can I tell my friend the interview questions in advance, finding out if an employer drug tests, and more

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

1. Is it bad to tell my friend what the interview questions will be?

I have a friend who is looking into changing companies, and will soon interview for a position very similar to mine at the company I work for. The company uses the same interview questions for all new hires, and she has asked me to help her with her interview prep.

These interview questions aren’t unique to the company, in fact they are fairly standard questions (“tell me about a time,” “what method do you use,” etc.), but I’m sure knowing the exact questions that are going to be asked would allow my friend to prep some examples that are pretty tailored to show her strengths. To her credit, she could absolutely do this without my help, she has many years in the field, but she’s really excited about the position and wants to go into the interview as prepared as she can be.

So my question is this: is it bad for me to share my knowledge of these interview questions? Could it even be considered unethical?

Yeah, it’s unethical — because it’s giving her a leg up that other good candidates won’t have. (Think about if you were interviewing for a job you really wanted and your competition knew the questions ahead of time and you didn’t.) You’re right that they sound like standard interview questions, but it does give her an unfair advantage if she knows exactly what she’ll be asked when other people don’t. There’s a reason your company would ask you not to share the questions with just one person if they knew you were thinking about it.

What you can do, though, is to talk to her about the job — its challenges, what it takes to do it well, what kind of experience is helpful in doing it. That’s still giving her an advantage over candidates who don’t have that kind of insider info, but it’s more in line with the type of help networking is expected to produce, as opposed to handing over what would essentially be a cheat sheet.

2. Can I find out if an employer drug tests?

After many years as a bar manager, I switched gears for an office job. I’ve been looking for a permanent position (I’m a temp right now) and recently accepted a great offer. At the end of the call, they told me I was being emailed a link to go for a drug test — a test that included THC. I was surprised since I’m in a marijuana legal state, and there had been no mention of drug testing (I’m an administrative assistant, not for a government agency).

I was candid with HR that I am a medical CBD and recreational marijuana user, and expressed respectful surprise that they test for THC in a state where it’s legal. HR said she wanted to “have a serious discussion with legal” and asked if I would take the test anyway, as there was a chance they may be able to move forward if that was the only barrier. I agreed, but was not optimistic.

As expected, they decided to maintain their testing requirements “as of the moment,” so when I came back positive they formally rescinded the offer. No problem, I figured it was coming. I was fortunate enough to get another great offer yesterday and … they gave me the same drug test requirement right behind the offer letter. I plan to call later today and tell their HR the same thing I told the previous HR, with the expectation that this offer will also be rescinded.

How can I find out if an employer tests for THC before beginning the application process, or can I? I’m thinking that if I call and say, “Do you drug test?” before sending a resume, it’s going right into the garbage, and it’s not something posted on the company website. Is there anything to do for this, or is everyone just going to keep getting interview practice until I get an employer that doesn’t test for THC?

Yeah, unfortunately there’s no great way for most people to ask about drug testing at the outset of a hiring process. (Although if you have really in-demand skills, there can be more leeway — you have more capital to just state your needs outright at the start.) Frankly, it sucks — you should be able to screen for that the same way you might ask if a position includes benefits or what the typical hours are. And with an increasing number of states having legalized marijuana, both medically and recreationally, and attitudes changing quickly, that fact that this is still treated as a taboo question feels very much like a relic of an earlier time. (I bet we’ll see that change in coming years though, and there will be more acceptance of people asking about it up-front … and the more people who are willing to do it, the faster that will change … but understandably people don’t want to risk their own job searches in the service of effecting wider societal change.)

So, where does that leave you? If you’re applying to large companies, often you can find out online whether or not they drug test (search the name of the company and “drug test”). If they’re a government contractor and you’re going to need a security clearance, assume they do. Smaller companies can be safer bets and are less likely to spring it on you at the last minute, but there’s no guarantee that they won’t. There are also some industries where you really don’t see it (like much of tech, where they’d struggle to attract employees if they drug tested) and some industries where you’re more likely to (transportation, for example, even if you’re not in a transportation role yourself). And you can check Glassdoor, which may or may not have info. But it’s tricky, and there’s no good answer.

3. My salary increase is a decrease after overtime is included

I work for a large public university but my field is niche. The university is infamously stingy when it comes to salaries. When I was hired, I was brought on well below market value, but I accepted the position anyway because it was an ideal position in other ways. I was hired as an hourly employee making a little less than $20/hour amounting to about $40k annually.

Because my team is very small, I typically work more than 40 hours a week and so I usually have one to two extra hours (not overtime, just extra hours) on my paychecks. This has been the case for the 18 months I’ve worked here and there have never been any issues with this.

My boss has been campaigning for me to get promoted since I was hired, as my current job description does not match the complexity of the work that I do at all. It’s been a pretty frustrating process, with the higher ups being mostly unwilling to budge because, despite our best attempts, they don’t understand the complexity of our work because it’s a niche field.

My grandboss just informed me of some “good news”: HR completed a “compensation analysis” and is upgrading my position … with a pay increase of $369 a year. And I’ll be salaried instead of hourly.

I did the math, and if I’m salaried, I’ll actually be getting paid slightly less than I normally would, because I won’t be getting those extra one to two hours every pay period. I don’t see this is as good news. I see it as a slap in the face. Can I reject the offer to become salaried on the grounds that I would actually be making less money? And even if I could, would that put me in bad standing?

You should try! You should absolutely point out that you’ll be making less money after this change, which means the “upgrade” isn’t really an upgrade after all, and ask if they’d be willing to account for that in the new salary — so that it’s truly the good news they intended rather than bad news. This is a very normal thing to ask in this situation, and if they’re fair and reasonable it’s something they should want to fix.

4. I don’t want a company baby shower

When I first joined my company of about 35 employees a few years ago, I was pregnant. I was surprised that within a couple months of joining, they hosted a baby shower for me. I expected it to be pretty low-key, but everyone was there and had gotten us gifts. I was a manager at that time and people making one-third of my salary were getting us Target gift cards or things off our registry. I’m a firm believer in never gifting up, but at that point I didn’t feel I could refuse gifts. It was all so public with the entire company watching my husband and I open gifts. I had never met some of these people and others I could not tell you their name because I interacted with them so rarely.

I’m pregnant again and do not want a repeat of last time. I’m more aware now than I was then of the income imbalance and also with a second child it’s just not necessary to get a lot of gifts. I’m fine with some kind of celebration but I think one gift from the company is much more appropriate. Any advice on how to approach this? I haven’t been asked about a shower yet, so it may end up being a moot point, but I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or seem ungrateful.

I think you’re right that it might not come up this time since a lot of people don’t do showers for second pregnancies … but if it does, you can graciously decline by saying something like, “You’re so thoughtful to offer it! We really have everything we need this time and I wouldn’t want anyone spending their own money, but thank you for offering.” Also, if you know who normally organizes this stuff, you can have a quiet word with them, mentioning that you don’t want people who work for you to feel any pressure to get you gifts. It won’t sound ungrateful as long as you say you appreciated what they did the first time around but just want to handle it differently this time.

Read an update to this letter here

{ 753 comments… read them below }

  1. Colorado*

    OP 2: I agree it completely sucks and I live in a legal state too. I use the fake urine and it works like a charm. Really haven’t found another way around it.

    1. Nodramalama*

      I agree it’s frustrating but I would not recommend that as a fix. That can lead to a lot of trouble down the road if you’re caught.

      1. John Smith*

        I’d agree that it’s asking for trouble. Another aspect to consider is whether the employer might ask you to work in another state where cannabis is not legalised. Asides that, just because a substance is legal does not mean it is acceptable. I’m going to assume that few people would have a problem with, say, bus drivers or pilots being tested for alcohol use? Regardless, I think it would be in the organisation’s best interest to state in job postings whether they test or not. It would hopefully weed out (see what I did there?!) those who would rather not be subjected to tests, saving them and the employer time.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          The problem with the most common cannabis test is it doesn’t test if you are under the influence *now*, it tests if you have been so over the past couple of months.

          I don’t want my pilot to be drunk or hungover while flying, but I don’t care if they go home after a long flight and drink a six pack. Same with marijuana – not while working, if they want to to so when off work it’s not my problem.

          1. Mid*

            Exactly. Performance testing is what we should be doing, because that shows of people are actually impaired in a way that is impacting their work.

          2. Public Sector Manager*

            Unless your pilot is Dr. Johnny Fever because his reaction time gets faster!

          3. Alice's Rabbit*

            If there’s enough to show up in your urine, there’s still enough in your system to have some effect on critical thinking and reaction time. Even if the buzz is long gone, other effects can linger for a long time.

            1. Leilah*

              I’m sorry, that contradicts all the information I’ve ever read on the subject. You can easily test positive on a urine test multiple weeks after last using, but there’s broad agreement that impairment only lasts a few hours under normal circumstances and at most 10-12 hours in extreme situations.

            2. Leilah*

              In fact, if you haven’t used in a few months and get super high and impaired, but take the urine test within a few hours of ingestion, you likely won’t test positive in your urine at all. Urine marijuana tests are simply not remotely accurate methods of determining level of impairment at any given point in time.

            3. TrixM*

              Citation needed. THC can be found in urine up to a month after it’s used. Absolutely no-one has “enough in your system” to have an effect for that long.

              As for “long gone”, what does that mean? Hours, days, weeks? Sometimes I get what equates to a mild hangover for the day after I’ve used marijuana, but that’s probably partly due to my staying awake playing video games to a ridiculous hour. I’m sure people with actual hangovers are worse-affected most of the time.

            4. Lenora Rose*

              True for some drugs, definitely true for alcohol, not true for marijuana.

              I don’t use – though I don’t object to reasonable users – but I eat poppyseed-laden bagels 1-4 times weekly. Drug tests would worry me.

            5. JuliaSugarbaker*

              That is 100% false. THC stays in your system and will cause a positive test for UP TO 90 DAYS from last use. If you’ve ever used marijuana, you know you’re not “residually high” for months afterwards. Please do some perfunctory research before making obviously false statements.

            6. Boof*

              I don’t think that’s true – i think most of the marijuana tests are for inactive metabolites that persist for weeks/months after use. It’s a little redic in a legal state. Heck, it’s a little redic ever unless there’s some kind of liability issue for testing positive no matter what (probably in places where it’s illegal I would think and maybe could result in some kind of lawsuit…?)

            7. Lyra Silvertongue*

              You can detect alcohol in urine up to five days after consumption. You super sure that a glass of wine on Saturday night still impacts your critical thing on Thursday?

            8. SnappinTerrapin*

              I worked in probation and parole for years. The THC urine tests don’t indicate being under the influence. They indicate the presence of metabolites for several weeks after use. Those metabolites are byproducts left after the body breaks down the chemical and removes them from the circulatory system.

              Frankly, the absence of a reliable test for current intoxication is my only public policy reservation about legalizing marijuana. It would really helpful to be able to test a vehicle driver or equipment operator to determine whether intoxication contributed to an accident. That would be much better than knowing that the substance was used sometime in the preceding couple of months.

            9. Courageous cat*

              Amazing how confidently incorrect you are on this. I would definitely do some reading on what you’re espousing here

        2. Willow*

          I would have no problem with drivers or pilots being tested for using alcohol or being intoxicated on the job, but it’s not reasonable to expect them to abstain when they’re off duty. Same with THC, if someone is high on the job that’s a problem, but if they’re just partaking on the weekend I don’t see the problem.

          1. allathian*

            Yeah, I agree. We just need better drug tests that actually test for the intoxicants rather than the metabolites that can stay in the system for weeks or months.

          2. Mangled metaphor*

            I was a data entry clerk randomly selected for drugs and alcohol screening when the company I worked for was bought out by a private equity firm. I’m teetotal on both fronts (stopped drinking at about 22 and the hardest drug I’ve taken was a high dose paracetamol administered by IV when I was hospitalised). But the company thought that a *data entry clerk* would pose an industry threat if she had a glass of wine with lunch (something the senior directors did with wild abandon). And, as much as I’d like to say that was hyperbole, a single glass of wine at lunch would have been enough to fire me under the new company rules.
            There was nothing “random” about their screening – the bought company bosses knew the requirement was bunkum.

          3. Ontariariario*

            Countries with legal cannabis have rules for different jobs, and companies in the US can use these as guides. I read somewhere that the Canadian military expects that their soldiers not use it within 24 hours of their job, so Friday night is okay but not Sunday night, and pilots can’t use it within 28 days of flying. If a pilot has a need for cannabis then they shouldn’t be flying.

            1. Ontariariario*

              Also, because alcohol is mentioned below, pilots have clear rules about how many drinks they can have and how many hours before they fly. Something like no drinking in the last 12 hours before flying. I was at a social with a pilot and he planned to fly out early the next morning, so he had a beer when he arrived and nothing more.

            2. a tester, not a developer*

              CN Rail has had rules like that for decades (probably longer, but I only remember first hearing about it in the 80s). It’s part of the reason the CN guys get paid so well – if they’re on call they have to be sober, and they’re on call a lot.

            3. jellybean*

              RCMP are 28 days. An RCMP friend of a friend was excited to finally try it after legalization, but unless he somehow manages to get 4+ weeks off, its still

            4. MustardPillow*

              Canadians have more privacy it seems. There is no way a regular office worker is going to get a drug test from their employer.

              1. Zennish*

                Many employers in the US think employees should be focused on the priorities of the employer 24/7, and they should be able to monitor and/or punish their outside activities accordingly. It’s a sub-optimal system.

              2. Cookie*

                this 1000X. I am a lawyer and often review commercial agreements and so often when it is with a US counterpart they have this clause that we drug test our personnel. I cross that out and always leave a note that it is not practiced here and we won’t do it. We don’t work in a safety sensitive industry and the other side is never a government – it’s just some other business! It’s tech/office work. Also why would you want to test your employees – then you find out and what? fire them with a severance package? – it certainly doesn’t amount to cause to allow you to not pay severance since it’s an arbitrary policy that has no basis in ability to perform your job and is considered an overreach into privacy. or have to look into human rights accommodation if its a dependence issue? The cost – benefit of doing this just isnt there – it literally costs more to do it then you could ever reap as a benefit. It’s really only if you are in safety sensitive industries with heavy machinery or where you have to care for people, and im surprised each time that US offices bother with it. what is the point

                1. FridayFriyay*

                  I’m pretty sure in the US most people fired for drug testing results don’t get any sort of severance, so I think the cultural difference here goes a lot deeper even than the drug testing question in this case.

            5. Artemesia*

              I think that is a silly way to think of it. Enjoying a drink doesn’t make someone an alcoholic and enjoying cannabis on occasion doesn’t mean they ‘need it.’ Because you test positive for weeks, the tests are not very useful for checking impairment. for that reason they may need to ban it for pilots — but what they need are better tests.

          4. NoMoreOffice*

            Yes, I’m looking for a job and this really bugs me. My recreational use of marijuana is no different than someone enjoying a glass of wine in the evening. It has absolutely no effect on my work.

            1. JuliaSugarbaker*

              I’m OP#2, and I totally agree. I got out of the bar business because of the physical aspect (I have back problems now), and didn’t at all anticipate some of this. The volume of social (and not so social) drinkers who think all marijuana users are drug addicts unfit for employment is just shocking to me.

        3. Wendy*

          The difference in your example is how long the substance stays in the body. Cannabis is notorious for being the least likely of drugs companies test for to actually cause problems and also stays in the body much longer than harder drugs, meaning you might test clean for heroin a week after use but fail a test for THC if you smoked a month ago. I think most people would be okay with a bus driver or pilot having had a drink three weeks prior, right?

          1. quill*

            Yeah, also once you factor in medical uses it’s kind of impossible to not have a subset of people who are basically unhireable by companies who require a THC test even if they’ve never had enough of the substance to be impaired.

            1. Ace in the Hole*

              This is only an issue because the federal government doesn’t recognize medical use of marijuana, so anything that depends on federal funds or that might involve crossing state lines has to consider it an illegal drug for screening purposes.

              There are plenty of drugs that can show up on a drug test but will not affect employment as long as you have a valid prescription. For example, I’m prescribed adderall (which definitely shows up on drug tests!) and I had no problems passing a pre-employment drug test or the drug screening for my commercial driver’s license. The only consequence was that I have to renew my medical clearance more often than someone with no health conditions. However, someone who tested positive for amphetamines without a prescription would absolutely have issues.

            2. pope suburban*

              Also like…let’s just talk about the medical aspect of cannabis for a moment. It’s a pretty benign method of pain management, and many people will only partake once they are home from work for the evening and not planning on driving anywhere. It is ridiculous to me, someone who lives in a country with a bona fide opiate-addiction epidemic, that we would penalize people who are trying to avoid stronger/more problematic painkillers that are somehow perceived as magically okay because they’re lab-made. People have seen the risks of taking prescription pain medications (and I feel for the people who have become ensnared by opiates; chronic pain is terrible and I understand they are just trying to live as comfortably as possible) and if they want to opt for natural methods, well, fair play. I suppose this is just another way that we discriminate against people with disabilities and chronic health conditions, and the whole thing makes me so mad.

              1. Random Biter*

                This this so much this. I have a medical marijuana card and use a tincture for pain from a spinal fusion that didn’t go quite as promised. Lucky for me when I told my then future employer that I used *at home* he shrugged and said, “What you do at home is your business.”

              2. JuliaSugarbaker*

                I’m OP#2, and you put into words something that I’ve been wondering throughout this whole job search. Is THC testing really just a way to legally refuse to hire people with chronic pain and/or other health issues? A recreational user can give it up for a month or so to pass a test, but a medical user can’t. Is this just another way of screening out anyone with medical or mental health issues?

                1. Kal*

                  From what I can tell (though I could very well be wrong), cannabis being treated this way was originally to exclude hispanic populations and hippies who tended to favor liberal and leftist ideas. The fact that it hurts people with disabilities seems to be just a side effect (as is very common with ableist policies – us disabled folk are often just collateral damage in an attempt to be terrible to someone else).

              3. anonforthis*

                And other conditions! I’m in perimenopause and have been having weekly sleep interruptions for more than a year. My sleep issues were disrupting my work: I’d work overtired, and on a few occasions I called in sick because I knew I wouldn’t be able to do my job. I’ve tried everything under the sun short of strong sleep meds, and a THC & melatonin gummy each night has been a game changer for me. I fall asleep easier, wake up feeling well rested, and only use them on nights when I have to work the next day. Testing me for THC to do work like mine (office job, managing staff, writing and strategy) would simply result in terminating a good employee.

              4. Alto Power*

                Is there any case law on this sort of testing in relation to the ADA? It seems that blanket rejections in case like this are likely discrimination and that ADA would require an accommodation. The company cannot successfully claim undue hardship for an employer for whom it is not a safety issue. Proving undue hardship is a very high bar to reach. I suspect the HR person in this instance never contact legal counsel.

              5. Aiani*

                Yes! I had a stroke at the end of January and I really wasn’t prepared for all the post-stroke pain. Actually, I wasn’t prepared for anything about this experience for instance, increased anxiety and restless legs at night

              6. Reluctant Mezzo*

                I once had a note put in my file when my husband had lymphoma–I said that if he needed pot to have any kind of appetite after chemo, he was going to get to use it, and that I might get some secondary inhaling done. They were not happy, but I think they realized it was clear that my husband was my first priority. I also said I would notify them if this ever became a factor (we were lucky, it didn’t). I was lucky, it wasn’t needed, but oh well.

            3. Liz*

              Or, un-treatable. I have a nervous system disorder for which THC is a good treatment. I was told this was not acceptable at my place of employment. So…. None of that medicine for me! I’ll just suffer instead.

              1. Liz (again, whoops)*

                PS: I am a healthcare worker. And the doctor who recommended the medication….works for the health system that told me I can’t take it.

          2. whingedrinking*

            Exactly. A friend of mine used to work in the oil industry, and he told me that for workers in the fields, the drug of choice is cocaine because it can’t be detected 24 hours after use.

              1. Miles*

                Eh, competence among psychiatric doctors, etc. being what it is, if someone can use cocaine and restrain themselves from using for 24+ hours to pass a random drug test, they probably needed an analogous medication and lost the competent doctor lottery.

        4. Elena*

          I would have a problem with pilots being tested to see if they use alcohol on their days off

          1. John Smith*

            So would I. And I’d have a problem with a pilot who turned up drunk for work too!

        5. Ashkela*

          I absolutely have a problem with bus drivers or pilots being tested for alcohol use unless you’re specifically talking about right before they’re going to work. If you finish work for the day/night, go home, and get absolutely plastered and are 100% sober by the next day, it’s none of mine or your employer’s business.

          The problem with testing for cannabis is that there isn’t a test for ‘are you high right now’ rather than ‘did you consume this at all within the last month, regardless of what time of day, how intoxicated (or not) did you get, or if it was consumed legally.’

          1. UKDancer*

            Same. They shouldn’t show up to work drunk but they’re allowed to drink on their time off (in the UK) because that’s up to them as long as they’re clear of alcohol when they come in.

            1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

              I work for the UK railway (not saying which bit though) and the rule for all our staff is that you can be tested for drugs and alcohol at any time and if you’re found to have had any alcohol during the workday then it’s a serious problem (this means no drinks at lunch)

              If you had a booze up the night before and have still enough in your system to show up on a test then yeah, also an issue. But drink sensibly in your own time.

              The THC bit, well it’s illegal here in the UK across the board (and as a chronic pain patient believe me I have views on this) but I’ve actually never heard of someone failing the drugs test for that – except the one person who apparently partook at lunchtime and came back into the office red eyed, reeking of it and slurring their words.

              The tests we’re mostly concerned with are booze and the really strong narcotics (which owing to my meds I show up for allll the time)

              1. UKDancer*

                Yeah I’ve a friend who works for Transport for London (who run the tubes and buses) and everyone in TfL can be tested at any time. He’s back office but it’s the same rule for them as for the drivers.

                That’s unusual by UK standards I think. By and large if you’re not driving a train, bus, plane etc we’re not so likely to want to test people. I mean I do a white collar job and I’ve never been tested and I’d be really surprised if any companies tries to introduce that as it’s not the norm for white collar jobs.

                Notwithstanding that if you show up drunk or high you can be dealt with for it, but they don’t have a testing programme.

                1. londonedit*

                  Yeah, definitely unusual. I’ve never come across any sort of background checks/fingerprinting/drug or alcohol testing etc in my industry (good old long publishing lunches are a thing of the past, but no one really cares about the odd glass of wine with lunch or 4pm Friday drinks in the office every now and then). The only people I know who have had to do background checks etc are people working in the civil service (or teachers, who obviously need a DRB criminal check for every job).

                2. londonedit*

                  I’ve mixed up the old CRB and current DBS criminal checks there, haven’t I, but still – unless it’s a job working with vulnerable adults/children/something where you’re privy to sensitive information I wouldn’t expect anyone to be background checked before starting a job.

                3. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

                  That’s the rule the unions have us put in place: if you hold the engineers/drivers/signallers to a standard you gotta hold every employee to it.

              2. a tester, not a developer*

                That’s interesting! I mentioned to Ontariariario upthread that CN Rail (Canada) has a policy that you can’t drink or drug at all if you’re on call – and most of the junior positions are on call a lot. (I don’t know how often actual testing is done – I think it also varies depending on where you’re working). They make up for it by paying really well, but a significant number of new hires leave because they get frustrated about not being able to have a few beers at a BBQ or a toke on a Friday night because they *might* get called in.

              3. kitryan*

                This is interesting to me (the bit about drinks with lunch being verboten) since in the olden times (late ’90s) I was on usenet in a theater technician group and there were a couple UK theater people who thought it was fine to have a drink or two at lunch and then work on a show – even if you were moving heavy scenery or in the fly gallery (working with the rigging to raise and lower scenery) which positions would definitely put you in a position to not only ruin the production but endanger cast and crew safety. All the US folks were 100% that this would be something we would never do. Drinks after the show, no problem, but drinking and then heading to run a show was not something any of the US commenters thought would be acceptable.

          2. Another health care worker*

            FYI, a marijuana breathalyzer is in development right now! Much needed for certain employers, and also for determining driving under the influence. One of the remaining tasks is to determine a standard level that counts as intoxication/impairment, but research is going on for that as well.

        6. Medusa*

          Do you think bus drivers or pilots aren’t allowed to drink? As long they aren’t intoxicated on the job, I fail to see what the problem is.

          1. Alice's Rabbit*

            Bus drivers aren’t allowed to have any measurable alcohol in their system whatsoever, even if they’re only driving their own personal vehicle. In the US. That’s one of the requirements for a commercial driver’s license.
            So even if your BAC is low enough that a regular driver would be fine, if you have a CDL, you’ll be arrested. Doesn’t matter that you’re on vacation, driving your personal car, and aren’t working for another week.
            Just so you know.

            1. TrixM*

              That’s hardly the point, though. They can still drink as long as they follow the zero BAC while operating a vehicle rules.

            2. Fact check*

              Google indicates that .04% is the limit above which one must surrender their CDL (not be arrested).

        7. The OTHER Other*

          But breathalyzer and blood tests for alcohol only show alcohol currently in the body. Marijuana is arguably less deleterious to judgment, coordination, and so on than just about any other drugs (including alcohol) yet it is usually the most likely to get caught in a drug screen due to the remnants that last for weeks or months.

          Whenever I walk into Home Depot I see an enormous sign announcing “USE DRUGS? YOU CAN’T WORK HERE!” and think “why not?” Because they are waging a cultural war. Wal-mart is also similarly extremely committed to drug testing.

          1. Student*

            “Less deleterious” doesn’t mean there’s no noticeable impact, though. People high on pot are still high, and its recreational use impacts judgement and behavior in pretty noticeable, measurable ways. I have no idea about whether medical use has similar side-effects; I’m sure it varies by case.

            I don’t use pot. I consider working in an environment where I have some assurance my co-workers aren’t stoned as a benefit, just like I consider non-tobacco-smoking working environments a bonus. I don’t like being around stoned people for a variety of reasons. I’m sure the feeling is mutual…. There are other people like me who want a work culture where “being stoned” is very much not acceptable.

            To your specific question, places like Home Depot often involve work on light industrial equipment, like forklifts, cutting equipment, etc. They probably drug test because they need to carry insurance to operate the light industrial equipment (wood, carpets, pipe, etc.), and I expect no one would insure them if they were unwilling to drug test employees. It would be a disservice to the company, the customers, and the employees if they didn’t take reasonable measures to ensure industrial equipment was used by people who were fully sober. I may not personally want to work with people who are stoned, but I also don’t want them to lose a finger while cutting carpet or lumber.

            I think there are many jobs where they could ease up on drug testing requirements. I think developing drug tests that are more timely – showing whether you’re impaired now, vs used drugs in the past month, would be better for everyone too. However, there are still many jobs that have a few responsibilities where being impaired by drugs or alcohol is extremely harmful, and I think people don’t always consider the full scope of jobs when they make comments like yours. Handling hazardous equipment, money, or interacting extensively with the public are common job duties where there are pretty good reasons to draw some lines around being impaired.

            1. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

              You make some good points, but at the same time it’s a mistake to treat stoned/not stoned or impaired/not impaired as a binary. Someone could be off their game on a particular day for any number of reasons, pharmaceutical or otherwise, but not so much so that they can’t do their job. A person’s baseline functioning can be less than the absolute peak of human potential every day of their life (god knows mine is), and they’re still able to do their job. A person who uses marijuana for anxiety might be worse at operating machinery but significantly better at dealing with the public when under the influence.

            2. whingedrinking*

              I consider working in an environment where I have some assurance my co-workers aren’t stoned as a benefit… There are other people like me who want a work culture where “being stoned” is very much not acceptable.
              Where in this discussion has anyone said that being impaired at work is okay, much less in jobs that involve public safety?
              The “assurance” that your co-workers aren’t stoned is that, if they come into work and are visibly high, management does something about it. Requiring people to pee in a jar on a regular basis is not only not a good way to prevent this, but pretty insulting.

            3. lizesq*

              This reads like someone who watched a Seth Rohan movie once and took DARE way too seriously. I’m sure Nancy Reagan is glad her legacy survives her.

          2. Gumby*

            I have had many a conversation with people who had consumed an alcoholic drink or two who still seemed quite coherent. I would not want them driving (even though there are probably plenty of people who would be legal to drive after one beer, I am just not a fan), but I could definitely ask them a work-related question and trust their answers. OTOH, I once interviewed someone who had smoked one joint immediately beforehand, or half of one since she shared with her bf, who was also interviewing, as a way to relax and not be stressed in the interview. It was the single most frustrating interview I ever conducted. The words she was saying were fine they just didn’t at all answer the questions I was asking. Rewording the question trying to get something more on topic had no effect. It was just impossible.

            To be fair, I am sure she’d have ben fine a few hours later and obviously weeks or months later. But it *definitely* affected her judgement more than a single glass of alcohol would have for the time period that was in question.

        8. Jora Malli*

          I think most people are on board with reasonable cause testing. If you have reason to believe an employee is impaired while they’re on the job, then, by all means, send them to a testing center. But a lot of us are opposed to testing for testing’s sake. I don’t drink and I only take strong medications a couple times a year of my back is acting up, so I’m not worried about passing a drug test, but I still feel like it’s an unnecessary invasion of my privacy and I don’t think employers should drug test people if they don’t have a very good reason.

        9. Rolly*

          ” I’m going to assume that few people would have a problem with, say, bus drivers or pilots being tested for alcohol use?”

          You’re mistaken.

      2. Not really a Waitress*

        You are also assuming its a urine test. Once company I worked for did cheek swabs. Another did hair samples. It was awful. I was all but crying as I have very thin fine hair (although a lot of it) and all I could hear was the scissors as she went around my head taking hair. It turned out fine, but it seemed like so much.

        1. pugsnbourbon*

          …. what even are they looking for in a hair test? I know you can screen for heavy metals and I think rohypnol/GHB that way, but lordy that’s a lot to test for weed. And what would they do with a bald employee? I have a very short pixie, what would they do with me?

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            My husband got hair-tested for an internship (engineering office). *Internship*. He had very short hair at that time, but thankfully thick enough that you really had to look for the little mini bald spots.

            Whereas I worked for the state government, driving a truck/boat, and never got drug tested at all.

            1. Charlotte Lucas*

              I worked for a federal contractor & got security clearance but never had a drug test for any of my government or government-contractor jobs. Wal-Mart, though, required a drug test so I could cashier for them back when I was in school.

          2. As per Elaine*

            I assume they need a sufficient volume of the hair close the the scalp, since testing the hair that’s a year or three old seems even more ludicrous than most drug testing.

          3. NeedRain47*

            They’re testing for long term use, I think. Like did you do cocaine ever during the length that your hair has been growing.

            1. Casper Lives*

              They claim 3 months is reliable. I say claim because I haven’t looked into it.

          4. Casper Lives*

            They claim they can test for 3 months worth of drugs (opiates, THC, amphetamines, etc) instead of the 30 days of urine test. It prevents the fake urine too. Yes, they cut close to your scalp. I had a trainee nurse who took from 3 areas.

            I had to do it for my current job. I’ve been there a few years now. I was surprised they test everyone, even us attorneys.

          5. quill*

            The first thing that comes to mind is arsenic, which… that’s not a drug problem, that’s a poison problem.

        2. Observer*

          Once company I worked for did cheek swabs. Another did hair samples.

          Check swabs I can see, although I suspect they don’t work the way the employer thought they do. (I’m betting that the employer figured that you can’t fake those and that they give you results from the last few hours.)

          But HAIR samples? Even if you are taking samples of hair really close to the scalp, we’re talking about results from weeks prior! Which could be useful for heavy metals, since those tend to stick around and cause problems for a loooong time. But drugs?! Ridiculous.

          1. Casper Lives*

            Yep they want 3 months. From Healthline: “ Hair taken from your head will hold evidence of drug use for up to 90 days while hair taken from other parts of your body could hold evidence for up to a year. The most common type of hair follicle drug test is the 5-panel drug test. This test works to detect cocaine, opiates, PCP, THC, and amphetamines.”

            My employer drug tests all employees as screening. Including my position (attorneys). Yep some attorneys have withdrawn or failed the screen. I’m not in a state where cannabis is legal, though it should be.

          2. anonymath*

            That’s one of the contributors to our truck driver shortage in the US, hair testing. Of course I don’t want ppl driving stoned — but a joint 2 months ago….

          3. emmelemm*

            Yeah, my partner had a hair drug test done. To be a white collar office worker. He hadn’t used marijuana in about two months (because I told him to knock it the f-ck off because he might get tested), and it still showed up in his hair. Offer rescinded.

        3. JustaTech*

          During my freshman orientation in college we were told (by the students running the program, not college employees) that most of the big engineering firms would do hair drug tests because they were government contractors, so we should be aware of this if we chose to do drugs and be prepared to shave our heads winter break senior year (and go totally sober).

          You could *see* some of the folks with long hair going “nope, I like my hair more than I’m interested in trying acid”.

    2. Teach*

      Maybe it’s a bit unethical, but honestly, I would call with a different phone number or have a friend call, lay out my case frankly without giving my real name, and ask about testing. If they’re going to be sneaky about testing, I feel you can be a bit sneaky in finding out about it.

      1. KayDeeAye*

        That’s actually the first thing I thought of, too. I don’t see anything unethical about it. It’s a little sneaky, but only a little, because all you’d be asking is for the company’s guidelines about how they handle Situation A (drug testing, in this case). Surely that isn’t, or shouldn’t be, protected info.

      1. Well...*

        I’m curious… Why? It’s definitely against the “rules,” but testing for THC imo is so much more unethical that I’m having trouble caring. What are you concerned could happen to LW2? Not getting the job?

        If I worked with someone who did this, it wouldn’t affect their honestly/ethics etc in my mind. I’d think they were resourceful enough to navigate a BS system that discriminated against their medical needs.

        1. Viki*

          Because I cannot trust them to follow the rules. I don’t need to trust my coworkers or subordinates for many things, but I have to be able to trust they will follow the rules of our workplace. That’s a basic part of working.

          Even if they are stupid. And man, are there stupid rules in workplaces I would love to change/ignore but I can’t because of reasons of the people who sign my cheque, or a regulator etc. are not up for discussion.

          If you want to work at company, you play by their rules. Finding out someone is not playing by rules for whatever reason opens me/my team up to liabilities that can potentially cost me my job/capital as I try to solve the issue by someone faking their drug test.

          1. Well...*

            Would you be able to reframe it as, “I can expect this person not to follow rules that not only are stupid, but that repeatedly bar them from working for reasons rooted in racism and ableism?” Not all rule breaking leads to qualitatively different rule breaking.

            Anyways I would feel worse about working with people who were cool with this kind of testing, but to each their own.

            1. bee*

              Well, but the thing is that while I may agree with the person about this specific rule being stupid, I have no way of knowing what the next rule they decide is stupid will be. Like, dress codes are also arguably racist and ableist but I would be pretty upset if they showed up without pants on, you know?

              1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

                This is a pretty extreme comparison to weed. No pants might be more like heroin, weed is more like forgetting to change from your sneakers into your work shoes.

                1. quill*

                  Which is also a potential disability issue… “professional” shoes do not allow everyone sufficient support to avoid pain.

                2. Observer*

                  Yes, but they might also decide to flout some of our fiscal ruled. Rules which often ARE genuinely stupid. But it could shut us down if our auditors find us contravening them. Or rules which LOOK stupid if you don’t have the background, but actually make a lot of sense.

            2. Anon for This*

              My job involves ensuring that everyone is following the rules, some of which are stupid, because if we get audited and people aren’t following the rules that are documented on paper, even though the rules are stupid, we will get hit on the audit. So no, I wouldn’t want a coworker who cheats their way around stupid rules. That’s just asking for trouble.

          2. Ed*

            The only thing stupider than a stupid rule is the person who knows it’s stupid duty does it anyway.

            1. Rose*

              Ok but carrying around a vial of pee when you don’t ned to might be stupidest of all. I’ve “passed” plenty of drug tests right after smoking. They’re not usually testing for everything. If you bring it up there obviously not always going to say that though.

          3. HoHumDrum*

            I kind of feel the opposite- I trust someone more who is willing to break rules when they are unfair or unethical. The problem, of course, is that every individual has a different idea of what constitutes unfair or unethical rules but to be fair that’s also the problem with a lot of rules in the first place- they can be quite subjective.

            But as a general rule, being a rule follower doesn’t necessarily make me feel safer around you. Often it’s the opposite.

        2. EPLawyer*

          Because it is LYING. It shows extremely poor judgment. All of those matter much more than someone who might have THC in their system to me. It’s the same as putting a job title you didn’t have on your resume. Lying is NOT the way to get around these stupid requirements.

          Quite frankly the only way to end these is when companies start losing out on good candidates because they can’t find anyone who can meet their requirements. Just like tech found out.

          1. Well...*

            Eh the pearl clutching about lying doesn’t bother me either. Lying because you know the full truth will mean you’re discriminated against just doesn’t bother me.

            1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

              Thought experiment using current events: company demands applicants have Covid vaccinations. Applicant thinks this is totally unnecessary and isn’t going to get one because (reasons). Applicant therefore decides to lie and say they have got one.

              To them: it’s a stupid rule that should never have been asked for anyway.

              However, it’s a major act of deceit.

              1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

                (Btw just gonna add I’m about as pro-vaxx as it gets and I’m all for mandates. Just saying what I’ve seen some people actually DO)

                1. Falling Diphthong*

                  I think it’s a fair comparison: For every test I say is a stupid rule, someone out there can apply the same to a test I think is well founded.

                  I’ll even lump it into a broader cultural “death of expertise” where everyone’s opinions should count the same, so my gut instinct trumps your specialized training and 20 years relevant experience.

                2. quill*

                  And just because the means of testing is stupid doesn’t mean the rule is. We absolutely don’t need someone driving a forklift under the influence, but the policy of testing every employee at the facility for THC regardless of their responsibilities is not a good way of going about it.

                3. Alice's Rabbit*

                  Quill, but if they don’t test all employees (or at least test at random from all areas of the company) employers open themselves up to discrimination lawsuits. So even though a desk jockey is unlikely to hurt anyone if they’re high, they’re going to get tested same as the forklift drivers and operators of heavy machinery.

                4. quill*

                  @Alice’s Rabbit: I’m pretty sure that’s not the case if they are careful to make testing based on job duties and absolutely nothing else. It should be a pretty clear case of business necessity if you say “we test for potential impairment in jobs with significant physical risk, like operating machinery.”

              2. kittymommy*

                I agree. While there are plenty of rules in my office that I think are stupid and disagree with, others don’t, and vice versa. At some point one opinion must top out and in the case of a company, that’s would be the person(s) who runs the company.

              3. Anon in Ohio*

                I think that’s different because Covid is contagious, someone having used THC in the past month isn’t contagious. You can’t get impact your coworkers because you used something that showed up on your drug test a week ago

                1. BubbleTea*

                  There are people who believe covid is a hoax. They therefore would believe it won’t negatively effect their colleagues to fake vaccination certification.

                2. pancakes*

                  BubbleTea, people can believe whatever they like, but the rest of us aren’t obliged to play along with the idea that simple facts (like the existence of coronavirus, for example) are a matter of belief.

              4. AnonToday*

                See, companies can set rules and working conditions as they like. (Assuming lawful compliance.) They hire for business needs and set up rules to create a work environment to best allow those business needs to be met. Employment at any company is voluntary. If you don’t want to meet or follow their rules, you don’t have to work there.

                Yes, rules like drug testing do give employers leverage over applicants. But businesses draw applicants with very diverse views on drug use (or vaccines). They have to draw an arbitrary line about usage in order to get on with work.

                For me, this is more a political issue addressed with lawmakers. I’d like to see controlled studies for efficacy, purity standards, and prescription or over-the-counter rules set. Universal usage and dosage standards would be far more helpful to businesses to set fair rules of testing per role or industry, than each company selecting an arbitrary standard themselves.

                Until then, follow the rules and write your representatives.

              5. The OTHER Other*

                Alternative thought experiment: Employer hates gays. To be hired, applicants must check a box that says they are not LGBTQ. Is the gay employee that needs this job being deceitful when he checks the box saying no?

                1. Come on now*

                  Recreational substance use is not an identity. I believe that people should have absolute choice over how to manage their own bodies, including substance use, up to the point where they could reasonably cause harm to someone else, but I think comparing recreational pursuits to an identity factor is over the top.

                  There’s a whole discussion to be had about discrimination and stigma related to problematic substance use, but again, that’s not really relevant to this question, since the letter writer describes themself as a recreational user and there is no reason to suggest their use is not well controlled.

                2. Elysian*

                  I mean that would be illegal, so it is otherwise protected, whereas recreational marijuana use isn’t protected everywhere (in the US).

                3. quill*

                  Stop giving ideas to the governors of Florida, Texas, Tennessee and Alabama. Also this is why we have things like anti-discrimination laws, whereas weed is stuck in a legal purgatory of “the science says it has medical uses but the politics thinks it can still win the war on drugs.”

                4. EPLawyer*

                  Interviewing is a two way street. If a company actually has that box, and you are LGBTQ, do you really want to work there?

                  Same with requiring a drug test for a job that its not necessary. Hey good information to know, I won’t be moving forward in the process. Enough companies do NOT drug test that you should be able to find one that does not. And if it IS common in your industry, you might want to think about changing industries.

                  I agree with the other advice to just drop mentioning the recreational use.

                5. grapefruit*

                  Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is actually illegal in the US, though–that box on the application would violate the law. Drug testing is legal (though some states limit it), and employers are generally within their rights to use it as part of their hiring process, though of course people have different views on whether it’s a good practice.

                6. Boof*

                  One has to wonder if you REALLY WANT TO WORK at a place with such a checkbox, though?

                  If you’re going to go to the hypothetical “BUT WHAT IF THEY’RE STARVING?!!” then sure, the more desperate people are, the more they’ll feel justified in doing things that are mild in comparison (in their personal view and also in the group view).

                  But LW 2 clearly doesn’t feel desperate!! I think LW2 would be MUCH better off finding a place that won’t test for cannibis (or won’t care if they did) than trying to hide their cannibis use.

              6. Raboot*

                Why do people keep comparing things that are completely not equivalent. Giving people covid, no pants at work, these things are not the same as faking a THC test and are not some kind of gotcha.

                1. Mona-Lisa Saperstein*

                  The comparisons being thrown out are not analogous at all. Not wearing pants at work is arguably a sexual harassment issue. Being gay is an identity, and is definitely not some kind of “gotcha,” either. All of the comparisons being given actually affect the people around you. Consuming THC 3 weeks ago definitely does not.

              7. This is a name, I guess*

                Not the same. Covid vaccines protect others from harm.

                Drug tests do not protect others from harm in most (but not all) jobs. It would be the same as, say, as trans person early in transition (before any legal paperwork is filed) not disclosing they’re trans and interviewing as their assigned gender at birth until after they are hired in a conservative area (which is what my partner had to do to get a government security clearance to work for the military as a civilian). Or, a pregnant person declining to disclose their early pregnancy in interviews (a question asked here all the time).

                1. Lenora Rose*

                  Not telling someone you are pregnant (at a date in pregnancy which is also often within miscarriage risk) is not the same thing as using fake urine. That is like bringing in a faked negative pregnancy test. You can argue that no really, your job does not require you not to be pregnant (and in fact it IS illegal to discriminate on that basis so you’d be right in any case I can imagine), but faking compliance neither fixes the issue with being asked nor changes the barrier for others.

            2. Lenora Rose*

              Frankly, as forms of non-compliance with rules go, lying is one of the STUPIDEST. Because it looks like compliance — right up until it gets you fired on the spot. Nobody knows you don’t like the rule, nothing you are doing will possibly cause the rule to be changed.

              Other better forms of non-compliance and semi-compliance: registering a complaint about the rule. Asking about the reasoning behind the rule. Collecting multiple coworkers together and as a single united body demanding withdrawal of the rule. Refusing to comply with the rule (also works better en masse). Assembling hard data to prove the rule is counter-productive, outdated, or based on an incorrect or poorly applied methodology that invalidates the results even if the base idea is sound. Quitting because of the rule. Following the rule under registered protest. Offering better substitutes for the rule.

              “Tee hee I faked my own test” also throws every other business decision you made into question. It makes every other document you’ve signed, every business promise you made, every project you’ve managed, come under doubt, because if you lied here, did you also fake those signatures the auditor is about to check? Did you also fudge the numbers? That batch of paint that was mixed wrong – did you use it on the teapots anyhow, knowing it was said to fade in 5 years instead of under the company’s 20 year guarantee?

          2. Just Your Everyday Crone*

            A job title is relevant to the work you’ll be doing. Use of MJ outside work hours isn’t.

          3. Karak*

            Drug testing without cause is so invasive and and such an abusive overreach that the company deserves to be lied to.

          4. Courageous cat*

            It is absolutely not the same as putting a job title you didn’t have on your resume, good lord. Not everything is black and white, it’s okay for there to be, you know, “nuance”

        3. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          It’s kind of, in my eyes anyway, like lying about a qualification you don’t have on your CV to get a job. You may think their requirements are bunk because hey, you have the experience and/or knowledge anyway so what’s the harm? They say it’s an absolute requirement to have that A level in mathematics but you know your way around calculus.

          The problem is it’s a major act of deceit and when it gets found out you’re liable for severe consequences up to and including being fired.

          1. MrPotPuffer*

            I still think these are not the same. Not having the right experience can and does affect one’s performance, even if you think you are qualified. Lying about a vaccine like mentioned above also affects people around you (even if the user believes it doesn’t). Some people believe lying or skirting a rule is wrong no matter what- but I say it depends on the lie/rule and the harm it potentially causes to the company or coworkers.

            If there is no real reason for a company to need its employees to be THC-free, then I wouldn’t feel unjustified in this kind of a lie. The two things are just not the same.

        4. Alice's Rabbit*

          A) You’ll be destroying your professional reputation if word gets out that you faked a drug test. While some folks don’t care about recreational drugs, all decent employers agree that dishonest employees are bad news.
          B) In many jurisdictions, this is illegal. Not just unethical. We’re talking fines, possibly jail time, and a permanent record that will show up for any future background checks.

        5. Student*

          Have you considered that maybe some of these rules are in place for good reasons, even if they aren’t obvious to you?

          They’re not all out to stomp on your fun. Sometimes companies have rules against drug use because it’s dangerous to do the job while on drugs. If people are impaired by drugs or alcohol in my line of work, they can do a lot of harm to themselves or others.

          1. pieces_of_flair*

            This is not a good faith argument since drug tests do not actually test for impairment. I used cannabis last night and I am currently perfectly sober and performing my job safely and well, TYVM. But I couldn’t pass a drug test. People have pointed this out repeatedly and you are being willfully obtuse by ignoring it.

          2. Courageous cat*

            but… the whole argument here is that weed tests positive long after you’d be impaired…….

            Literally no one here is advocating that it should be ok to get high at work, and it’s disingenuous continuing in that line of debate when that’s not what’s going on, at all.

      2. Elena*

        Why, are you likely to get caught or barred from the industry? I would have no moral issues with it whatsoever

        1. Alice's Rabbit*

          You have no moral issues with an employee lying during the interview process? That says a lot, and none of it complementary.

          1. Annie J*

            To be fair, I feel that the whole interview process scenes in some ways an elaborate lie, with interviewers asking standard wrote questions and interviewees coming up with scripted or unreal answers in order to get the job.
            For example, I think most peoples answer to why do you want this job would be because it pays the bills and it’s better than being homeless, but of course that’s not something you can say in an interview.

          2. HoHumDrum*

            I mean…employees lie during interview processes a lot.

            “What’s your biggest flaw?”
            “I care too much sometimes, I have a hard time pulling away from work” the applicant is told to say. The applicant is never advised to just say things that are more truthful like “Oh I have a short fuse and will send passive aggressive emails anytime anyone does something I don’t like on a project”.

            For the first ten years of my career basically every job interview was just me lying- “Why do you want this job?” Truth: “I don’t, I just need to earn money to survive”. Or all the jobs that involved those questionnaires with questions like “If you catch your coworker, a single mom, slipping formula into her purse after a shift, how do you respond?” and everyone knows you just check “Report her immediately” regardless of how you actually feel like it. Job interviews are filled with lies, on both sides (“This company respects work life balance!” lmao).

            I understand that submitting fake urine is a different scale than finding artful turns of phrases to gloss over truths for job interviews, I’m just saying let’s not act like a job interview involves swearing an oath to be completely honest.

        2. Faith the twilight slayer*

          So, I work in a legal state. BUT I work overseeing federally funded money. If I got caught in a random test and popped positive, my company would be IMMEDIATELY penalized, I would be fired, and the company would likely owe the government not only the amount of salary I’ve been paid, but any amount of money they’d paid us that I had any influence over at all. I’m not saying it’s right, but it’s the reality that I am currently dealing with. Any employer who works with federal funds has to take into account what the federal laws are, because that’s where the money is. Hopefully it will change soon, but until it does I will be having a slice of cheesecake to deal with a crazy billing day rather than other ways of relaxing.

    3. Anon for this*

      That wouldn’t work where I am. You can’t take anything in with you, can’t flush or wash hands until they come get the sample. Etc

      1. Chili pepper Attitude*

        You can put a bag of urine in your pants and appear to pee like normal.

        I understand this is lying. But so is taking a day off sick when you need a mental health day or a kid is sick and your employer does not have mental health days or allow sick days for family members. So is taking a sick day for an interview. It is lying or time theft when a coworker slacks off for hours bc they just can’t today. There are lots of ways coworkers lie, not to mention bosses or companies, and I doubt those who are upset by lying around drug testing for legal substances are keeping a list of lying coworkers whom they don’t trust bc they took an out of bounds sick day.

        I don’t think it is about the lying.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Okay, but lying and saying you’re sick because you don’t get paid time to take care of your sick kid is one thing. But this is a step beyond that. It’s like getting a fake doctor’s note saying you were sick. So yeah, it does feel a step beyond “things normal people do to get around bad rules.”

          1. Environmental Compliance*


            Honestly – at my employer, faking a drug test will get your offer rescinded. Popping pos on MJ, especially if you’re honest with us and you’re not one of our haz CDL drivers? I’m not sure HR would care, and we’re not in a legal state. The only people that I have heard for us to take back the offer are those who tried to fake the test and those who popped on heroin/cocaine. Management’s opinion is if that’s it, who the heck cares, are they a good worker? Great, let’s all move on.

            1. pancakes*

              That’s good, but I wonder whether prospective hires know that. If they don’t, the incentives to bring in fake wee (or whatnot) are there just the same as if the employer did care.

        2. Antilles*

          You can put a bag of urine in your pants and appear to pee like normal.
          Unless their drug screenings required “observed collection” which is becoming more commonplace in my industry and is pretty much exactly what it sounds like.

          1. lizesq*

            Jfc this is so unhinged that companies, and our society at large, have bought into racist anti-drug propaganda to the point that they’re literally watching applicants pee. So disgusting and invasive.

          2. TheRain'sSmallHands*

            At that point I’m rescinding my interest. Discriminating against me for participating in a legal activity that has no impact on my job in my off hours is bad – wanting to watch me pee so you can be sure I don’t participate in a legal activity in my off hours that doesn’t affect my job is a violation of boundaries so extreme I don’t want to work for you.

            1. Not Your Average MJ*


              THIS. Even more disgusting when you factor in the racist attitudes behind making marijuana “bad” in the first place.

              Christ on a cracker tray eating Cheeses of Nazareth. *Weary sigh*

            2. Elysian*

              I think you’re assuming the THC is the only substance they are testing for. It is probably one in a list of things, many which WOULD be illegal. And marijuana use (both medical and recreational) is still illegal in the US on the federal level. There are a lot of things to disagree with about drug test, and I totally get if this doesn’t jive with you, but usually the test is not targeted to look specifically and only at legal off-hours activities.

              1. Not Your Average MJ*

                Can’t speak to the full meaning of TheRain’sSmallHands’s post, but I am definitely expressing my disgust with the loss of privacy and human dignity in that style of drug testing. That might be what they’re also most upset with.

                1. Ollie*

                  Virginia recently passed a law that employers can’t fire or otherwise discipline you for small amounts of THC. They can only fire you for actual impairment results.

            3. Antilles*

              For whatever it’s worth, the “controlled observation” was done via a third party in a medical facility so it was certainly awkward but felt less intrusive than you’d assume. It also wasn’t only testing the “legal activity” of marijuana (which is still illegal in my state and also by federal law) but also various other drugs.
              But it’s still ridiculous.

              1. TheRain'sSmallHands*

                Its still intrusive. If you want to test for drugs and don’t want people to cheat – use a hair test rather than having anyone watch you pee into a cup – yep its the loss of privacy and human dignity. But a hair test is a LOT more expensive – so a corporation who decides to have you do a controlled observation urine test is basically trading your dignity for a little cash.

                1. Alice's Rabbit*

                  A hair test also doesn’t test for recent usage. It takes a bit for it to show up in strands of hair. If they’re only concerned with recent use, then hair test wouldn’t be helpful. Some might also find it unhelpfully invasive, as perhaps you used to party, but you’ve turned over a new leaf, and they want to give you a chance.

        3. Observer*

          I understand this is lying. But so is taking a day off sick when you need a mental health day or a kid is sick and your employer does not have mental health days

          That’s not lying – mental health is health.

          1. Mona-Lisa Saperstein*

            The crappy thing is that some companies would call this lying. My company actually has a list of “acceptable” reasons for taking a sick day, and mental health isn’t one of them. Our handbook actually says you can be fired for taking sick time that doesn’t match one of the listed reasons.

            1. Thursday Next*

              *record scratch*

              I’m sorry, what?? This is so not okay in any way, shape, or form. How do they justify such an invasion of privacy? I assume everyone still lies and just picks something from this ‘acceptable’ list.

            2. Observer*

              As someone who thinks that lying is almost never the right solution to a problem, I have to say that these people ARE being lied to – and they DESERVE it. That’s insane.

              But it’s also not all that common. And in some areas it may actually verge on illegal, depending on what their list looks like and how they document your reasons. eg In NYC it’s illegal to require a doctors note for a sick absence of 3 days or less. And you have to allow people to take sick leave to care for sick family member.s

        4. quill*

          Some of these lies are more extrapolations / stretching beyond the letter to the spirit of the rule. Mental health day? Maybe not the letter of the rule but it is keeping you healthier. Day off to take care of sick kid? The kid is your responsibility, and also could be contagious.

          Smuggling a bag of pee into a drug test feels like a larger lie partially because there are enough people who will take enough of any substance they use recreationally to be impaired that it’s reasonable for companies to not take, say, delivery drivers at their word that it’s been long enough since they smoked for them to drive, whereas there aren’t (except for very specific circumstances) times when saying you’re sick when really it’s your kid who is sick poses any danger to anyone else.

        5. RagingADHD*

          Okay, let’s open up this can of worms.

          How is this different from folks who lie about getting vaccinated or get fake vaccine cards?

          They fully believe those rules are stupid and unconstitutional, and that they are being “discriminated against” or having their rights violated.

          1. quill*

            It’s not. Both are lying in a way that could increase risk to other people. One directly with an infectious disease, one less directly about their use of an impairing substance. If you fake a drug test it’s much harder to take your word that you only use on the weekends, and if your job involves any sort of machinery operating or volatile substances that is a safety concern. Less of a concern if you spend all day typing, but many of these policies are one size fits all about either everybody having a drug test, everybody on site having a drug test, etc.

          2. The OTHER Other*

            The difference is one of public health. Someone who uses weed recreationally after work or on weekends is no danger to anyone else, whereas someone who is unvaccinated is, especially if they claim they are vaccinated and therefore others relax their social distancing around them.

            1. Fact check*

              Haven’t we moved beyond the point where we believe you won’t catch Covid from someone who is vaccinated?

              1. Just Another Cog in the Machine*

                Because of a variety of reasons (having a lower viral load, being contagious for a much shorter time, and being less likely to have symptoms and, therefore, sneeze on you), you are much less likely to catch COVID from someone who is vaccinated than from someone who isn’t. So, it’s certainly not failsafe, but I would feel much better with a 65% smaller chance (which is what the “Doherty modeling” found, per the article I just found) of catching it from someone.

    4. Anon4This*

      I’m in healthcare in a marijuana legal state and the organization tests for THC and nicotine, among other drugs. The THC because we receive federal funding and it’s still illegal at the federal level (at least, that’s what they tell us). The nicotine on the surface because we are supposed to be promoting a healthy lifestyle and good habits, but almost certainly in reality because smokers have higher health care costs. One thing I’ve learned is health care as an industry is incredibly cheap when it comes to what they cover under their insurance, probably because they know exactly how much various treatments cost.

      OP2- can you just quit smoking until you get a job? Unless you are in job where safety is a concern, like flying planes or driving trucks, you are unlikely to experience random testing. As long as you pass the initial screening you should be fine going forward.

      1. TrixM*

        They are testing you for nicotine? Which is perfectly LEGAL? Why do you people put up with this crap? How are businesses allowed this level of control over their employees’ bodies? Then again, this is the country that has your employers effectively control your health insurance and therefore, often, birth control, so why am I surprised.

        It’s a serious question, though. What’s next, demanding your BMI is under a certain number, tracking your calories, firing you if you develop diabetes?

        1. quill*

          See Allison’s entire backlog of letters about wellness initiatives. They didn’t make any of those things a job requirement in any of them, but there sure are a lot of letters where companies have attempted to make the ability to get their promised insurance benefits contingent on them.

        2. Anon4This*

          Honestly, as a non-smoker who is incredibly sensitive to smell I am not willing to share an office with smokers. So on a purely personal level I like that we do not allow smoking. However, on the personal freedom side of things I can agree that it’s an overreach.

        3. raktajino*

          My employer used to have you self-report whether you’re a smoker in order to give you a lower insurance rate. Supposedly if you lied and were later found out, your rate would go up to the smoker rate. I don’t know many smokers, so I don’t know how you got found out. The implication was that your doctor confirmed your status, which…jesus.

      2. JuliaSugarbaker*

        Hey there- I’m the OP. The issue with quitting to get a job is the random testing. Getting a job that does random testing would really mean quitting for good, since THC stays in your system for months. I would have to go back to treating my back pain and depression with pharmaceutical drugs, when CBD treatment is much safer and more effective (and less expensive!). I don’t think an employer has the right to dictate my medical treatment, or my choice of an after hours gummy over a glass of wine. I don’t want to work for an employer with the mindset that they completely own me, or that has a culture of hostility or condescension towards marijuana as medicine (I’m reading a lot of that in the comments here). If they THC test, we’re just not right for each other!

        1. Anon4This*

          That is understandable. My organization does not do random testing unless there is a serious concern about impairment on the job, so as long as you pass the initial test when hired and do not come to work impaired, you shouldn’t have to worry about it ever again.

      3. Lenora Rose*

        OP2 also mentioned medical use. Which may be of the “I can stop for a month; it requires some less pleasant alternatives for me but a job interviewer probably won’t notice.” Or could be “If I stop for a month I will be effectively bedbound and unable to interview or work.”

      1. quill*

        I’ve only ever worked lab or office jobs and I’ve always only had one pre-employment test.

      2. RagingADHD*

        No place I’ve ever lived was legal for marijuana at the time I was there. Pretty much every office job I’ve had put some kind of statement in the application process or in the employee handbook that they have a zero tolerance policy and they reserve the right to require a drug test at any time.

        But I can’t recall ever having to actually do one.

      3. This is a name, I guess*

        I’ve never taken a drug test. I’ve worked at universities, small companies, and at several nonprofits. My current agency is large for a nonprofit, and we specifically don’t drug test because it goes against our mission.

      4. JuliaSugarbaker*

        I’m the OP, and I’ve been STUNNED at the number of employers who drug test (or at least say they do). Everything from 5 person offices to multi site firms. I was in the bar business for nearly 20 years, and there’s no such thing as drug testing in hospitality, so it was something that didn’t cross my mind until the job hunt.

        1. Shiny*

          I wrote this before, but I honestly think there are class/industry/etc. divides. I literally have a security clearance, my entire industry is built primarily on USG funds, and I have never heard of a company in this industry drug testing. Most have very explicit policies about what you do on your own time being your business, but that you cannot engage in illegal behaviors on company time or premises, which includes while traveling (also very common in my industry, generally internationally).

          1. HoHumDrum*

            All of the jobs I’ve been drug tested for were minimum wage jobs where it absolutely wouldn’t have mattered (and never really prevented people from coming in high after having passed the initial test). The jobs I’ve worked at where it would have mattered are further up the food chain and wouldn’t think of drug testing.

            It is absolutely a racial and class divide, not just about jobs that can or can’t be done while impaired.

        1. Lch*

          Also restaurants and retail but I was answering the office jobs question. No drug testing for any. Maybe it’s more prevalent in certain states.

      5. raktajino*

        I’ve never been drug tested for an office job, just ones where I was driving as part of the job. When I worked with kids, there was an in-depth background check but no drug test.

        My husband has had mostly jobs where other people in the company are using heavy machinery, mostly federal- or public-service-adjacent, all of which are very very clear that there’s a no-tolerance drug policy. Maybe 1/3rd of those required a pre-employment drug test.

    5. Public Sector Manager*

      So not helpful! The second your employer finds out you used fake urine on your drug test, you will get fired immediately. When I was in private practice, we had a client who faked a degree on their resume. 10 years later, after nothing but stellar reviews, it was discovered they lied about having a degree. They were immediately terminated and because of the termination, struggled to find work.

      Please do not do this!

    6. Judd*

      There’s a lot of misinformation in this thread. I’m seeing a lot of references to “legal states.” Nowhere in the United States is there a state where marijuana is completely legal. It’s still a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law, across the entire United States. Some states have repealed their state laws prohibiting marijuana, but that doesn’t mean it’s somehow “legal” anywhere in the United States.

      This could change soon – the House already passed the MORE Act (twice!) but as of right now marijuana is still illegal everywhere in the United States.

        1. Elysian*

          I think there’s a serious question about whether those laws could stand if challenged against the federal classification of marijuana. They also contain myriad exemptions (certain types of jobs, jobs with federal licensing requirements, government contracts, etc) that carve out large swaths of employees from the rule. An interesting law review article, but not particularly helpful for the OP.

          1. pancakes*

            Challenge by who? The fed is likely to either move towards legalization or keep the status quo, not start going after states that have legalized for protecting users from employment discrimination.

            Unrelatedly, neither of those links are to a law review article.

          2. Foila*

            Well, yeah, but for a bunch of great reasons the federal government really, really doesn’t want to challenge the states that have legalized cannabis. So for now the state-level laws are in effect, unless, as you said, you’re e.g. a government contractor.

          3. pancakes*

            I should add, I also don’t think it’s quite correct to characterize these laws as not applying to “large swaths of employees.” The NY law, for example, is quite broad in who it protects from discrimination. I’ll link to another law firm’s guidance about it: “New York’s new restrictions are among the most extensive in the nation, and will require many employers to make significant changes to longstanding drug testing and employment policies.”

    7. In Libraries, Too*

      #2: I don’t have a solution for the applicant finding out, but our job ads state that we may conduct drug tests as a condition of employement. At the moment we have to give pre-employement drug tests and I don’t have control over what they screen for, but since we’re in a marijuana-legal state, I would ignore THC-positives.

      1. Crumbledore*

        It does seem like it would save the employer time as well, being up-front about it in the ad.

        One thing I wanted to flag for OP #2: I worked for a large company with government contracts, and their policy was not only to reject applicants who tested positive for THC, but to *bar them from ever applying to the company again.* However, in our case, employees of acquired companies (as mine was) were never required to test. This came up when I wanted to rehire a recent retiree as a contractor and they reached out to tell me they were worried about failing the drug test. They weren’t a regular user, so I sent them a pack of at-home tests so that they could make sure they were seeing negative results a few times before applying, since we didn’t want to lose any hope of rehiring them.

        They could have been high as a kite for the decade-plus they had worked for this company, but after a few months away, would have been forever banned for something they actually did while not working for us. Ridiculous and frustrating!!

    8. Elizabeth West*

      Personally, I think the OP should just assume that every company will test and plan accordingly. I wouldn’t recommend trying to cheat it.

    9. Jessica Fletcher*

      Another option is to only say you have a medical marijuana prescription, which will be more acceptable to a lot of employers.

      Or if possible, stop long enough to get a negative screen. Most companies only test at hire, unless you’re coming to work high or bringing it to work.

    10. Miles*

      OP2 Um, what? You said it’s for medical use right? They can’t reject you based on testing positive for something *you have a prescription for*. Not that I would want to work for someone who even tried to pull that. If they disrespect the ADA that blatantly then what else are they doing?

      1. Pointy's in the North Tower*

        Some states can. I’m in a medical state, and employers have the legal right to fire you if you test positive for THC even if you have your medical card.

  2. Julia*

    It might just be that I’m a less staunchly ethical person than Alison, but I’d be very tempted to give my friend the interview questions as LW1 suggests. It’s true that it gives her an advantage other candidates don’t have, but first, my primary allegiance here is to my friend, not the sanctity of the company’s hiring process. Second, candidates get “unfair” advantages based on who they know all the time.

    And third, this is not the sort of inside info where I’d be worried she could use it to con her way into a job for which she’s fundamentally ill-suited. For example, I would not provide the answers to a hiring assessment administered by a company, or script out her answers to behavioral questions for her, because that would really get in the way of the company assessing her skills.

    Providing the questions so she can better prepare, though – I’d be comfortable crossing that ethical line for a good friend. Particularly for someone who, e.g., is new to the work world and doesn’t know about the typical questions asked.

    1. nano*

      The thing I think about with this whether you could feel good about that if other candidates were from already disadvantaged populations and your friend wasn’t? For the sake of argument–if my white friend got the job because I helped her with the questions and that helped her win the job over some nonwhite candidates, that would feel like contributing to the cycle of inequality of privilege and access that we are being asked to be more aware of. Obvious caveat that we don’t know anyone’s race here.

      1. Ponytail*

        But… you’re helping your friend. You’re not helping her because she’s white, you’d be helping her because she’s your friend.
        And without knowing the other candidates, you don’t know if she is the privileged one – if she’s female and isn’t related to a higher-up in the company, maybe she’s the one that needs extra access.

        1. Polly Hedron*

          I agree. To paraphrase E.M.Forster:
          If I had to choose between betraying my company and betraying my friend I hope I should have the guts to betray my company.
          Link below.

        2. kitryan*

          But people tend to have friends that have similar backgrounds to themselves and this means if widely done (not just a single person with a single friend-applicant), companies will keep predominantly hiring people who have similar backgrounds to their existing employees. Since executive leadership (generally, in the US) is predominantly white and male, their friends are going to be predominantly white and male and they’ll be the ones getting a leg up – which perpetuates discrimination.
          It can be one facet of a passively discriminatory process where people in a position to hire or to help out an applicant may have benefited from privilege and are then boosting people who they like, because they have things in common with them, which then primarily boosts people *with similar backgrounds* and then doesn’t provide the same boost to people who have different backgrounds or life experiences. Because this is all passive it doesn’t read as obviously a problem as the hiring manager who throws out applications with ‘ethnic’ sounding names, but it still perpetuates historical prejudices and imbalances.
          This isn’t necessarily the case in all of these scenarios, but if it’s the generally done thing, it will ultimately, over the population, be to the benefit of established groups, not underrepresented groups and can decrease workplace diversity.

      2. Eliza*

        On the other side of the coin, does this mean you’d be more okay with it if the OP’s friend were from a disadvantaged group and the majority of the candidate pool wasn’t? That’s not a rhetorical question; I can see how “it’s okay to bend the rules if it’s to the benefit of people who tend to get screwed over by the rules” could be a genuinely defensible ethical position, even if it doesn’t sit well with me as someone who prefers rules to be clear and firm.

      3. L-squared*

        I mean, I’m not who you ask, but I have the same opinion as them.

        And my answer is, yes, I’d feel fine about it anyway. I say this and I’m black myself. But I’m not going to be able to break decades of injustice by helping my friend (whether they be a white man or a black woman) get employment. I mean, they likely have a bit of a leg up just by knowing someone at the company already. So are you going to tell your friend they can’t even use you as a referral because its not fair to some disadvantaged group? How far do you take this?

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          Honestly, offering to be a reference is probably going to help the friend more than giving her a list of what sound like really standard interview questions. A candidate who is known to and recommended by a known and trusted current employee can likely bork up a couple of , “Tell me about a time when..”
          questions without it hurting their chances.

          P.S.: For those interested in equity and diversity in hiring, being a solid, respected reference/job referral for any junior colleagues who are in a disadvantaged group is a good place to start. And if you don’t have/know any junior colleagues in disadvantaged groups, it is time to expand your network.

      4. MicroManagered*

        Yeah but you’re making the assumption that OP & friend are white. If they’re nonwhite and OP shares interview questions, what then? Are they “breaking the cycle of inequality” by doing that? (Of course not, which invalidates your point for me.)

        1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

          That doesn’t invalidate the point. Giving the advantaged more advantage furthers inequality, while giving the disadvantaged more advantage lessens inequality. Whether or not that makes it right is a different question, but it doesn’t invalidate the point. I personally think interview questions should generally be provided in advance anyway, unless thinking on your feet is a crucial part of the job.

          1. MicroManagered*

            I said it invalidated the point *for me* and it still does.

            Sharing what you were asked in a job interview with a friend is not doing anything to promote or fight racism. It ain’t that serious.

            1. As per Elaine*

              The issue, for me, is that if I’m white, and my friends are white, and I bend the rules in ways that advantage my friends, I’m perpetuating “old boys’ club” patterns of behavior, and making it more likely that the company will hire people like me. (I’m also a woman in tech, and my friends are more likely to be female, so there’s that, but the race and class aspects still apply.)

              I don’t know that I would be okay with bending the rules to advantage a non-advantaged group, but I’m definitely not okay with behavior that’s questionably ethical and perpetuates existing systems of inequality, even in minor ways. I’ve nearly lost out on job opportunities because of “honest mistakes” where someone implicitly assumed a woman wouldn’t want the more technical job; I try not to be party to doing that to anyone else. Sometimes the margins of discrimination ARE that thin.

              1. Wilbur*

                The weird thing is the information thats “OK” to share is much more valuable in my opinion. Job postings are so awful and generic that knowing inside information about the challenges of the role is a huge leg up.

                Honestly, it’s weird that companies don’t share information about their interview process up front. Who cares if candidates are able to prepare for your questions? If they don’t prep, that’s a red flag. If they can’t showcase their talents to the best of their abilities because they didn’t have a fair shake, then the company loses out.

                1. Queen of the Introverts*

                  Exactly. I don’t see how interview questions are more of an inside look than actual insight from someone inside the organization about the day-to-day job, especially if the questions are somewhat generic. Telling someone “They’re going to ask about dealing with difficult coworkers” is more unethical than telling them “Our manager is suspicious of anyone who acts too happy, she thinks they’re covering for other shortcomings.”

                2. DevilDoll*

                  we are talking about standard questions that most people will have come across and can be easily googled and aren’t difficult questions to begin with. I really don’t see any ethical dilemma and I definitely don’t see any reason to be all “bUt WHat ABOUT pRIVIlege?!”

                3. Kal*

                  There is a certain amount of privilege behind knowing what standard interview questions are and what kind of answers are expected from them – people who come from an environment that didn’t expose them to it might not even know what to google to prepare. I certainly didn’t, and it was mostly reading AAM that has shown me just how much I screwed up a lot of my early interviews because I definitely misunderstood the point behind a lot of the questions and gave answers that were embarrassingly off-base.

                  You even say in your own comment that only “most” people will have come across these sorts of interview questions – and if there is an over representation of marginalised people among the number that haven’t encountered them, then it will have an unequal impact. And that is where privilege can get tied up in something as seemingly simple as basic interview questions and where companies just providing the questions to candidates can easily minimise at least this one tiny aspect of inequality in hiring. If the questions are so standard then it is certainly no loss to the company to do it.

      5. Alice's Rabbit*

        Why on earth are you dragging race into this? We have no indication of anyone’s race, here, so let’s please not speculate on facts not in evidence.
        The question is whether it’s ethical to give out the interview questions to only one candidate. Not a discussion about minority representation.

        1. Kate 2*

          Because race matters everywhere and in everything. It determines whether the bus stops for you, whether you get the job, whether you make it home alive. This has been scientifically proven over and over again. It is fact. Can we please stop pretending it doesn’t?

          1. Eyes Kiwami*

            It does not matter in this discussion of whether it is ethical to give a friend extra networking help. One’s answer should be the same whether both OP and friend are white/privileged/POC/disadvantaged. That does not equate to denying the existence or importance of race.

    2. Willis*

      I don’t understand why the OP wouldn’t just say “prep for some standard ‘tell me about a time when’ or ‘tell us how you would do this’ questions” without giving the specific questions. That’s super basic interview advice so seems like fair game. OP’s friend can Google from there.

      1. AnotherLibrarian*

        Yeah, I think the trick here is to be vague. Basically, my measure is- Would I be okay telling my own boss that I did it? For example, I would be totally okay telling my boss that my friend asked about the job. So, I told her what I thought about the work environment, that the interview would be three parts, and that they might ask about XYZ. However, I wouldn’t be okay telling my boss that I handed over the interview questions, so I would never do that.

      2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        Yeah, I think if the friend asked me directly I’d find I ‘couldn’t remember’ most of the details of what they asked, but did recall that it included a lot of “tell me about a time” format of questions.

      3. Anonym*

        OP could actually check Glassdoor – a lot of people post interview questions they encountered there. If they’re on there, direct the friend to that site, which many other candidates will have found, and all have access to.

        Alternately! OP can add a review + their interview questions there themself! Help everybody put their best foot forward, and help eliminate the stupid “gotcha” aspect of interviewing.

      4. Smithy*

        While I understand the ethical points around why giving the answers are wrong – the reality is that the OP just handing over a list of the questions isn’t necessarily going to be the strongest way the OP can help anyways.

        Having all the questions in advance can help someone plan through the answers they think will be best and to avoid repeat stories. And it is definitely frustrating to have a great answer to “tell me about a time when you did xyz well” but it’s also your best answer to “tell me about a time you overcame a challenge” and you don’t think to use another story for doing XYZ well.

        However, if the OP actually went through their friend’s answers to those general questions to flag what specifically in their friend’s experience would resonate most with the company, that would likely help a lot more. When I’m prepping for an interview with a friend for a job at their company, it’s someone taking the time to probe into my resume and help remind me of things I’ve done that will actually impress them most. Long story short, to share the questions as is may be unethical – but in the larger world of networking there are far far more effective ways to help a friend prep for a job at your employer without doing that.

      5. Elizabeth West*

        If the company is fairly good-sized, some of the questions might be posted on Glassdoor anyway. There is a section for interviews and it often contains questions candidates were asked in interviews for various roles.

    3. Ed123*

      I really don’t see the problem with LW sharing the questions they were asked. I do think it would be unethical if LW was the one doing the interview or had participated to a meeting where they discussed the questions or gave answers to skills tests. But talking about questions they were asked. meh. go for it. Hiring isn’t ever an equal playground so I think you should take any advantage you can get and help friends out.

      1. MicroManagered*

        I agree and I was a little surprised by the answer on #1. It’s not unethical for a friend at the company you’re applying to to share tips or info about their own interview process. Some might call it “networking.”

        UNLESS you are part of the hiring team or in HR or something like that, as you pointed out. I didn’t get that from the letter though.

        1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

          She wouldn’t really be telling the friend how her interview went, though, she’d be telling her friend the exact list of questions the company uses. She doesn’t know the information she’s providing based on her memory, but based on insider knowledge.

          1. MicroManagered*

            The letter actually doesn’t speak to how OP1 knows the interview questions one way or the other.

            I agree if she’s in HR or otherwise on the hiring team, it would be unethical. If she’s just sharing as “my friend who works there” it’s networking.

            1. MustardPillow*

              I agree too. I recently had an interview for a job and a friend of mine was applying for the same job later. Of course I went through all the questions and helped her prepare. I wouldn’t be afraid to tell my boss I did that. In fact, my boss knew this person was my friend (I put in the referral) and probably expected it. Employees talk. Turns out she was asked none of the harder questions I was asked so there wasn’t even a need for the prep.

              If OP was part of the hiring team and not just someone who was hired, it is different.

          2. L-squared*

            For me, that part wasn’t clear.

            I have no idea the specific questions my manager asked of our new hires. I do know the questions I was asked during my interview. Its not clear where OPs line comes from. Is it that her and coworkers all discussed their interviews and realized there were similarities? Or is there like a google doc on the shared drive that she has access to? I think that would definitely matter.

            1. Amaranth*

              If the questions are just based on OP’s own interview, I don’t see how it is different from someone who interviewed and did NOT get the job sharing tips with a friend. If OP knows a different set of questions based on work product then they should keep with a slightly more vague ‘don’t worry, its nothing unusual, maybe make sure you have examples for x and z like usual.’
              As AnotherLibrarian mentioned, avoid giving information you feel like you’d have to hide from your boss.

    4. Well...*

      Yea, I’ve always told people what questions I get asked in interviews when they ask. It feels a little weird because your insider knowledge means you can guarantee the questions will be the same, so maybe that’s where I’d stop. But I think anyone who has been in the interview (those who got the job and those who didn’t) are free to share what was talked about afterwards.

      1. TechWorker*

        Giving away information you have because you have done an interview as an interviewee is *not* the same as giving away information you have because you are part of the hiring process! I agree the first is totally fine.

        1. Loulou*

          This is a really good distinction! This somehow FEELS different than a situation where OP interviewed for this job but didn’t end up taking it…but I’m not completely sure it is.

      2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        I even told a candidate what answers to give once!
        I didn’t know the guy, but he was well qualified and there was nobody else at all suitable. The boss was late for the interview and asked me to start the interview without him. The guy gave a wrong answer to “where do you see yourself in five years’ time” – he said he’d like to start freelancing once he’s got more experience, but the boss was paranoid about former employees stealing clients, so I told him to think of something else, anything that wouldn’t feed the boss’s paranoia.
        He got the job and it was great working with him, I had no qualms whatsoever, and no he didn’t steal any clients.

    5. BritChickaaa*

      I’m really shocked that it’s not standard to give people interview questions ahead of time. Maybe I’m lucky to work in the arts, but here it’s standard to give applicants the questions in advanced, as part of disability accessibility.

      1. Michelle Smith*

        Yeah, definitely not standard. I’ve worked in retail, non-profit admin, and legal roles. Never once have I seen questions in advance, except for maybe a stray one here and there on Glassdoor.

      2. Just Your Everyday Crone*

        Unfortunately, not standard, which is something I have strong opinions about as a slow processor.

      3. Loulou*

        It’s not standard in my field, but I’ve been given Qs in advance once or twice and appreciated it. For me personally it didn’t make a big difference in how I performed, but I’m sure for another candidate it could have been huge.

      4. NeedRain47*

        They usually don’t even let you see them in writing at the actual interview. I hate it, b/c I can’t possibly process a lengthy three part spoken question in ten seconds or less.

      5. Antilles*

        I’ve never seen that, but the way OP describes these questions, these questions also seem pretty vanilla. “Tell me about a time when” is such a common interviewing technique that OP’s friend should always be assuming that question will be asked – whether you get “insider information” or not, you can reasonably expect most interviewers are going to ask some form of that question.

        1. Elsajeni*

          The format, sure, but it’s not as if “Tell me about a time when…” is an interview question in and of itself — of course it would be helpful to know which specific “times when” they are likely to ask you about! I can prep all day anticipating the question “Tell me about a time when you made a mistake at work,” but if my interviewer doesn’t ask that and instead asks “Tell me about a time when you had to deal with an irate customer,” that prep won’t have helped me much.

      6. Charlotte Lucas*

        My current job gives the questions to interviewees about 20 minutes before the interview. And it’s all nicely printed with space to write your own notes. I think it’s a great system.

      7. Anon for This*

        I’m fairly sure my former boss did this with a new hire, which led to disastrous consequences.

        One of the most important pieces of our job is being able to think on our feet and handle disasters as they come in, ideally turning them into not disasters so no one else notices how bad it could have been if we hadn’t quickly identified, triaged, and fixed it. New hire who was clearly coached through questions is absolutely not mentally flexible, gets bewildered if they’re asked to process something quickly, and possesses no critical thinking skills. Sometimes not knowing the questions ahead of time is desirable.

        1. Amaranth*

          Everyone memorizes common interview answers, its just that some are more skilled in presentation when they respond. Its when you expand on the basic answers that you learn more about candidates and get a sense of how they’d fit.

      8. NNN222*

        I’m more shocked that this company has a specific list of questions it asks all interviewees. Why are the same exact questions relevant to every role they’re trying to fill? Als, the best interviews I’ve ever been involved with were more conversations than questions and answers.

    6. Expiring Cat Memes*

      I think I would offer to mock interview my friend for practise if she wanted it, but I’d feel weird about just sending her the questions somehow, even though it’s essentially the same intel.

      Also worth considering is what happens when you build your friend up with a lot of confidence in her polished responses, and they throw in an unexpected question during the interview? Would that throw her, or make the rehearsing obvious? Maybe letting her go into it with a certain amount of uncertainty is a kindness.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        yes, if she only does well while they stay on script, it might raise suspicions, especially if the interviewer knows that she’s friends with OP.

    7. Helvetica*

      Indeed. It would be problematic if you gave them very specific questions or answer to assessments or tests but since your friend would be asked relatively standard questions, I do not think it would be ethically problematic. I’ve done so for people asking me for advice on what kind of questions are typically asked during the interviews in my organisation. None of it is super specific but an outline of saying that they will be asked to solve a hypothetical crisis situation or to explain their understanding of the issues we work with is not exactly revolutionary.

    8. What a way to make a living*

      The fact that your primary loyalty is to your personal friend over fair hiring practices is the bit that makes it unethical.

      The fact that hiring practices are often unfair doesn’t justify participating in unfairness yourself.

      But it unfairness through contacts and networking isn’t quite the same as this. Everyone at least in theory has the opportunity to network and make contacts, although of course some have far greater opportunities to do than others. But personal networking and building contacts can have *some* reflection of your personal qualities.

      Giving out the questions in advance to one candidate isn’t available to the other candidates, even in theory. It’s just a straight forward cheat for one candidate.

      And the questions aren’t even odd! Honestly, if your friend can’t prep for and answer “tell me about a time you…” without knowing the question in advance, she’s probably not the right candidate anyway.

      Also, imagine if your employer somehow found out and it called into question her whole candidacy. What if colleagues found out and it undermined her in their eyes?

      1. Astrid*

        I disagree. As one commenter mentioned, candidates have various advantages; some are referred, some have inside knowledge, some have connections. I don’t see anything wrong with giving a friend a heads up on the questions. I have been passed over for jobs because another candidate was helped in such a way. I don’t know why giving her the questions would be unethical if she otherwise thinks she is very qualified for the job.

        1. Koli*

          Just because you’ve been on the wrong end of something unethical advantaging another candidate doesn’t make it ok for LW to do the same thing.

        2. Public Sector Manager*

          If someone on my team wants to share what they were asked with a candidate, I have no problem with that. This is why we change our interview questions all the time.

          But the OP is, from my read of the letter, taking the current list of questions and giving them to their friend. It probably won’t impact the friend’s candidacy because the friend asked the OP for general guidance. But for the OP, it’s going to have their manager question their judgment with sensitive information. And it might be the one thing that keeps you from a promotion because your equally talented coworker doesn’t share interview questions with new hires.

          Will the OP lose their job over this? No (and if they did it would be a major overreaction). But since the questions are so generic but the OP would be violating the spirit of the hiring process it will impact the OP’s future at that company should they find out.

    9. Asenath*

      Well, you’re basically adding “be my friend” to the qualifications to the job, which is unfair to everyone else who applies, no matter how many other people also do it. I don’t think being a friend to someone means I have to create a disadvantage to other people in the name of my friendship, and I also don’t think my friends would expect me to. General help, yes. A cheat sheet, no. The whole idea reminds me of kids in school who do homework or assignments for their friends – that’s nothing I’d do, or be expected to do by my friends. I suppose you could say that I try to make my primary allegiance to neither the company nor my friends, but to honest behaviour.

      1. Leilah*

        Except that being well-prepared to answer interview questions doesn’t at all meant that person will get the job. The answers they give could easily reveal them to not have the right strengths for that job, which is still a win-win for the company and the potential employee. Getting a clearer line of sight into the true chances of success or failure is just as good, if not better, for the company than for the employee. Unless the job is specifically about answering tough questions on the spot, like some sort of press secretary, all this is going to do is mean the employee gets better, more accurate info out of the interview.

    10. LifeBeforeCorona*

      The problem to me is, giving the friend the questions, and the friend gets hired. Later in passing, the friend mentions to someone at work that knowing the questions ahead of time was a big help. It gets back to the company and the LW is fired because the company doesn’t want the optics of not having a fair hiring system.

      1. TimeTravlR*

        This sounds like a good standard. Would LW be comfortable with her boss knowing she provided the questions? If the answer is yes, then go for it. If they have any hesitation at all, then don’t.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I, also, immediately wrote this little sequel.

        I don’t think a person who needs the exact specifics of “Tell me about a time when…” is obviously going to be a person who never says something like “Ha ha OP didn’t tell me that one!”

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          The other problem is… can friend do the job without your help?

          I once recommended a friend for a job where I’d be his peer. I handed his résumé to my supervisor and told her “this is the end of my participation in the process.” If she hired him, it needed to be on his own merits, and he needed to succeed or fail in the job on his own; otherwise, if he couldn’t do the job without my help and I were to leave, where would that leave the employer and my friend? Him with no job and them shorthanded? (I did articulate that when she responded with abject confusion).

          It worked; he’s closing in on his 15 year anniversary with the employer, and no one missed a beat when I left that job a little over a year later.

        2. Leilah*

          This feels kind of classist and ableist. You seem to be implying that a person without that specific type of interview experience has poor judgement. They may just not have that particular experience before.

      3. DarthVelma*


        LW1, if I was your boss, and I found out you did this, I would fire you. And do you really want to take a chance that your actual boss doesn’t feel exactly the same way?

        1. Leilah*

          That seems likely a wildly out-of-proportion response unless the interview questions are specifically marked as confidential information.

    11. Mother of Cats*

      I think it would be perfectly OK for LW1 to share what she remembers the questions being from her own interview, but not the fact that she knows they use still the same questions because she knows that only because of her status as an employee.

      1. Cj*

        I’m currently looking for a job, and I can’t remember if it’s on indeed glassdoor, or maybe both, there is a question to prior applicants of what were you asked in an interview. A few people answered it, although the questions were so basic it didn’t really help in my interview. I don’t see that this is any different.

        1. Koli*

          Because the applicant looking on Google or other public web pages doesn’t involve the LW disclosing confidential company information. If LW knows these resources exist, she could tell her friend, “Yea, I think if you google XYZ company interview process, some helpful resources come up.” But she’s keeping herself out of it.

          1. Leilah*

            How do we know that what LW is talking about is confidential company information? I agree that if it is, they shouldn’t do that, but we have no way of knowing that from the letter.

      2. Loulou*

        Yes, great distinction. “I remember them asking me a lot about X” is fine, “I know they will ask about Y because Kara mentioned it today at a meeting” is not.

        1. Leilah*

          So what about insider information like, “I’m guessing they’ll ask about your experience with training undergrads, because that’s a real weak spot on our team right now.” Is that also confidential?

    12. It’s Britney B*tch*

      You took the words right out my mouth —I’m with you on this one. There are already so many disadvantages on how someone made it to the interview process (who they know, education background due to social economic means, bias of the person reviewing the resumes, etc.) and my allegiance is to my friend not this company or it’s hiring process. This is not a presidential debate or some other major event just a damn interview. Or in the name of Tom Haverford from Parks and Rec “I have never taken the high road, but I tell everyone too ‘cause there is more room me on the low”

      1. Colette*

        Why is your allegiance to your friend over the job that pays your bills? (I mean, if we’re talking “leaving work to drive your friend to the hospital in a medical emergency”, sure, but sharing info she’s not supposed to have is a different story.)

        How does adding more bias (i.e. you have a better chance of working there if you’re friends with the OP) help?

      2. KateM*

        There’s a post hare called “how do I explain being fired for sharing confidential info with a friend?”…

    13. Rusty Shackelford*

      my primary allegiance here is to my friend, not the sanctity of the company’s hiring process

      Isn’t “I want to hire my friends” how we ended up with C-suites full of white guys?

    14. Koala dreams*

      I don’t really see the ethical difference between sharing interview questions and other insider information like job duties or company culture. If anything, sharing interview questions is less of an unfair advantage compared to the other things. It’s really common for job seekers to share interview experience with each other, and nowadays you can easily find lists with common questions online.

      Also, if you want to equal the playing field, you should give job seekers more information, not less. The playing field is already stacked in favour of employers in many situations.

      1. Koli*

        Gut check test: would you be uncomfortable with telling your manager, “Yea, I told Sally all of the interview questions we ask in advance, so she would be prepared”? Compare that to how you feel about telling your manager, “Yea, I told Sally all about my experience in the role and what the job requires, so she would be prepared.” Does one make you cringe and the other one not?

        1. Leilah*

          Absolutely. We encourage coaching and mentorship and I would take a heavy stand on this from the perspective of equity and ableism in hiring.

    15. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      I think the LW could guide her friend, but outright give a list. Like she could say, “when I interviewed they asked me really basic questions like Name an experience when… or how would you do X.” I don’t think that would be a problem. And if you can find a list of those types of questions online (I know they are out there) you could probably direct her to them and say the questions I was asked are all listed on this website.

      But I would not type out all of the questions and give to the friend

    16. LaLa762*

      I also disagree with Alison’s advice here. I’d absolutely give my friend the info – that’s just leveraging your contacts.
      If the LW is uncomfortable with that, that’s OK. She doesn’t have to share, but I definitely would.

    17. Koli*

      Alison, you didn’t address that sharing the interview questions likely violates the company’s confidentiality policy and, if discovered, could lead to adverse action against the LW. And this is the type of thing that would be extremely easy to find out, all the candidate has to do is mention, “Oh yeah, LW let me know the questions in advance, it was so helpful to be able to prepare!” And oh by the way, if the response to this scenario is LW feeling like she should coach her friend not to mention that she shared the question, that’s all you need to know about whether it’s unethical or not.

      1. Leilah*

        I really don’t understand how coaching a friend is problematic at all. As long as your friend is not lying or misrepresenting themselves, why would there be an issue? Isn’t that the pointing of networking and mentoring and other ways of building professional relationships? Isn’t this the exact purpose of “sponsorship” as conept, which is constantly pushed as something to get in DEI councils? Saying things like, “We really need someone with technical skills in this area, so be sure to lean into how good you are at that.” Is coaching, but as long as the friend actually is good at that thing, why would that be a bad thing?

    18. Reluctant Manager*

      It’s true that this isn’t the kind of thing where she could answer a technical question and get into the wrong role… but I would be really worried about helping a friend get a job if it turned out she wasn’t good. And is she going to expect that you’ll help her over the rest of your colleagues if she does get the job?

      I try to keep friendship and work separate because I don’t want drama in one to infect the other.

    19. Leilah*

      Yeah, I’m not sure I see the distinction Alison is drawing here either. You are giving them lots of insider information in other ways already, I don’t see why this is different. As an autistic person I already view interviews as deeply ableist and exclusionary, not to mention just plain bad at finding the right people (most of the time). They are the sister of standardized testing – some people will excel at *interviewing* (I am actually one of them, thanks to rigorous public speaking experience) but not actually excel at the job and vice versa. One of my top suggestions for removing ableism from hiring practices is to give all interviewees access to the questions (or a set of sample questions at least) ahead of time so they can level the playing field and candidates can at least feel a bit more prepared.

      I can see how it feels like cheating in this case since the company asks the *exact* same questions of every candidate (seems a little bit silly, to be honest), but I’ve certainly not felt unethical about giving candidates an idea of the types of questions typically asked and the strengths the hiring manager is trying to get at. Especially where I work right now, they are looking for the kind of things that would really get you knocked out in other company cultures (a lot of focus on autonomy, not waiting for permission, being willing to bend procedures to do the right thing, etc) and giving candidates a heads up about that just lets them be honest about themselves and helps the interviewers getting a more accurate picture of who they are.

    20. JamminOnMyPlanner*

      As someone with ADHD, this is just really shitty. I’m terrible at coming up with answers on the spot… There’s no way I could compete with someone who knows the questions ahead of time and can prepare for it.

      It really is unfair to disadvantaged people who already have hurdles to getting hired.

      1. whingedrinking*

        Funnily enough, I also have ADHD and I consider it one of my greatest assets to come up with examples and explanations off the top of my head. (Just more proof that neurodiversity is not a monolith!) This is an ability that’s extremely valuable in my line of work, in which you may be put on the spot at almost any time. How an applicant reacted to a curveball question would be important info for hiring purposes.

    21. MV Teacher*

      Why does anyone think that the answers to interview questions are useful, except maybe to exclude people? That they reduce bias? And that the questions themselves should be some type of secret?

      I have been in many interviews that claim to score and hire people based on these “objective” interviews. I’ve been on the hiring side too. Everybody is fooling themselves.

      What’s the point of asking for a resume, cover letter, recommendations, etc. if multiple interview questions ask about them? In twenty minutes, answer these 10 questions completely. Really?

      Let’s face it, most organizations have no clue how to hire. The best interviews and job matches I have had ended up as conversations going back and forth.

      Do people a favor and post the questions online. If all the questions are the same, they don’t have much value anyway.

    22. SnappinTerrapin*

      This reminds me of studying for a history exam as an undergrad.

      An English major / history minor student came to me and another friend before the final exam in an upper-level history course. She was about to graduate, and was afraid she’d fail this course.

      The three of us sat down to study together. As we talked, the other history major and I agreed that the professor was likely to ask a three-part question about one topic, so we discussed A, B and C on X for about 20 minutes or so. We then suggested he might ask a two-part question on a second topic, and discussed D and E about Y for a little while. Finally, we discussed topic Z and the issues we expected the professor to be interested in on this topic.

      On exam day, when the professor passed out the essay questions for the exam, Bill and I looked at each other, smiled, and looked over our shoulders at Phyllis, whose eyes were wide in shock. The questions were phrased almost exactly as we had suggested, and were in the same order.

      We weren’t cheating. We hadn’t seen the exam. We had, however, taken several courses under the professor, and we knew what issues he considered important.

      As LW points out, the questions she is thinking about discussing aren’t “trade secrets” that could only be discussed intelligently by someone with inside knowledge. If it wouldn’t be unfair to discuss these questions with a friend who was interviewing with a different company, I think it’s a stretch to say it’s unethical to discuss with a friend interviewing with her company.

      On the other hand, if she were to ask permission, management would probably assume that their questions were uniquely innovative tools to assess the fitness of their candidates, no matter how generic they actually are. They’d probably take that position if they found out after the fact, too. I’d suggest taking that into account before deciding how helpful to be with the friend.

  3. Tiger Snake*

    #2 – I am going to guess that the legal discussion would be on the fact you’ve a medical use for marijuana. If it was recreational only, they’d just not continue with the hiring process. So for your purposes, maybe don’t mention that you use it recreationally at all?

    We can say its silly. We can say its extreme. We can even say its unreasonable. But its not wrong of companies to screen their employees for behaviours they don’t want, regardless of whether the government allows it. Illegal and acceptable to a business aren’t the same thing.

    Gambling is illegal, and many roles actively screen for gamblers.
    Coffee is legal, but I know several security companies that won’t hire people that drink it. In that case, its because they’re actively trying to prevent people who will have predictable patterns of being ‘distracted’ on the job (which minor additions like caffeine give you just as much as smoking or alcohol do).

      1. rudster*

        Yeah, wow. Just wow. Maybe these security companies based in Utah so they can find such people. I know plenty of people who don’t drink coffee, but almost no-one who doesn’t consume caffeine at all (in tea, soda, etc.). I wonder, do the “predictable patterns of distraction” refer to the withdrawal symptoms if it’s been a while since the last dose, or because they will leave their station for a minute or two to get a cup, or because the coffee will make them need to use the restroom more often?

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          That would be me who doesn’t consume any caffeine. However, I’ve never worked anywhere that tests for it so I haven’t reaped any benefit whatsoever. I at least want a gold star or something to recognize my virtue.

        2. Tiger Snake*

          All three, but the withdrawal “ugh I am dying for a cuppa” is the one that gets brought out as the example.

          1. Anima*

            I seem to be weird – I do drink coffee (and am wholly unqualified for security for other reasons), but I don’t get those twangs. If I want coffee and there isn’t any, I just move on with my day. Is that weird?
            After all it makes me more focused on my job, though. I don’t *need* to get up for coffee, although for water I do. That seems to be the whole point with security – not leaving your station.

            1. Clisby*

              Nah, I don’t think that’s weird. I drink coffee only first thing in the morning – it definitely helps me completely wake up. I never even want it for the rest of the day.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                Same here, unless I’m really tired for some reason. I might have tea later but not coffee, and not past 2:00 pm or I’ll be up all night.

            2. Ace in the Hole*

              I’m the same way. I can drink coffee every morning for months, but then if we run out I just… don’t care? Going without coffee isn’t a big deal and if I’m focused on something or my hands are full I’d just skip it anyways.

              I’ve never had any kind of withdrawal symptoms or cravings for caffeine, it’s just a nice thing to have when it’s convenient.

        3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Have to say that living in the state of Utah – at least in the greater Salt Lake Valley region – I have never living in a place with so many coffee shops. There is rarely more than a block between different coffee places…….

          But they don’t drink caffeinated beverages in Utah……

          1. quill*

            This, also there are more doughnuts here than any place I’ve ever seen.

            But I think the coffee is to appear to those of us who came in from elsewhere.

      2. allathian*

        People who are members of a religious sect, such as LDS, that bans all intoxicating substances, including caffeine. Or those who have an allergy.

      3. Tiger Snake*

        Its a very niche field for a reason. Less mall-cop security and more ‘the extras that get called in to watch a potential hostage situation’ security.

      4. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        I could go without coffee for my dream job, but they’d get grumpy, lethargic Rebel instead of Rebel on top of her game, so I wouldn’t be their dream employee.

      5. Ridiculous*

        Yea, that’s ridiculous. I would have no problem lying about this. Mormon company maybe?

        Besides, security folks could be just as distracted by drinking any other liquid, including tea. Logic fail here.

        1. HoHumDrum*

          You made me think of a guy I worked with a while back who made a big smug deal about how he would never consume coffee because he never wants his thinking to be “augmented” or changed by drugs and it’s so sad how much of the population has no problem with ingesting things that alter them… yada yada yada- until I asked him if that’s how he feels why does he drink black tea then? And apparently that way the day he learned that tea has caffeine too.

      6. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Mormons? Herbal tea drinkers? Why is it just coffee and not all caffeine? I have questions

    1. Varthema*

      I think I disagree! Companies can have a standard of behavior that they require*on the job*, and even an absence of certain chemicals in your bloodstream for safety-related jobs, but I do not think it’s reasonable to screen for behaviors full stop. (Nor do I think it reasonable to screen for chemicals in blood when it’s NOT a serious question of safety on the job, since that veers into territory of punishing people for their medical conditions – medical marijuana being one, stimulants for ADHD being another).

    2. allathian*

      Yeah, well, I guess in some security companies that might fly, but not in most other fields. I do know that I’d never want to work any job that required that sort of complete focus and dedication.

      1. Tiger Snake*

        Yes, that’s why I’m calling it out: Its the only example where this is actually a reasonable consideration.
        I will acknowledge that I’m not talking ‘security’ as in mall cops or bodyguards (well, sometimes bodyguards, but its not their usual area). I’m talking the type of security where you regularly rub shoulders with police because you’re doing a stakeout on someone with a hostage.

        Its a very small field, so I am being deliberate in not being more specific: but for their jobs not being distracted because you crave a cigarette or because you need a coffee is impetrative. Both because you get distracted and because its predictable.

        But just because other companies don’t have a good reason to exclude people that drink coffee, doesn’t mean they can’t decide they are going to. Similarly, you’re absolutely allowed to decide that its not a good fit.

        1. Bébé Chat*

          Yeah but the policemen drink coffee, why shouldn’t the security guards sometimes working with them do the same ? This rule seems over the top to me.

            1. Striped Badger*

              (Or at least, I am pretty sure I know the companies Tiger Snake is talking about. If so, a mentor early in my career was one. He jumped from doing “private hostage negotiations”, where this was a requirement, into tracking down cyber terrorism. I decided I’d stick to protecting medical systems from ransomware instead)

          1. Wants Green Things*

            Because these security guards are not paid with public funds. These are the kind of guards hired by the parents of the hostage, if you catch my meaning.

            1. pancakes*

              Being paid with public funds shouldn’t be seen as license to impose ridiculously intrusive employment requirements

            2. pancakes*

              Wait, sorry, I see you were saying something different than what I somehow responded to. Being paid by terrified rich parents should be seen as license to impose ridiculously intrusive requirements either, though! Private and public employees should have strong privacy rights.

        2. What a way to make a living*

          Surely adults can decide themselves if they are able to drink coffee and continue working properly?

          If it leads to behaviour or performance issues, those issues should be addressed with the individual.

          1. MsSolo UK*

            I do think unless you’ve been through caffeine withdrawal, it can take your by surprise. I’m a big tea drinker, and having to quit while I was pregnant was a bit of an eye-opener when the headaches kicked in (and also explained why i always get headaches on holiday in coffee drinking countries!). Four cups a day is the equivalent of two coffees or one energy drink, and it’s absolutely enough to give you wothdrawal. If I didn’t have access to caffeine for more than 24 hours, I wouldn’t be at the top of my game no matter how well rested I was, because I’d be in pain.

            1. pancakes*

              Even at that extreme — which isn’t something I’m familiar with as a daily drinker of 2 cups of cappuccino, and as a drinker of 4 cups of regular coffee daily when I was in college — how often is it that caffeine won’t be available to these people at all? Is the assumption that they’ll frequently be working in some sort of post-apocalyptic conditions? I don’t understand the thinking whereby being deprived of caffeine seems like a likely problem.

              1. MsSolo UK*

                I’m surprised – I mean, even working in customer facing roles in a city centre I’ve had shifts where there was no access to caffeine for the whole shift, because you couldn’t leave the site during breaks due to being the only first aider/fire marshal/key holder on site (or it was at night, and there was nowhere open if you did leave!) and the next delivery of tea/coffee wasn’t due for a couple of days. I can imagine if you’re somewhere rural and working outside of store hours it’s even more common, especially if it’s the kind of security work where you have to stay on site between shifts for practical/safety reasons.

                I know not everyone experiences the same impact of addictive substances, but you might be surprised if you went without caffeine (including soft drinks and chocolate) for a couple of days how tired and achy you get. For me, it’s not a craving, I just feel like I’m about to come down with the flu (or how my recent bout of covid went! No classic symptoms, only a persistent headache), but I am a long way from being my best.

          2. Striped Badger*

            Sure. And companies are also allowed to decide for themselves if that’s a risk that they can afford.

            In most cases, it is. But this particular kind of job calls for 100% focus 100% of the time: companies are allowed to decide that they aren’t going to risk lives just as much as you’re allowed to decide you never want that kind of job. Its why I changed my career path too.

          3. RagingADHD*

            Look, in the US a business can decide to fire or not to hire someone for any reason that isn’t a legally protected class. Any reason at all.

            Coffee, THC, wearing a color of shirt they don’t like, shaking or not shaking hands in a way they don’t like, talking too much about llamas, being too tall…

            There is no requirement for a company’s hiring preferences to be logical or meet any kind of threshold of reasonableness.

            Most of them are fairly reasonable in context, because in order to run a successful business you usually need to make reasonable decisions. But they don’t have to be.

        1. quill*

          It’s the history of the war on drugs: the US originally made cannabis a highly regulated drug, beyond it’s potential harm, because it was one that at the time mostly black people used, and racism abounded with people getting stirred up beyond any scientific evidence about it’s potential harms. Possession and dealing charges are still enforced inequitably along racial lines, and randomness is not necessarily completely random when periodic random drug tests are administered.

          It’s in the implementation, not the rule.

          1. pancakes*

            Also, minorities are over- and under-represented in some categories of employment. Under-represented in the sort of white collar work I do, for example, and I’ve never been drug tested for work. White collar people use drugs just as much, if not more frequently than, blue collar workers, but I don’t think we tend to be tested at the same rates. This is one of the reasons why we saw disparities in Covid rates among frontline workers.


            1. quill*

              Yes, this too! Also of note, anecdotally I’ve heard that weed use is higher in comfortably off young white people than in their poorer or POC classmates: they have spare cash and are less likely to have the book thrown at them if they’re caught.

        2. Nameless in Customer Service*

          The War on Drugs began as an effort to attack Black people and left wing activists, and none of its iterations have gotten away from that purpose.

          “You want to know what this [war on drugs] was really all about? The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying?

          We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news.

          Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

          ~ John Ehrlichman, Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs under President Richard Nixon

    3. KateM*

      Don’t black and green tea do the same? Or drinking caffeinated soft drinks? “No coffee” seems to be too specific.

    4. Dr. Dewey*

      OP #2, I am also a medical MMJ user and worry about this often! I know many people argue that they don’t want to hire people who might show up high — but I would never do that, and I only use it in the comfort of my own home off company time. It is also the only form of medication that works to manage my chronic pain — they don’t test to see if I take Advil, why is this any different?

      1. Observer*

        I wonder if in states where it’s legal you might have some protection for this. Not through the ADA, as that’s a Federal law, but through State additions to these protections.

      2. lilsheba*

        Advil doesn’t affect brain cells and memory like pot is known to do. Besides they don’t know that you won’t show up high, most people that I’ve known that were smokers care only about getting pot and smoking it, it was number one above anything else. Plus they aren’t motivated to do anything. There are people at my husband’s work right now that are like that, they are known to smoke pot and don’t do a damn thing around there. Plus they work with heavy machinery and are incredibly stupid to be high around that, it’s a real good way to get yourself or someone else killed. I have nothing against CBD for pain management, but THC is just a drug addiction. I have way more respect for someone who can live life sober, and yes that includes alcohol.

        1. Rosemary*

          “most people that I’ve known that were smokers care only about getting pot and smoking it, it was number one above anything else” – wow, generalize much?? And extremely judgmental in my opinion.

          1. Nopetopus*

            Agreed, this is an incredibly unkind characterization when MMJ is a perfectly acceptable pain management tool — and honestly recreational use is just as acceptable in my book!

        2. pieces_of_flair*

          Wow. I somehow managed to graduate college Phi Beta Kappa, get a graduate degree, and get consistent stellar reviews and promotions at work even though I use cannabis. Not to mention having a spouse, family, and many friends whom I do, in fact, prioritize over drugs (did not use cannabis at all while pregnant or nursing, for example, and that did not cause me any withdrawal or distress because it’s pot, not fucking heroin). You sound judgmental, narrow-minded, and completely lacking in empathy for people with debilitating conditions that THC does indeed help with. I am ok with someone like you not respecting me; the feeling is mutual.

        3. Galadriel's Garden*

          Curious – do you view those who drink alcohol on their own time with the same lens as those who smoke?

        4. Dahlia*

          You know what makes me high as ball? Gravol.

          I’ve never once heard of drug testing for nausea meds.

    5. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      Coffee is legal, but I know several security companies that won’t hire people that drink it. In that case, its because they’re actively trying to prevent people who will have predictable patterns of being ‘distracted’ on the job (which minor additions like caffeine give you just as much as smoking or alcohol do).

      If I were screening out coffee drinkers, it would be to avoid people who are skimping on sleep, which I could see impacting security negatively (especially when that security individual is working alone).

      1. Quoth the Raven*

        And you see, that’d still be the wrong way to go about it!

        I skimp on sleep (I’m currently running on three hours and a half), but coffee does nothing at all to wake me up or stimulate me and I can have it without issue before bed. I drink it because I see it as a treat (and because it helps a lot when I have headaches or migraines), but I’m just as likely to have water, juice, tea, pop, kombucha, or whatever else first thing in the morning and throughout the day — in fact, if I’m trying to stay awake, you’re more likely to see me going for a Coke or candy than a coffee.

    6. Karak*

      It’s absolutely wrong to try and control harmless personal behaviors with the threat of unemployment. It’s an exercise in control and power and inherently abusive.

      We agree that’s it a thing that people have to deal with. But I don’t think we should pretend it’s moral.

    7. Certaintroublemaker*

      I was wondering whether LW could say that they need to request a medical accommodation with documentation from their doctor. (And, as you say, not mention the recreational use.)

    8. Nanani*

      I actually don’t think any company is reasonable in screening for substances that are used -on your own time- and don’t affect your judgment negatively.

      Think of the difference between showing up drunk and having a drink on the weekend, off work.
      Its really none of your employer’s business what’s in your bloodstream, and singling out marijuana has a LOT of discriminatory baggage attached to it.

    9. whingedrinking*

      Me, mostly…because my ADHD medications don’t play nice with too much caffeine. But I’m pretty sure being a regular consumer of schedule II substances might be a problem as well.

  4. Kellbell*

    LW2 You might be able to pull off an interview question along the lines of “If I were to get an offer, what does the screening process for new hires look like as far as background checks, finger printing, drug tests, etc, and how long do you typically find that takes to complete?” I work with kids, so some kind of background check is a given, but the full process can vary a lot from company to company, so I wouldn’t find a question like this odd at all. And if you roll the drug test in among other things maybe it won’t stand out as much? You still might go through a little extra effort interviewing to get to the point where you can ask this, but at least you wouldn’t have to wait all the way until the offer letter.

    1. Jinni*

      This is so good. Especially as it there are so many questions/issues with back check processes taking forever. This makes it so not awkward.

    2. Lovaduck*

      I actually think that’s a great work around I am in talent acquisition and I get people asking the process and onboarding timeline frequently enough that it wouldn’t raise any suspicions… I wouldnt ask 1st thing though maybe after 1st or 2nd interview

      1. Elizabeth West*

        *also takes notes* I had a question re contingency timelines on my interview form, but I like this wording better. Mine did not include completion.

  5. Sue*

    I’m confused by #3. She says the extra hours put her over 40 hours/week but they aren’t overtime? Why not? It seems like they are taking advantage in more ways than one.

    1. Lovaduck*

      Probably based on 7.5 hours a day to include an unpaid 30min lunch that’s 37.5 hours a week so there is room for extra hours but no OT

    2. L.H. Puttgrass*

      I read that as LW3 getting straight time for the extra hours, not OT. But that would only be legal in the U.S. if LW3 is hourly exempt—in which case, why would a promotion make her salaried exempt? There’s definitely something in this situation I’m not getting.

      1. Eleanor*

        I don’t know the details personally, but my guess is because OP is working in a university/academia. The whole work structure in academia is VERY different from everywhere else and you’d be surprised with what they get away with.

      2. Claudia*

        Me too, I’m really confused about this whole letter. How is it legal to pay more than 40 hours as straight time and not overtime? Being salaried doesn’t automatically mean you are exempt, and it sounds like even the increased salary might still be below the federal exempt salary threshold, so how can they legally deny overtime even when you are salaried? I know academia is weird, but they still have to follow federal laws. Either this isn’t in the US or they are breaking a bunch of laws, based on this letter. OP, talk to an employment attorney. You probably have a lost wages case.

        1. L.H. Puttgrass*

          I’m a federal employee, classified as exempt (I’m an attorney), and I’m technically paid hourly. With certain approvals, and up to a limit (there’s a pesky salary cap because we aren’t allowed to get paid more than a certain rate on the “Executive Schedule”), I can get paid straight time for hours over 40 in a week. (Federal employees at a certain grade level and below get time-and-a-half overtime, BTW.)

          A consulting company I worked for many years ago did something similar. We were all exempt, but if we billed more than 40 hours in a week, we got the extra hours paid as straight time (no doubt to encourage us to bill more hours).

          So while it’s not common to pay exempt employees extra for extra hours, it does happen in some cases. Maybe LW3’s employer is government-adjacent enough to pay straight OT to certain hourly exempt employees?

          1. TK*

            Attorneys, along with doctors and teachers, are specifically exempt from the salary and salary basis tests as requirements for non-exemption. So as an attorney, you’re always exempt whether you’re hourly or salaried, no matter how much or little you make. (Another example of this: in many states, average starting salaries for teachers are below the exempt threshold, but they’re exempt regardless because the salary test doesn’t apply.) Outside of those fields, and some others that have different sorts of exemptions, the salary basis test makes it hard to be hourly exempt.

            I think you’re basically right on the substance, though: OP3 is probably already exempt and is in a job where, for whatever reason, some positions are paid straight time for working over 40 hours/week. They technically are salaried already– being “salaried” in terms of the FLSA just means you can’t get deductions from your check for working less; it doesn’t mean you can’t get paid more. And they’re moving into a position where they’re not eligible for that extra straight pay for working over 40 hours, which the university classifies as “salaried.”

            1. L.H. Puttgrass*

              Yup; I’m exempt for multiple reasons. My point is that despite the fact that my position is exempt, I still get straight OT—but not because FLSA requires it. In my case it’s because of a different law that says that FLSA-exempt federal employees still get OT (at a rate that depends on grade).

              Like I said, getting OT as an exempt employee isn’t common. But it does happen, and I wonder if that’s what’s going on here. The alternative is that a public university doesn’t understand wage & hour laws, which I also find unlikely (though not impossible).

        2. Colette*

          It depends where they are. Are they even in the US? In Ontario, you get paid overtime once you hit 44 hours a week; it’s straight time until then.

        3. The OTHER Other*

          You are assuming LW’s ordinary hours add up to 40. Many jobs are FT but total fewer hours, often because the start and end time is 8 hours but the lunch break is unpaid but the day is not extended for it. At an old job I worked hourly 10-6 with a 1/2 hour lunch, ordinary week was 37.5 hours. First 2 1/2 hours were ordinary pay getting you to 40, hours beyond that were OT paid 1 1/2 time.

          Many employers schedule employees at slightly under 40 hours per week in order to allow some extra work when needed without paying time and a half.

            1. The OTHER Other*

              My bad, it was I who missed that. Alison addresses it further down that universities are exempt from regular OT rules.

              1. TK*

                It’s that public employers (and OT says this is a public university) can offer comp time instead of overtime pay… but they have to do one or the other, so in this case the OP should still be getting comp time in addition to that straight overtime for this to be legal.

        4. Lauren19*

          Another thing to consider is PTO. Depending on how much time off OP took (presumably unpaid) in the hourly pay schedule, does the salary structure actually pay better if time off is now paid?

          1. TK*

            A full-time hourly employee at a public university almost certainly has paid PTO. And as I note elsewhere, I’m pretty sure OP in this case is actually “salaried” by the standards of FLSA anyway, even if their employer describes them as “hourly.”

      3. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I read that as LW3 getting straight time for the extra hours, not OT. But that would only be legal in the U.S. if LW3 is hourly exempt—in which case, why would a promotion make her salaried exempt? There’s definitely something in this situation I’m not getting.

        I’ve had employers pay me straight-time for all hours when they paid lower-paying positions overtime for hours over 40. I was told I was over the threshold where the overtime was required to be paid at time-and-a-half.

        This was before I started reading Alison’s articles; I might have sent her the question to see if that was on the up and up if it had been after I started reading.

        1. TK*

          Presumably this was because you were exempt (due to your job duties) and the lower-paying positions were not. You weren’t legally entitled to any pay for hours worked over 40 hours, it was just a perk your previous employers offered.

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            That’s possible. The last time, I was a contractor working 80-100 hours/week and was really more invested in whether or not I could rehabilitate the job into something I wanted to keep long term than whether or not I was getting time-and-a-half. I asked the question once, shrugged, then moved onto the next incoming ticket.

            1. TK*

              If you were an independent contractor, nothing related to overtime pay or any other labor laws apply and your compensation was solely based on the terms of your contract.

              1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                I wasn’t an independent contractor; I was contracted through a consulting firm. There were even others cashing cheques on the same payroll as I was at the same employer. I had a term and hourly rate.

                Would “consultant” describe the role better? It’s all water under the bridge; it was over a decade ago and I lasted 4 months out of the 6 I signed on before before my contract was bought out.

                1. TK*

                  Ah yeah, I’m not really sure how FLSA works in scenarios like that. As you say, it’s all under the bridge by now. Live and learn, I suppose.

    3. Op3*

      OP3 here, I went back and reread some of my pay stubs and the line that says overtime indicates the same exact pay rate as my normal hours. So I’m compensated for the time it’s just not “overtime.” Tbh Im not fully getting it either!

      1. L.H. Puttgrass*

        Something else just occurred to me. OP3, is your current job union-represented and the new one not? The union might have negotiated straight-time overtime as part of the collective-bargaining agreement. If the “promotion” also happened to kick you out of the union, that would explain the change (it would also be pretty crappy, IMO).

        1. The OTHER Other*

          Why would a union negotiate this? It’s an enormous reduction in potential pay for the employees at the employer’s benefit?

          1. TK*

            I think what L.H. means is the union could’ve negotiated straight-time overtime for exempt employees, who otherwise wouldn’t be eligible for any overtime pay at all.

            1. L.H. Puttgrass*

              Right. I’m wondering if OP3’s current job is a union-represented professional position where the union negotiated straight overtime, while the “promotion” is non-union (e.g., because it’s technically managerial) and thus not eligible for the OT.

          2. Public Sector Manager*

            When I worked in local government, the rank and file folks negotiated a contract where OT was paid at their regular wage in exchange for the employer paying employee health care premiums. Salary is not the only benefit people bargain for.

      2. doreen*

        Do you actually work more than 40 hours per week, or do you have a schedule where there are 8 hours between when you start and when you leave , but only 7-7.5 are work hours ( the other 30-60 minutes are an unpaid break)? When I worked 8-4 for a 7.0 hour day, I was paid for any hours between 35-40 on a separate line but it wasn’t time and a half because it wasn’t over 40 hours.

          1. doreen*

            I know – but it’s not uncommon for me to hear people describe 8-4 with a half hour lunch as working 40 hours/wk.

      3. Naacy*

        You are probably hourly exempt, which means you are not eligible for overtime pay. Jobs that meet certain requirements regarding duties can be in this category. I am in this category and am compensated by extra PTO.

        A compensation analysis means they reviewed all salaries and found you are making slightly less than others with the same job type and experience. You can calculate what you make now including the extra pay and ask to at least match that. Also review the differences between salaried and hourly exempt at your university; it can also mean differences in benefits (usually PTO).

        1. TK*

          What do you do? Only a pretty limited range of jobs (most notably attorneys, teachers, and lawyers) can truly be “hourly exempt.” If you’re exempt and get extra PTO, that’s just a perk your employer offers, not anything legally required. And unless you fall into one of categories that the salary basis test doesn’t apply to, you’re probably actually salaried by the standards of the FLSA, even if you’re considered “hourly” by your employer.

    4. TechWorker*

      I took it to mean the extra hours are paid but not at a special/higher overtime rate.. (if they weren’t paid the rest of it doesn’t really make sense).

      1. TK*

        Yes, that’s what it means- but the discussion here is about how that’s possible- because for most non-exempt employees, that’s illegal.

    5. MCMonkeyBean*

      You can be hourly and exempt, which would mean you get paid for the extra hours but you don’t get time and a half for them. (Though I think a lot of people are misclassified so it’s possible she should be getting overtime pay!)

      1. TK*

        Hourly and exempt is only possible for certain professions that the salary basis test for exemption doesn’t apply to- most notably lawyers, teachers, and doctors. Most others who are “hourly exempt” are technically salaried but their employers just pay them extra for working over 40 hours- see my discussion with L.H. Puttgrass above.

    6. Xaraja*

      There’s an exception in the labor laws for “computer employees” or something to that effect, where people in IT can be paid straight time instead of overtime for an unlimited number of hours per week. There may also be an exception for something in academia, or they may be classifying OP as a computer employee.

      1. TK*

        The “computer employee” exemption just makes certain employees exempt, but the salary basis test still applies to them. So even in that case OP3 would have to currently be salaried in order to not get time and a half for overtime. That’s the issue of the confusion here.

    7. Mystik Spiral*

      I’m too hung up on the “raise” of $369 a year. Try not to do anything crazy with that extra $7 a week! Good lord.

      1. Isabel Archer*

        Right? An annual salary increase that tiny would be comical if it weren’t so insulting. I’m hoping for a follow-up letter from the OP that the employer accidentally left a zero off the end.

    8. Miles*

      The company is treating her as exempt from overtime pay due to being salaried and paid over a certain limit (though that number she listed seems low for that these days.)

  6. FormerAmazonian*

    OP1, I think it’s fine to give guidance on the types of questions without revealing the specific questions themselves…when I worked at Amazon we were of course prohibited from sharing any questions from the question bank, but it was fine to tell candidates 1) we ask mostly behavioral questions, and 2) interviewers will be very focused on looking for how well a candidate fits the leadership principles, so to do well a candidate should practice a ton of “tell me a time when…” questions and make sure they can think of examples that showcase how they demonstrate each of the Amazon LPs (recruiters will also share this advice with candidates!) Maybe you can do similar with your friend to ensure she’s directionally prepared for the type of question and what the interviewees are looking to assess?

    1. CatMintCat*

      OP3, that $369 per year increase is about $7 per week. Less than 20c per hour. They’re just messing with you. Then taking even that ridiculous amount back … I just don’t know what to say, except “Get Out!”

      1. The OTHER Other*

        I hope the other benefits of working for this employer are substantial, because they seem ridiculously cheap, as well as out of touch with the work you are doing. Honestly, an employer not having a sense of what an employee actually does is failing at the bare minimum for being an employer.

        I read a book about work and salaries years ago that made the point that while satisfaction and enjoyment and so on are good things to have in a job, you can get those things from other areas of your life. In contrast, your job is usually your only (or at least primary) source of income, so it makes sense to focus on the salary as the primary goal and compensation for working.

    2. Koli*

      Amazon also has a public web page for candidates with information on its interview process. Very easy to point people there, and no issues with sharing confidential information.

  7. Sue Wilson*

    #1: I really disagree with Alison that’s it’s categorically unethical especially IF you would know the questions without looking at company information. For instance, if you had written the questions down while they were asking way back when or you added them to a “essential interview prep” that you made. With that in mind, if there’s no way to separate what you know of the questions from what you know of the interview, I wouldn’t look up the questions to tell her. If you haven’t checked the questions yet, then I think you’re fine to tell her what you remember from your own interview. Furthermore, if you show her a site with “common interview questions” and they’re similar, well, that’s slightly more unethical than just what you remember from your own interview, but I think it’s more justifiable to your company if they disapprove than getting the exact questions from company info.

    The last sentence is because something being “unethical” is different than your company disliking it and it affecting you or your reputation there if they found out. That’s what I would guard against, personally.

    1. Cambridge Comma*

      How would you feel about it if, the next time you interview for a job, one of the other candidates had been directed towards the (very standard and conventional) questions by a friend. Would you feel that you were competing on a level playing field?

      1. Sue Wilson*

        I would not expect a job interview to be in any way a level playing field (in any sense) unless it was legally mandated (and it would still not be level even then) so…

        But to answer your question, I would not care. Unless the website is 1:1 that’s not enough help for it to matter.

        1. Mongrel*

          “I would not expect a job interview to be in any way a level playing field (in any sense) ”
          So employers should just throw their hand up and call it unsolvable?
          Having a standardized set of questions at least helps the interviewers be more consistent on their side

          1. UKDancer*

            Definitely. I mean we want to run a fair recruitment process. So my company requires us to use the same questions with all applicants. Obviously you ask different follow up questions depending on what they say but in order to compare people against each other fairly, you need to start with the same baseline.

            Obviously you can never treat everyone exactly the same (e.g. internal candidates may know more about the job and how the company works) but you should at least try and run the process fairly. Not least because it makes sure you’re not falling prey to things like unconscious bias.

        2. The OTHER Other*

          “ I would not care. Unless the website is 1:1 that’s not enough help for it to matter.”

          Well, first, the LW *is* talking about giving their friend the actual list of questions, not just guidelines, so it is a 1:1 correspondence.

          Second, the logic here seems a little odd. Give them the list of questions to help them as a friend, but it no big deal because it’s not going to matter?

      2. STG*

        I’d feel that while they MAY be better prepared than I am, it doesn’t take away from my answers or what I have to offer in any way, shape or form.

    2. kittymommy*

      Since I work in local government and our state is big on public records, our questions are technically public record. All candidates for the same job are asked the same questions (occasionally there may be an individual follow-up to a specific detail, but it’s not common) so they, in theory, could be requested ahead of time by anyone.

  8. Sue Wilson*

    #2: Does medical CBD show up differently from regular marijuana? If not, I would only say something about the medical CBD, which should be a bit more complicated for a company to refuse after an offer.

    1. Teach*

      CBD itself is not illegal and should not show up at all on a drug test; however, many “CBD” products on the market actually do still contain a small amount of THC or other cannibinoids and will trigger a positive result. The market is pretty unregulated at present in that way.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        According to my BIL who is a CBD consultant (training healthcare professionals when and how to prescribe it), there has to be some THC or the CBD just won’t be effective.

        1. HQB*

          This is completely false. In fact, there is an FDA-approved anti-seizure medication (Epidiolex) that contains only CBD compounds and zero THC.

          CBD and THC compounds have different mechanisms and the effects of the former are not dependent on the latter.

          1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

            I would think that the effects you are looking for depends. So the Anti Seizure medication with CBD may not need the THC for the effects that they are wanting while CBD for pain relief would be looking for different effects and may need the THC.

            I’m not a doctor or anything but this just what I would think.

            1. HQB*

              I have a PhD in a closely related area. What I said is correct: CBD and THC compounds have different mechanisms and the effects of the former are not dependent on the latter. There may be some synergistic effects (although I am not aware of any) but there is no use of CBD compounds that requires the presence of THC.

          2. Eldritch Office Worker*

            +1 the effectiveness of CBD, THC, and any combination thereof has a lot to do with the desired outcome.

      2. Not Your Average MJ*

        many “CBD” products on the market actually do still contain a small amount of THC or other cannibinoids and will trigger a positive result.

        True! For the past two years, I’ve taken a very low dose (seriously, just six drops before bed) of Charlotte’s Web because it’s the only thing that works for my severe insomnia without any side effects. And I technically failed the drug test re: THC for my new job screening in December. The nurse administering the test told me she got an “odd reading that wasn’t quite negative OR positive” in the THC category, but she decided to approve me anyway because failing me was too much paperwork. So definitely keep that in mind if you think you might run into a drug screening.

        (I wish that nurse HAD failed me, though, because the job turned out to be a total toxic bait-and-switch that I regret taking. And there’s a good chance I’ll get fired anyway after one of our monthly random-selection drug screens, if the next tester doesn’t decide to pass me, but that’s another story. I actually live in a marijuana-legal state, but my employer is being a jerk about it. Being Native American/Black, I know all too well that racism is a huge institutional factor in the widespread criminalization and demonization of marijuana, but that’s also another rant for another time.)

        Additionally, different CBD producers grow different plant strains, which yield different trace amounts of THC, so the brand of CBD you take can also affect your readings. I’ve tried other brands, and Charlotte’s is the only one that worked well for me (YMMV), but I know now that I’d better not apply anywhere I might be drug-tested as long as I’m taking it. And I do NOT plan on stopping taking it: I like being able to sleep so I can stay healthy! I refuse to sacrifice my health for any job. Did that too much in my younger years. Still paying for it.

        1. Teach*

          Aw, I’m sorry you’re having that difficulty–and also hope you find a new, awesome job soon!
          +1000 to the inherent racism/classism of drug testing too. Any way you can get a doctor recommendation for all cannabinoids?

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I don’t understand why, if it’s legal (at state level) and they have a prescription for it, and it’s presumably to treat a condition that may or may not be a disability under the ADA… how can they fail someone and rescind an offer for that? I don’t see how it’s different than detecting (e.g.) opioid that I am taking for chronic pain, or antidepressants, or… In short because of the medical aspect I don’t know why they can reject someone for failing a drugs test for taking something that in their jurisdiction is legal and properly prescribed.

      1. Sue Wilson*

        the possession of marijuana is illegal on the federal level, and federally it’s illegal for a doctor to give out a prescription. Technically use or ingestion is not illegal based on the wording of the Act, but because prescribing it is, that probably rules out the ADA. Either way, I would not admit to recreational use and if as Teach says CBD is not illegal even federally, I would plead the inability to completely trust CBA substances don’t have THC.

      2. Ashkela*

        They can and do reject people all the time for testing positive for opioids, even if they’re legally prescribed and being taken as needed.

      3. Expiring Cat Memes*

        I was going to say something similar about ADD meds, as they’ll flag for amphetamine. But I guess one key difference that I can think of is that they don’t come with a huge warning label about drowsiness/driving/operating heavy machinery/etc.

        My husband goes through this drug testing BS on the reg with his ADD. They have the medical certificate on file, he tells them beforehand it’ll be positive, yet he’s still dobbed in to the CEO every time for testing positive and it’s always A Thing. He’s been with that company almost 20 years and it’s a very niche field of engineering where many of them are somewhere on the spectrum. So it’s not exactly shocking or unexpected, and I don’t get the pearl clutching attitude. But that’s how they are, and I think if he were a potential new hire rather than an employee with a track record he wouldn’t get a foot in the door on sheer principle. It’s ridiculous and discriminatory.

        1. JustaTech*

          This is something I worry about if I ever change jobs: is there any way to proactively say “hey, I take this prescribed medication that will be a false positive, please take that into account”?

          1. Molly the cat*

            Usually there’s some combination of “put down information about your legal prescriptions for controlled substances on the intake forms” and “they call you after they run the tests and you have to give them a prescription number or similar that they can cross-check to prove you’re actually legally prescribed the thing you tested positive for”, and then the result they provide to the employer is just that you passed.

          2. This is a name, I guess*

            Wellbutrin – which is a very common antidepressant and also an smoking cessation aid – can trigger a false positive for amphetamines. People don’t misuse Wellbutrin like they do Adderall (I have an Rx for adderall for my ADHD and I am treated like a drug addict constantly), so I imagine it’s totally normal to flag for HR that you’re vulnerable to false positives and provide documentation from a doctor.

      4. MeTwoToo*

        Sometimes it can depend on the financial sources for the company as well. For instance, any company receiving federal funding such as medicare or medicaid would be at risk as THC isn’t legal on a federal level. When my state was close to legalizing we had a corporate attorney present to all employees letting us know we still would be insta-fired if it came up for this reason.

      5. Ace of Dragons (she/her)*

        It’s no different than places like hospitals (among others) that prohibit nicotine, and test for that as part of their pre-employment testing. Smoking and nicotine use in general is legal, as well as fairly common, but some employers have decided to make it a bar to employment, even if used on the employee’s own time. (I’m not saying it’s right, far from it, but it’s still *legal*)

        1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

          But smoking isn’t a medically approved treatment for a medical condition (… that I know of!), there isn’t a medical indication for smoking in the way that there is for CBD.

        2. Turtles All The Way Down*

          I’m shocked there are hospitals that prohibit nicotine, as smoke breaks have always seemed to be QUITE popular among doctors and nurses in my experience!

        3. DJ Abbott*

          I worked in the OB/GYN department of a hospital. There were a lot of concerns about smoking. Parents and newborn babies were given the info said that suggested they not allow smokers to be close to the baby unless they had showered, changed clothes, and washed their hair because the fumes coming off them are bad for the baby.
          When a smoker has finished a cigarette there are fumes coming off them and to have a provider who is exuding smoke fumes near seriously ill or allergic patients is what they’re trying to avoid.
          My understanding is patients have objected to being cared for by people with smoke fumes coming off them and I would too, since I have a severe allergy to tobacco smoke. It would be the last thing I need if I was in the hospital!

      6. Em*

        It’s use is still illegal under federal law. Since ADA is also a federal law, it’s unlikely that allowing someone to use a federally illegal substance would be considered a reasonable accommodation.

        1. Sporty Yoda*

          Was going to chime in and say this; not only is marijuana/THC illegal under federal law, it’s a class I controlled substance (no therapeutic uses recognized, which… let’s just say my aging hippie pharmacology professor had words over). Amphetamines/opioids have therapeutically recognized purposes; from my understanding the decision to hire is up to the company as long as they were made aware of a prescription (eg I take Ritalin and my drug test is positive for amphetamines). It sucks (especially since THC is fat soluble and can “stay” in the body in a nonreactive state for a while, see the Sha’Carri Richardson situation), but until marijuana/THC/CBD is made legal on a federal level (or even moved to class II or III with therapeutic properties recognized), it ain’t gonna change.

          1. MCMonkeyBean*

            Yeah, but I’m not sure why OP really even is including that part though. It says “medical CBD” and “recreational marijuana.” I don’t think the first part will affect their offer, but the second part will.

      7. eastcoastkate*

        Yeah this would be my question- we test for opioids and narcotics, but if they have a prescription then we can still hire them. I don’t know why you wouldn’t treat a + marijuana test the same if they had medical justification that was legit.

  9. Muddybuddy42*

    OP 1 you could post interview questions on glassdoor for the edification of all candidates who go looking for them before their interviews.

    1. Snuck*

      I think this might be best ‘ethical’ way around it if you really want your friend to have the questions.

      But it could also cost you your job as you will be revealing company information.

      Alternatively say to your friend “I can’t give you the exact questions, but I do know they use behavioural event interviewing and it’s something like “Tell me about a time when you…” and what you need ot do is have a recent example and then link it to key behaviours you are wanting to demonstrate. So you think of some scenarios from work that show you are the key traits they will be looking for – honesty, attention to detail, teapot handle design flexibility and teapot passing with care skills. I’m happy to have you share a couple of those but the questions we ‘practice’ won’t be exact questions I’ve heard before, as I don’t want to risk my own job there.”

      1. Snuck*

        I’d add… that if the company isn’t updating it’s questions over time then it’s kind of rubbish interviewing. Obviously the questions ‘get out’ but also they aren’t moving with changing requirements – from the workplace or the prospective employees. If they are using the same questions for years for hte same roles then is there ever a hope that the company will recognise that differences come into play?

      2. Joielle*

        That’s what I would do too. Even if you don’t give the word-for-word questions, it would still help the friend to give the general topics and types of questions, and I don’t see any ethical problem with that. It’s the same kind of information anyone could theoretically get through networking.

    2. Mental Lentil*

      And if your company finds out it’s you who posted them, you risk being fired for disclosing internal company information.

  10. Heidi*

    For Letter 5, the OP didn’t mention if special occasions for other employees are celebrated this way in their office. I’ve found that some people really, REALLY enjoy putting on these types of events and will not be cool with anyone trying to dial it down. It’s not that the OP shouldn’t try, but people can be weird about this kind of thing. Before the pandemic, I tried to float the idea that forcing everyone to take turns bringing in snacks for the office meeting was unfair to the junior staff who get paid less, and that did not go over well.

    1. OP 5*

      We have thrown a big shower in the past for others having babies and it’s been a big deal each time. I have been happy to attend and gift for others, but it’s always been people at the lowest salary level except me. There has been a lot of turnover in the last two years, but not in leadership, so the organizer is still here and she may be put out.

      1. A Library Person*

        If the office politics mean you probably should let the planner do something, could you just ask for no gifts? Keep it to the activities/free food and such?

        Also, as someone not in management, I appreciate your dedication to No Gifting Upward. You seem like a very conscientious person in this regard and I think (hope?) your team will see that and give you the benefit of the doubt.

        1. OP 4*

          Thank you! (I realized I was letter 4 after originally answering).

          I think with it being a second baby it should be easy to say let’s just do cake ​this time. We already have so much.

      2. Certaintroublemaker*

        If she’s invested in party planning, maybe ask her to organize a cake party before you go out on leave to celebrate, as you’re already set on “stuff.”

    2. OtterB*

      Maybe ask for something specific like attendees to bring a favorite children’s book, or each attendee is given an index card to write a piece of parenting advice? That would still give something to be festive about but less expensive.

    3. Bernice Clifton*

      This! Pretty much every organization I have worked at in my 20 years of professional life has a self-appointed cruise director (and NOT an Office Manager or HR) who looks for any reason to plan a social event and takes it personally if people don’t want to participate or aren’t sufficiently grateful for their efforts. Ironically, this person is usually barely competent at best at the actual job they were hired to do.

    4. Joielle*

      Definitely some options for still having a party but making it low/no cost! I went to a wedding shower once where the couple had already been living together for quite a while and didn’t need stuff, so it was a “recipe shower.” Everyone brought their favorite recipe to contribute, and instead of a gift opening, everyone said a few words about the recipe they brought and a lot of people shared lovely stories about their family history with the recipe. And afterwards, the host compiled them all and had a book printed for the bride. It was really nice!

    5. anonymous73*

      It doesn’t matter if people enjoy putting on these events if the person they’re celebrating doesn’t want it. When I got married, I told my friends at work that under no circumstances were they to throw me any type of shower in the office. I don’t like being the center of attention, I didn’t want people who barely knew me to feel forced to contribute, and the friends I had at work were going to be invited to the wedding. My co-workers wants and needs do not get priority over mine when I’m the one they want to congratulate.

  11. Nott the Brave*

    Allison, I believe you misread LW3. You said (Although since you mentioned your extra hours each week aren’t putting you over 40, they might just be making you salaried non-exempt.) but… the letter said I typically work more than 40 hours a week and so I usually have one to two extra hours (not overtime, just extra hours) on my paychecks.

    Does that change the calculus at all? I admit I’ve only ever worked hourly and still don’t understand salaried or non-exempt, so maybe it doesn’t matter either way. Apologies if so.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Hmmm, you’re right. If she’s non-exempt and working over 40 hours/week, that must be paid as overtime … so she’s either not in the U.S., or her employer is breaking the law…

      Ah! She’s working for a public university, and public agencies are allowed to pay overtime in comp time rather than pay (unlike other employers) so maybe that’s what’s happening. Since it’s unclear, I’m just removing that piece from the answer. Either way, she should point out that the raise isn’t a raise.

      1. Nott the Brave*

        Oh, absolutely. Thanks for replying. Also sorry for misspelling your name! How embarrassing.

      2. L.H. Puttgrass*

        Or maybe she’s hourly exempt and the “promotion” would change her to salaried exempt? It doesn’t make sense to me that an employer would have both hourly exempt and salaried exempt jobs, but that makes a little more sense to me than a public university not paying OT (or time-and-a-half comp time in lieu of OT) to a non-exempt employee.

      3. Cj*

        But she says she’s going to be earning less money. If she was getting comp time, her total pay would not be less with the promotion.

      4. JustaTech*

        When I worked for a public university our time/overtime was calculated by the day rather than the week. I regularly had experiments that took a minimum of 10 hours, so I banked up quite a bit of comp time. Then I took my comp time and all heck broke loose because apparently I wasn’t allowed to have any overtime at all – I was to work no more than 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.
        Which was impossible, due to the nature of the work.
        So my boss said “just do you job and I won’t look for you on Friday afternoons”.
        I don’t work in academia anymore.

    2. Nina*

      I’m in a country where the laws around who is exempt and who is not are a lot more flexible. In theory, salaried means you get paid a set fee every [time period] and you’re expected to complete a set amount of work. If it doesn’t take you 40 hours a week to finish the work, you get paid the same. If it takes you more than 40 hours a week to finish the work, you get paid the same. In theory, hourly means you get paid a set fee for every hour you spend at work.

      The difference kicks in because in practice, no sane employer lets salaried staff get away with working less than 40 hours a week, and most employers give salaried staff enough work that they have to work 45, 50, or 80 hours a week to get it all done. There is no extra pay for this extra time.

      If LW3 goes across to being salaried, she will have the same (or greater) workload, and be expected to complete it all, no matter how long it takes.

      I switched from salaried to hourly, took a pay cut on my nominal hourly rate, and jumped up a tax bracket without changing my working habits at all. If you have more than 40 hours of work to do in a week, hourly is the way to go.

    3. NewYork*

      I thought OT rate only mandate if over 44 hours a week? I know CA has daily mandate?

  12. Happily Retired*

    Re: #2 – I’m always fascinated by the references to federal employment and drug testing. I was drug tested when I applied for a school job and why I worked for a for-profit healthcare system. But I was never tested when I applied to/worked for the VA, or for the four government contractors I also worked for. Some things aren’t as automatic as we might suppose.

    1. Anon Fed*

      I’m also a fed, albeit in a very niche/technical role that requires a PhD and advanced training, and I’ve never been drug tested! Past drug use was definitely a question on my background check though, years ago.

      1. Another Fed*

        It depends on how your position is classified. I’ve been a fed for 12 years, and didn’t have a drug test until this year, when I got bumped up from public trust to national security. It was a more extensive questionnaire and reference check too.

        1. Another Fed*

          I should add, there are some public trust positions that have drug tests if there is a work-related issue, like operation of heavy equipment, etc.

    2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I changed jobs to the VA 4 years ago and I was drug tested so YMMV. I have a professional job with an advanced degree.

      1. Anne of Mean Gables*

        Within VA, some positions are listed as “drug test exempt” and some are not. I believe it states which category you fall into when you apply on USA Jobs, and largely aligns with whether you are clinical/patient-facing or not.

    3. Willis*

      Yeah I’ve worked for relatively small government contractors and not been drug tested. It’s not universal.

    4. Prefer my pets*

      Approaching 3 decades as a fed in multiple agencies and since the Obama administration it has really depended on the position whether you will actually be tested. Technically pretty much any position CAN be but the only ones done as part of the onboarding & then randomly once hired are things like equipment operators, drivers (where it’s a primary duty), LEOs, and fire fighters.

      1. FisherCat*

        I’m not in any of the categories you mention but was drug tested pre-hire. I’m pretty sure somewhere in the mountain of starting paperwork they said they also do randoms but I’ve never even heard of that actually happening at my agency so lots of variation all around

    5. Federal Employee 648975*

      I’m a fed and people in my job category are randomly tested. It’s never happened to me, but I’ve had colleagues get “The Email” which basically says you have two hours to get to the testing site. Marijuana is not legal federally, so it can also trip you up if you state you’ve used it while getting a security clearance (not usually grounds for automatic denial, but if you know you’re applying for a security clearance and you’ve been recently breaking federal law, it ain’t good). Lying, though, will trip you up way more.

    6. Reluctant Manager*

      I just read an article about how Quest Labs reported that the percentage of employer-requested drug tests that included marijuana screening dropped sharply in 2021 *and* the percentage of those tests that came back positive rose. So fewer employers care and more candidates do it.

      1. HQB*

        It may not be that more candidates do it; it may be that the employers who still require drug screens that include marijuana have candidate pools who use marijuana more.

  13. Nodramalama*

    I don’t know if I find #1 that unethical tbh! It’s not like she has access to this set of interview questions, or is interviewing her friend. Is it really more unfair to other prospective employees than being able to give her any inside scoop about the company she might know? It’s not like everyone is necessarily on the same playing field anyway. If some of them are internal people applying they’d already have advantages to external applicants

    1. 3DogNight*

      Our company sends the list of potential interview questions to every applicant ahead of the first interview in a packet with a lot of information on how to interview well, tips for setting up your video and all of that. I think it’s great! We have a list of questions we can use, and can ask our own follow up questions, but the basic interview questions are all the same for everyone.

    2. Meow*

      A year or so ago I applied for an internal position in a different department, and prepared by googling common interview questions for that job title. When I got to the interview, literally every question they asked was pulled from one of the websites I had used for reference, including technical questions. I didn’t get the job despite acing the interview, so I always wondered if they were able to figure out that I got the same google results they did, or if they thought I cheated somehow (like ask one of their coworkers for the answers).

  14. ChrisZ*

    #2 – I don’t know about the law or anything, but I’m a little confused on how it’s OK to test for THC where using marijuana is legal. Do these companies then also test for alcohol? How can a job offer be rescinded based on something you do that’s legal??

      1. Federal Employee 648975*

        Especially since you mention government contractors, I would add this bit about marijuana being illegal at the federal level in your response. It doesn’t matter what state you live in, the federal government considers marijuana illegal. If you want to be a federal employee or want a security clearance, you’re going to run into problems if you regularly and recently use marijuana, even if it is not unlawful in your state (it’s not always grounds for an automatic security clearance denial, but it can be depending on how much, how often, and how recent). It sounds strange because in some states you can just go to a shop and buy it with no problems, but it’s a bad idea if you want federal employment.

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      In addition to being federally illegal, marijuana use is also not a protected class against discrimination. A company is allowed to not hire you even if you do something that is legal on your own time. For example, we have freedom of speech protected in the constitution but people get fired for social media posts that go against company beliefs all the time.

      1. Ashkela*

        Oh dear Gaia. Freedom of speech has nothing to do with ANYTHING that isn’t between you and the government. Not shouting at an employer. Not posting on social media about work. Not shouting ‘fire’ in a theater.

        Freedom of speech means the government can’t arrest you for saying you think the person in charge is a giant idiot etc. That’s it.

        1. Spencer Hastings*

          You’re acting like the comment you’re replying to is ridiculously stupid and ignorant, but I don’t think it is.

          I think you’re describing the First Amendment (and other specific legal constructs in other countries), not the abstract human right of freedom of speech.

          If Bob posts on Twitter saying “It’s OK to be gay!” and his employer fires him for it, then in that situation I’d be comfortable saying that his freedom of speech has been impaired in an abstract sense, even though it had nothing to do with the government. Are the employer’s actions legal in the US? Yes. Are they ethical or just? No.

          1. pierrot*

            The freedom of speech example is a false equivalency. The first amendment pertains to things like whether the government can arrest or persecute you based on your speech. If you’re working in a government job, you will have more freedom of speech protections than if you work for a private company, so in that way the first amendment has some relevance to employment. The 1st Amendment does not pertain to private companies or institutions, so a company firing and employee for making an inappropriate social media post is not a violation of freedom of speech at all.

            The reason companies can drug test for marijuana even if it’s legal in the state is 1) it’s not federally legal and 2) just because something is legal doesn’t mean that employers can’t ban it. The legality would come into play if employers were literally turning over the drug tests to police to be used as evidence in a criminal case (thank god they don’t do that). I think the only protections when it comes to drug testing are if you’re prescribed a medication by a doctor, you can’t face discrimination over that if it comes up in a drug test, but as far as I’m aware this doesn’t pertain to medical marijuana due to it being a schedule 1 substance.

          2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

            Yep, that’s my problem with people who bring up the First Amendment as if that’s the same thing as Freedom of Speech.

            Rights are not granted by the Constitution. The are codified by the Constitution. The right is inherent in you as a person, whether or not it is respected by the government you live under. The founding fathers were very clear on this philosophical difference, and there was actually a big debate whether to make the Bill of Rights at all, because making it implies that anything not on it isn’t a also a Right.

            To use a more obvious Right as an example, slavery was not illegal in the US until the 13th Amendment, and that Amendment only applies to the US and its territories. But if “right not to be a slave” is something inherent in a human being, slavery should be equally wrong in a modern 3rd world sweatshop, 1860 Georgia, modern New York, and 1st century Rome. But only one of those has that Right protected by the Constitution.

            This is important because rights that are granted by the government can be taken away by the government. But rights that were yours in the first place cannot be taken away, they can only be violated.

        2. Allonge*

          That is not the point Cheesesteak in Paradise was making though.

          Their point seems to be that it’s legal to tweet / shout ‘it’s ok to be gay’ but a company still could fire you for it as the action does not put you in a protected group.

          Just as it’s legal to consume marijuana in many places, but a company can still consider it a fireable offence (or a no-hire one, as the case may be). There are a million things that are legal and would still stop a lot of companies from hiring you.

        3. Katara's side braids*

          I’m pretty sure Cheesesteak is making the same point as you. In their example, the *legal* right to freedom of speech does not prevent companies from either firing or not hiring someone, because neither of those decisions involves legal action/the government.

        4. Koalafied*

          You just reiterated exactly Cheesesteak’s point – that companies can and do fire or decline to hire people all the time for things that are not illegal.

        5. Littorally*

          That is Cheeseteak in Paradise’s point. Legal activity does not equal protected against employment action. There have to be specific carveouts in law saying it is actively illegal to discriminate in employment – ie, your employer can fire you for running your mouth on social media, but not for discussing wages with your coworkers.

    2. EL*

      I was once tested for nicotine and denied a job on the basis of a positive test, and cigarettes are legal everywhere. My understanding of the law is that because smokers are not a protected class, this is considered acceptable practice, although some individual states have enacted laws against it.

      The kicker in all this was that I’d actually quit smoking a few months before applying for that job, but the test can’t distinguish between active use and nicotine patches. It was pretty damn infuriating.

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        I know that one of the hospital systems in my area of Ohio has that kind of rule.

        Personally, I’m torn about the issue. I understand that tobacco use isn’t good for a person’s health, but it is legal and I’m for personal freedom in that case.

          1. quill*

            No smoking on campus is pretty standard for public institutions like libraries, schools and hospitals. No smoking ever / living with someone who smokes heavily enough for you to test positive for secondhand smoke is a little more of a grey area.

        1. A Library Person*

          I’ve been under the impression that this is (in the US) a low-key way for the employer to screen out potential employees who may be more likely to incur higher health insurance costs.

      2. Rockpicker*

        Yep, this is a thing. My last employer started testing new hires for nicotine in 2013.
        My current employer wouldn’t have any employees if we drug tested (or background checked, for that matter). My husband is struggling with the fact that his company does test (manufacturing facility with plants in 2 states and distribution centers in several more, so it’s corporate policy) and they have lost out on several really great candidates at the drug screening….meanwhile he can watch a couple dozen workers pick up a couple tall-boys for the drive home at the convenience store across the street from the plant.

    3. Cat Lover*

      It’s illegal federally. Also, if a company receives federal funding (especially something through, say, CMS) then they have to follow federal rules.

      Some places do test for alcohol, nicotine, etc.

    4. RMNPgirl*

      When Colorado legalized marijuana, the hospital system I worked at sent out a message stating employees still couldn’t use because the system received money from Medicare. They didn’t want to risk CMS pulling medicare reimbursement if the federal government found out they were allowing employees to use, even if it was off shift and no one was high at work.

    5. L.H. Puttgrass*

      There are two things going on here, both of which have been talked about separately (including by Alison, in a reply above), but not at the same time as far as I’ve seen:

      (1) Generally, employers can set any requirement they want for a job as long as that requirement doesn’t violate a law or discriminate against a protected class. Generally speaking: just because you can do it legally doesn’t mean an employer can’t refuse to hire you over it.
      (2) Ah, but what about the ADA? Well, that’s still no help. Testing for THC doesn’t violate the ADA because marijuana is still illegal at the federal level (and the ADA doesn’t protect users of illegal substances, even if that use is for medical purposes and the substances are legal at the state level).

      So while a person might be able to claim that, say, failing a drug test because of medication for a disability is discriminatory and that refusing to hire on that basis would violate the ADA, because marijuana is still illegal at the federal level the same kind of claim isn’t available under the ADA.

    6. Observer*

      How can a job offer be rescinded based on something you do that’s legal??

      Marijuana is still illegal on the Federal level. Also an employer can make anything they want a condition of employment as long as it’s not specifically carved out legally somehow, such as anti-discrimination laws. In some cases, even there you can have those requirements as long as you have accommodations in place to deal with legally protected situations (eg exceptions to dress codes for ADA reasons.)

    7. I should really pick a name*

      A job offer can be rescinded because you called the CEO a stupidhead.
      Calling the CEO a stupidhead is completely legal.
      Whether or not something is legal is not the bar for hiring.

    8. JustaTech*

      You asked about alcohol, and yes, some companies will test for alcohol, but that is *usually* a “for cause” drug test, ie, there was an accident at work and they need to know if anyone involved was impaired.
      Or if you work with heavy machinery, where being impaired (by anything) is a safety concern for both you and the people around you.
      If you work with the public, especially in a safety capacity, drug testing is common because you really can’t have a lifeguard who is impaired. (My husband had a positive test when he was a lifeguard because he’d eaten a poppy seed bagel. They re-tested with the good test, because they knew that he wasn’t using and it was fine.)

      But a “for cause” test, or a test for people who are doing dangerous jobs is very different from “we’re being puritanical about what our office workers do on the weekends”.

    9. Student*

      Jobs can refuse to hire you, or fire you, for engaging in legal activity on your own time. It’s not just about drug use. They could fire you or refuse to hire you for owning a car brand they don’t like, wearing your hair in a way they don’t like, wearing the “wrong” color shirt to an interview, participating in a sport during your personal time, etc. It’s not good practice to base your hiring and firing decisions on such things, but it’s legal to do so.

      The only things that employers cannot, by law, refuse to hire you for or fire you over (in the USA) are a handful of federally protected characteristics. States and local areas can add to the list. The federal list is: race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, or gender identity), national origin, age (40 or older – you can discriminate against ages <=39), disability, and genetic information (including family medical history). Several states add in familial status (meaning, whether you are married, whether or not you have children, etc) or other characteristics.

      In practice, those handful of protections are difficult to enforce. Some companies will count on the spotty enforcement and high barriers of proof to break those few legal protections too.

  15. Wetpigeon*

    Disagree that it’s any more unethical to share interview questions.
    I’ll go as far as to say it’s actually less ethnical to *not* reveal interview questions from candidates
    The only way to guarantee equal preparedness is to share interview questions equally, otherwise it comes down to…who has the friend? who has the better search engine technique? who knows how to use internet forums? who has been to more interviews? Who has more time to prepare for all possible questions?

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      But this person isn’t asking about sharing them with everyone, they are asking about sharing them with one person- their friend.

    2. KRM*

      But that’s exactly what it would come down to in this case: “who has the friend?”. Either the interview questions are shared to everyone before, or the OP can say things like “when I interviewed I was asked several questions like this, and I imagine they still do, so preparation for that would be useful”. But handing the interview questions over only to her friend beforehand, even if they’re generic, is a bad idea.

    3. Leilah*

      100% agree that the questions should be shared with everyone. This will help equity for all sorts of disadvantaged groups and also help the company get more a more accurate reflection of which candidates will best succeed at the job.

  16. boozhoo*

    LW #2 uses medical CBD. CBD, depending on the product used, could cause a positive result for THC. If I were LW2, I would tell a potential employer (calmly, with a poker face) that I am protected under the ADA and they can’t screen me out based on a positive THC test.

    1. ItIsWhatItIs*

      Pot isn’t covered by the ADA and CBD doesn’t trigger drug tests. CBN, a different compound does.

      1. Wendy*

        CBD by itself doesn’t, but many CBD products have enough THC in them to trigger the test even if that’s not what you’re intending to take.

        1. quill*

          Especially because THC is fat soluble so a tiny bit of it in CBD oil can bioaccumulate in you.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The thing is, they legally can. Marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, and medical marijuana use is not protected under the ADA.

      1. boozhoo*

        I’m sure you’re right. It’s a bit of a bluff. But it might work and I’m not sure there’s a downside in trying. Worst case, LW doesn’t get the job which is the same result they’d get from the + test.

        1. You Can't Pronounce It*

          I strongly disagree. This is very unethical and I would withdraw an offer on the lie alone.

          Explaining it the way the LW has been can lead to change. Marijuana is still illegal in my state; however, many employers have started changing their testing to allow for it due to hardship in finding employees.

        2. Grits McGee*

          Eh, respectfully disagree that the worst outcome is that OP just wouldn’t get the job- spouting off easy-to-verify incorrect legal information in an effort to bluster their way into a job would leave a much worse impression than OP’s approach. If I were a hiring manager, OP’s approach would leave me thinking “What a bummer that we’ve lost out on a good candidate because of our drug testing policy.” This approach would leave me thinking, “Wow, that was a bullet dodged. What else would they have tried to pull if we’d hired this person?”

        3. Juli G.*

          Signing up to work for a company that doesn’t understand very basic parts of employment law is not something I would advocate for.

        4. Workerbee*

          But being caught in such a bluff could have the additional effect of being black-balled in the industry LW is applying in, especially since this is not an isolated requirement they have come up against.

    3. Observer*

      If I were LW2, I would tell a potential employer (calmly, with a poker face) that I am protected under the ADA and they can’t screen me out based on a positive THC test.

      I am against testing. But if someone pulled that one me? End of conversation. Because it’s not true that their use is protected under the ADA. So either they are lying or they are ignorant of the law that they are trying to use. Both are bad. I don’t want any liars and I don’t want people making decisions that are related to our legal obligations when they have not the faintest clue as to what they are talking about.

    4. Joielle*

      I wouldn’t go that far since it’s legally incorrect. But I do think LW2 could say something like “I use CBD for medical purposes and the product does have a small amount of THC in it, which will probably show up on the drug test. I just wanted you to be aware in advance and I’d be happy to answer any questions or provide documentation from my doctor. I hope this won’t disqualify me from the position.”

      I guess I’m not 100% sure that the medicinal CBD product does have THC in it, although many of them do. But if so, I think it’s fine to leave out any mention of recreational THC use and focus on the medical use.

  17. Mm*

    I recently was going through the hiring process and so many employers *apologized* upfront about requiring a Covid Vaccine and confirmed I was okay with that. Then, later, when springing the drug test there was no sense of “sorry we test for marijuana.” You would think in states where it is legal this would come up all the time and at least be handled like the Covid Vaccine – employer gets it out of the way in the first round so no one wastes their time.

    Frustrating to see anti-vaxers get catered to and marijuana users (even medical marijuana!) get no considerations.

    If I was the LW I would probably state it in the first conversation. I use medical marijuana/CBD and I know that has been an issue for some employers. Will that be a problem?

    1. Nanani*

      It goes to show that these things aren;t actually about the substances involved, it’s about privilege and power.
      A lot of white people dislike vaccines so apologies for necessary impositions are made. Marijuana is associated with racial minorities and subcultures that aren’t so universally loved so intrusive testing is normal and no exceptions are made for medical use.
      What a lovely system :////

  18. Lemon*

    Like some of the commenters above me, I don’t find #1 unethical either. I don’t see it any different to asking for specific insights about the work or firm – this would also presumably give someone an unfair advantage. I’ve shared my interview experiences with anyone who asked me in the past, be it a friend or a stranger who approached me on LinkedIn.

    OP#1, if it’s applicable to you/your company, could you point your friend to Glassdoor? For my previous company, many of the questions were publicly posted by interview candidates on there.

    1. Lemon*

      Caveat here: this is based on the assumption that you aren’t sharing any questions that you have access to due to your role at the company now. If you’re just telling her your experience, that seems fine to me

    2. Smithy*

      I think the reality for the ethics around this question has to do with a huge reality that professional networks inevitably help their friends/former colleagues in helping them be better prepared for opportunities.

      If a job is posted, they’re positioned to hear about it early and have a larger window of time to apply with their strongest application materials possible. And if they find a job notice that’s been open for a while, they can ask if the job is still taking new applicants or already fairly far along in the process. If they get an interview, they can prep with someone who can pull out the strongest details from their work history and help them focus on the most relevant parts. And even if that prep advice isn’t 100% aligned with every interview questions, the impact can often be person goes into the interview more relaxed and confident in discussing their own experience.

      I can’t imagine anyone flagging the above as unethical. But the end results are often that someone’s submission materials, written tests, and interviews are better – without ethical breaches or lying – but because someone is less nervous, more confident and more focused.

  19. Sleepy cat*

    #1 Someone has probably posted the questions on Glassdoor anyway. I would share them.

  20. Midwestern Scientist*

    For #2, many (most?) academic institutions don’t drug test. Most say they might but none that I’ve worked at ever have. And basically everywhere I’ve worked has been constantly hiring for admin positions

    1. Yes Anastasia*

      I work in state government in a state that has legalized recreational use, and this is also true for us.

  21. Snuck*

    For #4 if someone pressures you, or ‘strongly suggests’ why not consider setting up a gift donation instead for a local charity that excites you? The pandemic has put pressure on a lot of organisations and (in Australia at least) domestic violence and homelessness have both spiked dramatically, so I would be tempted to do this if people wanted to gift to me for something I didn’t need. “Oh I have so much already from my last pregnancy and we kept everything we’d need… hrm. If people are still super keen what about if we donate some nappies or similar to the local domestic violence shelter? But only as a voluntary thing!”

    1. Ashkela*

      Oh good, someone came up with the same idea I had! This is definitely a good thing to do. And if they insist on getting YOU things, just inform them that whatever comes in will be immediately donated. But you have to stick to that if you say you will because Gaia forbid a single onesie turn out to be so cute that you keep it and then someone sees it down the road and it becomes a ‘thing’ (saying this after seeing it happen to a friend).

      Congratulations on your second upcoming squish! May they and you always know all the love that is so richly needed and deserved.

    2. OP 4*

      Love this idea! I think it’ll be so much easier to bow out since it’s the second pregnancy. It’s not even common for showers in general for a second, but it was so unexpected last time it has me nervous.

      I will look into links for DV/foster donations in in our area.

  22. Prefer my pets*

    I’m shocked how many people think sharing interview questions with just one person is just part of the game and all hunky dory. The one time I actually encountered that situation as a federal employee, the current employee was suspended without pay and there was much debate with HR and agency higher ups whether to terminate. In the end, they weren’t fired but they also weren’t ever trusted by managers or coworkers with anything even slightly sensitive. The term “career limiting move” was pretty much tatooed on them. They eventually left for private where there isn’t an expectation of speaking with a current manager as part of the references because there was no way they could get another position in the agency.

    1. Allonge*

      Yes, I think if someone really wants to do something, why not lobby for sharing the questions with all interviewees in advance? If it’s really the same question set to all, there is a high chance of leaks anyway and for behavioral questions, having a longer time to prepare usually does not take away from the response.

      But sharing with one person? Big no.

    2. usernames are anonymous*

      Yes – in my company the employee would be reported to HR for an ethics violation if the company found out they were giving a candidate an unfair advantage in the hiring process. And to turn it around I’m guessing the OP wouldn’t be too happy if they applied for a job and found out they lost out to another candidate who got preferential treatment because their friend gave them the interview questions.

      1. Clisby*

        Would they consider it an ethics violation if you discussed what your workplace is like, and your own job experience, with a friend? It seems to me that arguably could give someone more of an advantage than interview questions – especially if they’re pretty standard questions.

        1. usernames are anonymous*

          Yes – you can let someone know about the job advert but that’s it. If the friend had any questions I’d tell them to look at the company website and talk to the recruiter. Clearly the friend won’t be completely clueless because we would have likely discussed our jobs and the companies we worked for as part of our friendship. But as soon as they apply the work discussions would stop.

          1. Leilah*

            At my company if someone even remotely expresses interest in one of our positions I am encouraged to give them as much info as possible without getting confidential, up to and including having informational work-shadowing sessions. And this will often be ongoing while they are in the process of applying and interviewing. We think it helps us get the most interested and excited candidates in the door and up to speed. I’ve literally trained new hires and been asked to invite potential candidates to the trainings so that they will have a leg up in case they are chosen – and if they are not chosen, it is with the express purpose of making them the best qualified candidate the next time and opening pops up.

      2. Leilah*

        What is an “unfair advantage” according to their definition – because it seems to me that virtually any contact between yourself and potential candidate is an unfair advantage you’ve given them. Even just referring them to the position right when it’s posted – which is highly encouraged in most companies.

    3. Believe In Your Friend*

      Yes, this would be my fear for OP. If her friend got the job, she would eventually become friends with other coworkers. In this place of comfort, she may tell them how she was given the interview questions in advance. It would eventually get back to management. That would not be good for the OP. I would coach the friend on generic questions and then have enough confidence in her ability to handle the interview.

    4. Purple Cat*

      Well, the OP doesn’t state that their company has firmly written rules expressly forbidding sharing interview questions. So it’s a different scenario entirely.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        A lot of companies would frown pretty severely on things that aren’t written down.

      2. Koli*

        Every company has (or should have) a Confidentiality Policy that prohibits sharing company information outside the company, if not an NDA that employees sign when they are hired. Whether it’s prominently shared or not, it exists. Not to mention, it’s just common sense. Does the company have a written policy that you won’t send internal documents to the New York Times? No? Then how could it be wrong to do so?

        1. Leilah*

          At least where I work, I work with loads of documents and receive various communications that are confidential for internal use only. Sharing those would be fireable. They are all very clearly marked that way. Anything not marked that way is understood to be freely shareable.

          1. Insert Clever Name Here*

            In at least that sense, it’s a “know your workplace” question — everything at my workplace is company information not to be shared; exceptions are clearly marked with “public disclosure permissible.”

    5. XF1013*

      Seconded; I’m surprised by the comments today. If I learned that my subordinate shared interview questions with her friend, I’d strongly consider terminating her, because it would be such a blow to her integrity that I couldn’t trust her with other sensitive information, among numerous other problems.

      None of the mitigating factors suggested — that these questions are really generic, that racial inequities already make hiring unfair, that principled companies should always give questions in advance — change the fact that in OP’s case, the questions are considered protected information. (I’m assuming so or OP would not have written in for advice.)

      To put it another way, if you have a really industry-common approach to how an important system works, your competitors could probably guess it on their own, but would you tolerate your subordinate telling her friend at a competitor how it works?

      Do not share protected info, period.

      1. Leilah*

        I actually think they obviously must not be marked at confidential info, otherwise surely Op wouldn’t have written in. If there is a clear policy that they cannot be shared, why write in to ask if it’s okay? And why write in without mentioning that key detail if that is indeed the case.

    6. BuildMeUp*

      Yeah, it’s pretty much the definition of unethical to me. I’m very confused by all the comments excusing it.

  23. EE*

    TIL another oddity about America! For a country whose self-image is libertarian in nature it certainly loves bureaucracy. Forget for a moment the logic of worrying about recreational drug use interfering with an office worker carrying out her duties. (Forget ENTIRELY about whether or not the drug use is legal.) Just consider: more and more hoops for the company to jump through and they do it because they enjoy it? When I moved to Australia from Ireland I found its adherence to rules a bit stifling (there’s a joke: “Welcome to Australia. Fines apply.”) but this is outside their mindset.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      It’s not (always) required by the government, though–this seems to be a lot of companies imposing it themselves. I’m in state where it’s still mostly illegal and my place of work doesn’t test because there’s no reason to–only one position drives, we don’t handle heavy machinery, and if somebody starts showing up to work stoned they just handle it as that rather than creating a blanket policy. It’s definitely not universal and I’m not even sure it’s that widespread, but since it was asked today’s post is basically self-selecting to get commentary on it.

  24. Skittles*

    In Australia weed is illegal but you can be legally prescribed CBD/THC oil (it’s difficult to get a prescription though). While I was waiting to get a prescription I was using it to manage my pain and had applied for a job where I knew I’d need to do a drug test. So I had to stop using for a period so I could pass the test, got the job, checked on the likelihood of being tested again during my time there and found it was rare to be tested outside of roles where people were operating vehicles or equipment so I was fine because I just worked an office job and started up again. Until I finally got my prescription I was pretty nervous about being randomly tested but as soon as I had paperwork I was fine.
    My partner went through a similar ordeal – having to stop using the only medication that works on your chronic pain is torture.

  25. What a way to make a living*

    Doesn’t your friend want to get the job because she’s the best candidate?

    If she’s that strong a candidate and the questions are that standard, then why would she even need them sharing?

    If you genuinely think there’s a chance there’s nothing wrong with it, why not ask your employer? No, of course you do want to do that because you know it wouldn’t be right and would reflect badly on you, and on your friend.

    1. Marion Ravenwood*

      Yeah, if I was the friend I actually wouldn’t want OP to share the questions with me (maybe a generic ‘oh these ask a lot of these types of questions so you might want to prep for that’, but definitely not to the level of detail of knowing exactly what you get asked) because I wouldn’t like the feeling that I didn’t get the job on my own merit. Even if no-one else ever found out, I feel like it wouldn’t sit well with me and I’d somehow cheated my way into the job.

      1. BethDH*

        As the friend I wouldn’t want it either and I don’t think I’d perform better. I actually hate places that give me the exact questions ahead of time; there’s so much more pressure to have the perfect answer, but even more of a problem for me is integrating my practiced responses with the things that naturally come up during an interview that I didn’t know about ahead of time, even if that’s just their responses to my first comments.

    2. Dust Bunny*


      If the problem is that your employer asks “gotcha” questions, then your employer is a jerk and–just me–I wouldn’t want to work there. Mine definitely did not ask me any gotchas at my interview (it was years ago but I’m anxious in general, was an inexperienced job-hunter, and was desperate to get out of my current job situation so I would remember if they had cornered me with something scary. Instead I remember the interview as being rather fun). If I couldn’t have handled whatever they asked me I legitimately wouldn’t have been a good candidate; I should not have needed the questions in advance.

    3. Leilah*

      Assuming that “everyone” is familiar with the “standard” questions is a really narrow view of the world. There are lots and lots of great candidates who just haven’t interviewed that much or in that situation. People in early career, people who haven’t changed jobs very often or for whatever reason haven’t had a “standard” interview before.

  26. What a way to make a living*

    As a Brit, I don’t understand why medical marijuana isn’t covered by ADA? Or why it isn’t discriminatory to reject a candidate (and even rescind an offer!) based on the medical treatment they’re having?

    I mean, obviously it is discriminatory, but I don’t understand why it wouldn’t legally be so as well?

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      Because medical marijuana is legal in some states, but is still illegal under federal law. And ADA is a federal law. So the federal government is not going to say “hey, you can’t discriminate against people for using this illegal substance!”

    2. Morticia*

      As a Canadian, this discussion has been very interesting to me. Employers here can only drug test under very limited circumstances and, at least in my province, you can’t discriminate against someone because of an addiction. Add in the added benefit of federally legal cannabis, and maybe LW#2 should consider moving here.

    3. Insert Clever Name Here*

      The hierarchy of how laws are applied in the US is:
      Federal Laws & Statutes (like the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as marijuana being illegal)
      State Laws & Statutes (marijuana is legal in Colorado)
      Local Laws & Statutes

      Since marijuana is illegal at the Federal level, states cannot pass a law to make it legal — Federal law trumps that. And the law that makes marijuana illegal at the Federal level does not include a carve out for using it for medicinal purposes; it’s a complete ban. If the feds *really* wanted to, they could go after states that have laws allowing use of marijuana (because those state laws are invalid because they conflict with Federal law), but there isn’t a desire at the federal level to do that. It’s like the other day when one of my kids was sneaking snacks out of the pantry right before dinner while I was on a work call — I *could* have made her stop, but there were other things that were more important to me at the moment.

  27. ShudBeLegal*

    For the thc situation: military drug tests require the stall door to remain open while someone of the same gender stands by. All of the drug tests I’ve taken in a civilian setting (did a stint at the Post Office, but work in healthcare: required for hire and usually if you get injured, possibly random as well. I’ve never had a random in 18 years.)
    The closed door makes it very easy to pour the clean pee from a trusted friend that you held in a ziplock next to your skin (in case they assess for warmth of the sample). May the odds be ever in your favor.

    1. Clisby*

      One strange (urine) drug test I had: I showed up with my 3-year-old son in tow since leaving him alone is frowned on. The testing company staff just ushered us both to a bathroom for me to give the sample. Like, did it never occur to them I could just have him pee in the cup? I’d have been glad to leave him with one of them, but they never even raised the issue. I’m guessing they were not heavily invested in the outcomes.

      1. quill*

        A lot of them are independent labs whose primary interest is getting people through as fast and efficiently as possible. Especially if there’s a line.

    2. Fluff*

      I had to do a proctored pee with my little kid in tow – stall door open, a woman watching and my daughter. She was still potty training and part of her learning was recitin the steps of going to the bathroom. Which she promptly did for me during my test. “Front to back Mami. Careful Mami. Carrrreful. Don’t forget hand washes. Don’t spill Mami.”

      The lady who had to monitor my drug test never laughed so hard in her life. She said she was going to give my daughter her job.

    3. JustaTech*

      I was just listening to a podcast about working in an Amazon warehouse and the narrator was very surprised that the drug test was a cheek swab and not a pee test (and uncomfortable, as he’d drunk a bunch of water to be ready to go).

  28. TimeTravlR*

    #3 – Am I doing the math right? $369 a year is less than .18 an hour. It is absolutely a slap in the face, even if you get to stay hourly.

  29. L-squared*

    #1. I actually disagree. I don’t find it unethical at all. If you go on Glassdoor, they essentially have that same information on there. I’m not sure why its fine to get the information from there, but not from someone you know at the company. People get legs up on interviews all the time. If the company is using fairly standard interview questions, someone knowing which of those they will ask is fine. If the company has asked employees to not share that info, I wouldn’t risk my standing at the company and do so anyway. But otherwise, this to me is information that is going to be out there, and that is the risk they take when they ask the same questions to everyone interviewing for a job. I say go for it and help your friend out.

    #2. While I agree that its pretty crappy that you can’t just ask about drug testing without it raising red flags for the company, I think its fair to ask about it in the context of the entire process between interview and offer. So asking something like “what steps are there on the company’s end between interview and offer”. So they may say when they ask for references, background checks, and hopefully they’d be proactive about the drug test thing. If they are cagey about that and spring it on you, I think its fair to bash them on Glassdoor for that.

    1. BuildMeUp*

      #1 – There is a huge difference between every candidate being able to look at the questions on Glassdoor and one single candidate getting the questions because they know someone at the company. The OP wouldn’t need to tell her friend if the questions were up somewhere. It’s just not the same thing.

      1. L-squared*

        I mean, its not different if the its the same information, and that is my point. If OP could feasibly go on glassdoor and post that information, and that isn’t a problem, then it shouldn’t be a problem to tell your friend that information and just choose NOT to use glassdoor. What if I interviewed somewhere, decided not to take the job, but then told someone else the questions I was asked who was also interviewing. Is that unethical to you?

        Everyone doesn’t know about glassdoor. So does that make the fact that some people do know about it unfair?

        I think some of you are acting like you are going to have a situation where everyone comes into every interviewing situation on a level playing field. But they won’t. Some people will be referrals. Some people will know people who work there and the way the company operates. Some people may have interviewed with the company before.

        1. BuildMeUp*

          It’s the same information but it’s so clearly not the same thing. There is still a difference between the info being publicly available somewhere where any candidate could find it and the OP only telling her friend.

          Do you have the view that because the playing field is never going to be fully level, it’s okay for the OP to actively and deliberately make it less level?

          1. Leilah*

            So if you say to your friend “I can’t tell you but look on Glassdoor” that’s okay then? This seems like splitting hairs.

            1. BuildMeUp*

              It isn’t splitting hairs. If the info is on Glassdoor, it’s accessible to anyone and not just the OP’s friend. The difference is not in where the OP’s friend would be getting the info; it’s in whether other candidates could access the same info.

              But I also don’t think the info is on Glassdoor at this point, or at least it’s not mentioned in the letter, so I’m not sure how relevant this is for the OP.

          2. L-squared*

            I mean, at this point its already not level since this friend has someone at the company who can give tips. So I don’t see this as some kind of breach of trust. Again, if OP could just as easily post this info on Glassdoor as an anonymous employee, and then tell the friend “look there”, it really is splitting hairs, as the person above said.

            1. BuildMeUp*

              I literally already responded to “the person above.” I’m not sure how you missed it. I’m just going to copy & paste:

              It isn’t splitting hairs. If the info is on Glassdoor, it’s accessible to anyone and not just the OP’s friend. The difference is not in where the OP’s friend would be getting the info; it’s in whether other candidates could access the same info.

        2. Public Sector Manager*

          But OP can’t go on Glassdoor with this information. We don’t know if the questions OP was asked at hiring are these same questions being asked now. What the OP reported was that their friend asked to do general prep for the interview and the OP wants to give the friend the current list of questions verbatim.

          Since OP isn’t on the hiring panel, OP has no business sharing that list of questions. When I hire, I want a level playing field as much as possible because I want the best candidate for the job, not the person who has the most connections. For every friend of a current coworker we’ve hired that has worked out great, there are at least 5 who didn’t and were epic fails.

          I would seriously question the judgment of anyone on my team if they shared my current interview questions with candidates. If I haven’t changed my questions in 20 years, then that’s on me. But if I have a current list of questions that are common knowledge only in house, sharing those questions verbatim would make me question someone’s ability to handle more sensitive information.

          And since the questions are so generic per the OP, if the OP’s friend can’t answer those questions on their own, then the friend is not a right fit for that job and OP is taking some unnecessary risks.

      2. Huttj*

        The parallel that jumps out to me, though in a different area.

        My dad worked with classified info. Much of this info is actually available in, for example, the library. However, there’s also a bunch of less than accurate info.

        If he gave me a list of books to look up for good info, that would be a breach, even though all the books on the list are unclassified, because the context/source matters.

  30. Hiring Mgr*

    Unethical is certainly up for debate imo, but is #1 really much different in terms of fairness than if LW gave the friend overall insight into the company, role, team, bosses etc?

    Thinking “Fergus used to work at XYZ so make sure to mention that you used to work with their CEO, ” or similar could be more impactful than “they’re going to ask about a time you overcame a challenge”

    1. Dust Bunny*

      It seems a lot more specific than that, though; more like giving somebody the test questions ahead of time.

      1. Hiring Mgr*

        Some of it probably comes down to what interviews are like in any given industry or role.. In mine, interviews tend to be more like conversations where you know the topics so there really isn’t a list of questions in the first place.

  31. Purple Cat*

    I’m a bit surprised at the answer to LW1. If they really were very specific niche “gotcha” questions, I might feel differently. But emphasizing that “company WILL ask about a time you dealt with a difficult coworker” for example, seems like the right type of guidance and “advantage” one would gain from interviewing with a company where they already have a connection. As long as LW1 isn’t also feeding the “correct” answers, I have no issue with it.

    All the more reason why companies should provide all the questions to all that interview.

    1. BethDH*

      I actually hate this practice, both as an interviewer and an interviewee. Sure, provide some information (like a bullet list of topics you expect to cover) but having an exact list leaves very little room for the interview to be a conversation, and asking follow up questions seems to make people think you’ve gone off-list in a “gotcha” way. This practice might seem like it protects people with less experience / fewer privileges, but in my admittedly very niche experience it doesn’t.

      1. Ruby*

        At my company, there is a list of questions that interviewers can ask and they are not allowed to deviate from the list.
        In that situation, why would the company not share that ahead of time? It’s the information they want, right?

        1. Leilah*

          Yes, I see this practice as helpful to the company more as much or even moreso than helpful to the interviewee. If the employee is ready to answer your questions to the best of their ability, you will get a much clearer and more accurate picture of their skills and strengths.

  32. Hailrobonia*

    #2: I encountered that exact situation when I was promoted from hourly to salaried. I wish I had been an AaM reader back then because it would have given me the insight and knowledge that I can stand up for myself and at least try to negotiate a higher salary.

  33. Hailrobonia*

    #2: how sensitive are the THC tests? Could exposure to second-hand weed smoke cause you to test positive?

    1. jane's nemesis*

      If it’s a standard urine test, IMO, no, it wouldn’t, unless you’re surrounded by billowing clouds of weed smoke all day every day. In which case, you’d also be high, not just exposed to secondhand smoke.

      1. doreen*

        I did some reading on this recently – you could apparently test positive ( and even get a contact high) if you were in a small, unventilated space with people who were smoking a lot ( I think one of the studies involved six people smoking ten joints each within an hour) but the same situation in a ventilated room did not cause the nonsmokers to test positive.

    2. This is a name, I guess*

      The internets says you can test positive for THC if you take proton pump inhibitors and NSAIDs, both of which are OTC. I wonder if there’s some way to use that knowledge…hmmmmmm

  34. Chili pepper Attitude*

    At old job, I asked everyone I could if they remembered the questions they were asked. I kept a question bank and shared it with anyone who asked. I tried to avoid letting managers know But shared it freely. Over time, people knew of my doc and brought me questions without me asking.

    I think it is ethical to share questions you got that way. But like another commenter said, if I got questions bc I was on a hiring team and your boss asked if I shared them, I would not feel good about my answer.

  35. Not really a Waitress*

    OP 2 I taught a new leadership session a few weeks ago. I work in a distribution center. We were talking about reasonable suspicion and one of my new leaders asked what if you knew someone was getting chemo and using something for the nausea, did you still report it.

    Ultimately, alcohol is also legal. But I don’t want someone on site who is under the influence. You also don’t want someone to take some types legal OTC or prescribed medication and operate machinery. But it sounds like this is not the type of facility you are looking to work at. It surprises me the companys are investing in this step for an office position

    As far as your question about if they drug test. As you get farther along in the interview process, you might ask for timelines. Ask about once an offer is given, what is the process. Is it conditional based on background check? This might be away of finding out without asking directly.

  36. It’s Britney B*tch*

    #OP1 don’t you listen Allison on this one. There are already so many disadvantages on how someone made it to the interview process (who they know, education background due to social economic means, bias of the person reviewing the resumes, etc.) and my allegiance is to my friend not this company or it’s hiring process. This is not a presidential debate or some other major event just a damn interview. Or in the name of Tom Haverford from Parks and Rec “I have never taken the high road, but I tell everyone too ‘cause there is more room me on the low”

  37. Aerospace Industry*

    Big +1 to if the company has a contract with the federal government, you’ll get drug tested. And another +1 to if you need a clearance, you’ll get drug tested. From what I’ve heard for clearances, if you’ll be working directly for the agency (civil servant) than a positive drug test isn’t necessarily a disqualifier, as long as you’re honest about it.

    1. InsertNameHere*

      Not necessarily. I’m a government contractor with a clearance (public trust) and was never drug tested. 2.5 years in so far.

  38. Dinwar*

    The idea that giving the candidate an unfair advantage doesn’t sit well with me, because of exactly what Alison says in her second paragraph. The candidate by definition has an unfair advantage, because they already know far more about the company culture–good and bad–than anyone who doesn’t have a friend on the inside. You can’t not have an unfair advantage here.

    I also am not sold on this being a bad thing. It’s good for the candidate because they can see what’s real and what’s the company blowing smoke. They have a sense before they apply of whether this company will be a good fit for them or not. And it’s good for the company because it weeds out people who know the culture won’t be a good fit.

    I don’t see how a Rawlsian veil of ignorance helps in this specific case. Ignoring facts is generally a bad idea, and pretending that this candidate doesn’t have inside information is stupid.

    Regarding diversity and inclusion, there are ways to encourage this AND accept the inevitable and immutable fact that connections matter. Remember, connections work both ways. Employers can encourage their employees (in various ways) to reach out to schools, universities, and other groups to encourage disadvantaged students to pursue a career in [insert industry here]. They can also specifically target certain areas for advertising openings and hold job fairs. It would benefit everyone–the company gets a more diverse workforce, and students get to hear about careers they may otherwise never have heard of. Point is, the hiring process isn’t the best place to target these efforts. Hiring is the boom. Systematic issues of racial, social, economic, gender, and other injustices need to be addressed left of boom. Because here’s the thing: You can only hire from the existing candidate pool. If minority communities are unaware of your industry, or view it as unattainable, you’ll never get a diverse workforce because you’ll never get a diverse hiring pool. The ideal situation is one where minority candidates are just as likely to be brought to your attention by existing staff as anyone else, because there exists a broad and deep pool of potential candidates that crosses the socio-economic spectrum.

  39. Yay!*

    OP#1: There are plenty of websites like Glassdoor where people share interview questions once they’ve completed an interview with a company, there is a special section on each company page for that.
    I would recommend that your friend check this out, so she can be informed without it being unethical. You can even put a review there yourself for your company so that the interview questions are accessible to any candidate who checks out this page on Glassdoor so the playing field is levelled. Wishing your friend all the best of luck!

  40. PRM*

    #1: respectfully disagree, especially if your friend is a gender or racial minority. ‘Old Boys Networks’ (for lack of a better phrase) do this all the time — give their ‘friends’ a leg up. This is how capitalism works. Use it to your advantage when you can.

    1. Asenath*

      No, it isn’t. An appropriate way of helping your friends in a capitalist world is to point out a job opening they might not have been aware of. Giving them a list of interview questions is on the same level as helping them steal a grade or qualification by giving the them a copy of your to A paper to hand in. I can’t imagine anyone, capitalist or not, wanting to hire someone who did that.

      1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

        I think it’s the kind of things that the “old boys” wouldn’t get dinged for, but a woman or minority would be viewed as having cheated, in the vein of certain types of people having to work twice as hard to get half as far.

        1. Asenath*

          I don’t agree. I’ve known “old boys” who would be too honest to pull a stunt like this. It’s a matter of personal honesty, not whether or not they’d get “dinged” if they did it.

      2. PRM*

        Again, disagree. I’ve been around the block to many times to believe in any version of meritocracy. We live under intersecting systems of oppression (at least some of us do). Do what you can to game those systems with the limited power you have.

        1. Asenath*

          It’s not a matter of whether or not we live in a meritocracy. It’s a matter of whether or not I or you or OP are willing to cheat.

      3. I'm Just Here*

        This is exactly how fraternities, sororities, and other affinity organizations have worked since forever. Even alumni connections can give an advantage.

        Good grief, all this hand-wringing over questions that all candidates should be given in advance anyway is silly. Interviewing should stop being an effort to trip people up. There would not be so many AAM posts if the process yielded the best people for any given position.

        Moral purists need to understand that the employment landscape is full of inequities and likely will remain that way. It’s baked into the system.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          We do realize that. That’s why we’re opposed to the LW giving their friend the questions ahead of time.
          (Unless he’s planning to give them to all of the candidates, which isn’t what was suggested here.)

      4. Dust Bunny*

        Also, I’d like to dismantle the Old Boys’ Network, not make it universal, thanks.

        1. Joielle*

          Ok, but in terms of what can be done immediately by one person to reduce inequity – “dismantle the Old Boys’ Network” is not really on that list. “Give friend specific information to help prepare for an interview” is. And also – how do you think the Old Boys’ Network will ever be dismantled if not through individual people with diverse perspectives being hired? We’re never going to eliminate the concept of networking, which is what it comes down to – the problem is who has access to that network. So the goal should be to expand it to include more people.

          Personally, I wouldn’t give the exact list, but I would say something like… “They’ll ask a lot of “tell me about a time when” questions, so you’ll want to be prepared with situations relating to leadership skills, management experience, conflict resolution, and meeting short deadlines.” That’s information that anyone could theoretically get through networking with people who have interviewed for the position before. But it is quite specific and will be helpful to the friend.

      5. Dinwar*

        This all assumes that the interview questions are some sort of test. In some industries sure, that’s probably true–if you’re in coding, for example. But for many industries it’s not. The difference between “What’s the culture like?” and “What questions will I be asked?” is nil in my industry. Your skills are in your resume; the interview is for cultural fit first, and to see if you were BSing on your resume second. Anything that doesn’t fit those to categories falls under the heading Generic Interview Stuff.

        Knowing what they’d ask ahead of time provided no actual benefits. The only thing it could do is help you determine if you think the culture would be a good fit or not. And that’s going to come out in the interview anyway, so knowing in advance doesn’t help.

        So I guess it all comes down to, what’s the job, and how are interviews typically conducted?

    2. Scully*

      THANK YOU. Wild how many people here are taking the corporate side as if anyone ever should feel any protectiveness for a mindless company. Corporations cheat the system every single day and get away with murder (sometimes literally) and here’s people pearl clutching over, at best, a gray area scenario? Nah. That ain’t it. We’re screwed until we get some true class solidarity.

    3. anonymous73*

      Using the “do this wrong thing because others do this wrong thing” justification is not how you change things for the better.

  41. infopubs*

    OP#2, is it feasible to ask about the drug testing before even sending in an application? I think there are ways to do that anonymously. For instance, you could ask a friend to ask the question, so your name isn’t mentioned at all.

  42. Anon for This*

    OP 2: might also be that if the employer has a presence in several states, they might still be following federal guidelines rather than state guidelines to ensure all empliyees are treated equally. Which sucks for people applying to work there, but there could be legal reasons they have to meet federal standards instead of state standards.

  43. super anon for this one*

    In my state, if you have a medical marijuana card (issued by the state), there is a process in place to make it through a drug screen. (It’s Pennsylvania, by the way).

    You go to the drug test, and show your legally obtained medical marijuana card to the drug testing provider. You DO NOT TELL THE EMPLOYER ANYTHING. You take the drug test as scheduled, even knowing you’re going to drop dirty, because there are other things they need to screen for.

    The drug testing provider has a method in place where they compare your drug test results (with your positive THC) to your medical marijuana license record before reporting your results to the potential employer. They then omit your positive THC status, but would report any other drugs detected.

    For the record, these tests absolutely cannot tell the difference between “medically used” weed and “recreational” weed. So as long as you have a state-issued license, you can still get the job.

    (Source: I googled ex-ten-sive-ly when I thought I was going to be getting a job with a huge huge hospital system that drug tests, and I’ve had my MMJ card for a couple years. This process is well-established at this point, but it’s not well-advertised, you have to dig to learn about it.)

    DO NOT VOLUNTEER YOUR STATUS TO THE EMPLOYER. Tell the drug testing provider only.

  44. Generic Name*

    #2 I’m in Colorado and my company doesn’t conduct pre-employment drug screenings. We just don’t care what you do on you off time, as long as it doesn’t interfere with your job. I’d focus your job search on small, locally based companies, rather than large corporations with a multi-state presence. The big companies have a uniform policy for all branches, and they don’t adjust it based on differences in local law.

  45. Today Tomorrow and Yesterday*

    #2 I live in a MJ legal state and have found that some companies still test. I have taken myself out of the running when asked to submit to a drug test. It’s really none of their business what legal activities I engage in when not on the clock.

    1. MicroManagered*

      Agreed. Refusing the test and letting the company know WHY is the way to go.

      If enough companies experience losing top talent at the late stages of the interview process over this, they’ll stop testing. Most of the illegal drugs they’re testing for only stay in your system for a couple days, so a prescheduled drug test really isn’t an effective screening mechanism to find say, someone who’s gonna show up to work drunk because they have a drinking problem.

    2. Nanani*

      I fully agree with this.
      If desirable employees push back, maybe it can contribute to dropping this intrusive garbage for everyone.

  46. Just Your Everyday Crone*

    It seems like almost no one has a problem with providing the interview questions to the friend, even though the company would frown on it and probably disqualify the friend if they knew, but a fair number of people would have a problem with faking a drug test for THC, even though the first has a greater impact than the second.

    1. Purple Cat*

      Marijuana use IS still a federal crime…. And (rightly or wrongly) marijuana use goes against many Company’s safety policies.
      Piggybacking off a comment I saw earlier, if you’re okay with people faking drug tests because they’re against the policy, you have to be okay with faking COVID vaccination cards for the same reason.

      1. pancakes*

        No, not at all, and that’s an inane thing to say. There is enormous potential harm to others as a consequence of not being vaccinated. There is a very slim chance of harm to others as a consequence of using marijuana outside of working hours.

      1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

        There were fewer comments about it when I posted. I still thinks there’s a mismatch.

  47. ThisIsTheHill*

    OP #2 I live in a state that legalized all weed a few years ago & work in an industry that tests new hires (healthcare-adjacent). When I was hired from contract to FTE in Oct, I *knew* I would fail the THC test. Instead of urine/blood draws, I had a saliva test & passed. I don’t know if they raised the acceptable threshold or don’t pay attention to THC for office, non-patient-centered jobs, but something is changing out there. Keep trying & best of luck!

  48. CatPerson*

    LW4, you are a breath of fresh air. I wish the baby shower (and wedding!) office tradition would go away, but once started, you can’t leave anyone out! My position is that you should not be solicited to give gifts to people that you would not give gifts to otherwise! If you have work friends, they will give you a gift because they are your friend–unsolicited. But the endless requests for money for people that you barely know is just awful. Eventually I just started ignoring them. My department got younger and younger, and we were up to several showers a year. In one department we were solicited for Wedding, Baby 1, and Baby 2 *for the same person* in a few years! For the second baby the note said “she still needs a few things”. Apparently her manager thought that it was her co-workers’ responsibility to take care of this? Offices need to put a stop to this. And I know that I am not the only one who feels this way because I have had conversations with like-minded people. So no smart-alec remarks about “well you’re a cat person, after all” please!

    1. OP 4*

      Totally agree. I think cake and a gift from the company (without contributions from employees) is lovely. I wasn’t totally aware of the dynamic last time, but we have a pool of lower paying, temp-to-hire customer-facing roles and then management and that dynamic has a ton of issues. I think a request for a shower for my second kid would be resented and I really don’t want my team giving me anything, even though they probably wouldn’t see it that way.

    2. doreen*

      I think whether this sort of tradition can be eliminated depends on where it’s coming from. I’ve seen comments here and elsewhere that imply that managers are arranging these events – and if in fact it’s managers arranging them, it shouldn’t be that difficult to stop at some point or better yet, not to start them to begin with. But I’ve never worked anywhere where managers arranged these events – they were always organized by non-managers and ending those is a little more difficult. When my manager put a stop to having one in the office last year , when even in-person meetings weren’t permitted, she caused a lot of hard feelings. When I retired, I explicitly said I didn’t want anything ( in part, because of COVID) – and I still got a cake.

  49. Ring around the Roses*

    For LW#4 – I have appeased office employees and parent-to-be on Office Showers gift giving issue by coordinating a baby Library building event – and still have refreshments and gift-giving but invitees are instructed that the parents would like to build a library of books for the new baby and please bring a used or new copy of your favourite childhood book as a gift. It worked well for us and felt appropriate for a work event.

    1. OP 4*

      That’s a lovely idea. I have been to a shower like that and the book replaced the card for the gift.

      1. Midwestern Scientist*

        A diaper shower (presuming you use disposable) is a decent way to go as well. Even if you don’t, food pantries/homeless shelters/women’s shelters/etc are pretty much always in need

      1. Retired (but not really)*

        The book shower is a great idea, especially if you pose it as gently used books being acceptable as well.

  50. Bowen Yang*

    #2 I work in HR in a state where cannabis is fully legalized for med/rec use, but my company headquarters is in a red state where it’s very much not. Fortunately, we decided a few years ago to stop penalizing candidates who test positive for THC, especially considering the bulk of our employees are here in the legal state.

    I then decided to tell every candidate up front that we don’t care if their tests come back positive, just to allay any anxiety exactly like OP described. The reactions are always positive even the person isn’t a cannabis user, so I’d like to think it makes us a slightly more attractive employer.

    I’m definitely lucky, though; obviously you’d need higher buy-in to be able to do this so I was fortunate that was already in place. I’d be curious to hear if anyone has tried to lobby their executives to change their cannabis policy!

    1. TheRain'sSmallHands*

      I think that’s great. I do contract IT placements and in the past five years we have gone from about 25% of our clients requiring drug tests to none of them requiring drug tests. (Not a weed legal state) As was said, IT is one of those places where its hard enough to get someone in (especially someone senior and proven) and the last few dropped off early in Covid when asking people to go somewhere and see people for a drug test was getting a lot of their applicants to just say “I’m not going, I’ll take a different assignment.”

  51. Juno*

    OP 2: it’s possible that even if the company does pre-employment drug testing, they don’t test for THC. I help companies set up their drug tests, and I’ve seen non-THC tests become a lot more popular. If you find out the company drug tests, definetly ask if they test for THC before you take yourself out of the hiring process.

  52. STG*

    I wouldn’t provide a list of questions but I wouldn’t have an issue having a ‘mockish’ interview and providing some general feedback. I wouldn’t ask every question that I knew was on the list and I’d ask other ones that may be semi-related but aren’t exactly the same. I’d do that for any of my friends/family even if they weren’t applying to my company specifically though.

    Ultimately, I’d probably just drive home that the interview is likely to want specific examples for the questions more than anything and that’s usually not company specific. There are other ways to help people succeed.

  53. L-squared*

    I find the responses to #1 very interesting. It seems there is a huge spectrum on what is or isn’t ok to do when helping friends get a job at your company.

    I’d assume most people would have no problem sending a job posting to a friend (even though you could argue even doing that is giving them an advantage a random person might not have).

    Also, most people would probably say that being one of the interviewers for your friend without disclosing it and giving them questions in advance would be totally unethical.

    But there are a lot of steps between there where people would draw a line. Like is allowing someone to drop your name ok? What about making sure your friends resume ends up in front of the hiring manager instead of going through the companies horrible application system? What about a referral in general? Then you have this situation of giving questions that are generally asked, and we are seeing the variety of responses. What about talking up the person to the hiring manager after the interview?

    It seems that the line between acceptable and unacceptable would be different for everyone, which is why I find the idea of a binary “ethical or unethical” kind of difficult to discuss.

  54. Oakwood*

    re: overtime salary decrease

    “Because my team is very small, I typically work more than 40 hours a week and so I usually have one to two extra hours (not overtime, just extra hours) on my paychecks. ”

    Are you saying they DON’T pay you time and a half for hours over 40? You said you were an hourly employee.

    To be perfectly blunt: it sounds like they are taking advantage of you. Not paying you proper overtime and then offering you a “promotion” that is really a demotion in everything but title. Where will you be 10 years from now at this university? Odds are your pay won’t keep up with inflation. You’ll be making less money, although you may have a fancier title.

    $20 an hour jobs are not that hard to find, particularly for someone that is well educated (I am assuming you are are well educated since you work at a university).

    My advice: take the promotion with the new impressive title, update your LinkedIn profile, and start looking for a new job someplace where you will be appreciated.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Yeah, this. Even the stingiest places I’ve worked paid me time and a half over 40 hours, or were very clear that I was not to work over 40 hours, ever. Is that even legal?

      1. Oakwood*

        Lowe’s used to have a variable overtime policy (referred to as Chinese overtime by the staff).

        It was a complicated formula that started at 1/2 your regular rate. The more overtime you worked, the less you get paid per overtime hour. Work enough extra hours and your overtime rate could be as low as 1/3 your regular hourly rate.

        I believe they lost a lawsuit and the courts forced them to stop the practice.

  55. Office Lobster DJ*

    For the ethics discussion related to letter #1, I’m curious for thoughts on sharing other insider observations with a friend. I’m thinking of things like “You’re meeting with Jane? Yeah, she’s nice enough. She has a real butts-in-seats mentality, though” or “Remember my story about the guy who hates headphones and expected me to respond to his e-mails within 30 seconds? That’s the guy.”

    It seems to me those comments are natural enough but would be a more specific help than revealing the company asks generic questions.

  56. InsertNameHere*

    For LW1, would look at Glassdoor reviews help? If through reading the Glassdoor reviews, the standard questions are revealed, that may not be “insider knowledge”. I personally wouldn’t think saying “the interview questions are pretty standard” to a friend would be that much of an advantage, even if LW1 chooses to not share the specific questions. But lol, maybe I am not a super ethical person.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      If so, those people can give a small gift. It’s not an excuse to have a shower.

    2. OP 4*

      Definitely, but it doesn’t feel very joyful when it’s tied to your employment and the power imbalance is so extreme. A close colleague has asked for registry details and is excited to get us something no matter what, which I gladly accept. A group shower feels like pressure to give.

    3. CatPerson*

      Those people can give *unsolicited* gifts if they are so fond of the person. Office solicitation have an obligatory sense even though the notes states that it is voluntary.

    4. Nanani*

      Have you considered that its their life and if they don’t want it, other people’s joy does not supercede their wishes?

    5. Userper Cranberries*

      Have you considered that giving something unwanted that makes the recipient uncomfortable because “the joy is in the giving” is incredibly selfish and the exact opposite of a gift?

    6. Observer*

      Have you considered that for some people the joy is in the giving.

      So? Does that over-ride the very real, very well documented, and very common issues that arise when higher paid people are being given gifts by a lot of lower paid people who are being approached by their managers? Someone who enjoys giving gifts is going to be far FAR less “harmed” than the person who feels pressured to give a gift that they can’t afford, or even a gift that they can technically afford but will mean that they can’t get something that they or their family want or need.

    7. Turtles All The Way Down*

      But showers come with a gift REQUIREMENT, whereas anyone can gift at will at any time, with or without a shower. In fact, my best friend gave birth to her second child yesterday and I’m sending an unsolicited gift almost simultaneously as I type this.

    8. anonymous73*

      Really? Have you considered that someone wanting to give gifts does not override the receiver of the gifts comfort level?

    9. Critical Rolls*

      Ignoring the wishes of a recipient is not good gift giving. Those people need to find their personal gift-giving joy outside of work, hopefully with the consent of the gift recipients.

  57. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

    With regard to drug testing, a company can drug test without testing for cannabis. So just asking if they drug test won’t give you the answer you’re looking for. Also, not all federal jobs drug test. For example, the U.S. Census does not.

  58. AnonPi*

    Re #3 I’ve had 2 similar situations with a job offers within the same company I work for. Currently non-exempt, applied for an exempt position, and then they came back saying that they considered it a lateral move (it wasn’t) and therefore wasn’t going to pay any more. I pointed out that the position required regular overtime I wouldn’t be paid for and enough that I could never use up all the comp time, and I would loose have my sick time as an exempt employee. That alone should require a pay increase to make up for that if nothing else, even if they wanted to disregard the significant difference in work I would be taking on that should have been compensated for. They still wouldn’t budge, so I refused to take it. HR was baffled, because after all I would be “exempt” now like it was a status symbol (which unfortunately it is treated as such here), and don’t I want to be exempt!?! Told them I could care less and certainly wouldn’t be taking a pay cut for it.

    Hopefully OP#3 your company will be more reasonable, there is absolutely no need to take a pay cut just over becoming exempt.

  59. Hailrobonia*

    One time there was a big renovation project going on in my work building and construction management company was using an office on the same floor as me. One day I arrived at work to find a long line of construction workers outside the bathroom with little plastic cups. I felt really bad for them – both because it seemed humiliating and also because if you are pee shy that would definitely be nerve wracking.

    The one tiny bright spot was when I overheard a conversation “this is a huge waste of time” and the reply was “if they want to pay me to wait in line to pee, that’s fine with me.”

  60. Spearmint*

    OP2 – I don’t know your circumstances, but would it be possible to refrain from marijuana use while job searching and then restarting after you’re hired? Many employers that of drug tests, especially white collar ones, only test at hiring and not randomly once you’re hired. I have a frequent marijuana-user friend who works in state government that does this when he job searches.

  61. Rune*

    #3 – I’ve successfully negotiated moves from hourly to salary and vice versa. It can be done. A lot will depend on how tightly structured their job titles and pay ranges are.

  62. Anonymous Commenter 7893135*

    All these responses to OP#2 are glazing over the another option: Stop using while you’re job searching. Depending on intake, it takes approximately a month of abstinence to clear one’s system. (There’s some good research on how long it remains in your system.)

    Friend, I’ve been there. I was a casual recreational user in a liberal state and I applied to a heavily regulated industry with it’s own Three Letter Acronym that everyone recognizes. The job posting on Indeed specifically said they test. I stopped consuming before I started applying. About a month later, I received a job offer conditional on passing a test and passed it with flying colors. In the end, a month edible-free was worth the significant raise and benefits of the new job. Which is more important to you?

    1. TheRain'sSmallHands*

      That ignores the real problem though – which isn’t one of use at all, but one of ethics. I’m not a consumer of weed (but my kids are), and why are they testing for something you do in your off hours in a weed legal state – unless it has an impact on your job (obviously, I don’t want a truck driver testing positive for weed – but a retail employee?) What business is it of theirs that you consume weed on Friday nights when you aren’t at work, or that you do anything else legal on Friday nights .

      1. Me*

        Yes, but that doesn’t help the OP now.

        Changing the attitude towards mj use is going to take time and it’s not something that the OP can really influence either.

        1. Anonymous Commenter 7893135*

          Exactly, Me.

          Yes, Rain’s Small Hands (nice eec reference, btw) in a perfect world, they wouldn’t and shouldn’t care what legal things we do on a Friday night. And yet, OP is looking for a job now, not after we somehow convince the federal government to relax their standards.

      2. Elysian*

        I mean, while weed remains illegal at the federal level in the US, you’ve got your ethics or you’ve got the job. I think abstaining while job searching is the best option for the OP. Once you’ve actually started most companies will only do a test with reasonable suspicion that you’re impaired.

        1. Elysian*

          While the poster above my said ethics and I repeated that word, I also don’t think this is really an “ethical” matter so much as it is a matter of principle. If a job is asking you to do something truly unethical (lying, blackmail, violating professional standards in some way…) that is a whole other can of worms.

        2. TheRain'sSmallHands*

          You are right that principle is a better word. Like so many things on here, it comes down to how much do you need the job. I recommend to my kids that they abstain while looking – but if you can afford principles…. why are principles so expensive to have!

          1. Elysian*

            I am a huge stickler for rules, and when I was learning to drive I learned ALL the weirdly specific rules about right-of-way and tried to apply them to my driving in a very black-and-white manner. At one point when I was making a turn where I definitely had the right of way, and someone else came through the intersection (who did NOT have the right of way) and we almost collided. Sixteen-year-old me was furiously screaming at my dad that I should have just gone, it would serve him right! If that driver gets in an accident it would legally be his fault! And my dad (who is not usually very wise) told me that I could be right, or we could all be alive, but sometimes you can’t be both. I feel like the same idea applies here.

            1. Observer*

              And my dad (who is not usually very wise) told me that I could be right, or we could all be alive, but sometimes you can’t be both. I feel like the same idea applies here.

              Yes, this time he was wise, and I agree. The principle applies here.

              My husband’s driving teacher used to tell students “It’s not going to matter that you were right if you wind up in the hospital.”

            2. whingedrinking*

              My father said something very similar about being an urban cyclist. As he put it to me, which would I prefer: the moral high ground, or two unbroken legs?

            3. Foila*

              “The prudent mariner will not rely solely on any single aid to navigation,” as they say at sea.

      3. Turtles All The Way Down*

        Most companies that test at hire also have a policy of random testing you need to agree to. Now, depending on the industry, it’s not likely to come up. I once worked at a company that both drug tested on hire and also had the “random” policy, though as a member of the office marketing staff, I was never randomly tested. The staff included heavy equipment operators/commercial drivers, so in that case, it made sense that they would be tested randomly, and of course, they would be tested if involved in an accident. Still, there are some companies that simply rotate employees through and you can expect a call, say, every 18 months, that you need to get tested, no matter the position. I suppose once they ask you to test for hire that’s something you could try to find out.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      That’s a reasonable suggestion for the recreational use, but the LW is also using CBD for medical use, and it sounds like this could cause a positive test as well.

    3. Nanani*

      They use it for medical reasons so this doesn’t really work.

      “Stop beign in chronic pain while you job hunt” wouldn’t make sense (I’m stabbing in the dark re: the cause to prove a point) so “stop using your prescribed substance” doesn’t either.

      That OP2 -also- uses the same drug recreationally does not change that they do need it for medical reasons, and the fact that it is legal where they live.

      1. Anonymous Commenter 7893135*

        But again: it may be legal in the state they live in, but not in the eyes of the federal government.

        1. quill*

          We’re not focused on whether it’s federally legal in terms of actionable advice to OP, we’re talking about practical solutions. “Disclose medical use to the test facility in your cannabis-legal state” is a better option than “fake a drug test” or “don’t treat your chronic condition for however long it takes to get a job.”

    4. quill*

      OP specified that they’re a medical user as well. That may or may not be feasible, depending on what they’re treating.

  63. Anonymous Commenter 7893135*

    Ugh. Meant to include legalized instead of liberal.
    What short-term memory loss?

  64. Rat Mom*

    OP 2: I was job searching in a legal state with a med card, & I did some research– it’s kind of iffy/up in the air, but it seeeeeems like a lot of lawyers agree that while recreational cannabis isn’t protected, medical cannabis is (or at least, probably is), & you could phrase this as a medical need. I’d honestly do some research into your specific state because I think it is state-by-state ( but iirc someone in MA, which is my state, won a court case after being fired for medical use of cannabis, so definitely worth looking into) & it’s weird because legally you can’t use *anywhere* in the US under federal law… but I’d definitely look into it, & lean pretty heavily on the med part when talking to HR.

  65. Anon for this*

    #2 “There are also some industries where you really don’t see it (like much of tech, where they’d struggle to attract employees if they drug tested)”

    Interesting comment on the tech industry. I’d love some elaboration. Is the implication that they are all a bunch of Cali stoners? Erlich Bachman with bong permanently in hand?

    1. TheRain'sSmallHands*

      I do IT placement in a state where weed isn’t legal. And most of our consultants are pretty senior. The demand for guys like that exceeds the supply about 80% of the time. We have a few guys where we have clients waiting for them to be available – if they roll off a project because the project ends or they want to leave, they’ll get picked up by another client – the client is waiting for them. You don’t reject someone when its hard to find them in the first place over weed.

      I suspect a few of the people who I place – maybe 10% of them – use cannabis. I doubt most do.

      My husband is a senior person with a firm in IT that is well known and difficult to get into – their hiring process is one of those six month long jump through hoops thing. They offered him the job and he said “where will I go for my drug test” they laughed and said “after all that we don’t want to reject you now.”

      I also know that one of our clients who used to test and doesn’t any longer would test everyone. And I know for a fact that they ignore results if they wanted you anyway – because they took a friend of mine on who I know consumes with regularity. That might also create a discrimination problem if they are rejecting some people for THC but others they are letting through.

      1. quill*

        Yeah they are WAY better off, legally, not testing, than picking and choosing who to reject at the final hour over a drug test.

    2. Julia*

      It’s not stoners exactly. In my experience tech workers are in an industry where they are more likely to be annoyed by testing that isn’t directly related to their job and in an industry where they can easily get another job offer. The response would likely be they aren’t operating machinery so why does anyone care? There are more libertarians in tech than in other industries. Tech workers are also more likely to tinker with their brain chemistry doing things like microdosing of various drugs. Home brew beer, hobby distilleries, and extreme caffeination are some of the legal brain chemistry tinkering.

  66. I should really pick a name*

    I’d love to know if any companies have any measured metrics regarding doing hiring with and without drug tests (and I suspect they don’t).
    The whole concept of an offer being contingent on a drug test seems ridiculous to me. I’ve never heard of anyone that I know having to do one (note: I’m Canadian).

    What’s the rationale they use to justify it? Or do they bother trying to justify it?

    1. Turtles All The Way Down*

      Some companies need to for liability if they employ people who are drivers or deal with heavy machinery, safety, surgery, etc. These companies will often just drug test everyone to create an equal playing field and no sense of inequality between office workers and field workers, although IANAL, so I can’t really speak to the reasoning, just that it’s common.

  67. Sheep Thrills*

    A past candidate once gave me the questions ahead of time. It even came with the established panel scoring rubric so I could tailor my answers perfectly.

    It wound up being the first time they’d changed the questions in years.

    At the time, I was furious and upset. Now, after hiring hundreds of of people myself? I realize I’d hurt myself by only preparing for those questions rather than a broader range of potential inquiries.

    Arguably, you’re hurting a candidate’s ability to determine whether it’s a job they’ll really excel at. As Alison always says, this is a conversation about best fit, and an interview goes both ways.

    I do, however, strongly advocate for hiring practices that provide a half hour or so for the introverts (common in my industry) to think about a few of the planned questions (the organization has a rigorous but increasingly flexible hiring process). My industry requires on-your-feet adaptability as well as long-term planning, so a combination provides insight into how people will handle both. Any early questions are provided to all candidates.

    None of the questions we use are generally surprising if someone has done their research on the role. We build in caveats about what questions we’ll answer from candidates ahead of time, who we’ll direct questions toward so a hiring panel doesn’t have early interaction, develop follow-up questions to ensure candidates have opportunities to elaborate or get steered back to organizational needs, and have finally begun masked resume review. We also provide limited prep material at times to ensure candidates have at least a fair starting point and context. For us, it’s worth the extra hiring work to explicitly lay all that out up front – we work really hard to ensure the same playing field for the experiences we can control, equal advantage under the law.

    I’d argue that OP1’s friend would be better off determining long-term suitability for the role with the conversations Alison suggested, advice on what themes or accomplishments may resonate, general information about the company and day-to-day life, assistance with research, role-playing the interview, etc.

  68. Bella*

    So I agree providing the exact questions is at best ethically questionable. However, I curious what people think about sharing the interview format (panel, 3 separate 1 on 1 interviews, etc.) Or sharing prep tips you used. One of my common tips is to google ” interview questions” or ” interview questions.” Does that feel ethically questionable? Not every person is going to know you can Google for that, but I’m not giving away anything I didn’t know when I applied.

    1. Clisby*

      I don’t see anything unethical about sharing the interview format, but if I were the applicant I’d take it with a huge grain of salt. How do I know the hiring panel hasn’t taken it into their heads to come up with a completely different scheme just in the past week? (Also, why wouldn’t the hiring panel provide this kind of basic information?)

  69. RagingADHD*

    Maybe it’s a difference in the way I think, but I’ve never understood why having the exact questions from an interview would even be desirable, much less helpful.

    Knowing the questions (especially if they are the standard type) tells you very little, if anything, about what the company values or what sort of responses they are looking for. For example, you could prepare what you believe to be a wonderful story about how you solved a customer problem, that shows your ability to take initiative and think outside the box.

    If they have historical issues with people overstepping, ignoring policies and blurring departmental boundaries, they are going to hate that answer. They would rather hear about how you solved a customer problem by recognizing and applying the appropriate procedure, or connecting them with the correct person, or escalating to a supervisor.

    Interviews are conversations, not scripts. Of course you need to know yourself, your background, and what you have to offer. But preparing for specific questions is as likely as not to bite you in the butt.

    Insider info about team dynamics, the needs of the role, management style, goals and problems is a lot more useful. It gives you a better sense of whether you even want the job, as well as how you can present yourself as a good fit.

    The questions are useless without that info, and if you have that info you don’t need the questions anyway.

  70. mah*

    For #2:

    We have staff drive vehicles for work, so by policy we have to drug test. We’re in a state where pot is legal, but our clinic will not remove testing for THC from the drug test (it’s a one size fits all, they can’t), but they also won’t move forward until we call and tell them it’s okay. I have literally begged them to continue to move forward if the only positive is THC and they refuse without verification on every single case. But as long as staff are not showing up to work actively impaired I don’t care, just the same as if it were alcohol. If people show up to work high or drunk it’s a problem, if they do that in their freetime I don’t care.

    What I mean to convey to you is: just because there’s a drug test and you come back positive for THC does not mean you won’t get the position. I’m sorry that the ones you’re seeing now are doing that, but don’t give up just because there’s a drug test. (That being said, if someone called what passes for our HR and asked we’d tell them it will test for THC but we don’t care, so there is that.)

    Good luck!

    1. CatPerson*

      The new Vice Chairman of a large regional bank I worked for refused to take the drug test but they let him start anyway (I was in HR so I know this to be true). Two years later he left for “other career opportunities” in addition to his incompetence and cocaine problem.

  71. Juli G.*

    OP2 – My large company tests and candidates will often ask the recruiters about it.

    The way the question is asked matters a lot!

    “Do you drug test?” = bad vibes to the recruiter. They immediately think meth, heroin, etc.

    “This job is located in a state where marijuana is legal. Do you test for THC?” = recruiters come to me, asking me to change the policy (if I could I would but I don’t make the call)

    You may still want to follow Allison’s advice but take into consideration that a lot of people that recruit and hire view marijuana and drugs as two different things.

  72. Kathenus*

    Related to #1 – I’m hiring right now, and for the first time I sent the interviewees the questions in advance, and told them that our goal was to learn more about their ideas and experience, versus how well they could think of answers in the moment. Glad I did and it will be a regular part of my hiring going forward. For this OP it’s a different situation, I’d agree with Alison on not doing it for one person since that may give an unfair advantage, but maybe the OP could advocate for the organization considering sharing them in advance as a future practice.

    1. Joielle*

      I went to an interview once where they handed me the questions and gave me a half hour to prepare and take notes before starting the interview. That seemed like a nice balance – not enough time to write exact answers and rehearse them, but enough time to remember and jot down some notes about situations I wanted to mention.

    2. JamminOnMyPlanner*

      I think everyone should have the questions ahead of time! I have ADHD and anxiety, and I’m really terrible at thinking on the spot.

  73. urguncle*

    Personally, I don’t see how LW1 is doing anything different than fulfilling the function of what it is to get a job via networking. Sure, some candidates might not have the questions in advance, but every candidate has a different mixture of advantages and disadvantages.

  74. Mystic*

    For OP 2, is there a way to say something like “how does the company feel about medical marijuana, since it’s legal in (state.) Or something similar.

  75. Moneypenny*

    RE LW#1: At my organization, we provide the candidates with the interview questions in advance as they progress through the interview process (they’re different questions at each stage). The candidates appreciate that we do so.

  76. Boop!*

    OP#2: I would say to this other company that just gave you a job offer that you respectfully refuse the drug test based on the fact that the use of this drug is legal in this state and you think it’s therefore something that should not be required. I would put this in a very enthusiastic email among several other practical questions so that it doesn’t stand out too much. I’d be very matter of fact and nice about it but hold firm. Something near the end of your email like: “About the drug test that you requested, surely we can skip this given that I’m clearly a fit and healthy person with an excellent track record?” Given the high chances that they rescind the offer in case of a positive drug test, you don’t have much to lose anyway. I hope the tide will turn on this in the USA!!

    1. quill*

      I would 100% not add “fit and healthy” to this if I went this route. Because 1) it has nothing to do with the drug test, 2) is none of the employer’s business.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Yep. And also, “fit and healthy” people use drugs all the time. They’re not doing a drug test to see how fit and healthy you are.

  77. Boof*

    I feel like the answer to LW1 was a bit strong without more context – does the company ask their employees to keep their interview questions secret? Is this information pretty easy to find online? If almost anyone doing a little interview prep can find these questions / if the company doesn’t mind the applicants knowing them in advance, I see no problem with LW1 telling their friend. Maybe LW1 should advocate for the company to send the questions in advance.

  78. Shiny*

    The drug testing is particularly ridiculous given how differently its applied, in a lot of ways that have to do with ideas (not facts) about class and blue collar vs. white collar work. I literally have a security clearance and would you like to know how many times I have been tested at any job in my field? A field that is almost entirely built on USG funding? Zero. Because it’s a field full of educated professionals (a graduate degree is generally required for entry, even though the work certainly does not require that) and one that is generally pretty liberal.

    Now, at the individual level as opposed to my field as a whole, I take medications for chronic conditions that mean my doctors can drug test me at any point (plus, I would like to keep that security clearance, not that I think it would ever be an issue). The only one who has ever exercised this right is my actual pain management physician, who likely sees a lot of abuse, and he has done it maybe twice in all the years I’ve seen him. I’m a white, educated, well-spoken professional woman, so I get all kinds of preferential treatment even in a context in which testing is normal and expected.

  79. AllenCloudCEO*

    For the post about moving from hourly to salary at the University, I suggest an approach such as “In looking at your offer, I noticed that my pay would actually decrease. I also noticed that I you have not been paying me overtime for my hours worked. If we were to proceed with this change, I would need to understand how my role will change so that I am properly classified as an exempt employee and that may pay will increase with this ‘promotion’. I also need you to correct the error and pay me for all of my overtime hours.”

    If you are in the US and are hourly, overtime pay is never optional. With very few exceptions, employers must pay you overtime when you work more than 40 hours per week. Failure to do so is wage theft.

    If they push pack on the overtime, I suggest “A friend told me I should file a complaint with the Attorney General and the US Department of Labor. But I assume the missing overtime pay is a mistake and not wage theft, and that you can and will fix this within the next week or two.”

    I might even ask around. If they are stealing your wages, they are likely doing so to others.

  80. Serin*

    OP#2, even when you get hired, this problem is not necessarily solved.

    I work for a large company that provides business-to-business services. We don’t drug test upon hiring, but you could get assigned to an account whose contract with us requires all its service providers to pass a drug test — once or repeatedly. A co-worker that I really want on my account is having this difficulty now. I can’t train her until we get an endless stream of exceptions for her prescription. Two levels of management above us are on board, but the internal bureaucracy is so overwhelming that even finding a human who’s capable of making an exception is incredibly time-consuming.

    It’s senseless and it sucks.

  81. Greg*

    OP #2: I wish I had better advice to offer, but I just think it’s absolutely insane that any company would say to a candidate, “We think that, of all the candidates we interviewed, you were the most qualified, but we can’t employ you because of the presence of THC in your system.” Reminds me of when that Canadian snowboarder lost his Olympic medal a few years back because after the race he tested positive for THC. Why did they have to punish him? Did anyone think the pot gave him any kind of benefit in his race? Or is the rationale that having the Olympics associated with a horrible, nasty pot smoker would tarnish the otherwise sterling reputation of the IOC?

    I took a new job last year that required a drug test. It’s been 15 years since I was anywhere near pot or any other illicit substance, so I had zero concerns about passing it, but I remember thinking how ridiculous it would be for them to rescind the offer based on a positive result. (It is an office job that in no way requires me to do anything that might put others at risk, such as driving a school bus, although I think it’s equally dumb to test those people as well).

  82. El l*

    Re LW1:
    No, don’t give her the questions – but not because it’s unethical. If they are indeed standard interview questions, then the benefit to giving her the precise questions is likely to be small.

    Rather, it’s not where her head should be at in prep. Where you can help her a lot more is what parts of her personality and skills to play up. Questions like:
    1. What’s the hiring manager’s personality like? Are they by-the-book or entrepreneur? Friendly or reserved?
    2. Are employees in her department expected to know very specific things, like a piece of software?
    3. More broadly, do they have expectations that she should be prepared for? Like long hours.

    And so on. Remember that there’s not a huge amount you can/should do for her. Because it’s not up to you – it’s about whether the hiring manager (et al) feel she’ll be able to make a strong contribution to a working team. That’s all it ever should be.

  83. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

    Alison, shoukdn’t #3 be getting overtime pay at a higher rate for the 1 or 2 extra hours per pay period? I know, because I am a faithful AAM reader, that the laws vary by state. You tell us regularly that Califirnia requires OT pay after 8 hours/day, other states after 40 hours/week. Is overtime pay a federal law or do only employers in certain stars have to pay overtime?

  84. Anna*

    One of the few to comment on #1: Allison’s response seemed a bit hard line to me. Yeah it gives you a leg up, in the same way lots of things do and friendships/professional networks seem a much less damaging way to get ahead than some other things. Presumably you can’t prepare perfect answers that would push you automatically to the front of the line: your personality would have to come out and it’s still your own prep. Just my two cents.

  85. Rita*

    My company is fond of waiting until the last minute and giving a pregnant employee a “surprise” baby shower, even for a second pregnancy, so this may be something you want to try to get ahead of.

  86. Clueless #26*

    #2 I wouldn’t want to work for a company with outdated thinking. Really shows poor management.

  87. LW1*

    Lw1 here :) it was really amazing insight to see all the feedback to my question, and eye opening to see how varied the responses were! I would like to clarify, I am not in HR, or part of the hiring team, so my knowledge is just as another employee who has asked other employees their experiences and found that the initial interview questions are cookie cutter between applicants.

    I did look at Glassdoor after reading this (this was really the first I’ve ever looked into that website, it was actually pretty insightful, even as a current employee, to see what was posted), and some interview questions were listed there, but not all.

    I did end up helping my friend with her interview prep, and she was aware that I had the questions, but we didn’t focus so much on the questions themselves but more on different examples she could give to highlight her skills. I wanted her to be prepared to speak to her examples if follow up questions were asked, rather than have a script for an answer. We even mocked an interview using completely different questions, just in case things somehow changed between what I know and when she interviews. As someone else posted, I would be okay going to my manager and saying “I helped my friend prep for her interview” over “I just gave her the interview questions.”

    I know even this kind of help may be considered crossing a line to some, and I understand it could be considered unfair advantage. It’s definitely a very large gray area. But when I thought about it, I would have helped my friend with interview prep regardless of where she was interviewing. It would probably be impossible for me to NOT disclose something that would make her experience easier, even if I didn’t have the exact questions.

    I do wish this kind of information was more readily available, at least for entry level positions (which is the type of job my friend is interviewing for), without it being so polarized. I feel that the more transparent companies are, the more we will start to see less “bro culture” and more diversity. It would also help those that may be great at what they do, but may be awkward in social settings, where their strength may not shine as bright as someone who might be more charismatic but less stellar in their performance.

  88. raida7*

    4. I don’t want a company baby shower

    One of the ladies at work got around this by bringing in a cake to celebrate. She baked it herself, made it low-key, timed it just before lunch, and made sure to tell people she knows and her team only the day before, including “oh god no don’t bring gifts I don’t want a baby shower!” whenever someone asked about her ‘baby shower’.

    Nobody planned another, seperate baby shower because that would be weird :]

    1. anonymous73*

      Even in this situation there would be some that felt the need to buy a gift even if told to not buy one. The manager/employee dynamic makes it worse, but if someone tells you they don’t want a shower, THEY DON’T WANT A SHOWER. When I got married I made my work friends swear they wouldn’t do anything and they listened. I don’t like to be the center of attention and I don’t want casual acquaintances feeling the need to contribute to a gift for me. It doesn’t matter if those wanting to throw the shower like celebrating other’s big life events. If the person having the event doesn’t want the celebration, the others need to respect their wishes.

  89. Sharktooterie Bored*

    This is in relation to #2: I’m curious for how this works where something you take as a prescription could show up on a drug test. For example ADHD medication can be made out of amphetimine’s. I saw the note that this explanation (being medically necessary) might not work for medical marijuana because it’s not federally legal. So there are other things out there that may make you “not pass” the test but you have a medical reason for why.

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