’t intentional, and the analysts didn’t seem harmed, but this did jolt everyone into coming with a building-wide email group so nothing like that would happen in the future in case something more significant happened.

  23. anonymous73*

    #1 definitely speak up! I wonder how involved you are with the team in your new role. With a new role and a far away location, is it possible that they think you’re no longer on the team? That’s no excuse for your boss though. They should make sure you’re included in team happenings. And as someone who rarely takes things personally and doesn’t generally give a you know what about what others think, you are not being overly sensitive. When you speak to your boss/whoever is in charge of organizing things, be matter of fact. “You may not realize it, but ever since I moved I’ve been excluded from team gatherings/lunches/etc.”
    #5 I don’t see “low ego” as meaning having thick skin. To me it’s more about being able to admit when you’ve made a mistake or accepting another person’s idea as better than yours. Basically not thinking that everything you say or do is genius and the only way to do things. But to me it’s an orange flag for the company because there are more professional ways to say that and it’s not something you mention in a job description.

  24. Lacey*

    LW5: Low Ego means you’re not going to resist correction or suggestions on how to improve your work, you collaborate well, you don’t think you know the only way to do something.

    Those can be very good traits and it’s probably true that the job post was from someone haunted by an employee who always needed to be right, wouldn’t consider other ideas, and didn’t play well with others.

    On the other hand, sometimes people use this kind of language to cover over the real problems.
    Real examples:
    Your expertise might not be respected and other people will try to do your job, even though they can’t do it correctly, then you have to clean it up and make their flawed project work.
    They may have an inefficient process that means not just changes, but never ending changes.
    A department head who insists on bullying your department into doing their job badly because it’s how he did it 30 years ago.
    Or perhaps your department gets a bunch of unrelated work dumped on them and if you don’t want to take it that’s because “you think you’re better than everyone else” instead of just knowing it wouldn’t leave you with any time to do the job you were hired for.

    These places need “low ego” so that no one will ever push back on their bad processes. I have a friend who is literally in therapy over working at one of these places. She’s definitely “low ego” in a lot of ways and they take advantage of her horribly.

  25. Salad Daisy*

    #4 In March of 2020, right as everything was shutting down, my new manager, who was 600 miles away, decided they wanted our whole team to fly to their location on a Tuesday morning, have a meeting Tuesday afternoon, have another meeting Wednesday morning, and then fly home. They did this because they said they did not like online meetings and wanted to be with everyone face-to-face. I said I did not feel comfortable flying and was told I was not a team player, it was not open for discussion, etc. Then on March 12 everything shut down. Manager was still trying to get everyone to fly to meeting but of course now nobody would.

    Stand your ground! Your manager is not going to take care of you if you get sick.

  26. kat*

    LW1- In our org we have group emails. If you are new- even though you are added to the group- people don’t ‘refresh’ the group when they go to select it. So even though they are selecting the group email- it’s an older one without you.
    I’d start by confirming that you are actually in the group email
    Pointing out to a few people that you aren’t getting the email- and people should refresh/confirm you are on the thread.
    Also- if you could find one person that could be the ‘Check that LW1 is on the thread” person for you- to remind others you are missing.

  27. anon13*

    OP #2, this pains me so much to read. For years, my family thought my dad was hiding a drinking problem, but in reality he was suffering from a rare brain disease that attacked his motor skills. He would slur and trip over things until it got bad enough to show that it was clearly something else. That interviewer was presumptuous and rude. Only if they clearly smelled alcohol on you, or saw you hiding a bottle of something, would that have been an appropriate thing to say. “You don’t know what people are going through” is my motto after going through this with my dad. Also, I have anxiety and take meds for it, so I have sympathy for you there!

    All this to say – again – you don’t know what people are going through. Good for you for treating your anxiety.

    1. Avril Ludgateau*

      I just shared a very similar anecdote. I hope people realize how far a modicum of kindness and good faith can go in situations like this.

    2. Charlie*

      The easy thing would have been for the interviewer to have just not responded. And probably the safer option too. It was a kindness to just be honest.

      Sure it may be something else – but if you show up acting drunk I’m not going to hire you. Because I need employees who don’t act drunk when working. It’s a job interview and I’m making snap decisions and assuming you’re putting your best self forward.

      People have a right to privacy. But, you need to make a calculated decision as to whether complete privacy helps or hinders you. If you have a medical condition that makes you appear drunk or an alcoholic I’d recommend that some level of disclosure is in your best interests.

  28. urguncle*

    #5: I don’t show up to an interview and complain about all the things that were wrong with my company. That would be off-putting and weird. I don’t understand why employers think it’s ok to load your baggage into a job-description. “Low-ego,” “sense of humor,” “flexible” all are traits that recruiters should be looking for in phone screens and interviews. If they can’t figure out how to tell that someone has both abilities needed for the job as well as interpersonal skills, that’s a red flag for me as an applicant. Tell me what skills the job needs and let’s figure out if my personality is going to severely clash with my managers during the interview process.

  29. Prairie*

    #2 I think the best response would be in line with your natural reaction, which was surprise. If that happened to me, I’d email something like “Wow, thank you for this feedback. I started a new medication and didn’t know it was affecting me like that. Please note that I wasn’t drunk and I hope you’ll consider my candidacy for future openings.”

  30. Purple Cat*

    I don’t have the same negative reaction to wanting “low-ego”. Maybe because I’m exhausted reading all of the “go-getter, driven, ambitious!” job postings out there. I would love to find a place where everyone is chill and works together well – that’s how I interpret “low-ego”. They’re looking for team players, not the “shining superstar” that might stomp all over their coworkers on their way to the top.

    1. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      I take it a wanting a real team player who puts the team or company goals before themselves and their own career.
      Which is usually a good thing, but can also sometimes become cult like or be code to mean “low pay” because you believe in the org’s mission so much you’re expected to not care about yourself. If interviewed, I really probe what they mean by that phrase.

      1. Allison*

        There’s definitely value in being a “behind the scenes” contributor, someone who can keep your head down and just plug away without needing the glory of leading projects or closing deals. I’m that person. The downside though is that interviewers always want to hear about wins, what you took ownership of and accomplished, even if the role they’re interviewing for is basically the same as your last job, and it can feel discouraging when you’re job hunting without a lot of meaty selling points to brag about.

  31. Spicy Tuna*

    OP#3, I had something similar happen. The company I worked for had a gaping hole in a highly regulated area of their business. I was asked to manage the function while they searched for someone with relevant experience to fill the gap. Unfortunately, they had a really difficult time recruiting so weeks turned into months and I actually gained many of the needed skills for the job. I decided to apply for it (it would be a promotion for me). My boss was totally on board with my applying (although was honest in that they would prefer someone with more experience) and she scheduled an interview for me with her boss.

    On the appointed date and time, I showed up at my grandboss’s office in an interview suit (our office was business casual) with my resume in hand. Grandboss was completely puzzled. I had to explain what was going on and he was mortified; actually closed his door and then re-opened it to “reset” and start over. Needless to say, the “interview” was a little awkward for both of us.

    Happy ending – I ended up getting the job! I know I wasn’t their first choice, or even their second choice, but I got it!

      1. Spicy Tuna*

        No, it was on Grandboss’s calendar as an interview for the open position, but he just blanked because he was used to seeing me as Spicy Tuna, xyz employee, versus Spicy Tuna, interviewee / job applicant. I honestly think the interview suit threw him!

  32. Purple Cat*

    OP 1 – It seems like your company is expanding and outgrowing the space they were in before. Can you bring up to someone re-organizing the seating completely so that a whole department is in the extra space and not just you? This will free up additional desks for more new hires to integrate into their respective departments and not keep you on an island any more.

    Alternatively, I wasn’t sure if the wording of “office” was deliberate and maybe there is a “cube” that’s available for you instead? I don’t know if proximity would outweigh privacy for you…

  33. CalT*

    LW2, I must say I have mixed feelings. Judging by the sentence “I made sure I was loaded up with my wonder drug so I could ace this particular interview. I’d never had it for my interviews before, but I’d taken it at events so I knew I’d be great on it”, you’ve been taking Ativan as a performance enhancing drug. That’s addict thinking. You wanted high from it and you wanted to feel superhuman, that’s not just dealing with anxiety in the moment. I really don’t understand all the comments about unpredictable side effects from a new medications; those were the effects you’d expected and counted on.

    1. Spicy Tuna*

      That really stood out to me as well. From the way the letter was written, it doesn’t seem like OP was taking a maintenance drug that caused a bad reaction. It seems like it was taken specifically to enhance the experience or alter the personality.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I read that language as kind of tongue in cheek, given the foreshadowing aside. But yes if that’s not just written as prose, it’s worth examining. Addict thinking is farther than I’d stretch though.

    3. Dutchie*

      I think this is reading quite a bit into the letter. “Addict thinking” is a heavy term, especially for someone who immediately stopped taking the medication when they realized what effects of it were.

      To me it sounds like LW experienced a difference between their normal functioning and functioning after taking the Ativan, thought it was just the lifting of anxiety, but discovered too late it was actually also being under the influence. Basically exactly what they described.

      It also sounds like their doctor didn’t educate them properly on the effects of the pills, since they didn’t tell them not to drive after taking it (!). So blaming them for misjudging how it would effect them, feels really harsh.

      Again: this would always be the case, but I think it is especially true since they immediately stopped using it after they realized what was going.

  34. Cee*

    Re: Low ego in job description.

    My first thought was that this could mean the candidate should be ok with not receiving a lot of public facing ( or internally acknowledged) credit for the work they do. This wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing if you are ok with behind the scenes work. My job often entails presenting work as a team product when its mostly me doing the work, and I don’t mind when my boss gets thanked for work I did.

    Almost like a stunt double, you do the work but don’t get the attention. A big ego would be incompatible with jobs like that.

  35. Fuzzyfuzz*

    OP2–if the guy you interviewed with literally phrased it like this “Honestly, we don’t hire people who show up drunk to interviews.”–he’s a jerk. It’s totally insensitive and unthoughtful. I would feel completely mortified in your situation as well (so I empathize with that!), but I also don’t think that HR/hiring manager handled this well.

    1. KRM*

      Honestly, I saw that as them saying “hey you thought you were hiding being drunk, but we could absolutely tell”. I would be mortified that I came across that way, but they’re telling it like they see it. They saw someone who 1-appeared to be drunk and 2-totally thought they were coming across as NOT DRUNK, TOTALLY NOT DRUNK I GOT THIS. So maybe the wording is harsh but I don’t see it as out of line. They’re saying “you’re not fooling anyone”.

      1. Yorick*

        Agreed. And if I was pretty sure someone was drunk at their interview, I’d be super surprised they asked for feedback after being rejected.

    2. londonedit*

      I mean, it would have been nice if instead of saying ‘Honestly, we don’t hire people who show up drunk to interviews’ they’d maybe said something like ‘We had some concerns about your behaviour during the interview. In all honesty, we wondered whether you might have been drunk or otherwise impaired, and it made it impossible to continue with your candidacy’. Or if they’d contacted the OP after the interview to say ‘Look, we just wanted to get in touch about yesterday, because we were really quite concerned at the way you were behaving. It seemed as though you were a little drunk, or otherwise impaired in some way, and we wanted to make sure everything was OK’ rather than rejecting them outright. Jumping straight to ‘Of course we’re not hiring you, you were clearly drunk in the interview’ does seem harsh to me. But on the other hand I can see that the hiring team probably didn’t feel like they had time to – as they saw it – babysit candidates who appeared to be drunk in their interviews.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I mean, it would have been nice if instead of saying ‘Honestly, we don’t hire people who show up drunk to interviews’ they’d maybe said something like ‘We had some concerns about your behaviour during the interview. In all honesty, we wondered whether you might have been drunk or otherwise impaired, and it made it impossible to continue with your candidacy’. Or if they’d contacted the OP after the interview to say ‘Look, we just wanted to get in touch about yesterday, because we were really quite concerned at the way you were behaving. It seemed as though you were a little drunk, or otherwise impaired in some way, and we wanted to make sure everything was OK’ rather than rejecting them outright. Jumping straight to ‘Of course we’re not hiring you, you were clearly drunk in the interview’ does seem harsh to me. But on the other hand I can see that the hiring team probably didn’t feel like they had time to – as they saw it – babysit candidates who appeared to be drunk in their interviews.

        Yea. The Interviewer could definitely use a dose of tact, but I think I would rather have heard “You acted drunk, and in the role, we would have to trust your judgment without reservation” than have the Interviewer hide behind platitudes or safe rejection scripts. Granted, it’s lousy in the moment and the job candidacy is a casualty, but at least now I’d be armed with the knowledge that, no matter how bad my symptoms, that medication is not a solution going forward (at least during work-accessible hours).

      2. Observer*

        I agree that they could have worded it a bit better. But I don’t think what they said was that out of line – especially since this was the interviewer responding off the cuff to a request for information.

        I don’t think it’s realistic for the employer to reach out to someone they’ve simply interviewed to express concern and ask if everything is ok. They don’t have the relationship or standing really to do that.

        And I also completely understand why they wouldn’t move forward with the candidacy. On the one hand, if the OP says “I was showing the unexpected effects of a new medication” the employer has absolutely no way to figure out if the OP is telling the truth. And even if they believe it, they still don’t have close to enough information to even make an educated guess as to how it could affect their work. All they know is that so far, the medication is causing to act like they are drunk – and impaired.

        The explanation would not have done anything to change that. The reason for the OP to explain is to avoid long term damage to their reputation.

    3. sofar*

      Yes, I was also thinking this was a horribly unprofessional response from the interviewer and not the way I’d want ANYONE working for me responding to an interviewee.

      In LW’s shoes, if I got this from a hiring manager or interviewer, I’d be tempted to CC whoever my HR contact was as well. And write what Allison said along with, “…and copying in Jacob to extend my deepest apologies to everyone I spoke to about this role. Thank you for your consideration.”

      Depends on the company, but mine is undergoing a lot of DEI initiatives (including in our hiring process!) with regards to mental health. And the knee-jerk assumption that a mental-health-related issue/medicine side effect is drunkenness, would DEFINITELY be something our HR would want to address (and come up with a protocol in how to professionally respond to candidates in situations like this).

      Related: My friend is on certain prescribed medications that pop up as “bad drugs, do not hire” on drug tests. And, even if a company doesn’t drug test, these medicines can affect her behavior. She’s worked with an employment lawyer (not sure what the exact term for that is) in the past to help her navigate these issues and ensure she’s not being discriminated against.

    4. Student*

      When someone shows up to an interview intoxicated to the point of being badly impaired, I think it’s really ridiculous to turn your ire on the interviewer who gave honest and direct feedback merely because he didn’t correctly guess exactly what type of intoxication he was dealing with.

      I have sympathy for the OP. The OP recognizes the core issue with the specific medication and has taken wholly appropriate steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again. It’s unlucky OP learned the medication was not working as intended during a job interview, for sure! It wasn’t intentional, and unlikely to happen again, as far as I can tell.

      But the OP still showed up to a job interview while intoxicated. It’s not on the interviewer to do a breathalyzer test to figure out exactly what’s going on! The interviewer is responsible to the company to make a good hiring choice, and they would’ve been derelict to hire the OP given the circumstances. If they had other good candidates, it’d be a questionable decision to give the OP a second chance at interviewing, or an opportunity to explain themselves – we don’t usually do that in job interviews for people who get nervous while speaking or forget something important under stress in their first interview, so it’s really not realistic to do it for someone who showed up impaired even if they offer a good explanation.

      I’d argue that, by being so direct with the OP, the interviewer did OP a favor by making it clear exactly why the interview went badly and giving OP clear info to make sure it didn’t happen in future interviews. Instead of huffing at the interviewer for daring to assume it was alcohol, I’m glad he was blunt with feedback, if off-the-mark a bit, so OP could re-evaluate the medication. If the interviewer had gone with the standard “Not a good fit, wish you best in your search, though!” then OP may have struggled with those meds even longer.

      1. sofar*

        I don’t think anyone here is saying the interviewer should have undergone an investigation or performed a “breathalizer” (!!!). Just that the response was unprofessional. At my company, the interviewer’s response (if shared with HR) would have been a bad look for that interviewer.

        “Honestly, we don’t hire people who show up drunk to interviews” is bad judgement and badly worded and implies things the interviewer has no way of knowing.

        Better wording would be, “You seemed impaired during the interview, with slurred speech and inability to stay on subject. We didn’t feel comfortable moving forward, given the behavior you exhibited.”

        That gives the LW a heads-up about how they came across and is still direct.

  36. Avril Ludgateau*

    re: #2

    One time I worked with an individual who had MS. Nobody knew she had MS; in fact, I don’t think even she did until after she had moved on. But as she started developing symptoms, it most visibly affected her coordination, speech, and concentration. She had taken an awkward spill out of a chair in the office, and she stuttered and slurred in a way that I suppose could be mistaken for inebriation. Sometimes she seemed like she couldn’t follow what you were saying to her. People I worked referred to her as “the drunk” and even though I never smelled alcohol on her, I regret to say I started to wonder. Years later I ran into her and she was using a walker. She explained she had been diagnosed and how the diagnosis was both a blessing (she finally knew what was up; she had had brain fog, fatigue, headaches and other very vague symptoms for years before things got disruptive enough for her to question it) and a curse (it is MS after all). But overall she was doing better having a diagnosis and pursuing treatment than suffering a mystery illness while being known as “the office drunk”. She knew about her reputation. It was a driver for why she left, because people were at best insensitive and presumptuous and at worst making a joke of her while she was suffering symptoms of a mystery illness.

    I’ve learned to be more gracious with people who are acting a little out of sorts. It’s not to say nobody comes to work drunk – trust me, I’ve met my share of functional alcoholics – but I try not to assume unless I have really strong, incontrovertible evidence. (Like somebody takes a swig of a characteristically scented spirit, right in front of me. Ha.) Hell, even alcoholism/addiction is a disease. It’s fine to expect and enforce that people not to come to work or perform work-adjacent functions while intoxicated, but tact and benefit of the doubt should be the default.

    The interviewer should have been more sensitive. I feel uncomfortable disclosing private medical matters to anybody, but in OP2’s situation, I would have pointedly told him I had a bad reaction to medication and to be very careful of how he treats individuals with disabilities in the hiring process.

    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      This is a very good point. I think the wording of the interviewer’s comment was pretty awful. I would have said something like “your behavior during the interview was frankly off-putting–you were [rambling on without letting us ask questions/laughing about inappropriate things/getting in people’s personal space/whatever].” Let the candidate know what exactly was going on, without jumping to conclusions about why.

      1. Avril Ludgateau*

        Precisely! Focus on the behavior, not your assumptions on what caused it. It is far less accusatory and even if the individual had been drunk, it may have been a wake up call all the same.

  37. Gary Patterson's Cat*

    4. Declining to travel for a work event that feels unsafe
    Yes, this is happening now. I’ve been to one trade show during the height of Omicron with many safety measures, and soon going to another in a state that has lifted all mask requirements everywhere. It was inevitable at some point I suppose.
    My company is not requiring anyone to go to things though. And yours shouldn’t either. If you personally do not feel it safe to take the risk (and there are very much still risks) for whatever reason, you ought to be able to bow out without issue. I hope people aren’t feeling pressured if this is the case: whether its spoken or unspoken pressure to “fit in” and not feel excluded.

  38. WantonSeedStitch*

    “Low ego” is so vague and poorly worded. I don’t know why they think people will read that, know what they mean, and be able to judge accurately whether it applies to them. It could mean:
    “someone who’s not going to try to take credit for others’ work”
    “someone who won’t protest when others take credit for THEIR work”
    “someone who can collaborate with others on a team project and not try to strong-arm everyone into doing things the way they want”
    “someone who won’t complain about the fact that we don’t do any kind of recognition or give positive feedback”
    “someone who will take constructive criticism in stride”
    “someone who can cope with the fact that everything they do is going to be micromanaged and torn apart”

    Depending on what they actually mean, it could be a red flag or not. But there are much better ways of getting at that kind of info from a candidate.

    1. Liz T*

      I think it’s a HUGE red flag, for exactly this reason. Vague wording.

      If it means something that’s not troubling, they could’ve said what they mean. Since they didn’t, I have to assume this is a euphemism for something worse.

  39. Off My Lawn, You Must Get*

    #5 – Yes, there are some circumstances where “low ego” could be seen as warning. Speaking for myself, I like being a low ego person at work. I am a technical writer in an industry where everyone else is an SME and it’s my job to document their stuff. Again, speaking for myself, I see “having an ego” in creative work means being resistant to edits or other feedback. I’ve worked with writers who treat edits like you were asking them to operate on one of their children. I’m all for taking pride in one’s work, but if I got something wrnog, I want someone to tell me and I want to be receptive to it.

  40. Robin*

    I also think “low ego” is a red flag. More generally, listing any undesirable personality traits is a red flag.

    1. moonstone*

      It’s just so weird. Even if there is a legitimate reason behind it, the weird wording would be enough to turn me off of the job posting. It’s like those dating profiles where someone uses the “About Me” space to write a laundry list of things they don’t like/don’t want in a partner. Even if they are good reasons, it makes the person just seem very negative and judgmental. No thank you!

  41. Nanani*

    #1 seems extra egregious in the era of remote work. There are solutions for including people in group chats and email chains and events from a long distance, but these coworkers can’t be bothered to look on the other side of their own building? I’d be annoyed too!
    Not to mention the loss of perks like catered food and leaving early. It’s really unfair.
    Definitely bring it up to the manager and/or social organizers because this is not okay.

  42. J3*

    Am I the only one who thinks the interviewer in #2 was incredibly out of line? He’s welcome to think you were bad at the interview, and to suspect that you seemed drunk, and not want to pursue you any further, but it’s incredibly presumptuous for him be so sure of such a fairly serious claim that he’d tell it to the candidate like that. It’s one thing if you’re trying to figure out if your actual employee has a substance abuse problem that is affecting their work, but for someone you’re never going to see again?

    1. J3*

      Really it’s so uncalled-for that I’m inclined to assume he either already had a weird axe to grind with you or has some sort of personal baggage around this issue.

  43. Katie*

    I’ve had #3 happen. The lead in my department finally left, and despite being the one with the most seniority, I never got a full scope of what the position entailed, or told I needed “supervisory experience.” I approach my manager for our, rescheduled because she forgot about me (so how formal could it be?), duscussion. I finally manage to get a full scope, it’s WAY too much for me, and she basically tells me without saying it, that even if I were still interested, I wouldn’t get it due to lacking the supervisory experience. Which I knew full-well after years in my current position, that I would NEVER get. Why bother making me interview to get the basic information, and then pull a lack of previously unmentioned necessary experience? You could literally just tell me that!

  44. Wintermute*


    “low ego” can mean a lot of things, I would want to know more about your industry.

    In mine it can mean “you need to be able to admit that your specialty is not the best fit for all problems”. If you work with an automation technology for IT processes, or are a programmer mostly expert in one or two languages, and we have a lot of things that we need to deploy, or many applications and microservices to code, the tool or language you have dedicated all your professional development towards may not be a great solution to some of those problems.

    Having a low ego means the ability to say “yup, my awesome technology actually doesn’t do that well, another tool would serve us better” as opposed to taking that as a blow to your professional ego and image that you can’t do X or Y as well as Jane’s tech can.

    It can also look like “we present a lot of solutions and ideas, eventually one is picked. You need to be able to detach your ego from your ideas and not take it as a personal condemnation when we/a client/a vendor/whoever decides to go with an idea from someone else. It’s vital that someone in this role can put aside any ego attachment to ‘but MY idea!’ and execute enthusiastically and dedicatedly on the route that we DO choose. Our work has no room for “not invented here” syndrome or for people to get overly invested in their own personal opinions about what’s best.”

    It can also look like “We take long shots and some we win some we lose, you can’t be the kind of person that ties too much of their self-worth into having the best results because sometimes you’ll win sometimes you’ll lose but that’s our business strategy to take moonshots. You need to be able to not take it personally when something you’ve put a lot of time into is benched, maybe benched far along in production, because that is the nature of working with speculative technologies.” (think, things like R&D where you could find out after four years of daily work that your approach isn’t going to be successful on the market and another team’s product or approach is showing more promise in trials or with consumers.) “we need you to be able to pack it up, and start in enthusiastically on the next project right away, without spending a lot of time or being too hurt that your designs weren’t viable in the end.”

    1. Liz T*

      There are better phrases for all of that than “low ego.”

      “Low ego” isn’t the same as “not an inflated ego.” “Low ego” isn’t the same as “resilient” or “adaptable” or “good at seeking input from other specialty areas.” “Low ego,” if I’m being generous, means “putting little or no thought towards one’s reputation or status.” If I’m not being generous, it means “you won’t care if you’re treated like crap.”

      It’s good for a high-ranking person to be low ego. (Everyone likes a CEO who can get out a plunger and fix a toilet.) Asking a lower-ranking person to be low ego is asking them to take some level of abuse.

      1. Wintermute*

        I agree there are better ways to put it, but a lot of places I have seen use it as a synonym for “doesn’t invest a lot of their personal ego in their projects” or “doesn’t take challenges to their ideas as insults to their ego”.

  45. CAS*

    OP1: I could have written your letter today. I’m physically separated from the rest of my team at the end of a long hall. Two other offices are at the end of this hall, which house an entirely different team. Our work is completely unrelated, so they don’t interact with me. All the other offices are clustered at the opposite end of the building. My boss comes down to my office periodically to update me on work issues or ask me questions, but otherwise I’m alone down here.

    The sad thing is that I can hear the others engaging in informal chit-chat in addition to work-related conversations at the other end of the building, and the only way I could participate is if I physically leave my office and walk all the way down there, which seems kind of pathetic. I am forgotten when there are organization-wide meetings. Even though we’re open until 5:00 every day, I was surprised yesterday when I walked out of the building and discovered I had been alone in the office.

    My boss is aware of the issue because she has brought up the distance between our offices on several occasions. There is no empty space closer to her office. There is one person who could switch offices with me in theory, but she had a falling out with the other team that’s down here. Instead of dealing with whatever that was, they decided to physically separate them. And that’s why I can’t be near my team. It’s hard and often feels lonely, especially when I can hear the chatter. I do come out of my office and walk around several times each day, but it’s not the same as having that spontaneous and informal interaction.

    1. Gracely*

      I wonder if you could find out if there’s someone on your team that’s less social who might want to swap places? As the comments to various things on this blog have shown, not everyone likes chatter. Maybe someone on your team is secretly envious of your location?

  46. Curmudgeon in California*

    #4: Ouch. I understand your concern. I have an immune compromised roommate. I routinely wear an N95 mask when I’m out and about.

    If you were to go, you would want to wear an N95 when in public or on a plane, not eat with others unless you knew they were vaccinated, and generally follow all Covid safety measures. Once you got home, you would want to wear a mask/quarantine yourself for a couple weeks to make sure you didn’t bring anything home.

    My spouse and I are going to a conference at the end of March. We are planning to do what I have mentioned above, except we can isolate more easily from our roomie when we return.

    1. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

      Being vaccinated doesn’t mean you can’t have covid or pass it on. It reduces the risks, but not to zero.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        True, but eating with an unvaccinated person is definitely a higher risk, which is why, if they eat with anyone, they should make sure they are vaccinated.

        If they feel safest not eating with anyone, that is reasonable too.

  47. TiredMama*

    LW3. I bet your manager said something to them about this being informal because you were not yet qualified. But that’s crappy practice and leaves a crappy impression and was all round a crappy way to handle it!

  48. Liz T*

    I recently saw “law ego” in a job description! The context was something about doing unglamorous tasks. I’ve had enough jobs where the person doing unglamorous tasks was treated like a lower class of employee, so I scrolled RIGHT on past that one. (If there are unglamorous tasks, put them in the JD and treat the person who does them with respect. Don’t abuse their ego.)

    1. Rocket*

      I’ve worked with people who would see those unglamorous tasks, whether they were spelled out in the job description or not, as beneath them. So saying we want people with low-ego in that context says to me we’re not tolerating someone who comes in and thinks “I’m too good for that.”

  49. Allison*

    #4, my boss is talking about doing an onsite this year as well, just so we can actually meet in person, but she’s been emphasizing “if people are comfortable,” heavily implying it’s fine if you’d rather opt out for health/safety reasons. Your boss might not be saying it out loud (even though they should), but I’d imagine they also won’t get upset if you decide to sit this one out.

  50. OceanDiva*

    OP #1 I’ve been in similar situations with very different outcomes. 1) I interned and was seated deep in a cubicle farm, away from my team (and windows), but every time a storm came through, someone would come and tell me to rush home or I’d get caught in the rain. 2) At a new job, I was seated in the annex wing with nobody, but my team mates would come visit at least once a day and as soon as a desk was available, made sure I knew to grab it. Conscientious and kind colleagues make all the difference!

  51. Agnessa*

    #1 I had a similar issue a few years ago. My company moved and I had to work in a space in-between 2 offices by myself. I often would hear everyone interact and laugh at something, but couldn’t participate. Our boss’s personal office was also next to me, and people started treating me like his secretary, although I wasn’t. A few times I was able to work in the same space with my colleagues when my computer had to be fixed, and I felt much happier. I later resigned due to other issues, but I started feeling dissatisfied specifically because of the office space.

  52. Tangerina Warbleworth*

    OP 2: yes, mortifying, your feelings are valid. But, given how badly they treated you — in an interview, yet — do you really want to work for them? Your interviewers jumped to a conclusion, wrote you off with no consideration, and then sent you an unnecessarily rude rejection. That’s not a good employer.

    I’ve worked at Toxic University for ten years now. When I started, my chronic illness flared up and I did a few odd things myself. My boss knew why (he was completely trustworthy and I told him about my condition, he got it and supported me, bless his soul), but my coworkers decided I was an alcoholic. And that if I wasn’t, I should have TOLD them that, and EXPLAINED my chronic illness to them (no, it’s covered by the ADA; plus where the hell do they get off needing my medical history?) so that they wouldn’t have made the assumption (classic victim-blaming).

    I was a seasoned professional when all of that went down, so I could brush it off with a quick “Y’all are bazoo, and you clearly don’t know the law”; but I wouldn’t wish this environment on anyone. If it were me, I would move forward from the perspective that you didn’t embarrass yourself, THEY embarrassed you. You dodged a slimy, poisoned, toxic bullet.

    Know this and cheer yourself on! They suck and you rock!

  53. I was told there would be llamas*

    #5…OMG, read this post earlier today and thought “low ego,” that’s strange…looking thru jobs right now…one says “low ego.” hahaha

  54. LizardOfOdds*

    LW4, I’m in the same spot. I’m in a remote role on a new team, and surprise! Everyone on my team is getting together in person in another city several thousand miles away. I can’t travel because I have a young child with special needs who can’t be vaccinated yet, so even if I wanted to go, it would be unwise for me to do so. (To be clear, I don’t want to go! That’s why I took a fully remote role with no travel requirements!)

    I did what Alison suggested and said I’m not able to travel due to safety concerns, and while my team was understanding, now I’m grappling with the career impact of that choice. I will be the ONLY person who is not at this event in person. They will include me virtually, but I won’t be there for the team building, the dinners where careers are built, etc., etc. I thought I’d be on equal ground with everyone in my group because we’re all remote, but it certainly doesn’t feel that way anymore.

  55. CB212*

    LW5: In tech innovation companies, “low ego” can really mean: ask questions, admit you don’t have the answer to a new question that hasn’t been asked before, be willing to explore with your team and recognize mistakes as you make them, which you will. Don’t: act like you know what’s needed and march off down the wrong path, wasting company resources, we aren’t hiring for that.

  56. moonstone*

    #1: Have these people not heard of e-mail?? I’ve never worked at a place where not constantly being physically in the same workspace as the rest of the team would cause people to literally forget they’re in the team. I’m not sure what the nature of the work is like, but don’t these people have some recurring teamwide meetings and a staff page or something?

    In my last job, we had a weird set up for a while where a couple of people had to sit at a completely different location from the rest of the team. We were also a hybrid team where a couple of people worked remotely full time while the rest of the staff was in the office. No one was left out of events and communications meant for the whole team.

  57. Mrs. Hawiggins*

    As a person who takes anxiety meds, yes, I would send the email despite it all. Will they believe you? Probably no. But thank them for their time and interest and keep moving on. I agree with Alison – for me I would say, “I’m sorry you saw it this way. I have started a new medication, to which I am still adjusting to the side effects. The timing of the effects were most unfortunate and I assure you I was not inebriated. I respect your decision and wish you luck in your search.” Someone who comes across this note might actually pause, and feel badly. But, what is is.

    Anxiety meds can take a while to adjust to. I feel badly for the OP. Before I adjusted my meds made me more talkative than normal, but depending on who you ask some will say “no they didn’t.” I urge OP to continue with seeking good health. Jobs will always be out there.

    Besides that, who comes straight out and says “we don’t hire people who show up drunk to interviews.” You just move on. Has benefit of the doubt also disappeared? (Don’t answer that).

  58. Laura*

    I’m a manager and my team always advertises for no-ego employees. Because of the nature of the work and of the company culture, it’s crucial that everyone be willing to jump in wherever they might be needed that day. We’re a small creative team within a fast-growing startup, so my team members might go from playing host to a high-profile visitor to quite literally mopping the floor after a messy project within a matter of hours. We also need our team members to take feedback well on their creative efforts, which is challenging for a lot of people. We’ve learned through experience that team members who have an ego don’t thrive in this environment. On the flip side, focusing on hiring no-ego employees has given my team a reputation for always hiring the most helpful, proactive, and simply nicest team members in the company. Combine that with making sure they have the skills they need, and we strike gold over and over again on our hires. So to me, interviewing for a “no ego” team may not be a bad thing!

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