my employer is pushing a sketchy healthcare app, high-pressure interviewer, and more

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

1. Is my employer pushing a healthcare app as sketchy as it feels?

I’ve worked at my company for more than a decade and used the health insurance offered since I started. While I love my job, I’ve not always agreed with upper management’s decisions. But their latest plot has me even more concerned. We’ve received increasingly pushy encouragement to download and use a healthcare app that would track and collect all of our medical information. It’s being promoted as a “convenient” way to track appointments, look up prescriptions, and access insurance information. It isn’t connected to any one provider network and even promotes its ability to connect to actual health care provider apps to further streamline your data. We’ve been told that if the company gets 70% participation EVERYONE will get $100. This is the biggest bonus the company has ever offered. This year even while bragging about record profits, our reward was a $10 gift card.

I’m hesitant to trust this app in the first place, but it just seems so sketchy that the company is so eagerly pushing involvement. Am I right to be concerned about this? Is this something worth pushing back on?

It feels sketchy AF to me.

There are laws restricting what kind of medical data your company can collect on you, and legally they shouldn’t be able to access or monitor the data employees input into this app … but why are they so invested in getting you to use it? I’m guessing they’ve partnered with the app in a way that compensates them for sign-ups, but it feels like a big overstep and I wouldn’t sign up for it. You can track your own medical info, and if you want to use an app to do it, you can choose one not being pushed by your employer.

If you want to do more than that, it could be interesting to ask the company whether they have a financial relationship with the app, what data will be shared, and what privacy protections are in place, and ideally to ask that in front of others or to at least share the answers you receive.

2. Was this a high-pressure interviewer or just a jerk?

Yesterday I had a lovely experience interviewing in person with a company. They could not have been more welcoming and warm. They told me that my qualifications exceeded what they were looking for and arranged for me to speak with someone else in the company who had a higher level position open in his department.

This morning I had yet another fantastic interview with a very warm and engaging manager. He recommended I speak with the vice president, who turned out to be the hiring manager. This was arranged as a video interview late this afternoon.

This afternoon’s interview was completely different and very off-putting. The VP was dismissive about parts of my resume, challenging me when I tried to explain or clarify. This went back and forth for a bit and then he stated he hoped I knew he was “just having fun.” It didn’t get much better from there, with him asking sometimes loaded or vague questions that were difficult to interpret. It was the most miserable hour I’ve spent in an interview. Obviously I have no interest in pursuing this further and am disappointed, as I would have loved to work with any of the other people I had met except for the hiring manager.

It has been about seven years since I last interviewed. I thought obnoxious high-stress interviews were long a thing of the past. However, I was interviewing for a position two levels higher than my last job. Could this be why? Is it typical to have high-pressure interviews when being considered for higher level positions? Or was this guy just being a jerk? Am I being too sensitive? I’m wondering if I need to brace myself for this in future interviews.

Nah, this guy was just a jerk. In fact, I’d argue that anyone who uses high-stress interview tactics is a jerk! People who would be good to work for aren’t usually jerks in interviews to test how you do under pressure. (There are a small number of jobs where you legitimately need to see how people operate in hostile situations, but you don’t generally test for that by being hostile yourself — you do role-plays and simulations that candidates know are role-plays and simulations, probe into past experience, etc.)

This was someone who outright told you that he likes to “have fun” by being a dismissive ass to people who he knows are hoping to work with him. That’s all this was.

3. Asking a colleague to change her email formatting

I’m a graduate student in a program where professional presentation and identity is a big part of our education (think business/law school). I’m in a student group with “Leah,” who is smart and driven. She’s flawlessly handled some difficult logistics for us with our school. However, every time she writes emails, every sentence gets its own line. As in, she presses enter after every sentence, so the email reads like a poem. I’ve never seen this before and have no idea why she does it. Sometimes she sends emails on behalf of our organization to our whole 100+ student listserv or to outside guests. Every time, I feel a little embarrassed that our group may be coming off unprofessionally.

I’m afraid of broaching the subject with Leah, not only because I don’t want to embarrass her, but also because I know this email formatting thing is objectively minor and therefore silly. I also consider us colleagues rather than friends, so I’m nervous about overstepping bounds if I ask her to write her emails in a different style. How can I ask her to send emails for our organization using paragraphs instead in a collegial way?

There are some relationships where it would be natural to just say, “What’s up with you making every sentence its own line, like a poem?” or “Hey, could you write these in standard paragraph form instead of putting every sentence on its own line?” But if that were the relationship here, I suspect you already would have said something like that.

So assuming it’s not, I’d leave it alone. It’s weird and will make her emails look less polished, but it’s not a big deal and isn’t likely to reflect on the group as a whole. (And she will be just the first of many colleagues you encounter with strange email habits.)

4. I got Covid in the middle of an interview process

I caught Covid in the middle of an interview process. The job I applied for has multiple rounds, including a technical test and an interview with top leadership. I did well in my first interview and was invited back for the next few steps. I was so excited! And then I caught Covid and it’s been terrible. I know they’re on a timeline to get someone on board, so I’m not sure if I should just soldier through (I think everything is virtual) while I’m at my worst mentally and physically. Or if I do ask for an extension, what is reasonable timing and how to phrase it? I’m so worried I’ll be sick for a few weeks and won’t be mentally fit for the rest of the steps.

Oh no! I think it depends on how far from your best you are right now. If you feel crappy but can still focus for a few hours, I’d probably continue on while still mentioning it to them so they know that context (assuming everything is indeed virtual!) … but otherwise you could say something like, “I’m really excited about this job, even more so after our last interview. I’ve unfortunately caught Covid and am out of commission for at least the next week, maybe longer. I know you have timeline constraints, but would we be able to push our next meeting back a bit until I’m through the worst of it?” As for how far to push it back, it’s okay to ask what the latest is that they could reasonably do.

5. Job ads want dynamic go-getters … but I want a quieter life

How do I find a job that I am suited to when employers seem to value attributes that stress me out? Self-starter, fast-paced environment, and other buzzwords that scream “stressful!” to me seem to feature in all the ads for jobs I otherwise think I could excel at.

My career to date has been in a field where spinning plates is the norm, but I am looking for something that takes the pace down a notch or two. I’m open to changing sectors but I don’t know how to match my skills to another role.

I should say that I am still 100% work from home, something that has shown my ability to motivate myself severely wanting, and may be making those attributes seem like insurmountable problems. I am hoping to find a more hybrid role which may help resolve my fears by giving me that balance of in-person collaboration and solo focus time.

It’s true that that fast-paced office environment isn’t always as dynamic and exciting as promised, but I still feel I have to sell myself as being that person in order to be successful in my search. Am I overthinking how the job ads are written? Or should I take at face value that the recruiting manager wants a dynamic juggler?

So much of the language in job ads is boilerplate that hasn’t been updated in years or that never had much meaning even when it was first added. Plenty of employers claim to have be fast-paced when they’re not or use words like “dynamic” for no reason whatsoever ever. Job ads are just … really weird. They should be written in plain language that clearly lays out what the job is and what it takes to do it well, but instead much of the time they read like they were written by an overly bureaucratic robot whose batteries are dying.

As for where that leaves you: When it comes to pace and “dynamism,” it’s hard to know from the outside whether you’re getting a true description of the environment and job requirements. You can’t really know until you interview. Instead, mentally remove all of those words from the posting and if what’s left makes you you think you could do the job well, apply! And then make this something you screen for once you’re in the interview process.

Related: why do offices say they’re “fast-paced” when they’re not?

{ 324 comments… read them below }

  1. BuildMeUp*

    OP #1 – The app thing is very weird, but aside from that –

    This is the biggest bonus the company has ever offered. This year even while bragging about record profits, our reward was a $10 gift card.

    You’ve been at this company for 10 years, and $100 is bigger than any bonus they’ve ever offered? I honestly would update my resume and start at least putting some feelers out there. You deserve to work at a company that rewards its employees for their hard work, not just for downloading a sketchy app.

    1. Software Engineer*

      To be fair not all employers do bonuses and if the compensation feels fair without, it can feel like a fair trade off. Bonuses are nice but it’s also nice to know how much money you’ll be making this year! If it’s just something they don’t do you can account for it when comparing offers to see how the total compensation, including benefits and bonuses, stacks up

      1. Moonlight*

        This! I’ve literally never worked somewhere that did bonuses. It just wasn’t a problem for me. It wasn’t really until I started reading this website and talking to people I know IRL who work in more business-y fields that I realized that my being in a more health care adjacent field made me the odd one out – I’m going to skip the details, because the only reason I want to add them is because I am positive that someone else in a vague “health care adjacent” field will vehemently disagree with my assessment that bonuses aren’t common; but my description is wildly vague allowing for a TON of variation (e.g. I imagine there is a HUGE difference between if your a doctor in Canada vs. a doctor in the US, or if your a doctor at a hospital vs. someone who does public health management for the city etc., or someone who’s a psychologist with private clients vs. a psychologist at a hospital)

        1. Lexie*

          I worked in mental health and all of our clients were on Medicaid which meant that Medicaid decided how much we got paid, so bonuses weren’t a thing.

      2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Similar boat. My employer does boni, but they’re nominal and more symbolic than a significant part of our compensation. It’s less “put in an in-ground swimming pool” and more “enjoy an evening at a nice restaurant on us.” It’s not enough to shore up the compensation if you think the base package is unfair, nor is it meant to be.

        1. BongoFury*

          You had the chance to do a Jam of the Month club joke and you missed it. :)

          I agree that not all companies do them, but $10 almost seems insulting. My company doesn’t do bonuses and they send out these terrible cheap gifts, I think I’ve gotten a $2 bluetooth speaker three years in a row now. It isn’t worth the postage. Or a thin, scratchy blanket with our work logo on it. I threw that away. yikes.

          1. EPLawyer*

            Hubby’s company does NICE bonuses (I mean really nice that people plan major purchases for bonus time). They also do company branded apparel. Hubby has just started ordering stuff in my size. I got a casual winter jacket and a wind breaker out of it. I just cover up the logo with another patch of something I prefer. (Go National Parks).

            BUT the place still sucks. it has horrible management and the company culture is “we don’t care, just make the product.”

              1. quill*

                My cousin-in-law, whose heart is bigger than his brain, agrees with you… and is wearing a blue leisure suit.

                (Watch this back to back with “A Christmas Story” and you can practically taste december in the midwest.)

          2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            You had the chance to do a Jam of the Month club joke and you missed it. :)

            I considered the Jelly of the Month Club, but my employer isn’t being that cheap… yet.

          3. Antilles*

            I wonder if it feels insulting because it’s money and thus the value seems easily quantifiable.
            Because the equivalent cash value would be the company bringing in pizza and sodas one day for lunch – but when I’ve seen companies do that at the end of a project, people usually seem pretty okay with it?

      3. Omnivalent*

        And yet, this totally doesn’t do bonuses employer is suddenly offering $100 to anyone who uses this app.

      4. Alexis Rosay*

        Exactly. At my last job where I worked for 7 years, a $100 gift card was also the biggest bonus I had ever received for 6 of those years (I got a $250 pandemic bonus in my last year). Bonuses are not a thing everywhere, and not getting a bonus is definitely not a red flag.

        In fact, I’m now temping at a company that does bonuses, and I have to say I’m not impressed (I’m also not eligible as a temp, of course). The process of allocating bonuses is really time-consuming for the managers and I think I’d rather just know how much I was going to get paid.

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      With the caveat that some companies don’t do bonuses – in my last nonprofit job in the US, we’d sometimes get end-of-year bonuses, and they were usually in the $250-300 range. And we didn’t have to use a sketchy health app to get a bonus!
      OP, unless the regular pay and benefits at your company are great, consider working somewhere that doesn’t want to pay such a tiny amount for access to all of your valuable (and private) health information. I wonder if there are any data brokers in the comments section who could give insight into how much this health information is worth on the open market?

      1. Jam on Toast*

        Don’t download that app! My husband’s union pulled a similar stunt several years ago. Under the guise of cost savings, they brought benefits management in house and encouraged the union members to download a custom app that they claimed would help streamline the benefits process. Mr. Jam did not. Since then, the union leadership has ignored all privacy regulations, routinely denies payment for treatments and drugs that their own benefits plan says are covered and uses the medical info of their members and their families as leverage. One member had his wife’s mental health treatment openly discussed by union staff at a monthly membership meeting as a tactic to discredit him when he tried to complain about poor benefits administration. A few months ago, my husband had to get glasses. The prescription was complicated and he had to go to a specialist. A day or so after the receipt was submitted, the optometrist got a call from a benefits clerk, challenging his prescription and chiding him for not doing a simpler type of lens. He was shocked. He called my husband, aghast at the overreach, and said he’d never encountered something like it in 34 years. Tge optometrist then filed a privacy complaint. But every time my husband files receipts (manually, using a paper form), he is roundly criticized for not downloading the creepy, big brother app. Every single time. And yes, the issue has been reported to the appropriate government agencies by multiple people but….Covid….sigh.

    3. bamcheeks*

      I’m less concerned about the lack of bonus and more about the attempt to use social pressure to get people to sign up to an app that stores health information.

      Although 70% engagement with anything that’s not compulsory is extraordinarily high, so part of me thinks they’re aiming for 40-50% and not expecting to pay out a penny.

      1. Artemesia*

        Just like surveys at work that guarantee anonymity often don’t — I have personal knowledge of several different ones over the years where employers demanded of the agency doing an anonymous interview to disclose those who gave negative feedback — a friend of mine who is a consultant even fired a big client over this– any promise that sensitive health information will be secure should be taken with a grain of salt. No way I would put my health information into an ap pushed by a company. There are so many instances of people being fired for being pregnant or developing a chronic illness.

        1. Clisby*

          Same. Because there surely must be some benefit to the company in having people use this app – otherwise, why would they bother pushing it, much less paying $100 to people who use it? If I worked there, I’d probably say “Oh, no thanks – I have all that info provided by my hospital network” – which is true, but it might not be true of everyone. Here, it seems like most doctors are affiliated with one of the 3 big hospitals here, and they each provide a portal where you can access appointments, medication information, test results, etc. It automatically sends appointment reminders; you can message your providers – I can’t figure out what I’d get from some other app, since it sounds like I’d have to provide all the information instead.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      This is a “follow the money” question. So we have a company that has little to no money to reward good work. All of the sudden they have $100 per person to sign up for this app. That funding is coming from somewhere, the employer is not handing out $100 per person out of their own pocket. They cut a deal, I’d bet my last chocolate donut on that. I’d even speculate that they are getting an addition amount of money per person that they are pocketing.
      What this all means to me is that any company reassurances of privacy etc. are out the window. This company is going to get people to put the info on the app and who knows where it goes from there. The company has no control over how and when it will be used. Company promises are worthless.

      Why would everyone, regardless of whether they signed in on the app or not, get $100? Weird.

      1. bamcheeks*

        I would genuinely be surprised if the $100 per person has actually been budgeted anywhere. To me this sounds like “if we get 70%, we’ll give you each $100!” and they expect to get 40-50% and not pay out anything.

        1. Venus*

          Oh, I’m of the opinion that this is an easy part of the budget, because the app company is going to get a lot of money selling that data, and they are going to give the company a lot more than $100 per person, and of that amount the company is going to give each employee $100.

          Maybe I’m cynical, but I can’t imagine any way in which this doesn’t involve the company and app both making a lot of money from the employee’s data.

          1. Venus*

            To add: I first thought that this was one of those situations where the health care provider wanted the info in order to encourage incentives toward better health, but it isn’t specific to any provider. So why is an employee’s use of the app so worthwhile? And the company must be expecting a lot of money for its use if they are pushing it so much. Why else would they care?

          2. Another Brick in the Wall*

            My first questions would be “Is this linked to the health insurance plan in any way?” and “is there a HIPPA privacy notice for the app.” If it’s linked to the health insurance, then HIPPA rulls protecting the info apply. If not linked to health nsurance, I would decline; you are giving away the privacy of your personal health data for a measly $100.

            As a benefits specialist for several companies, I worked with health plans which used claim data to monitor certain health conditions to determine if the patient was receiving necessary care. For example, if someone with diabetes or congestive heart failure stopped filling prescriptions, did not have regular follow-ups visits testing (like A1C or kidney function), the insurer would reach out to the physician and request that they follow up with the patient. I also worked with a plan that gave a premium reduction for plan members who had a physical exam with age/gender appropriate screenings. Both of these had demonstrated positive results for patients which led to reductions in claims, benefiting the employer. All of this was in compliance with HIPPA. The app the OP describes does not appear to be focused on patient well-being and, as far as we know, not HIPPA compliant.

        2. Girasol*

          I would be betting that a slick wellness service salesman has said “Improve your employees’ wellness habits with our program and not only will you recoup the money you pay us but it will save you $500-1000 more per employee, enough to give them all an incentive payment, make them happy, and still save your company a bundle!” And the company swallowed it hook line and sinker.

          We had a service like that. Each employee had to take a really invasive questionnaire after which, regardless of what the answers were, it gave stock advice about vegetables, exercise, and weight loss. (As in, if you were underweight, they said you should lose weight.) Then it offered a Fitbit type device free. Then they said that you could use your Fitbit-thingie to challenge your coworkers or your boss to beat your step count! So I asked the IT security guy if that meant our info might be inappropriately shared. He thought it looked pretty fishy and advised against it.

      2. Delia*

        I’m wondering if they’ll get a deal on their health insurance premiums if all the employees sign up for the app? I know my insurance had an app that I could sign up for to be eligible for gift cards (directly from my insurance though).

        1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

          I believe we had the same app. I didn’t mind it because it reduced costs and kept me motivated, $300 in gift cards were nice come December. Then we got a different provider when our company was acquired so we don’t use it anymore. People were bummed.

    5. ThatGirl*

      I’ve never worked anywhere that did bonuses until my current job, and they’re not spot bonuses here. So at any previous job, yeah, an extra $100 would have been a nice surprise.

      1. Momma Bear*

        But how is it taxed? I got a nice bonus once…but since it was a bonus and not wages it was taxed heavily and not as good a deal as it first seemed.

    6. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Some of the comments here are about how not all companies give bonuses, but I will point out that this company did give a bonus of a $10 gift card (like, what? what can you even get for 10 whole dollars? in my part of the country that would barely even buy lunch). So they do give bonuses, kind of, but their bonuses are the kind of bonuses that are actually on the insulting side of things rather than the “we value our employees and want to let them know we do” side. Or even worse, that they brag about record profits while sharing none of them with their employees. That is the part of this I find alarming. I agree with BuildMeUp’s advice to LW to brush up your resume and look for a company that does value its employees. Is this health app shady AF, as Alison wrote? Yes, I agree that it is. Is that the only thing that appears, from the small amount of info we have here, to be wrong with this company? I would venture a guess as to say NOPE.

    7. ZK*

      Bonuses vary so wildly, if they exist at all. Years ago, I used to get a nice monthly cash sales bonus if we hit goals, and it was part of the reason I took the job, it was part of my pay structure. After two years, the company decided to switch to a points system, where you were rewarded points instead of money. When you had enough points you could redeem them for stuff, like Chuck E. Cheese. But my landlord, strangely enough, didn’t accept my points, so I eventually got a cruddy $25 toaster for three months worth of points and found a new job that just paid better from the start.

      My husband’s new job pays a decent wage, but he also gets a monthly bonus on top of it. We don’t count on it, but use it for savings or things that fall outside of regular bills. February’s bonus paid for all my doctor’s visits and testing this month, since we don’t have insurance until May, so I was very grateful for that.

    8. Momma Bear*

      Agreed. Your private health information is worth more than $100. I would not participate and I would be looking to move on. I bet you are underpaid, too, OP.

      1. DJ Abbott*

        Yes. This is what bugs me about this. Your employer must be looking to make lots of money to be pushing this so hard, and it involves profiting from your health data. They’re disrespecting your privacy as well as the laws. If they’ll do this, they’ll do other things. It might be a good idea to look for a better employer.

    9. Ace in the Hole*

      That depends a lot on the type of work. I’ve never gotten a bonus at any of my jobs…. even if we got some extra cash, it’s always framed as a gift from management vs a bonus. And it would be something relatively insignificant compared to overall compensation: $10 gift card is about normal, $100 is huge.

      However, they do reward people for hard work! That’s what raises and promotions are for, along with non-monetary things like first choice of work assignments, being offered coveted shifts/schedules, etc. I far prefer this to a bonus system. Bonuses sound stressful, since you can’t know how much income you’ll have until the last minute. When I get a wage increase, I know I can plan on having that much every paycheck.

  2. They Don’t Make Sunday*

    Just pausing to admire “overly bureaucratic robot whose batteries are dying.”

    Maybe we could have a satirical job ad thread in the Friday open thread.

      1. Hazel*

        I have a policy of not applying for jobs with confusing, non-sensical descriptions that are full of buzz words. They just irritate the @#$%^ out of me. Now that I’ve read Alison’s advice to see if the job description minus the nonsense is appealing, I think I’ll try that next time I’m job hunting. But seriously! How hard is it to cut the crap out of the job ads and write what the job actually requires?

        1. John Smith*

          I tend to find some descriptions really put the employer in a bad light. “Handle competing and conflicting priorities” = we’re disorganised and dysfunctional.
          “Energetic” = chaotic and don’t expect a minute to yourself.
          “No two days are the same” This was actually in a job advert for – I kid you not – a call centre operator! I took a bit of delight in questioning the interviewer about this who, without any irony, said I could be taking a call from a stressed customer one day, the next I could be taking calls from happy customers, and so on. The look of confusion on then interviewers face when I said “so, every day is answering telephone calls from customers? Kind of sounds like each day is the same as any other!”.

          1. Mrs. Pommeroy*

            Oh yes, I find the same! Job ads that look for ‘an all-round talent’ are basically telling you, they’ll throw everything at you, no matter your actual job in the company. ‘Quick learner and self-sufficient’ means there’ll probably be little training and help involved. Etc.
            I do think this kind of language helps in figuring out what the job is probably _actually_ going to be like, though, as it’s usually the company’s way of finding nice words for the (more or less crappy) reality of the job.
            Which is why *I* tend to not mentally remove those words and take them as extra information instead. But then, I’m an overthinker ;D

            1. Mockingbird*

              Yup, a decade in Hollywood will forever have me closing out of any job listing that wants “thick skin” or “good sense of humor,” because those are jobs where you’ll be dodging office supplies and insults thrown at your head.

            2. bamcheeks*

              Hm, I feel like most places that aren’t going to bother training you aren’t self-aware enough to ask for “a quick learner and self-sufficient”! I feel like the bigger danger is places which are saying they need X because they aspire to be the kind of place that needs X, but really they are really not. IE. they know they are stuck in the mud, bureaucratic so-and-sos so they ask for flexible fast-learners in the belief that if they hire more people like that the culture will change, but actually if you really are that flexible fast-learner you’ll die of frustration when you’re told it’s actually Form 3AAB you should have filled in, let me show you again…

              1. BongoFury*

                God I can just about hear the phrase “This is how we’ve always done it, and we’re successful now, right?”

          2. londonedit*

            In my role it really is important to be able to handle competing and conflicting priorities – not because we’re dysfunctional and disorganised, but because we’re working on several books at any one time that are all at different stages in the editorial process. And then inevitably an author will kick off about something and you have to spend a morning sorting that out. Or you get an email from Production saying there’s a capacity issue at the printer and all your press dates are being pulled forward by two weeks. Or a freelancer comes down with Covid and you have to juggle everything around to make the schedule work. So it’s really important that you can a) keep abreast of where everything is and b) be able to react quickly if something or someone throws a spanner in the works, and that’s a common requirement in editorial job descriptions.

            I agree with your other examples, though! ‘Dynamic and fast-paced’, ‘energetic’ and words like that so often mean ‘chaotic’; ‘wearing many hats’ means ‘all the work will be dumped on you’ and ‘thick skin’ and ‘sense of humour’ mean ‘this is a terrible place to work and your boss may well turn out to be a bully’.

            1. Koalafied*

              An industry contact – a VP at a competitor to my own employer – whom I follow on LinkedIn cracked me up one day when he posted: “This position wears many hats.” Well then this position better pay many dollars.

          3. Lyngend (Canada)*

            As a call center operator. The interviewer is right having a day where all your customers are angry is very different stress wise then a day when all your customers are happy. Or fast days when you deal with 90 calls vs slow days where you deal with 30. Now, add happy or angry customers to that, among other things and there’s a large variation in the great days and horrible days.

            1. Varthema*

              Yeah…I mean, it’s the same in customer service, but “every day is different” is generally supposed to be a positive thing, and I didn’t really find that to be the case. “You have to do the same things every day, but some days will be fine and on other days customers, call-outs and unexpected disasters will make your life a living hell” is more accurate, and not really the kind of variety I crave.

              1. bamcheeks*

                It genuinely is for some people, though. For people who like dealing with people, it’s the fact that the people are different that makes the job worth doing, even the queries / advice / procedures / transactions / curriculum are the same every day or month or year.

                I think this is a real, “Do you find having interactions with lots of different people motivating” questions rather than deliberately contrived wording designed to make the job sound cooler than it is.

        2. Fast paced LW5*

          Letter writer here! Yes, the advice to ignore it is empowering and I’m definitely going to try and move past it to see what happens. As with so many people, job hunting is making me second guess a lot n

          I did have a little feeling that sometimes it must be Dull and Grey Inc trying to sell themselves as much as job seekers and just hitting all the wrong buttons for me. And I’m sure there are plenty of jobs that are that busy and (to me at least) hectic. But it’s good to consider that it might just be… there.

          (Thank you Alison for the reply to my letter and your advice too!)

          1. BethDH*

            OP, I would ignore those parts of the job description as Alison recommends, but I would also think about what sincere enthusiasm for a job looks like for you and make sure to show that proactively in interviews.
            Others will probably have better advice about how to do this but I’d just think of an extended answer to why you want to work at that place and why you want that role, then weave pieces of those answers into other others throughout.
            Make it so when they ask what’s appealing to you about the job they already have lots of answers.

        3. Just a Guy In A Cube*

          Our job ads are based on job descriptions that haven’t been updated in 4 years, with inputs from direct supervisors who’ve noticed a couple things we want to change, and a VP who has insight into a rumored company-wide update of job descriptions and responsibilities, but actually managed by people in HR who inherited them from someone else who did actually talk to us because they were having so much trouble getting good candidates.
          I don’t have enough experience to know if we’re atypical at the organization level, but certainly in our case getting them “right” would be hard, since there’s about 4 people who could say no to any changes

          1. Koalafied*

            Yeah, at my org there’s a job description template HR gives us that we have to plug our information into. We have about 1,000 staff positions and HR (understandably, if ultimately frustratingly) want all job ads to use one consistent format so job seekers can easily compare open roles in an apples to apples way. Unfortunately that means no individual hiring manager is empowered to make any substantive changes to the format, and there’s only so much improvement you can get from just optimizing the contents of all the required parts, and HR is perpetually understaffed so it’s not surprising that nobody in that small department has taken it upon themselves to initiate a process of revamping the template to make it “great” instead of just “adequate.”

        4. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          I’m going to admit that on occasion, if it is a really egregious example of buzzword vomit I will apply and write an equally incoherent, buzzword filled cover letter that says nothing at all. It is amazing how often I get offered interviews (which I politely decline)

          1. Jean (just Jean)*

            I’m sitting here smiling because “Buzzword vomit” reminds me of buzzards, vultures, and my recollection of a long-ago newspaper column asserting that vultures do projectile vomiting in self-defense.

            Lovely! Of course my taste in humor includes a soupcon of appreciation for disgusting information.

          2. Transcendent twaddle*

            Many years ago in my frwshman year at college, I had a Philosophy 101 professor who, I learned, only rewarded papers filled with meaningless jargon and phrases. I went from nearly failing the class to an A student once I figured it out. The prof was especially fond of the phrase, “transcends our conwciousness” surrounded by similar twaddle, so I used it often. My boyfriend (now husband) was agog at the ridiculous BS of my final paper amd more agog that I got an A+ on it along with a note from the prof that read, “Amazing improvement in your writing. So gratifying when I see proof that my teaching works!” To this day, when my husband sees BS, he will say to me, “Thia transcends our consciousness.”

            1. Junior Assistant Peon*

              I got frustrated with the philosophy class I took in college, and deliberately did a half-assed job on the last paper. I got my highest grade of the semester on it, and lost all respect for the field. I still don’t understand why something that’s essentially a genre of writing gets to be its own department.

        5. Purple Cat*

          I looked at postings at a defense contractor and it was total alphabet soup – for a Finance position.

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      This made me literally laugh out loud. Well, I guess it’s more accurate to say I exhaled audibly while smiling.

    2. Mallory Janis Ian*

      That would be fantastic . . . satiric job ads ostensibly written by the “overly bureaucratic robot whose batteries are dying.” Y’all are more creative than I am, so I’ll be participating as a reader and appreciator of other people’s good humor.

      1. Zephy*

        Surely someone out there has done a job ad version of the “forced a bot to watch 1000 hours of x” meme.

    3. Joielle*

      Literally snorted coffee when I read that (that teaches me not to drink coffee while reading AAM).

      And I can relate so so much – I love working for the state but sometimes you look at forms or procedures or job descriptions and it’s just like, who wrote this?? And when?? And how long has everyone been ignoring the fact that it makes no sense?? Luckily we can (and do) now update the text and remove weird jargon before posting for jobs, but that did not always happen previously.

  3. Can Can Cannot*

    Can you simply download the app without connecting logging in or connecting it to any medical data?

    1. UKDancer*

      I think this is what I’d do. Download the app but don’t connect it or put any data in. Say you’ve downloaded it and then delete it quietly later when the pressure is off.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        And get the advice of an IT professional if you can to remove it – because some of those apps will leave stuff behind after a simple uninstall. They can infect a system worse than some viruses.

        Even legitimate software can do this, never mind the shady stuff.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            Yup, I keep a couple of my old phones around for just that. Theyre both android devices though because I have zero experience with Apple software – so I can’t offer advice on whether an install on an iPhone would be less risky or harder to remove.

          2. kitryan*

            Yeah, I have been super irritated about the proliferation of app based stuff at my office so when I got a new ipad for a gift, I used the old one, which was still perfectly good, wiped it of all my settings, set up a dummy apple account and now I use it for all that work stuff.

    2. Mockingjay*

      I wouldn’t. This is a hill to die on. It’s a sketchy third party app, provided without explaining how and where data is recorded, if data is anonymised and protected (not!), and whether it will be sold (yes).

      If OP1 puts her private medical info in this app, she will lose control of it forever.

      1. L.H. Puttgrass*

        I agree with this. And as bamcheeks mentions above, 70% adoption is a really high number. The fact that the company is offering $100 to everyone if 70% install it (and I’d bet a shiny new nickel that they really mean “install and use it”), as opposed to $100 for everyone who installs it, says to me they’re pretty confident they won’t have to pay out. But they’ll still get the data from everyone who did install it.

        The only appropriate reaction in this case IMO is, “Nope. Not for me, thanks.”

      2. Everything Bagel*

        Plus I wonder what other permissions you have to allow once you download the app. Will it have access to your contacts, photos, microphone, whatever else? Forget it, there’s no way I’d put this app on my phone.

      3. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Yeah, it’s a no for me. My whole entire medical history isn’t for sale for $100.

      4. Zephy*

        If OP has ever gotten a prescription filled at a big-chain pharmacy, she’s already lost control of her PHI. There are a very small number of very big companies that manage patient information for almost all of the hospitals and pharmacies in the US, and there have been plenty of data breaches at this point – not sure about other countries, I imagine it’s similar, though.

        1. pancakes*

          It doesn’t follow that it’s not worthwhile for people to push back on additional consolidation and profiteering, particularly in an employment context. This framing is not in like when someone on a diet messes up a bit at breakfast and decides to themselves that they might as well eat an entire pizza for dinner as well. It’s not uncommon for people to think that way, of course, but it’s also a self-defeating and silly little game to play. This same mindset came up several times in a few commenters’ responses to the student letter writer earlier this week asking whether it would be appropriate to give feedback on their professor’s behavior: don’t say or do anything at all unless you can be absolutely sure you’ll be able to get everything you want. Applying the same mindset to big data is a terrible idea.

        2. Splendid Colors*

          I agree this is bad… but has OP’s employer (or their insurer) actually bought stolen data to track their employees’ health? If I were still working, I wouldn’t want to hand all my new diagnoses and prescriptions to them on a silver platter via some dodgy app.

    3. OrdinaryJoe*

      That’s what I’d do too … plus, $100! Download, don’t put anything in it and then delete once the period has ended.

      Kind of reminds me of PTA drives at my kid’s school. No one really cares, no one wants 100% of parents showing up at the PTA meeting, but they all want to report it so they use pizza as a bribe.

      1. pancakes*

        The idea that the company that brokered a deal with the letter writer’s employer to hoover up employee data won’t have any interest in quantifying how much data it did in fact obtain does not seem on point to me.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      If you have an Android phone you can turn off any or all of the permissions, like accessing your contacts, files, location, etc. Long-press on the app and tap the “i” in a circle (App info) to get to the settings. Without those, most apps are basically useless.

      1. Elder Millennial*

        My bet is you only count for that 70% if you give them all the permissions they ask for.

    5. anonymous73*

      I wouldn’t recommend that at all. This is sketchy AF and I’d avoid it like the plague. Do not allow them to pressure you into it. If it’s a benefit, that means it’s a choice, period.

      1. Everything Bagel*

        Yeah, just going along with it is harmful and not going to get the message to the company that they shouldn’t be doing it in the first place. If this is a scam the company should be told their employees are not going to fall for it and the company should reconsider promoting scams to their employees.

    6. Joielle*

      I think I’d try pushing back first, but if it was clear this wasn’t going to change, that’s what I would do. Download the app, don’t give it permissions, don’t connect my health data, and delete it later. I wouldn’t want to be the person ruining the bonus for everyone else. For me, not a hill to die on.

      1. Jora Malli*

        I wouldn’t be worried about ruining the bonus for everyone else. They need 70%, not 100%. If 70% of people want $100 so badly, they can get there without OP.

      2. pancakes*

        “If other people at work want to do something sketchy for not much money, who am I to stand in the way,” basically. I don’t think it’s helpful to frame stuff like this as “a hill to die on.” Another way of putting it is that it would be a significant give-away on the part of employees collectively for a very small and one-off reward. And the idea that none of your personal data will be compromised if you download the app, only if you complete the sign-up process, doesn’t square with what I’ve read about tracking cookies, the ability to extract contact info, etc.

    7. the cat's ass*

      Maybe in an old phone? Jeez, this seems both sketchy and intrusive. Whyyyyyyy do companies do this sort of cheesy stuff?1?

      1. DJ Abbott*

        Not an old phone, a brand new burner phone. An old phone will still have your data like Contacts, Emails, Web traffic, Facebook, etc. for the app to access.
        To me it wouldn’t be worth the trouble of buying and setting up a burner phone to get $100 – taxes, but YMMV.

        1. DJ Abbott*

          Thinking about it, it would take less than an hour to buy a burner phone, download the app, and give it permissions to gather data from an empty phone. Not bad for around $75!
          That my first impulse was it’s not worth the trouble shows why I’m not rich… :)

  4. Anonymouse*

    #1. Sketchy heading to shady.
    The other question is how secure is the app from outside hackers.
    What do they do with the medical information if you leave or get hit by a bus tomorrow?
    Who has access to the information at your company, your medical provider, and the app developer/maintainer?

  5. I'm just here for the cats*

    With regard to the app, u would look at those terms and conditions very carefully and see if they say anything about HIPPA. I too would like to know why your company is pushing this.

    1. Cynical Cyd*

      It’s simple, they will get a huge kickback from it. If they are willing to pay $100 bonus to each employee then the amount the company gets for 70% sign up will be MASSIVE! Data is a very valuable commodity!

    2. AcademiaNut*

      Would they even be subject to HIPPA? The app developers are not healthcare providers (which is what HIPPA governs), and if you share information with them, they may not be bound to any sort of confidentiality.

      I’d bet large quantities of money that the app is in the business of gathering and selling your data. The question is whether they’re anonymizing it sufficiently (probably not) and whether they’re willing to share the data with your employers (likely to get the employer in a lot of trouble, but that doesn’t necessarily stop people).

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Other side of the pond but I’d be willing to bet a few quid that whoever developed that app is selling the data. With the company offering a big bonus to staff I’m even more suspicious that the devs are bribing the company to get them as much data as possible to sell.

        Question number one to have for any application that stores personal information is ‘where is this data going?’ If the answer isn’t ‘it’s only stored locally and we can prove it’ then be suspicious.

      2. L.H. Puttgrass*

        The employer probably isn’t subject to HIPAA. It applies to heathcare providers, health plans, heatlhcare clearinghouses, and service providers to those kinds of organizations. An employer is only subject to HIPAA if it acts as its own insurer (i.e., providing third-party insurance is not enough to subject an employer to HIPAA).

        There may be other laws that prohibit an employer from asking about health information. As far as HIPAA goes, though, an employer is allowed to ask the employee for health information. But if the employer asks the health provider for that information, the health provider isn’t allowed to give it.

        1. OrigCassandra*

          Health apps on mobile are in fact notorious for selling data that health-care providers can’t sell because HIPAA.

          OP, HIPAA does not protect your use of this app. Don’t download it, don’t install it.

      3. MissGirl*

        The company that does our app is our HSA provider so HIPAA definitely applies to ours. Healthcare providers are not the only ones required to keep HIPAA.

        Here’s who else can be covered by HIPAA: A “business associate” who creates, receives, maintains, or transmits protected health information (PHI) on behalf of a covered entity or another business associate acting as a subcontractor.”

        1. L.H. Puttgrass*

          The key phrase here, though, is “on behalf of a covered entity.” An app developed on behalf of a health care provider or insurer (which are explicitly “covered entities”) would thus be covered because of the relationship to a covered entity. An independent health app with no affiliation to a covered entity would not be covered, regardless of how much personal medical information it collects.

          OP1 says that the app “isn’t connected to any one provider network and even promotes its ability to connect to actual health care provider apps to further streamline your data.” I find it highly unlikely that this unaffiliated app is covered by HIPAA.

      4. EPLawyer*

        HIPAA covers those who ROUTINELY handle medical records. Which is why insurance companies are covered. So yeah, HIPAA definitely covers this app. If they want your medical info, they need your permission and they need to have safeguards in place to protect it.

        I am betting that last bit is NOT in there.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood, CTA*

      It’s not necessarily written in a country with privacy rules as good as the US, and I’m SURE it would violate EU rules!

    4. MissGirl*

      I work in healthcare data so my company is super strict about HIPPA and we’re doing a similar app for our employees. It’s a third party doing the app (our HSA vendor so HIPPA definitely applies), my company has zero access to its data, and I signed up without blinking an eye. It’ll keep all my healthcare stuff in the same place regardless of where I go and I have access to telehealth doctors through it. I can’t speak for OP1’s situation but I ours isn’t at all sketchy and is perfectly normal.

      1. Adultier Adult*

        Same… we’e used one for years– it wasn’t pushed like OP’s company- maybe that’s why I didn’t feel ick?

      2. Nancy*

        Same. I work in healthcare and there are all kinds of apps available to us through work or our insurance company. It is becoming much more common, especially over the past 2 years with the growing popularity of telehealth.

        We weren’t offered bonuses because bonuses aren’t a thing where I work, but we are definitely encouraged to download and take advantage of them.

    5. InTheLibrary*

      HIPPA gets misunderstood all the time. It is NOT a blanket protection of your medical records. When you download an app like this, you agree to their so-called privacy policy, and give them permission to do whatever they like with your records. Once you’ve given that permission to a private company, HIPPA has no bearing whatsoever. That company can share the data with any marketer, insurance company, government entity, or employer that they like.

      Alison, I think it’s a bit misleading to say that there are legal protections that would prevent your employer from accessing this data. My understanding is that once it’s in the hands of a third-party, and the user has agreed to their data sharing agreement by clicking a box, then it’s up for grabs by *anyone* including, theoretically, an employer.

      There’s been some good journalism on this topic. I don’t think I can include links here, but you should be able to search and find, just for starters:
      “The Spooky, Loosely Regulated World of Online Therapy” (Jezebel). All those therapy apps that keep getting advertised? Yeah.
      “What Your Period Tracker Knows About You” (Consumer Reports). Spoiler: The last time you had sex, your mood, your fertility, and more, and that info is available to anyone who wants to buy it.

      My personal feeling is that we should be making a much bigger fuss about these data practices, and *not* taking the path of least resistance (like downloading on a burner phone for instance, as suggested below). The only way that we as a society will ever change these practices will be to push back and stop normalizing them.

      I’m an academic librarian who teaches on privacy, surveillance, and intellectual freedom topics.

        1. L.H. Puttgrass*

          To be fair to those who have been using “HIPPA”: I’m a privacy pro (but not in the healthcare field) and I have to look it up the first time I use it in a while to remember which way’s correct.

      1. NeedRain47*

        Yes to everything you said. People don’t know or understand that supposedly “anonymous” data can easily be de-anonymized. They know you’re the only person on your block with X medical problem.

        (If you would like this info presented in an entertaining format, watch the very recent”data broker” episode of John Oliver’s show, the bulk of it’s on youtube if you don’t have HBO, where he posts some extremely sketchy ads targeted at men on capital hill and is able to determine which politicians clicked on them.)

        1. Becky*

          lol, I read your first sentence and thought “I should reply with the John Oliver segment!” Then read your second paragraph. :D

  6. FlyingAce*

    #3 – a former boss used to hit Enter at the end of each line when writing emails. And I don’t mean the end of the sentence – he would hit Enter when the cursor reached the edge of the window, much like one would hit the carriage return on a typewriter. His emails were all “choppy” and badly formatted as a result. It was not a matter of trying to adapt to newfangled technology after decades of work – this was 3-4 years ago and he was in his mid-30’s.

    1. Nessun*

      My boss still does that sometimes!! Luckily it’s lessened since he started using his phone for email while traveling but he does still have a tendency to hit a return at the end of each line and he formats in other weird ways too. It’s rather ridiculous, but he’s never going to change, so I just laugh and move on.

      1. PeanutButter*

        I have a few people with email habits I find super annoying at work – I just tell myself, “Oh good, the Pod People invasion hasn’t gotten to Theodora yet!” to reframe it in my mind. At least I know exactly with whom I’m communicating!

    2. Seeking Second Childhood, CTA*

      My co-worker still does. But at least she’s not attaching the email’s key content as a Word doc anymore…

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        I’m guessing this means the heart of the e-mail would be in a separate document with the body of the e-mail saying “see attached” or something, rather than switching to only using PDF attachments?

        (I’m 1/2 way through my coffee and brain is slow AF)

        1. PeanutButter*

          Back in the day you used to be able to do a one-click email from Word (maybe you can still do that?) that would attach it as a .doc, so the name of the file was like the first few words in the doc and so was the subject line. The spell/grammar check stuff wasn’t great in email clients so a lot of people used Word to compose their emails. Since these people were usually less comfortable with computers and technology, they often did not realize that it was actually sending stuff as a word doc instead of in the body of the email. Or that was a feature, not a bug, because it made printing it out to physically read/file/edit easier.

    3. OP #3*

      The fact that this is such a common thing makes me both relieved and embarrassed! I guess it reflects on how new I am to working generally—I jumped straight to lack of professionalism just because I’d never seen it before. I’m grateful to all the commenters for opening my mind.

      1. Kathy Rausch*

        I do this and your letter really made me pause and reflect on my habits!

        The two or three people I email most frequently are prone to skimming emails, and there have been many instances where perfectly clear factual statements were missed because they appeared in “Sentence 2” (or God forbid, 3) of a paragraph.

        So anything I really want them to see has to have its own line.

        I can’t trust them to pick up the points I need them to understand otherwise.

        On a related note, I can only text my wife once, and then I need to wait for her to text me back. If she gets a string of 2 or 3 texts from me, I guarantee you she will not see the first one.

        It’s a thing! (I feel a bit like William Carlos Williams now — but we do what we have to do)

        1. Becky*

          I do similar–people don’t read large blocks of text carefully, if at all. If there is something I really want people to see, it is on its own line. And then MAYBE they will pick up on it.

        2. Le Sigh*

          I have to do the same thing with texts and my SO, or else I’ll only get a response to one of the three things. I actually think you’re fine doing what you’re doing for those specific people — you essentially found a solution to the problem. I don’t like too much bolding, but I bold 1-2 key things for certain people who I know are skimming.

          In general each individual sentence throws me off and makes it hard for me to follow, while huge blocks of unbroken texts make my eyes cross and I want to yell PARAGRAPHS! USE THEM. So I try to make sure my emails are well formatted, 1-3 sentences a paragraph, for that reason. But…sometimes the only way to get what you need is to adapt your style.

      2. Cincinnati*

        We use a mix of gmail and outlook and who knows what else at our company, with many different languages and countries thrown in. I often receive email replies (and 2nd 3rd and 4th replies) that look like they’ve been through a blender. So I wonder if some of these emails we’re seeing aren’t just being reformatted by mobile/desktop/email providers/software, etc.?

        I also type important info into separate lines for reading comprehension. But I also keep those sentences short and sweet.

      3. LittleMarshmallow*

        I love when people break up their emails visually (every sentence might be excessive but maybe not). I don’t read well (more eyesight/ learning disability issue not because I’m uneducated) so larger spaces between lines is helpful to me to actually comprehend what I’m reading. I’d find long paragraphs much more annoying than more space.

    4. Princess Deviant*

      I do this. I hate reading things on screen and an email is much, much easier to read when the sentences are separated. If the email is only short then it’s not a big deal. If the email is longer then I might group 2-3 sentences together in a small paragraph before pressing enter.

      1. Miss Muffet*

        Yeah I think this is probably a bit more typical – shorter paragraphs than you might use writing, say, an essay, but not every single sentence in its own line. I think it’s good to have basically the key points grouped and separated – I also find it’s easier to skim an email this way. If I get an email with a giant block of text my eyes glaze over and I feel like I have to hunt for the key point.
        OP – I think this could just be a feature of early-careerdom. She may eventually pick up on a better version of how to write emails (or a supervisor will tell her she’s gotta stop and coach her on how to do it better). It’s not so egregious that people will question all of your professionalism.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        If I get an email from somebody that is a huge wall of text, I format it into smaller paragraphs before reading it. I skim the email and look for places where a natural break might take place, and insert the breaks myself.

      3. Nanani*

        This is where I land too, though it definitely depends how long the sentences are.

        If the line breaks

        are frequent and

        the content of each line is short

        Then I agree with LW3 that it’s kind of weird.

        But a typical work email for me has rather longer sentences (with parenthetical statements) or “quotations from text being worked on,” so having a line break between them can actually help readability instead.

        1. dresscode*

          This is how my father in law writes on facebook and it makes everything seem like a haiku.

        1. Lexi Lynn*

          Is Leah a lot younger than you? I remember reading an post once talking about GenZ (or maybe Alpha) text habits and it said that this generation sends one sentence per text (hitting send instead of enter). It also said punctuation means you are angry so not sure how reliable the post was.

          1. Parakeet*

            I’ve had people email me a string of emails, doing one sentence per email (rather than per line) as though they were sending text messages. But the people who have done that have been middle-aged or older and inexperienced with tech, rather than being Gen Z. I’ve wondered if it’s just a matter of overapplying the norms that they’re used to with text messages.

      4. No long paragraphs*

        I started doing this as well. I got tired of people not answering my questions, they would just answer the first one and ignore the rest of the email.

        I now line break every sentence or two and get so much better responses! People seemed to be reading the whole email and actually paying attention. Maybe it annoys people but if that causes them to respond I am ok with it.

  7. Jessica Fletcher*

    #1 sounds sketchy and like it could have legal implications. If a healthcare company or provider is involved in the app, “we’ll pay you to give us business” is pretty much the definition of a kickback. Definitely raise a red flag here.

      1. Bob-White of the Glen*

        But they aren’t getting the info from a healthcare provider, they are getting it from you. Doubt it’s criminal. Sickening, yes, but not criminal.

  8. Rich*

    OP#2, Alison is dead-on. There’s no justification for hostile, high-stress, or ‘gotcha’ interview tactics without clear expectations, communication, and explanation. Your interviewer was a class-A jerk and you’re right to move on.

    I work in a field that often demands thinking on your feet with very stressed-out customers, so aggressive interview scenarios are common, but we’re careful to do it right. I explain to the interviewee what I’m about to do, why I want to do it, and what I expect from them: “I’m going to act like an aggressive customer, peppering you with questions. You won’t get a complete answer out — once I hear a suitable response, I’ll interrupt with the next question. I’m going to dig hard at all of your responses, both to evaluate your ability to communicate clearly under pressure, and to find the edges of your technical comfort zone — If I do this well, you won’t have an answer to every question, so don’t assume that’s a problem. Is that OK? Any questions before we start?” We work out expectations, I make sure they’re clear how the back and forth will work, and I make sure they know we’ll have time and permission to debrief a bit after the exercise.

    Without that sort of staging, it’s just cruel and selfish — like your interviewer.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Very very much. I hire senior techs (and used to be one) in a field where if certain systems fail it is literally life or death so you got to be able to handle that kind of situation and stress of having two competing Severity One incidents hit the queue at the same time.

      What I don’t do is torment interviewees to see how they react – because how people act in interviews is generally different to how they act in an office they’ve got settled in anyway. I give hypothetical situations, complete with the outcome if they’re not fixed, and ask them how they’d prioritise matters and the thinking behind it and I stress that there are NO wrong answers. I just want to see their thought process.

      I like to have a wide range of thinkers on the team. Everyone answering the same way would be ineffective.

      1. londonedit*

        Yeah, in my line of work you’ll get a lot of interview questions along the lines of ‘How would you handle it if an angry author called and said they hated the cover design?’ ‘How would you handle it if a freelancer missed a deadline you’ve set them?’ and ‘How do you deal with the competing demands of authors and Production?’. All things that happen very regularly, and anyone who’s been in an editorial department for a couple of years should be able to answer them easily (and will have several real-life examples to point to!). But you don’t blindside someone by yelling at them as soon as they get into the interview, and then say ‘You know I’m just doing this because sometimes authors get angry’, because there’s absolutely no point in doing that.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          The more I read from your line of work (which I find fascinating!) the more I reckon any editors who wanted to switch to IT would fit right in.

      2. L.H. Puttgrass*

        I’m having fun imagining how a practical test of the ability to fix tech issues under pressure would work.

        “Okay, here’s a web server that’s down. I want you to go in and see if you can fix it. While you do, I’m going to stand over your shoulder and do my best impersonation of a high-level executive who thinks it’s helpful to ask, ‘What are you doing? Is it fixed yet? How about now?’ every thirty seconds like an overly caffeinated kid on a long car trip. Because…well, that’s the job sometimes.”

        Or maybe that’s my own past trauma speaking.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          Add on the cacophony of the phones going constantly, a lot of chatter as people discuss options on how to get the systems going again and what we’re going to give as an ETA…

          Pretty accurate. I believe part of my management job here is to keep the noisy ‘when is it going to be fixed?!’ people away from my techs so they can actually get the job done. And without trying to sound boastful I’m rather good at it :)

          1. L.H. Puttgrass*

            Yes—I somehow left “offering ‘helpful’ suggestions” off my list of the things the high-level executive would be doing. And I’d have counted myself lucky if it was just the one executive. But it’s an interview situation, so you don’t want to scare the applicant away by replicating reality too closely.

            Successfully keeping the “when is it going to be fixed? I have an idea!” people away from the techs is definitely a mark of a good tech manager. Alas, I’ve had one or two who would just be one of the people standing at my cube watching me enter router commands.

            People look at me strange when I say I moved into law because it’s a lower-stress job. I think it’s because they never worked in IT.

            1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

              I can understand your job move totally! I moved from virology to IT because, well there were other reasons like me becoming disabled and not being able to continue in the labs, I really need the urgency of a task if I’m to have a hope in hades of getting it done (serious procrastination otherwise) but I also do not like being micromanaged or yelled at. What distinguishes the good companies from the bad ones I’ve worked for is how much the IT staff get treated like rubbish.

              Treated respectfully and as competent individuals capable of working without oversight? Good firm. Yelled at, harassed, called ‘nerds’ etc? Bad firm.

            2. Dragon*

              I went from IT into legal, but because I made a wrong job move early in my career and sank my tech prospects.

              Decades later I realized that may have been a blessing in disguise.

    2. Snow Globe*

      And I think it’s key to note that all of the other interviewers that the LW were lovely to talk to. Clearly the last person the LW spoke with was an outlier. (And if they were intentionally going to use one stress interview to filter out candidates, it would likely be the first one.)

    3. Smithy*

      I made it to the very end of an interview process where the CEO spent a long time telling me he thought the job wasn’t actually for me and that while I’d almost definitely be offered the job – should go home think very carefully about the position and whether or not it was for me. Because he really didn’t think it was.

      When I tell this story, the immediate reaction is often shock that after 4 rounds of interviews there would be a round so aggressive. But I work in nonprofit fundraising that certainly cultivates a bit a professional people pleasing, and for people who know me – when I tell them the mission of the organization, they laugh and go “oh yeah, that mission WAS a bad fit for you”. It was in a period in my life where I was desperate to leave a job, my job hunt was taking forever, and I was applying anywhere that sounded vaguely ok.

      Within two months I had multiple offers from places far better suited to me, and while I’ve always thought of that man as my job hunting angel – any kind of aggressive or very direct interviewing should only be used with a very straight forward purpose. Not just for fun or generic resilience test.

    4. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      Well, I think the test in this case was “how much abuse will you take without flinching?”

  9. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

    Could you put a bunch of bogus info into the app maybe even invent some new diseases?

    Or steal some from Star Trek, when they google them their heads will explode (exploding head syndrome is a real condition btw).

    1. metadata minion*

      If it’s as sketchy and data-mining as it sounds like it might be, this is almost certainly using controlled vocabulary (i.e., you can’t just enter whatever you want; you have to select from their list of conditions/symptoms/etc). Though you could always try to screw with them by entering random and conflicting information each day.

      1. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

        Many people have a rare disease so if the app limits to to its list then it can’t work properly.
        The number of known medical conditions likely numbers in the tens of thousands, thats a hell of a scroll list.

    2. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Yeah, I had exploding head syndrome in college when I was super sleep deprived. It sounds like a fatal, horrible disease but in actuality it just means that you suddenly hear REALLY LOUD noises for no apparent reason. I would hear them right before falling asleep in class when I was severely sleep deprived. I’m so glad that went away.

      Love the idea of stealing diseases from Star Trek! (Although in the interests of LW, I will say I don’t think putting bogus info into the app is the way to go here.)

      1. quill*

        Yeah I’m thinking that it will either be impossible to enter or pretty easy to screen out as false data. (Much like spamming someone’s email with the bee movie script.)

    3. addiez*

      Yes, should make sure your insurance covers spontaneous dental hydroplosion and hot dog fingers.

      1. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

        To start the OP on their journey to discovery they might have Toluncan Ague, Albright-Salzman syndrome, Kalla-Nohra, T’lokan Schism and Acute Functional Dyspepsia. And is under investigation for Heterocyclic declination.

        The treatments being currently employed include Inaprovaline, Tricordrazine, Vasokin and Felicium

    4. quill*

      Used to get my high school’s “anonymous” surveys thrown out for my whole homeroom by putting ludicrous information into them and getting other people to do the same.

      We had a run of 102 year old Vulcans in their sophomore year with varying opinions on whether or not it would be logical for them, personally to try weed. And at least one timelord who had tried drugs not yet invented. And a very angry homeroom teacher but since the surveys were allegedly anonymous he officially did not know who was contaminating the data pool.

        1. quill*

          Yeah I just don’t understand how ignorant the school thought we were that we would answer “what’s your age, grade, race, homeroom classroom, and have you ever smoked weed?” with any amount of honesty.

          1. pancakes*

            Beyond ridiculous that they tried that, and a bit unsettling that your teacher was mad the kids didn’t want to comply! Wow.

          2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

            Quite. If they were just asking “what’s your age,grade level, race, and have you ever smoked weed,” that might get something useful, on the theory that about the same fraction of people will answer honestly from one year to the next. But that works better if they survey a lot of people, in lots of different places–and then the results would be something like “more 15-year-olds in Nebraska say they smoke weed now than said that two years ago” or compare the numbers between states with and without legal cannabis. More people will admit to smoking weed, or drinking beer, if they’re being identified as “a tenth grader in Oregon” or “a 15-year-old in Brooklyn” than if it’s “a 15-year-old student at Somerville High School,” let alone “a 14-year-old in Ms Nosy’s homeroom class.”

      1. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

        Very well done!
        Did these Vulcans ever come to a conclusion or are they now 150 year old Vulcans still pondering this question?

    5. Bob-White of the Glen*

      Holy cow! This employee has TB and shingles and arthritis and prostate cancer and Ebola and tetanus and COVID and Lupus and Yellow Fever and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia and Smallpox! We need to fire her immediately!

  10. Weighinin*

    Regarding #3, I think it comes out of reading stuff on your phone. Hitting enter after every sentence looks far less odd when you’re only getting 8 words a line anyway due to the screen size.

    It also makes it look less like a blob of unending text on a phone and more easily digestible. Plus, it’s easier to edit a lot of times because it’s easier to select that single sentence as a paragraph rather than trying to be more precise with your finger.

    Having said ALL that, if you’re reading it on the computer, it’s always going to look weird

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I agree. I think Leah is from the school of thought that tries to avoid large walls of text – originally intended to improve readability and therefore accessibility.

      I think many of us could benefit from spending a couple of days in a ~4th grade classroom revising basic punctuation like paragraph breaks!

    2. AcademiaNut*

      It’s also a side effect of doing most of you text writing in text editing environments that don’t automatically line wrap – coding, and things like LaTeX and HTML where hitting return at the end of a line is normal.

      1. SarahKay*

        Ha, I do most of my work in Excel, where I finish editing some text and press enter to drop out of the cell. Sadly for me that never works in Word or Powerpoint!

        Although oddly enough I don’t seem to have the same issue with my Excel-formed habits in emails, or indeed AAM comment boxes. Brains are weird.

    3. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      If I’m not paying attention I will write one sentence per line, and tab indent some of them because I’ve spent far too many years writing SQL.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve /*intentionally*/ deleted a word from a sentence. Sometimes it’s just a ro/*u*/gue letter.

    4. Mitzii*

      Yes, I’ll chime in and say it’s most probably a side effect of using the phone vs. the computer. It’s so much easier to digest a long email on the phone screen when there is some breathing room. Also, I wonder what Leah’s life was before grad school? If she worked in marketing, that type of writing tends to get chopped up in order to be quickly scannable.

    5. Smithy*

      Yes…there are now some emails that I write for an audience that I believe will almost entirely read them on their phone and I do punctuate those differently. And for the majority of my emails, will very rarely include more than three sentences per paragraph because the likelihood of someone reading them on a phone is so high….

      All to say, while this may be a more extreme case – it also doesn’t quite rise to the level of so unprofessional it reflects poorly on everyone around her.

    6. Rosacolleti*

      Ugh, yes it’s a new trend based on thinking humans can no longer cope with more than one sentence at a time. It’s dumbing us down – don’t do it

      1. Oryx*

        Or, maybe for some people it genuinally is easier to read that way without it being anything beyond that.

      2. RagingADHD*

        No, it’s a “new trend” with smaller screens, chronic eyestrain, and awareness of accessibility for people with vision problems or issues like dyslexia.

        But sure, go off. Perhaps you’d like to go back to handwritten manuscripts that didn’t use punctuation or capitalization, since those have “dumbed down” writing by making it easier to read?

      3. Dinwar*

        It’s part of a very long trend in writing. The Greeks didn’t put spaces between their words in at least some cases, something Roman orators had fun with. A lot of Medieval writing was all one giant block of text with no breaks–try reading the original Magna Carta for example! People continued to have long, convoluted paragraphs with multiple theses up into the 17oos/early 1800s–Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” has paragraphs that run for three or four pages. Shortening paragraphs to 1-2 sentences is the next step from where we are. Folks fought it every step of the way–starting with “Should we write at all?”–and have failed every step of the way. You won’t win this fight, so you may as well roll with it.

        And at times, it makes sense to do this! The modern concept of a paragraph is supposed to include one thesis with supporting sentences–look at the previous paragraph for example. In a business context sometimes an email contains multiple theses, but does not require supporting those theses. If that’s the case, one line–or even one word–paragraphs can be sufficient. I’ve had folks email me “Yes” before, because that was all that was necessary.

        Further, the media matters. Email is back-and-forth communication, which means that a certain amount of context can be taken as a given. Further, most people use the “Reply” function, meaning that the previous emails–which provide context–are included in your email. There’s no need to restate information already in the email and already known to all parties; a quick response is better than redundancy. Books, blog posts, op/eds, essays, lectures, and the like, being fundamentally one-way communication to a wider audience, need to be written differently because they lack that presumption of context.

        1. quill*

          Romans often didn’t put spaces either, on top of the absolute lack of sentence structure. It’s fun to get sentences like “The pig of ceasar was kissed on the head by the pirate captain,” and then realize that you got a declension and an article lumped together and that the pig actually belonged to the pirate captain and was kissed by ceasar. Or, my all time favorite, the day we discovered that a legion is a liquid because we just couldn’t handle figurative language on top of the structural mess our translation homework was.

  11. jm*

    LW 2, i had a similarly unsettling interview before i found my current job. she was blatantly trying to gotcha me over the phone during our first conversation. “tell me one thing you like about the job. [i list a thing]. oh so that’s the only reason you do the work?” all it did was put me on guard and make the in person interview extremely awkward and uncomfortable. on one hand, i know i dodged a bullet. she was probably a terrible supervisor. on the other, i wish i’d rolled with her antagonistic bs better. it irks me that i didn’t merit a callback, even though i did not want the job.

  12. John Smith*

    #3. I’m guilty of doing that, but it depends on the situation (not each and every single sentence gets it own line, but a lot do), and it’s usually to separate one bit of information from another, much in the same way lines of computer code would be (from necessity) on each line and perhaps that’s where the habit comes from. Maybe it is for your colleague a way of breaking down the information and it being easier to digest? Could there be possibly some medical reason (e.g, some students have difficulty reading)?

    It could be worse – your colleague could have an aversion to using the enter key like my manager does, making for one monumental paragraph that takes several reads to understand!

    1. Sherry*

      Was going to say the same thing, it’s a technique to make it easier to find information in an email although it may not be necessary for every line.

    2. bamcheeks*

      Yes, I try to make sure I have no more than 30-40 words in an email paragraph— either 2-3 short sentences or one long one. People scan emails, and it’s genuinely hard to read longer paragraphs. (This one is now getting a bit long for an email!)

      It sounds like she’s taking it a bit too far, but generally I would rather people erred on the “too short paragraphs” side rather than the “too long paragraphs”!

      1. Allonge*

        Yes! Email paragraphs are maximum two sentences (I tend to write longish ones). So compared to this, one sentence / paragraph is still ok for most cases.

        On the other hand this is totally something that once I noticed, I could not un-see, so I see myself getting one of those super low-level irritations over time… yeah, brains are weird.

    3. Don’t call me that*

      I’m guilty of it as well sometimes; my boss comes from restaurants so we tend to communicate recipe-style via bullet points a lot of the time

    4. Malarkey01*

      Mine depend on audience and context. When emailing with my team to brainstorm and discuss proposals, we all write in typical paragraph form. When I need to send information to a wide audience or if I need action on something I break it down to separate lines for those on phones and for all those that scan and skim email to see the important details or actions broken out.

      We used to just bold or underline things in the middle of the paragraph to call them out but that trend went out about 10 years ago in my experience.

      1. OP #3*

        Oh no, I bold things in the middle of a paragraph I want to call out. . . am I the unprofessional one??
        Jokes aside, thank you for educating me on the many different professional norms that can exist. I can’t thank the commenters here enough for opening my eyes.

        1. A Simple Narwhal*

          Nah, I think you’re fine! You’ll also learn how best to communicate with your coworkers and what’s normal for your office as you interact with them more. An option my team uses when messaging multiple people is to call out a specific person if you need their input:

          “..everything is proceeding as planned, the project wraps up in the next week or two. @Lars – can you share the numbers from last month’s project? This should give us an idea of what to expect. If we look at how this is going…”

          I could see someone interpreting it as hand-holding or maybe insulting, but for us we know there’s no ill-intent behind it, requests can easily get lost in a wall of text, so this is just a really convenient way to quickly spot if someone needs something from you.

          But again, you’ll learn how to best work with your team! It also never hurts to get a gut check from your boss, they’ll pretty much always appreciate if you proactively ask if for ways to improve your communication.

        2. SarahKay*

          If you are, then I’m there with you. Sometimes I add yellow highlighting on top of the bold type for good measure. I feel no qualms about either of these things.

        3. Retired reporter*

          Well before the Internet and small electronic screens, journalists were trained – and still are – to write straight news in short paragraphs, often just one or two sentences long. Pieces of personal opinion, analysis or story-telling may waive the brevity principle.

          Check out a news site or news publication to test this.

          Academic writing is a stark contrast to news writing.

          OP, the poetry effect will seem worse if you read your emails in a full-screen box.

      2. mourning mammoths*

        I do both of these things regularly. AND highlight due dates in yellow and red. Anything to help the skimmers (most of my target group) to quickly find the info they need to act upon. This approach is quite common in my region/field. I didn’t expect there would be anyone out there who thinks it looks unprofessional. I guess that when I need to write something more formal, then in my world, it’s time for something that is *not* email.

    5. Parakeet*

      If I’m doing this, I usually do a bullet-point list (with some kind of intro sentence before the bullet points start) to make it clear that that’s what’s going on. Also, sometimes, bolding key words, which I see that several other commenters have already mentioned.

  13. On the road again …*

    OP2 my first thought reading your letter was that the interviewer was annoyed that the other group sent you. Either they didn’t want to interview anyone else, or they felt that the other group didn’t understand the actual needs for that open position. But it doesn’t really matter. Only a real jerk punishes an innocent job applicant for something they have no control over. Bullet certainly dodged.

    1. blackcat lady*

      A large part of me wants you to write a letter withdrawing your application to the first two interviewers and make it clear WHY you are doing so. If the jerk is eliminating promising candidates then the company needs to know.

      The other part of me wonders how much you would have to interact with the jerk if you took the job. If the job is with the two lovely people and you never see the jerk again then maybe you should pursue the job. However, I would voice concern about the jerk to the first two people when you go back for another round.

      1. Wombats and Tequila*

        Part of me wonders whether he has some kind of prejudice who thinks he has hit on a way of getting people of the wrong gender/race/whatever to withdraw their applications.

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Now you say that — that is odd. Why were there multiple rounds of interviews with people who aren’t the hiring manager, before actually speaking to the hiring manager? Is that normal in that company? Typically interviews would be with the hiring manager (and maybe others) initially and then a later interview with someone more senior….

      The other possibility is he’s deliberately putting good candidates off – maybe there’s a preferred (by him) candidate?

      1. anonymous73*

        The initial interview was for a different job in which they felt OP was overqualified so they had her interview for a higher level job. So there was really only 1 interview with someone for the higher level role before the interview with the hiring manager. To me the second interview was similar to a phone screen with a recruiter to see if you’d be a good enough fit to talk to the hiring manager. Plus “hiring manager” isn’t necessarily a one size fits all position. Definitions of a particular role often differ from company to company. The manager (second interview) had the open role in his department, but the VP was probably the one making the final decision.

      2. Dragon*

        That’s a thought. Maybe the company is insisting the hiring manager interview other candidates first, if only as a legal or HR formality?

        I heard of an instance in which a newly hired assistant couldn’t please her boss no matter what she did. Finally she decided she had nothing to lose, and asked him what she could do to get him to ease up on her. Boss then admitted he’d had someone else in mind for the job, and had felt pressured to hire New Assistant instead.

        After that, they got along ok until the assistant left the firm three years later.

    3. Jora Malli*

      I’m gearing up for a job search and having read so many of these disaster interview stories, I’m practicing my “I don’t think this is going to work out, I’m withdrawing my candidacy, thank you for your time” speech in case I need to end an interview early.

      OP, I wouldn’t have blamed you one bit if you had said something like that and ended the meeting. Life is too short to work for somebody who thinks negging you is fun.

  14. Turtle Duck*

    I feel #5 so hard – it makes me think of that fast food job scene from American Beauty

  15. Varthema*

    Is Leah by any chance a native speaker of another language? One line per paragraph seems to be more common elsewhere, at least based on a lot of emails I’ve gotten from my EFL learners over the years (including adult professionals).

    1. Varthema*

      Oops, meant to add, in that case, a heads up that conventions in English are different would be a welcome piece of advice.

    2. OP #3*

      I don’t think so, but I’m so grateful to all the commenters opening my eyes to different professional norms across industries and cultures. I’m embarrassed I took such a small thing so seriously, and incorrectly! Thank you.

  16. Ck*

    #3 isn’t that weird.
    I do it for my job that ends up requiring a lot of translated emails.
    It’s much easier to write and proofread complete thoughts this way.
    And vecause I don’t have to hunt through a paragrap to find the one-line ask, reading is quicker too.

    1. Snarky McSnarkerson*

      I do this when sending emails to the boss. She requires either bullets or some other way to quickly read an email. Sending her an emails is just asking to be misunderstood.

    2. Lacey*

      Yeah, I don’t necessarily hit enter after every sentence, but I work with people who will not fully read a block of text more than two lines deep. I have to break everything into bite-size chunks for their comprehension.

      1. JustaTech*

        Years ago my company had a “professional writing” seminar and one of the things the instructor emphasized was that brevity is essential to good business communication, especially in emails.
        “If it can be a bulleted list, great!”
        If you can write the whole thing in the subject line, even better. (He was talking about Blackberries, so not totally relevant.)

  17. Who Plays Backgammon?*

    LW5: It’s been a million years, but I still remember an ad for a job describing the place as “hectic, fast-paced” as though these were positive attributes. I needed a job, the location was just right, so I applied and unfortunately I got it. They were disorganized, chaotic, and fed on adrenaline because they thought it was cool. I moved on in pretty short order. Some time later crossed paths with a former coworker who spilled a lot of tea. The company was falling apart; it had been formed by two married couples from their individual mom-and-pop shops, and Couple No. 1 had forced Couple No. 2 out in a way that let No. 1 keep all of No. 2’s expensive equipment. The art director had been fired–no big loss, his creativity was all in his clip art. Other employees had quite and Coworker was on her way out. Years later I saw online that the co. still existed. Wonders never cease.

    That having been said, yay for Alison’s explanation of the dorky wording in so many ads. I needed to hear it myself because yeah, sometimes they seem to describe a pretty unattractive work atmosphere.

    1. Fast paced LW5*

      There is a little bit of me that is feeling a bit burned by a busy job that’s busy for all the wrong reasons. Demands that are at the whim of a flighty MD and a culture that creates pressure to be seen to be busy, bot because there’s a big project to get out the door. I do wonder if I’m not unable to cope with competing pressures but it needs to be in a confident company that is working toward goals, and not just busy work.

      But I’m definitely going to take the advice and gloss over some of the buzz words unless it really seems intrinsic to the role.

      1. londonedit*

        Oh absolutely, there’s a big difference between ‘competing pressures’ as I described in a comment a bit further up, like my job where you’re working on several things that are all at different stages, plus dealing with any minor crises that may arise with any one of them, and dealing with ‘competing pressures’ when that means ‘the boss can’t make their mind up and will demand everyone drops everything to work on A one day, then yell at everyone for not working hard enough on B’.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          The worst IT job I had was described as ‘highly variable work’ and I had to deal with ‘competing pressures’ which I just took to mean a standard senior tech support role where you do face different challenges and have to prioritise your own work (which I love doing and why I’m in this industry because I get bored easily).

          Instead it turned out to mean ‘you’ll have 3 dotted line managers all yelling for different things, the director will frequently demand stuff that goes against guidelines or actual laws, there’s no organisation, a lot of harrassment and every member of staff goes out on stress leave at some point’

          (Which is why I’ve never applied at a game developers company ever again)

        2. Smithy*

          This is a great way of differentiating this.

          While there may be some jobs that are more single project focused or sequential (i.e. complete one task then move to the next), I think a lot of us end up in jobs with ‘competing pressures’. And for individuals who are truly looking for more rigid work expectations and positions (I do A, then move to B, then C) – calling that out makes sense. And for someone looking to move into a role like that, that’s good to know!

          However….competing pressures when combined with bad management can make the competing pressures seem like the issue. When really it’s the bad management.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood, CTA*

        MD managing director not medical doctor right? Some mornings I have more trouble with acronyms than others.

        1. Fast paced LW5*

          That’s right – sorry I forgot about that other meaning! I don’t think MD is ever used in my country to mean a medical doctor. Certainly not in casual speech anyway.

    2. El l*

      Yeah, I think everyone wants to seem like they run a place of energy where things are happening.

      (a) Corporate speak is imitative. Easy to say, way harder to do.
      (b) “High-energy” often means “unnecessarily stressful.” Management’s failure to plan becomes each employee’s emergency.

    3. addiez*

      I’ve also worked some places where people were nuts all the time and others had really calm day-to-day. Our job descriptions are typically consistent across the organization but I’ve found the way it manifests is so different from team to team and manager to manager.

  18. Empress of Blandings*

    LW2 – ‘having fun’ by upsetting other people sounds remarkably like bullying to me.

    1. Jean*

      Yup. You do not want to report to the type of person who gets a kick out of turning the screws like this. It’s a huge red flag.

    2. mlem*

      I’m now preparing a mental script so that if I ever encounter a situation like this I’ll remember to pause and then say, “That was your idea of fun? Well, that tells me all I need to know. I think we’re done here.” Bridge is already burning; might as well toast some marshmallows over it.

      1. Kit*

        My personal response to someone “having fun” like that is “I’m glad one of us is!” Ideally with a saccharine smile, to drive home that they just admitted they’re being an asshole at my expense.

    3. irene adler*

      Exactly! Things won’t improve from this point on.

      One gets treated the best during the hiring process, as the employer tries to attract the candidate that best meets their needs. So if this is their “best” – walk on by.

  19. dontusuallypost*

    LW5, ignore it unless they are reaaaaally selling the fast pace compared with other ads, and then ask about it at interview. My job is super chill and definitely mentioned a ‘fast pace’ in the advert. They always do!

  20. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    OP1: granted, I’m in the job of being professionally paranoid about software in general and not in the US but gotta agree with Alison that I wouldn’t let that near any personal system of mine – or any of our company hardware for that matter.

    I’d probably investigate it on my own though using a throwaway spare device that isn’t connected to any personal data whatsoever just to see how invasive it actually is but that’s just from curiosity.

    The company *knowing* who has installed and used the personal data app is just red flag central.

    1. Hannah Lee*

      Also, when you do that, make sure your device privacy settings are set up so that apps have to ask permission to access data or other apps, and go through your settings info to see where it’s popping up. (Like the Apple Health app, which will ask to ask for access to any other health or movement apps you have and some surprising apps / data as well)

      1. L.H. Puttgrass*

        This wouldn’t help much in OP1’s case, though. The privacy issue isn’t with the app accessing other information on the phone, like contacts or location. It’s that the app collects health information directly and then does who-knows-what with it. Apple and Google don’t have any way to control what an app does with data once it has it. Privacy settings on the phone won’t help at all.

        1. Hannah Lee*

          Privacy settings on the phone may help with what I was referring to – the app gathering health related or info from other apps / phone info. You’re right that it won’t help with what the user enters in the app itself. I was just pointing out another of the leaky sieve instances with personal data on a device.

          The company’s push for employees to use this app is all kinds of sketchy. I manage benefits for my small company and purposely steer clear of benefit providers who hawk those kinds of programs particularly when they do it with sweeteners for the employer, for a lot of different reasons (including but not limited to a preference for employers to be LESS involved in their employees’ person healthcare, choices, lifestyles not more … IMHO health care/health insurance should NOT be tied to employment and the sooner those 2 things become uncoupled in the US the better; a suspicion of any offer of employer incentives from a for-profit health program/insurance provider based on what personal choices employees make about their own health and wellness; a belief that individuals should have more control of their own personal info, not less; a dislike of data aggregators who skim info from everywhere and make money of it; and not health /wellness specific, but if a corporation wants employees to use an app in a way that benefits the employer, the employer should be providing and 100% paying for the device the app is being run on, not forcing employees to use their personal device that they use for a hundred other personal reasons and which contains all kinds of other data that leaky apps can share accidently or on purpose)

      2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        That, while very important, won’t actually cover the data being entered in by the user. It’s rare to find a ‘once a month the data on your device will be used for marketing purposes’ item on the application specs and often there’s nothing in the installation or user guide that says what is going to happen to it.

        Basically I try to test these kind of things on an old unused device with e.g. no email, no wifi, no phone data set up on them and then see what kind of things the application *tries* to use while it’s running.

  21. Elle by the sea*

    I was wondering if Leah had any special issues, like dyslexia/dysgraphia. I find emails formatted as Leah does much easier to read/process. I usually format emails like that when I’m writing them up and then I’m changing them to the standard format. When I see emails like that occasionally, I don’t think of them as unprofessional. Unless you have strict guidelines for formatting emails, I would leave it alone.

    1. OP #3*

      Hi, I just want to thank you for your response! I had never seen an emailing style like Leah’s before, and I’m ashamed that I jumped straight to lack of professionalism instead of considering all the valid reasons people are commenting today. I’m definitely taking an internal look at myself to see if I’ve developed a “holier-than-thou” attitude in any other areas.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Afternoon mate! Don’t be ashamed – if anything I think you deserve some credit here. You’ve taken feedback on different perspectives with grace and thought and no defensiveness. Frankly that’s incredibly rare.

  22. Consultant5*

    Fast- paced is also in the eye of the beholder: my previous job was identified that way in the ad and interview but actually what they meant was “slow but with periods of unmitigated chaos”. My current job was not identified that way, and I would say it definitely is: juggling multiple time-sensitive projects across a demanding client base. But it’s also better than the previous one for lots of reasons, so go to interviews and see if you can suss out the management.

  23. Astrid*

    I don’t see anything unusual about Leah’s email style. In my industry it is pretty well known that paragraphs are not going to be read in their entirety. Writing emails like Leah does ensures the important information is easily seen and read.

    1. Oakwood*

      Some people advise that if you can put your message in bullet points at the top of your email you should, because many people don’t scroll their email messages. They read whatever is on the screen (the top part of the message) and that’s it.

      The more email a person gets the more likely they are to do this.

  24. Sal*

    Ugh, certain public defender organizations do high-pressure interviews all the way through instead of just during simulations and role plays. Part of the reason is that they are very selective so the part of the interview where a candidate might be evaluating THEM simply doesn’t register for them as an actual concern. I do not miss those interviews (though I handled them, and arguably analogous actual high stress situations as a lawyer, with aplomb IMHO).

    1. L.H. Puttgrass*

      “Can you respond professionally to hostile jerks?” is a legitimate job qualification for a trial attorney. Being a hostile jerk is an interview is one way to test that qualification…but it still makes the interviewer a hostile jerk for doing it.

    2. Hannah Lee*

      “Ugh” I agree with that for what you described.

      The decision to do that means that the employer has failed to recognize that:
      – ability to work in a high pressure situation and effectively manage interactions with very difficult unreasonable people
      – willingness to work at jobs where manager and coworkers are very difficult unreasonable people known to play games and manufacture high pressure situations for no good reason
      are TWO VERY DIFFERENT things.

      And also that people with lots of experience and skill in the first are those MOST LIKELY not have the second. When you’re capable of dealing with real stressful, complex situations, IME you have no patience for fools who create stress and drama just for the hey of it or for some trumped up reason.

  25. Popinki*

    Wonky email styles are just one of those things. I belong to a professional organization and one person Replies All to every single email that comes from the leader, even just quick FYI type ones. Her emails are extremely gushy and enthusiastic and thanking him for everything. They are also formatted straight out of the MLA handbook. I just shake my head and hit the Delete button.

  26. Katie*

    My (very big) company also has an medical app. I refuse to download or have any part of it. I think the incentives for that are if you complete certain activities.
    I honestly think it’s more about data collection and benefits the insurance companies. The company in turn gets a kick back. Insurance companies are top rate evil, so I refuse to help them any.

  27. Biscotti*

    #1 Is the healthcare app from the insurance company? If it is likely the payout is coming from them and they follow Hippa guidelines and your company will not get any more information than they can by calling their company rep. If something else find out who owns the app before you sign up.

    1. anonymous73*

      Even if the answers to all of your “if” questions were yes I’d still say no. Insurance companies are notorious for shady practices. Nope nope-ity nope nope.

    2. KRM*

      Yes, we had that at a previous company. The app was sponsored by the insurance company. I allowed it to read my FitBit data and ended up making $600 in gift cards ($100/quarter for hitting movement goals) while I had access to the program (company had a layoff which is why it ended for me). But I read their privacy policy and it made sense to me, and again, it was actually from the insurance company I already had a relationship with.

      1. Biscotti*

        If its with the insurance company it is usually around getting people to have their yearly exams and medication adherence. They already have your claims data from when they pay or deny.

        1. Becky*

          Or a “wellness” program from the insurance company that gives like discounts or prizes if they can track your health directly, not just based on what they get via claims.

  28. kina lillet*

    My absolute guess is that this entire thing is coming from the health insurance company—the program, the app, and the money—and that if anyone ever sees that $100 it’d be as a reduction in their insurance premium.

    I still wouldn’t download the app. Besides, I bet there’s no way they’re getting to 70% adoption, so you’d just be sending your data to some greedy leaky database for nothing.

  29. AthenaC*

    #1 – Guarantee you the company is getting a discounted rate from their insurance carrier if the company as a whole meets certain metrics. (over 85% nonsmokers, cholesterol in the healthy range for 75% or more people, etc.). Am not a fan at all.

    I think someone upstream suggested just downloading the app and not using it, which may be the path of least resistance until you get another job.

  30. Insurance Employee*

    For #1 I imagine this is partly coming from the governments push to allow consumer access to all of their data. Recently regulations went into effect that you need to be able to “port” all of you medical data from one provider/insurer to another. At the same time this actually does reduce medical waste since providers can see other tests or conditions a person has. Read the terms and conditions, my guess is it is from the insurance company and they will not show any non aggregated data to the employer (if they even show that, depends on if the employer is admin services only or fully insured)

    1. Clisby*

      Maybe I’m missing something here, but why would you want to be able to port all of your medical data from one insurer to another? From one doctor to another, sure – but why does an insurer need to know past medical history? All they need to do is evaluate current claims.

      1. JanetM*

        I can think of a couple of reasons (none of which I agree with).

        1. Most insurers will make you try all the older, generic drugs for a condition before agreeing to cover a newer, more expensive one. Even if you’ve already been through all the older meds, if your insurance changes you have to start over (I have many friends who have been through this). If you could port your previous results, that might help. Note: I don’t think insurance should have the right to over-rule your doctor about what medications you need.

        2. Similarly, most insurers will require that you “work your way up” through types of testing / screening; for example, you might have to get x-rays and a CT scan before they’ll pay for an MRI or nerve conduction study. If you could port your previous testing history, that might help. Note: I don’t think insurance should have the right to over-rule your doctor about what tests you need.

        1. Clisby*

          But my doctor would be able to provide that information. That’s why it’s important to be able to transfer records to a new provider. I’ve never heard of transferring records from one insurance company to another.

      2. RagingADHD*

        As Janet points out there are some reasons you might want to port your data.

        As to why the company wants/needs your data, it is so they can manage their risk. They can’t charge higher premiums or deny coverage for pre-existing conditions anymore, but they still need to know their overall risk pool in order to set premiums for everyone. In order to pay out claims, they need to take in a certain amount of revenue, make a certain amount of return on their investments, and have a certain level of profit in order to stay in business.

        We can decry the health-insurance-for-profit model as much as we want, but as long as it is the prevailing way that most people get access to healthcare, then the fact is that it’s a numbers game. If they can’t manage their risk, companies will move out of the market and we wind up with fewer and fewer choices. And the only thing worse than for-profit insurance is a for-profit insurance company with an absolute monopoly and zero competition.

        1. Clisby*

          Those reasons didn’t make sense to me, but like I said, I could be missing something. I have never once been asked to provide medical records to a new insurance company. That would seem very odd. My doctor has my medical records, and can provide what’s needed. If I switch doctors, I transfer records to the new doctor, and that doctor can provide what’s needed.

      3. Insurance Employee*

        We also use it to determine what risk groups you are in and what health programs to offer. For example if we know you are diabetic when signing up we can pre enroll you in the diabetic programs instead of waiting for claims to come in which can take awhile since you might not see a doctor who writes down diabetic on the claims for months if you were previously diagnosed. While we could theoretically guess based on test strip and insulin refills we may or may not get that info quickly depending on the pharmacy and type of claim submitted.

        1. Clisby*

          How would a new insurance company have any idea whether I was diabetic or not? It’s not like they ask for that information. My husband and I just switched to the new insurance carrier his employer went with. We didn’t have to submit any medical information at all.

    2. Hannah Lee*

      I imagine this is partly coming from the governments push to allow consumer access to all of their data

      I’m not sure how an insurance company / employer encourage-pressuring employees to use an app on their phone relates to the “government” or the rights of consumers to access their own medical records.

      And as an aside, while EMR – electronic medical records *seem* like a great idea, sharing of a patient’s medical history, status across providers, from what I’ve seen of my own, I would hate for any medical provider to be making decisions about my healthcare based solely on that with no one there to provide accurate information (my own record contains info on conditions I never have had … for example, all about multiple pregnancies and post-partum conditions when I have never been pregnant and couldn’t be if I wanted to try, medications I don’t take and all kinds of outdated info. Speaking with my doctor about it, and then the office person who manages it, all I got was handwaves of “it doesn’t matter and even if it did we can’t fix it” and then then switched to a new EMR system, half of the info disappeared and a whole host of other errors were introduced. )

  31. Dinwar*

    #3: What kind of information is she presenting in her emails? Some information does lend itself to the format she’s using. I was taught that each paragraph should be one idea, question, or answer; if that takes 1 word or 50, that’s how long the paragraph is. I’ve sent many emails where each sentence was a new paragraph, because each sentence was a new idea.

    That said, if she’s splitting one idea into 15 lines, that reduces the ability of the reader to understand what’s going on. And that’s a problem. There are cases where this can create significant problems.

    1. Nanani*

      The idea that ideas map onto individual paragraphs one to one is a thing I THOUGHT was universally known but has turned out not to be.

      In my work the one sentence = one paragraph happens a lot too, both because that’s how the ideas shake out and because of the typical length required. There are quotations.

  32. Higgs bison*

    As a slow individual, I’ve always hated trying to suss out what those job ads mean. I don’t do well with chaos, quick deadlines, or high workloads without the ability to use overtime to complete them, so “fast-paced” has always felt like a red flag to me. I wish I would see just as many job ads for “slow-paced” jobs so that I knew I could do them without falling behind or freaking out.

    1. quill*

      Dream job ad for me at this point states “you will have plenty of things to learn but plenty of time to learn them.”

  33. Badger*

    OP 3: Is it possible to suggest the creation of email templates for contacting guests, hosting events, etc? They would be for the entire group’s use, purely in the name of efficiency and keeping branding consistent throughout the group.

    1. OP #3*

      This is a great idea and something I’ll definitely do.

      Something I didn’t mention in my original letter was that sending emails is normally my responsibility; I just have Leah or another colleague send them when they are running a project or event for ease. I probably overreacted because of that and blamed Leah for something that I could easily fix by being more on top of my own job.

  34. FloralWraith*

    OP 3: I work in the comms team of a university faculty that is a professional school, and I’m essentially the email guru for the faculty. My question is why is Leah doing these emails at all? Emails to 100+ students regularly? Fine, I guess, though bad formatting turns students off which makes them less likely to read them. If students are coming back and emailing about questions answered in those emails from Leah, that is a sure-fire way of knowing there is an issue.

    Emails to external guests? Those really, really shouldn’t be handled by graduate students, those should be in the hands of your department’s/faculty’s communications or marketing staff (unless it is one-off invite to a single person at a time). Email formatting isn’t minor when you’re presenting externally, that’s a branding issue, and it’s frustrating to read that your “professional” school is apparently fine with handing this off to graduate students instead of administrative staff whose expertise that would be.

    1. OP #3*

      Hi, #3 OP here! We work together at a student-run organization. It’s the norm that we organize and host our own events. Every other student organization does it, and it’s a mark of the organization’s prestige. I don’t think the school would even consider emailing our guests for us, lol!

      1. FloralWraith*

        Ah sorry about that! The letter made it seem like you were doing this on behalf of your programme based in the school, not a student group.

        I would iterate though some earlier comments about templates. Assuming you’re not sending to more than 2000 people, I’d recommend Mailchimp. It will make your student group look a lot more professional. And maybe your group should come together and think of some branding “standards” so things look more coherent. Leah (and yourself!) won’t be around forever.

  35. JTP*

    OP4: I hope you feel better! I was diagnosed with strep throat the day before my first interview with a company — I hadn’t even met them yet! I wrote a professional email that said I needed to cancel the interview and I understood if they needed to move forward with other candidates. The recruiter was very kind and offered to push the interview back another week, which I accepted. I’ve now been working for that company for five years!

    1. Op#4*

      Thank you so much! I’m going to give Alison’s wording a try. Still super sick, another week would be amazing.

  36. anonymous73*

    #1 Just say no. If they’re encouraging this app use via email, set up a rule to have those emails go into your trash automatically so you don’t even see them. If you’re approached in person, just keep it simple. “I’m not interested in using the app, thanks.” If they press, just keep repeating the same thing.
    #2 This letter reminds of the one the other day with the interview with a “difficult” director. This is definitely NOT how you conduct an interview, regardless of the level of the position or the interviewer. Consider this…the people you spoke to prior to the VP may have been great, but the VP is going to be the one making the big decisions. And if this is how he treats people in interviews, you can count on him being a jerk with his employees as well. So even if you took the lower position, he would still have an effect on your role.
    #3 let it go. It’s an odd way of formatting an email but it isn’t unprofessional and doesn’t reflect poorly on the entire group.

  37. Lacey*

    #5 I super sympathize. I’ve never, ever wanted to work in a fast paced environment, but all the job ads always talk about how fast-paced they are and needing applicants who can work well under pressure. And I mean, I can, but I don’t want to.

    The good news is, companies just say that nonsense to say it. My current job said it was fast paced. It is the sleepiest job in the world. We do have some busy times, but we’re talking about one crazy week a quarter – if that.

    My previous job said they valued work-life balance. And while I, as an hourly employee, had balance, I know that no salaried person did and my work life was a living hell.

    So unfortunately – you can’t go by those job descriptions.

  38. Oakwood*

    One line per sentence is a common pattern in blogs and online comments.

    I do it all the time.

    She probably needs a reminder on the difference between writing for business and writing for social media.

  39. Lacey*

    #1 I can almost guarantee that the health app is a way to keep insurance premiums down.

    I don’t have insurance through my employer, but they encourage everyone who does have it to encourage HealthJoy so that they don’t have to go to the doctor as often and therefore don’t have as many claims to submit.

    No one’s ever offered a bonus, but they do talk a lot about working together to keep our premiums down.

  40. Salad Daisy*

    #3 I tend to do the same thing. Most of the emails I send are to people for whom English is not their first language and I have found that if I send paragraphs, they have a hard time answering. Additionally, sending questions such as “Do you want a red one or a blue one?” usually result in “Yes”. So I send an email like this:

    “Do you want a red one?

    Would you rather have a blue one?

    1. Dragon*

      I quickly learned not to email one ExBoss open-ended questions. I gave him multiple choices, either/or choices, or I’m doing X unless you say otherwise.

      People need to give useful responses in emails. Another ExBoss emailed me from a meeting on a different office floor, and asked me to make a dinner reservation at a restaurant it turned out didn’t take reservations.

      Long story short, I finally made a list of other nearby restaurants, went to the meeting room and stuck the list in front of ExBoss.

  41. Oakwood*

    About a decade ago I took a job with a small software company (about 100 people). During onboarding the HR person casually mentioned that their insurance costs had risen recently because one employee had had an “incident” and ran up a large charged against their health insurance. The company wasn’t happy about it.

    Insurance is a big cost for companies. I suspect if they could pinpoint the employees using the most health insurance they would be happy to get rid of them. Which brings us to this app.

    It contains appointments, prescription info, and medical data. They type of data that could easily be used to determine who is a big insurance user and who isn’t. There’s no guarantee that your employer won’t get this info.

    When a product is free, YOU are the product.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      That’s absolutely terrifying.

      I’ve had the boss from hell who went on and on about how much my poor health was costing the department (and how I should lose weight to fix it..yuck) but our healthcare isn’t supplied by our employer. The idea of the people who pay you being able to also judge and fire those with ‘costly’ health issues is just scary.

      I’m upgrading my opinion of this app from ‘dodgy’ to ‘not getting within five miles of any circuit boards I own’ after your comment. Definitely not even worth the risk now.

    2. EPLawyer*

      “When a product is free, YOU are the product.”

      THIS a billion trillion quadrillion times. there is a reason your company is pushing the biggest bonus ever for downloading this app. Don’t do it.

    3. NeedRain47*

      They already do know, unless you work for a huge company. HR can pretty accurately guess that the person that’s been on FMLA for a heart transplant is the one with the massive insurance costs. They’re not *supposed* to treat you differently based on this, but we all know that’s not how it works.

      1. L.H. Puttgrass*

        Ah, but with your detailed medical record, your employer can figure out if you’re a risk of increasing their insurance premiums before you do it! Why wait for someone to have surgery when you can notice that their doctor’s visits have picked up and can them—for “performance reasons” of course—before the surgery! Think of the return to shareholders from being proactive!

        Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go wash my mouth out with something. Just writing that sarcastically was…unpleasant.

      2. Oakwood*

        But they don’t know the person with a chronic illness that requires expensive medicine on a regular basis.

    4. Chapeau*

      I had a friend who worked at a company that was based in the UK, and was self-insured in the U.S. Friend was horrified when they had a company-wide meeting for U.S. staff at open enrollment time that called out, without naming names but conditions, three people who had cost significant money. The company was very proud of itself for not increasing health insurance costs for the next year despite these “unusually high costs.”
      These were:
      1) the person with a complicated birth (triplets who came a bit early, were small, spent extra time in the hospital; not unusual complications for multiple birth. Oh, and one of only 3 people who had a baby in the company’s US offices at all that year)
      2) the person with a heart issue (and it was a doozy. Massive heart attack that led to him falling down a flight of stairs and breaking his hip(?)/something that led to multiple surgeries and not just the bypass surgery/stent implantation)
      3) cancer treatment. (many people at friend’s office knew this one because they had organized co-workers to provide meals and sometimes drive him to/from treatment)
      Friend said the employees were basically recognized before the presenter had flipped to the next slide of the presentation. But the company didn’t name names, so “it was okay.”
      Friend switched to her hubby’s health insurance immediately and found a new job in less than 6 months.
      I might have stayed and scheduled ALL of the tests my doctor had ever even mentioned in passing, encouraged co-workers to do the same, then all quit before open enrollment the next year.

      1. pancakes*

        That is terrible! Ridiculously terrible! I’m so glad your friend was able to get away.

  42. Andri Byrne*

    For #3, we do this a lot in a corporate setting. The people we work with are extremely busy and often read emails on their phone – breaking information into small chunks makes it easier for them to digest.

    I’ve also learned that if I put two questions or tasks in a single line/paragraph only one of them will get done. The visual separation helps the client understand they have multiple things to respond to.

    1. Sunshine*

      Totally agree. I love a good paragraph, but have started doing this as well because otherwise, no one reads my emails!

  43. Fluff*

    OP #1 – One thing about HIPAA is that it applies to “Covered entities” and their “Business associates.” Many mobile apps are NOT protected, just like fitness apps and other direct to consumer products.

    To add to the confusion is the medical record apps which are covered by HIPAA such as the patient versions of their own chart developed by that electronic medical record vendor. These are usually related to your hospital and medical group though.

    Basically, if you “voluntarily” give your medical information away to most ‘not-your-doctor-or-hospital’ groups, it is free to be used, sold, manipulated. Even HIPAA is not fool proof because de-identified data is sold by the virtual truckload. Please be very picky about who you share that medical information with: the harmless seeming survey in the fitness app about all your meds? Not so harmless. Companies can compile that data and figure stuff out in ways we do not even imagine. Remember a few years ago how target figured out which customers were pregnant based on buying patterns and sent them ads about babies before they ever told anyone? Target only had access to over the counter buying habits, regular purchases, age, sex, demographics and not actual medical data (no prescription data).

    I would opt out. If required ($100 is a big carrot to folks), do what folks have recommended: use an old phone you leave laying around. If you must share one thing, plop in acetaminophen and a date for some generic test on a day you make up (“lab test”).

    Here is a great run down on HIPAA from a privacy perspective. It is not what you think.,paid%20to%20provide%20health%20care.

  44. cmdrspacebabe*

    On email formatting: I worked with a student once who discovered Outlook’s terrible image templates for emails, and started adding clip-art backgrounds and borders to everything she sent. As a side effect, this breaks the formatting for the rest of the email chain and makes any replies unreadable. When we explained this and asked her to stop, she called us “haters”. (:

    1. Nanani*

      To be fair, a lot of people went through that exact same learning curve.
      Us dinosaurs just did it all at the same time when those features were new.

    1. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

      This is probably true but it horrifies me, because unlinking concepts that should be linked by putting them in separate lines promotes a different type of incomprehension.

      1. quill*

        I usually format with a short paragraph for background information. Such as Waukeen asked for teapot spout pour rates but from the teapot manufacturing division I need the following:

        – Teapot specs including spout diameter and length,
        – Teapot inspection certificates for Batch T
        – The date that Batch T was manufactured.

  45. Purple Cat*

    LW5 I feel you.
    I see “dynamic, go-getter”, “driven”, and I don’t know what else and I just want to vomit.
    I work hard and I’m good at my job, but I need to dial it back a notch and not feel like I’m going from the frying pan to the fire.
    I don’t know how a company would word “looking for solid-performer”.
    (And LW 3 would HATE this comment).

  46. pcake*

    OP1 – You can look up the app online, including on their website. See if they offer an affiliate program to companies to have their employees sign up. I can think of several ways the app – and through them, the company you work for – could get paid.

    I agree with the first commented, btw – if a measly $100 is the highest bonus you’ve ever gotten, it’s past time to read the resume section here on AskAManager, freshen up your resume, and start applying to other jobs.

  47. HR Ninja*

    OP#3: I had an old boss who had a very short attention span. Like, Finding Dory short. He even said that any info written in an e-mail that was more than three sentences in a paragraph, he just couldn’t process it. If it was broken down into smaller bits of information, he had a much easier time reading it.

    Just a thought.

  48. Oryx*

    Re: #3, Years ago I had a manager comment that I tend to overwrite my emails and he didn’t have time to read all of that (some people would see that as rude, but he was our president and a busy dude so I appreciate the transparancy).

    After that, I started bulleting or doing what Leah does. Not necessarily every sentence, but I keep things to short lines with breaks in between. I haven’t worked there in almost 10 years, but I still stick to it because I have found other managers I have had since also appreciate that style.

    1. Dinwar*

      Same thing happened to me. The Big Boss didn’t comment, but my mentor pulled me aside and said that my emails were way too long, and the Big Boss didn’t have time to read them.

      The thing is, we work in a highly technical field–we’re a bunch of scientists and engineers, and the issues we deal with aren’t simple. Often there’s a lot of background that folks need to understand in order to understand my questions, and given their comments it’s obvious that the background isn’t there.

      My compromise was to put my question/comment/issue up front, and the background below, with a tag “For reference:” or the like between the two. That way if they just want to answer they have that option, if they want to dig in they have that option. The top part tends to be very brief, either one-line paragraphs or bullets.

      A trend I’m noticing, and which I quite like, is people answering my questions in a different color in the text of my email included in their reply. This allows us to carry on multiple discussions in one email, which is often useful. Plus, as I said elsewhere, it provides context without adding redundancy.

  49. JessicaTate*

    OP#1 – John Oliver’s show just did an episode about data brokers, with a specific segment on how they can compile a very detailed medical profile from non-HIPPA protected sources on the internet (think: searches on WebMD or data collected by other non-HIPPA regulated apps). It’s certainly a reason to ask some questions about this app, data protections, etc. if the app is not directly from your insurer or health system. It seems less likely that your company is monitoring your health. The bonus for sign-ups signals the company is getting something financial (kickback or, more likely, lower premiums), which signals that the app is getting something financial (i.e., likely via selling your data to these data brokers or to insurers to set their pricing to be more profitable). When something is “free”, your data is usually the payment and the thing being re-sold for a profit.

    I’d ask those privacy questions to your company, if it wouldn’t cost you too much political capital. And in all cases, no way would I sign up or download.

      1. JessicaTate*

        Whoops! Not the feminine version of Hippo, huh? Clearly not my area of expertise. Thanks.

  50. NeedRain47*

    My former employer *required* us to participate in a bunch of sketchy health tracking things including a weight loss program that basically teaches disordered eating, or else pay $400/year more if we didn’t. Don’t do it, it’s not worth it.

  51. CatMouse*

    #1 Also read through the Terms of Service on that app thoroughly. Maybe the company just gets financial incentive for getting signups, but the app sells your data to thrid parties. Also be wary of data stored out of country!

    1. pancakes*

      The ToS for the app are not going to spell out the contractual relationship between the app company and the letter writer’s employer.

      1. Cat Mouse*

        No, but it might reveal other shady practices, especially if it reveals that data will be sold to 3rd parties. That would be a good indicator that the business would likely be getting info they shouldn’t

  52. Brain the Brian*

    Re OP5 and Alison’s link to an older post: I work in an office where 95% of things are excruciatingly slow-paced, but that 5% needs to happen RIGHT NOW IN THE NEXT HOUR OR THE WORLD WILL COME TO AN END. And that 5% falls on my two-person team about 75% of the time. So. Yeah. Whee.

  53. Texan In Exile*

    LW 1: Don’t do it. At my old job, BC MI required us to complete a health assessment questionnaire – that they assured us was confidential – to get the discounted premiums. I either lied or didn’t answer the questions – I did what I needed to do to get the discount.

    My boss answered honestly, including that he smokes the occasional cigar.

    He was peppered with emails from BC about smoking cessation sessions.

    Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Don’t do it.

    And if you do do it for the money (which I totally get), then lie lie lie.

  54. irene adler*

    For #5: is it worthwhile asking the interviewer to quantitate “fast paced” or other similar terms?

    I work at a small company (<20 people) and I know fast paced. It's getting entire product out the door in 3 days flat. It's keeping lab testing and paperwork moving along the process without incurring any idle time (yeah, coming in on the weekend or staying late is reality at times) and making sure not to hinder the manufacturing department in any way. I cannot -and do not- let anything get in the way of getting the product out the door.

    So when the interviewer gives me the "we're fast-paced" comment they go into how they've got bureaucracy that encumbers things. Not sure how to respond to such a comment. Quantitate please?

  55. quill*

    OP 1: 100% the company gets some sort of financial benefit from people signing up for the app. If you have to pay to install the app, it’s pretty clear what the financial incentive might be, but if it’s free? Color me even more suspicious. What can an app be making that’s worth the $100 per employee? It’s sketchy AF.

  56. RagingADHD*

    #1 Wellness apps tied to employer health insurance have become very common in the last few years, and the concept of insurance-sponsored wellness initiatives that give discounts or incentives for participation has been around for what, 15 years at least? The app is just the smartphone version of the same type of program.

    If this is your first time seeing one, I suppose it might seem odd but I’m really rather surprised at how many people’s minds are blown by this, like it’s some fly-by-night thing that came out of nowhere.

    Like it or don’t like it is one thing, but it is by no means new or unusual.

    1. Becky*

      But OP says “It isn’t connected to any one provider network” which means there is a chance it is third-party and NOT connected to the health insurance company.

    2. pancakes*

      It doesn’t need to be new or unusual tech for people to have varying views on whether selling this particular data to one’s employer for $100 seems advisable or fair.

  57. SebbyGrrl*

    OP 3,
    Agree it seems weird and many people structure email or their email style for a broad audience of varied learning/reading styles.

    I keep paragraphs to 3 sentences/3 lines if I can help it.

    This can help move the reader’s eye almost like bullet points.

    I do this to make the information as easy as possible for readers to digest the information.

    Her style is different but might work great in the setting despite being odd to your eye.

  58. High Industry Demand Privilege*

    OP #5: I’m glad to know this isn’t always the case, but from my experience in the software industry “fast paced” = “micromanagy and disorganized” 100% of the time. I don’t apply to jobs with this description.

  59. Artichokes for all*

    #1–This reminds me so much of The Very Nice Box by Eve Gleichman and Laura Blackett! The narrator is pressured into using a mental health app by her employer with super creepy consequences. Strong recommend. (The book, not the app!)

  60. Anony445*

    #3 I’m guilty of this.
    I do it bc it’s easier for people to read.
    Especially if my points are only two sentences.
    It makes sense to put it on separate lines.

  61. Bill and Heather's Excellent Adventure*

    LW3, if Leah’s sending out these weirdly formatted messages to outside guests, that *might* be an issue. You could mention this to the person who’s in charge of your group, emphasising you’re worried about the impression it makes, and see how they react. If they agree that Leah’s email formatting comes across as weird/unprofessional, you can ask if it’s possible to get her to change it; but if they don’t see a problem with the formatting, you’ll just have to take a step back and let it go.

  62. Content Creator*

    OP #3… I like to call this “LinkedIn Poetry.”
    Writing like this is very common on LinkedIn.
    I don’t really know why.
    Maybe people think it makes posts more “punchy.”
    It doesn’t.
    Other people talking about this say it makes short emails easier.
    But people who write like this use it to
    To make line formatting do the work of writing cadence.
    And in the end all you get is a jumbled up word salad of questionable relevance to the supposed moral of their story.
    I hate LinkedIn Poetry.

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