rejected on a video call, meetings on Juneteenth, and more

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

1. Hiring manager set up a video call to reject me

I applied to an internal job at my current company that would be fully remote. I went through the first and second round interviews and felt I did pretty well, but continued to apply to other places. In the meantime, I tried not to get too emotionally attached to this position, but the truth is I really, really wanted this job.

At my organization, the hiring process is extremely slow. About a month after the second interview, I followed up with the recruiter. I was told they would be interviewing one more person within the next week and to hold tight.

Fast forward to that next week and I received a video meeting invite from the hiring manager. The meeting was titled “quick touch-base” with no agenda attached and was scheduled for 15 minutes at the very end of a long day. Since I had no idea what to expect, I dressed in a full suit, made sure my hair and makeup were on point, and reviewed the job description, my resume, and cover letter again.

When we got on camera, the hiring manager said they had some disappointing news. They moved forward with another candidate. They were very impressed with my skill set and a generic email from HR seemed too impersonal, so they wanted to tell me personally and directly.

I sat there semi-dumbfounded in a full suit feeling like an idiot with little to say. It felt extremely awkward. I had no room to emote in that moment and no time to process. I kept a smile plastered on my face and just said, “Thanks for the opportunity, if you ever have a position that matches, please reach out to me.”

It was bizarre and made the rejection that much more painful. I was sort of shocked that someone would schedule a video call to tell me this. I’m not sure if this is a new standard, but instead of feeling kind, it felt very cruel. I went through the trouble of getting myself together for a video chat that ended up being maybe five minutes long. I understand not wanting to come across as impersonal, but it made me feel put on the spot.

Hiring managers, if you plan to reject someone, sometimes an email really is the best way to go about it. I would have even accepted a call over being forced to be on video to receive the not-so-great news. At least I wouldn’t have had to feel the need to prep and get myself ready for something that wasn’t going to happen.

Yes, this is a terrible idea. Calling people with a job rejection is usually the wrong move too, for many of the same reasons: the person gets their hopes up, then has to process and react to disappointing news on the spot. Doing it on video has all the same faults, plus more — now you have to control your face, not just your words, and you’ve dressed up for it too.

If a hiring manager wants to make a rejection feel less impersonal, they can do it by sharing the news in an email initially and then offering a call if the person wants it — not by blindsiding someone with the news in real time, and definitely not on camera.

2. A meeting scheduled on Juneteenth

My company recognizes and observes Juneteenth. I think this is super cool. This year, because Juneteenth falls on a Sunday, the office is closed on Monday, June 20th. We have a paid day off.

I’ve been invited to a meeting on the 20th. The meeting is with an organization that really values DEI in their work (as do I). I sit on their advisory board and this meeting is related to my service on the advisory board. I consider being part of the advisory board to be part of my “work.” The organizer has reached out to collect RSVPs. I drafted an email saying I wouldn’t be able to attend because my office is closed that day, but I have yet to hit “send” because I feel a little weird about it.

Here’s why:
• I have the day off, so I should take the day off, right? I am being paid because I am a salaried, exempt employee and it’s a recognized holiday at my organization. I struggle enough with work-life balance without actively choosing to work on days off. I DO have the option of flexing the time and cutting out early later in the week.
• But attending this meeting where we will no doubt talk about DEI seems like a valuable way to spend my Juneteenth!
• But, if I decline and tell them why, perhaps that will prompt this organization to follow suit and observe Juneteenth in the future and that would be cool, right? I don’t actually know of any other organizations that recognize and observe Juneteenth, so perhaps my org is ahead of the curve on this and this would help with the spread? It’s even early enough that perhaps that can reconsider the date of the meeting and reschedule it for this year.

My organization makes a lot of decisions that don’t support their DEI goals (for example, not posting salaries in job descriptions), but they are actively working on a DEI initiative so I expect to see changes. The culture at my organization is really positive and supportive. I live in a largely white state that has a lot of work to do (starting with first recognizing they have work to do). I will likely attend an event on Juneteenth to recognize the day.

I am white and I’d really like to do the most thoughtful and helpful thing in this situation.

Why not point out that it’s the federal holiday for Juneteenth and ask them to reschedule the meeting? (They may not be thinking about Juneteenth at all, and/or they may not realize it became a federal holiday last year and is being observed on the 20th this year since the day falls on a weekend.)

You don’t have to say you won’t attend if they don’t, but just as you might point out that a meeting was scheduled for Yom Kippur even if you weren’t Jewish, it’s a useful thing to flag and suggest they change.

If they don’t change it, then it’s up to you to decide whether or not you want to attend a meeting that day — but flagging it as early as you can and suggesting they pick another date sounds like the most useful thing you could do.

3. Setting boundaries with student workers as a new manager

I am writing as a recent graduate from a master’s program who just landed a job in the field I got the degree for. It is at a university library, the same library I worked at as a grad student in one of the student assistant positions. Part of my new position is to manage the grad student assistants (five total), all of whom are students in the program I just graduated from.

I am asking for tips to make myself more authoritative and to assert the supervisor/student boundary. I believe part of the issue is that I am very close in age to the students (only a year or so older). I also used to work with a couple of them as a student, although this will change after they graduate this year. They see me as more of a peer than a supervisor.

I was recently pulled into a conversation with one of the student workers that I believe was inappropriate, considering our relationship. What started as me asking about how their degree was going turned into them being highly critical of the university, the master’s program, as well as specific professors that we had shared. Not the type of conversation you should ever be having with your boss. When I saw the conversation taking an unprofessional turn, I tried to head it off, but the student did not take the hint and kept going until I eventually excused myself from the conversation.

Since then, I have tried thinking of possible responses or strategies to more quickly shut down a conversation if it ever heads that way again, as well as ways to bring up the issue with the student directly if it ends up persisting. Advice regarding both would be really appreciated.

Depending on the specifics of the complaints, you could try this: “As your boss, this isn’t a conversation we should have, but if you do want to talk to someone about these issues, you could speak with ____.” Or, “I’m sorry you’re having frustrations — as your manager, I’m not the right audience for this but you could try ___.” Or, “That sounds really frustrating (or alarming/concerning/whatever is appropriate). Can I put you in touch with ____ to see if they can help?”

That said, it’s not inherently inappropriate for a student worker to share criticisms about the school with you, although it depends on the specifics of the complaints and whether they’re just venting or not. Either way, though, the responses above should help since (a) if the complaints are legit, you’ll be steering them toward an appropriate resource, and (b) if it’s really just venting, by taking it seriously and directing them elsewhere you’ll still be communicating the boundaries on your role and the relationship.

Other stuff that might help with establishing authority:

how I can be more authoritative now that I’m a manager?

how to appear more authoritative at work

4. Putting psychometric test results on a resume

What are your thoughts on the Clifton Strengths Finder? Should it be referenced in a resume or cover letter, or mentioned in an interview? Or just used to incorporate better language when discussing skills and accomplishments?

Don’t reference it in your resume or cover letter; that would be putting an unwarranted amount of emphasis on something that a lot of the people reading your resume will be unfamiliar with or just don’t find particularly valuable. It’s also more subjective than is helpful in this context, similar to putting “self-starter” or “good writer” on your resume — hiring managers want to see what you’ve done with your traits (actual accomplishments), not the traits themselves.

Those types of assessments can be useful in helping you understand your own strengths and way of working, but they shouldn’t go on a resume or in a cover letter.

5. Leaving my job while I’m covering for my boss

I am a deputy director of a small team within a larger institution. I have risen steadily through the ranks over the last few years and now find myself second in command. My boss is going to be on extended leave for several months, and every expectation is I will take the reins of the team and lead it through my boss’s absence. It is notable that the absence will include a critical time for the organization, including the potential for major upheaval and job loss if things don’t go our team’s way. I have gotten a little preview of what things will be like as my boss has been out for two weeks and it has been incredibly stressful doing two jobs.

Against this background I have had a potential job opportunity come up in another very prestigious institution. I did not apply for this job, but was contacted for it. There are still a lot of things to work through before I have an offer or accept it, including whether my salary requirements will be met. But I think I will likely be put in the position of making a choice. My job and boss have been good to me, but I have also worked very hard to get where I am. I know in the past I have let feelings of loyalty keep me from taking other opportunities, but I feel very lost about how I should evaluate and decide whether to stay or not. My spouse says my organization needs to be bigger than me, and no doubt they will get on without me somehow. I just worry about disappointing people and knowing what is right for me. I am also a WOC in a white, male-dominated field and I deal with impostor syndrome all the time. Where do I start?

If you end up wanting the other job, you should take the other job. If you’re good at your work, people will always be disappointed when you leave, but that can’t affect your decision or you’d never be able to leave at all. And yes, this will be a particularly inconvenient time for you to leave, but it’s not reasonable for your employer to expect you to put your career on hold for their convenience … and if they do want that, they have the option of negotiating that with you and paying you accordingly, like with a written, contractual retention bonus.

You can frame it as “this fell in my lap and it’s not something I can pass up.”

All that said, if it’s just a matter of pushing back the start date at the new job by a month or so, you could ask if the new employer would be open to that so you can finish out the leave coverage. The more senior you get, the easier it often is to do that, and the more common a request it is.

{ 330 comments… read them below }

  1. Shakti*

    For letter 1 my husband’s job does this for internal positions and it’s incredibly stressful. You never know if you’ve gotten the job or not, but you have to be prepared for the video chat and it’s pretty horrible. It’s especially tough when they can see the scheduled calls back to back and they just don’t know if it’s going to be good news or bad news. It’s not a good system and leads to a lot of anxious speculation

    1. Gator*

      My work does this and I have been the hiring manager who has to tell them and I hate it! Pre pandemic for internal roles it was expected to be face to face in a meeting room, on another floor, now it is video call or phone call and email rejections are not considered OK. I have also had to receive the news but assumed this is how it has to be done so didn’t realise how everyone doesn’t like it! I’m sharing this with my leadership team to see if we can change the approach to email with follow up options as also think its important to provide feedback

      1. Chria*

        It’s great that they want the personal connection, but they need to recognize that most people won’t be at their best after a rejection. If they want to make sure that the offer for feedback doesn’t seem perfunctory, send the email with a proposed meeting time within the next 2-3 days. That way they know you’re serious about wanting to meet with them and the onus isn’t on them to reach out to you.

    2. L.H. Puttgrass*

      This sounds to me like a well-meaning policy for the office gone very wrong when applied to remote work. Opinions differ on being called into a manager’s office to get a rejection, but at least in that case it’s not scheduled in advance and you don’t have to dress up for it. And there will probably be non-verbal cues about what’s about to happen: “Can I talk to you for a moment?” in a neutral or somber tone is going to signal something different than the same thing said in a cheerful tone.

      That all changes with video calls. They’re usually scheduled in advance, giving the applicant time to think and stew (or hope). As LW1 mentioned, some people might dress up for the call, then feel really horrible that they went to all that effort for a rejection. And not only are there no non-verbal cues, it’s really hard to convey any verbal cues in a meeting invite that will prepare the applicant without also telling them the outcome.

      Maybe the companies where this is required would be receptive to an argument that this is something that needs to be adjusted for remote work?

    3. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      I was rejected in person for an internal job and once over the phone. Both suck. And neither gave me what I really want to know when I’m rejected in the final round…why and what I can do to improve my chances in the future. That’s what I want to know. If you’re not going to offer anything constructive, then just send the email. And send the rejection email anyway, and then offer to meet IF the candidate wants to get some constructive feedback.

      1. alienor*

        I’ve been rejected in person, and when I asked what I could do in the future, my manager said “That’s a great question! I guess I’ll know it when I see it,” which annoyed me much more than the actual rejection did. I think an email would’ve been better for both of us in that situation.

          1. Cmdrshpard*

            I don’t know that it is necessarily bull, sometimes there really isn’t anything you can do better, you were a great candidate and they would have been happy to have you in the job, but another candidate has maybe just a tad more experience in field x. The requirement was 3 years experience in field x, they really hoped for 5 years, you came in with 6 years of experience, but another person almost identical resume but they had 7 years of experience in field x.

            Sorry misnested the first post.

            1. WantonSeedStitch*

              Yeah, but in that case, the boss should be able to say exactly that: “you’re a great candidate, but experience in the field was a really important point for us in this position, and the person we chose had more.”

              1. Gothic Bee*

                Exactly. I mean if they’ve seriously considered you for the job and decided to go with someone else, they should be able to articulate why. Whether it’s because you have a few areas you could improve in or because you were great but another candidate was better. “I’ll know it when I see it” gives you no information and nothing to work towards. Plus I have way less confidence that the kind of person who says “I’ll know it when I see it” isn’t letting their personal biases come into play than if they were able to articulate a reason for why they don’t hire you.

            2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

              Then they should just say that. At least it could give some useful information – you’re a competitive candidate and will become more so with time if you keep going as you are. Of course, this is assuming that amount of experience is the real reason, not just an excuse to avoid talking about other factors.

              “I guess I’ll know it when I see it” really comes off as though they just picked the candidate they personally liked the most.

              1. All the words*

                “I guess I’ll know it when I see it” would say to me “I don’t think you’re promotable and I have no intention of helping you *become* promotable.”

                1. SixTigers*

                  Or, “Well, y’know, you’re just not the kind of person we’re looking for — we’re looking for a tall Caucasian male, and you’re not that, and that’s . . . all I can tell you.”

                  “I’ll know it when I see it” screams, “You don’t fit my preconceptions of what’s promotable because you don’t look/act like me.”

              2. Cmdrshpard*

                Not that people don’t do that, but to me it came off as you were a great candidate you don’t have anything you need to improve but someone else was just a bit better. As Alison has said in the past not being hired does mean you are terrible, sometimes the choice comes down to two or three really great candidates that a company would be equally happy to have but there is only one position. Maybe since both candidates were equally great they chose the person that seemed a bit more likeable/personable, not that the other person was not likeable/personable. But I wouldn’t think that is something a person can really work on at that point, yes if you are bad at interviewing and come off not likeable you can work on it.

            3. Jora Malli*

              As others have said, that’s still actual information and not “I’ll know it when I see it.” If you’re told that the chosen candidate has more experience in X than you, you can start working to gain experience in X so you’ll be ready the next time a position opens. “I’ll know it when I see it” is nothing. It’s a garbage statement made by a lazy manager who isn’t willing to help you progress.

              1. Cmdrshpard*

                I agree the manager could have given more info if they had it, but sometimes people may not have it. I know it is not quite the same but sometimes if I am asked to judge between two things I can say I like B slightly more over A, but when asked why I can’t explain why it is, I just know that I like B a bit more.

                The experience is not an absolute, the feed back isn’t get more experience or have Y years experience in X, the feedback would be “be the candidate with the MOST experience in X” that is not something that you can really work on, because you never know how much experience your competition will have.

        1. Lena*

          When I was rejected in person, she told me that asking that was a sign that I wasn’t ready, because I should have known what was required for the position….It was so rude!

        1. Umiel12*

          I have come to agree with that. I used to firmly believe that people who were interviewed were owed a phone call to tell them the outcome. I made several grueling phone calls to disappointed people. I usually didn’t know what to say, and I could tell they just wanted me to hang up as quickly as possible. I generally felt the same way when I would get those calls. I still think people deserve to hear something one way or the other, but reading this column has helped me accept that an email is much better than a phone call.
          The only time I still expect to be personally told is when I am interviewing for a position with my own boss or someone I know very well. It’s still awkward, but it would also be weird to just get an email from my own boss when we talk regularly.

      2. SheLooksFamiliar*

        ‘…offer to meet IF the candidate wants to get some constructive feedback.’

        This is exactly what I’ve advised my hiring managers to do with internal candidates, and it makes a difference for the candidate. Unfortunately, some of them had the notion that rejection not only must be done in person, but it must also include lots of detail. After all, part of the internal interview process is about ‘developing internal talent’, they said, so the candidate NEEDS to hear any and everything they did wrong, or not quite right. Grrrr.

      3. Anya Last Nerve*

        As a hiring manager, my reluctance to this would be candidates who use this as an opportunity to argue that the hiring manager was wrong in rejecting them. I think we’ve all experienced giving constructive feedback (“you brush the llamas too quickly and their fur isn’t as shiny as we would like as a result”) only to hear a rebuttal (“no I don’t! I brush them at a perfect speed and everyone thinks my llamas have the shiniest fur!”). With an internal candidate, that is much more difficult to deal with.

        1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

          I’m sure the reason 99% of the rejections sent are just templates from a “do not reply” email address is to avoid what you’re talking about. I’m sure theres some horror stories of people who just can’t take no for an answer. I’d much prefer just an email rejection but if you’re actually going to speak to the candidate to do the rejection, at least have something to offer other than “we chose someone else”, or it’s just a massive burden on the candidate to remain professional and it is wasting both sides time. I person would never want a phone/video/in person rejection ever again.

          1. Zephy*

            There are horror stories like that on this very website, right now – a few of them, even.

            But yeah, it’s a courtesy to deliver bad news in a way where the recipient doesn’t have to manage their reaction in real time.

        2. Office Lobster DJ*

          I’m sure candidates done exactly that, and it would make for a tense conversation, but I still think it’s better to make the offer to show that you support their growth and value them as an employee. End the meeting if it takes a bad enough turn, having learned more about the candidate.

      4. Abogado Avocado*

        LW#1: I’m sorry you were rejected on this video call and I agree with you that a video call to reject a job candidate is lousy. OTOH, it sounds as if you were extremely professional when you got the bad news, especially when you had the presence of mind to say that you hoped they’d keep you in mind for future positions like this one. That’s really great. That, and the fact that you dressed professionally and, basically, put effort into this meeting will not be lost on the hiring manager. As disappointed as you are, I hope you will give yourself props for handling the rejection very well. I really suspect the hiring manager is going to remember you and that you’ll be high on their list the next time there’s an opening that’s right for you.

    4. Kate*

      LW2, I think your best course of action is obvious if you look at it from the perspective of someone who has traditionally celebrated Juneteenth. Attending a meeting about DEI might seem like a good observance to you (or me, a fellow white person) but establishing norms that it’s OK to work on the Juneteenth holiday is going to end up harming communities who would like to celebrate that holiday with family and friends, not by being at work. A polite heads -up about the schedule is the right thing to do.

      1. Properlike*

        This. You showing up to the meeting, while well-intentioned, means other people may then be expected to show up for a meeting in which it’s discussed why there should’t be a meeting on this day.

        And if they schedule it anyway, don’t be there! Take the day off with pay, as you would for a meeting scheduled on Memorial Day.

        We actually did have someone try to schedule a meeting on a late Friday of the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, but so many people said “nope” that they had to reschedule it. Be the Nope in your allyship on this topic.

    5. Springtime*

      Replying here just to stay with the subject.

      I’ve been rejected at least three times for internal positions, and it’s always been an in-person meeting. (I wasn’t working remotely at any of the times.) It always sucks to get rejected, and I understand why a scheduled call adds to the anxiety.

      However, now that I’m a hiring manager, I still see a good reason to give the rejection in person or on a video call, which is that person you’re not hiring is still part of the organization and has access. You want to be able to make sure the person thoroughly understands (that they’re not getting the job–as we’ve seen here, a few people have the ability to wildly ignore anything they don’t want to hear) and that their feelings, while naturally bad ones, aren’t veering toward anything malicious or dangerous. You want to make sure they’re still going to be able to work with the person you did hire. It sucks for everyone, but being an avoidant manager sucks for everyone all the time.

      I get why the specially-scheduled meeting makes it harder…but I also think that remote workers who want remote work and the flexibility that comes with no spur-of-the-moment meetings should think of it as a downside overshadowed by the benefits of remote work. Otherwise, it fuels the “everyone must be in the office or at the very least available at any moment during the work day” point of view.

      1. Jora Malli*

        I hope you’ll read through these comments and understand why the people you’re rejecting for these jobs may not appreciate the in-person rejection the way you think they will/want them to. I’m job searching right now and my last rejection email caused some tears of frustration. I’d have been mortified if that had happened at in in person or video chat meeting with the hiring manager.

        If you want to convey that you value the internal applicant who is being rejected for the position, you can write a personalized email instead of using a form letter in which you mention their specific accomplishments and contributions, and invite them to a face to face in a few days where you can answer their questions and/or give them constructive feedback on how to improve for next time. But please don’t force your valued employees to sit across the desk from you trying not to cry in front of their boss. It’s demeaning.

      2. CantBearToUseName*

        As a frequent hiring manager I appreciate what you’re trying to get, but I’d doubt you’re getting real insight into how rejected person is going to continue, how they’ll move forward, and whether they’ll be malicious (that seems extreme) in a spur of the moment in person rejection. Those are all things you’d either observe over time or talk about after they have time to process the situation. Unless there’s a history at your organization of people reacting very badly to not getting internal jobs this doesn’t seem to meet your need but is probably annoying and demotivating your people who get rejected and then need to reassure you that they continue doing their current job.

      3. Spencer Hastings*

        Yeah, I think it also depends on the size of the organization. My company is small, so the person who’d be informing me that I [am / am not] getting a promotion or new role would probably be someone I work with all the time anyway. In a bigger company, you might be applying for a role that’s technically internal but in some other division, and the hiring manager might be someone you’ve only ever talked to in connection with that role. It would be pretty weird if my department head, or whoever, pretended our normal working relationship didn’t exist, just to inform me formally of that outcome.

    6. Aggresuko*

      I’ll never forget my temp coworker applying for a job here and not only finding out in the preceding meeting she wasn’t getting the job because BigBoss talked about getting her computer back, THEN she had to sit through a video call and be lectured about how she didn’t get the job because she didn’t have a college degree. She ended up crying.

      Happy ending for her, she got another job a week later. But jeebus christ, management was HORRIBLE to her. HORRIBLE.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      Yes, please don’t do this, employers. I got rejected via email for a job I really wanted on Monday, and I legit cried. I can’t even imagine how awful it would have been to get all dressed up and excited for a Zoom and then bawl in front of the hiring manager on camera.

      1. TrainerGirl*

        This happened to me about a month ago, and it was so strange. The recruiter had this super perky tone and expression that seemed so inappropriate…like, why are you smiling so hard when you’re telling me I didn’t get the job? I’m not sure why companies think this is a good thing.

    8. LittleMarshmallow*

      It’s pretty common at my company also to do the rejections for internal applicants in person. I don’t care for it but I’ve been rejected for so many internal positions that it really doesn’t even phase me anymore. Some of those positions I was very much hoping to get also. I would say it’s a bad practice though. I prefer an email with option to connect on feedback if I want to. Whether or not I want feedback depends heavily on the specific hiring manager and whether the interview was a formality and they’d already chosen their candidate (by us it’s usually pretty obvious when that happens). If it was that then I don’t need to hear a made up reason about how it was “really close and if I just had had x experience I would’ve totally gotten it”… the reason was that I wasn’t the other person. There was likely nothing I could’ve done better to fix that.

  2. BonzaSonza*

    I’ve never heard of Juneteenth before, but I imagine the situation would be the same for any other meeting scheduled on a public holiday.

    I second Alison’s advice to email the organiser and say you’d love to attend but it’s a public holiday. They may appreciate the notice, particularly if other people have declined without explanation.

    1. WonderWoman*

      Juneteeth was made a US federal holiday in 2021 (without much advance notice) so arguably this is the first year that companies are addressing the holiday on their official calendars.

    2. Eyes Kiwami*

      Yes, and the fact that it’s a public holiday actually solves OP’s concern that “attending this meeting where we will no doubt talk about DEI seems like a valuable way to spend my Juneteenth!” There are many holidays where we don’t work and instead celebrate the holiday, and incorporate the theme into our work around that season. Just because your work has a meeting on the topic of a holiday doesn’t mean you have to work on that holiday. You don’t have to schedule a veteran’s outreach meeting on Veterans Day or a yearly goal review for New Years Day.

    3. Yeah, nah*

      “I’ve never heard of Juneteenth before”

      There was literally no reason to include this.

      1. PoisonIvy*

        They might not be from the US and therefore not aware of every US public holiday?

      2. GammaGirl1908*

        The spelling of “organiser” leads me to believe BonzaSonza is not in the US. This likely was a totally innocuous statement.

      3. BubbleTea*

        The reason was as context, in case there was an obvious reason why it was NOT like all other public holidays, I would imagine. I hadn’t heard of Juneteenth until last year when I saw Twitter comments about it becoming a US holiday.

        I wouldn’t snark at you for saying you didn’t know what I meant when I referred to my discomfort with the fact the Whitsun holiday has been moved this year. Don’t snark at people for not knowing your country’s complex public-holiday-related social issues.

        1. UKDancer*

          I am also displeased with the fact the Whitsun holiday has been moved. I did in fact manage to book a key meeting during the jubilee bank holiday because it hadn’t registered with me that the dates had been changed. I only noticed when 2 of the people I was intending to meet pointed out to me that the bank holiday dates had changed.

          I also was not much aware of Juneteenth. I saw something on social media last year but wouldn’t have known when it was. I think if something is new or different people don’t always remember when it is. I mean I’ve been known to forget which Monday is Easter Monday (because it moves) and that’s been a public holiday in the UK for as long as I’ve been alive.

          I think the best thing to do is to just remind the organiser that this is a public holiday and suggest they might want to move it.

          1. londonedit*

            Yep, we’ve done a lot of ‘Does Thursday 2nd work for you? Oh wait, hang on, that’s one of the Jubilee holidays so no…’ this year. It’s thrown everyone off! Very strange not having the last Monday of May as a bank holiday. I can’t see any problem with the OP saying ‘Our office is closed for the Juneteenth holiday on the 20th so unfortunately I won’t be able to attend’. I’d never be expected to go to a meeting on a public holiday – the office is closed, you’re not working. Seeing as Juneteenth is a new holiday (I also hadn’t heard of it until recently because it’s not something we observe in the UK, much like Boxing Day is not a public holiday in the US) I can understand that not everyone would have the date in mind, so it also might be helpful for the company organising the meeting to be reminded that many offices are observing it as a holiday.

        2. Chilipepper Attitude*

          Instead of commenting that I don’t know what Whitsun is, I’m going to use google to look it up.

          Juneteenth is a celebration of emancipation in the US. One common microaggression is white Americans expecting Black Americans to do much of the labor educating white people about issues surrounding people of color and equality. So the comment that you never heard of the holiday may have landed poorly in that context.

          1. BethDH*

            This is a fair point about the context of weaponized ignorance and who does the labor, but I do want to push back on assuming google will give you the answers you need to address the larger picture including workplace sensitivity and whether you can treat it like you would another federal holiday in terms of meetings.

            1. Dr. Rebecca*

              I mean, a federal holiday is a federal holiday; there’s no gradations to how they’re treated. I just had to adjust my summer syllabus because the school is closed on the 20th for Juneteenth. If the organization is closed, then it’s closed, no meetings.

              1. After 33 years ...*

                This coming Monday (23 May) is a federal holiday for almost everyone in Canada – but not for us, it’s a regular university teaching day. That does tend to confuse many people outside (and inside) our school.
                Some of us have been pushing to a) change the name and b) give us formal time off, but unsuccessfully to date.

              2. RussianInTexas*

                There absolutely are. My company gives me only 5 federal holidays: Independence Day, Christmas Day, New Years Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day. We only get the days that the company “can afford (BS) and that most likely our customers will be off as well.
                We don’t even get paid Memorial Day.
                There is no federal law requiring private employees to give people time off on any statutory holidays, and my state does not add any rules about it either. I guarantee my employers do not know that Juneteenth is, nor do they care.

                1. Brett*

                  Working for an international employer, we now get zero federal holidays off. Christmas, Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, Labor Day. None of those are days off.
                  Instead, everyone gets unspecified holidays that they can use to take off any holiday of their choice. But that means that inevitably there are meetings, etc on those days, just like taking any vacation day.

              3. Nynaeve*

                Sure there is. I work for a Federal Contractor and, while we are paid holiday pay for and ostensibly observe all 11 Federal Holidays (New Year’s, President’s Day, MLK Day, Memorial Day, Juneteenth, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas), we are only closed for 5 of them (Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas), so those are the only ones everyone gets off. Though, in some positions, you are told in advance not to come to work on some of the others so that they don’t have to pay you double time for the day. Some higher up positions also get additional, non-Federal holidays, like the day after Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, off. And there is yearly hand-wringing over whether to observe holidays that fall on the weekend the Friday before or the Monday after, and how to square that with people who are scheduled to work the weekend anyway, etc. It’s a whole mess and assumptions CANNOT be made based solely on the fact that it’s a “Federal Holiday”, and this is the federal government we are talking about.

                1. RussianInTexas*

                  We are mostly salaried and therefore no double time for anything (especially since the company is not actually required by law to celebrate any holidays). We are allowed to either use a PTO or an unpaid day off for Memorial Day or for the Friday after Thanksgiving. Those are the only concessions.

              4. WellRed*

                Of course there are gradations, at least if you don’t work for the government. Old management, I had 10, under new regime 8 (same exact job).

            2. Smithy*

              100% on this one.

              So I am Jewish and work on all Jewish holidays if my office open and have had meeting with other Jews who choose to work. Planning a larger professional event/meeting that falls over a holiday like Yom Kipur and leaving Jewish participants to flag it as a conflict is poor form. However, a holiday like Shavuot, depending on the professional context, I really wouldn’t expect most workplaces to have that familiarity (or level of non-working observance).

              I will also add…I’ve been working in the international context for years, and yet this seems to have been the first year that how Easter was observed in different countries really impacted with my work calendar. It may have just been a fluke for me this year, but it really was like being clueless – and in this case not unaware of Easter – just unaware of which dates were observed by the government in which country.

              For the most part, I and no one I work with is asking anyone to forgo holidays (federal or religious) that they observe. But there are so many variations on a theme. There’s a non-US based conference held over the US’s Memorial Day that I will go to any time I am given the option – whether or not I get a comp day – because for my industry it’s so valuable. Google can show us calendars, but the professional, social and cultural context of holidays is worth conversation and asking (polite) questions.

              1. Smithy*

                For some added context that I intended my post to have but it doesn’t – both Shavuot and Yom Kipur are holidays where you don’t work.

                In non-Orthodox Jewish communities, Shavuot is not widely celebrated as a holiday where you’d take off work/have significant family celebration. But if you just searched online for lists of Jewish holidays where people “don’t work” – that’s one that’s coming up (among others). Figuring out which holidays are ones that are widely celebrated either religiously or with family or both and how that relates to building an inclusive workplace in any given diaspora community could only be achieved via dialogue. Both for the those who are observant as well as when building in greater cultural competency and awareness.

          2. Hygge Hygge Hippo*

            I agree with your point but the context here is that the commenter is likely not American (I’m looking at “organiser” and “public holiday”).

          3. Asenath*

            And it is obvious that many readers and commenters here are not American, and may not know either the day or the American context in which it is celebrated.

            1. Also BIPOC*

              Part of AAM’s rules is to be nice and give one another grace. Given the explanation and context, and with the caveat that I don’t know your demographics, I don’t think it’s appropriate to continue criticizing and tone-policing a Black woman who is (understandably) bristling at a line that may be innocuous but is indistinguishable from a common move in the microaggressions playbook. There is a history here and that history is different from other federal holidays, like a long-standing one celebrating one of America’s famous slave owners. (And impact > intent, microaggressions are microaggressions regardless if it’s the one instance with benign intent because dogwhistles always involve plausible deniability and it’s still death by a thousand cuts.)

              1. BritChikkaa*

                And it’s not appropriate to tell European commenters (some of whom are BIPOC ourselves) that we’re racist for not knowing American holidays.

                US-centrism is hardly anti-racist.

                1. Nameless in Customer Service*

                  It’s a lot more helpful to frame racism as things people do rather than what someone is, at least if one intends to reduce the incidence of doing those things rather than including them in one’s identity. Saying “X that you did was a microaggression” is not the same as saying “you ARE a racist unchangeably forever.”

                  Also, there is a weird pride going on in this thread about not knowing what Juneteenth is which is indeed pretty close to being dismissive of it and what it could possibly mean to anyone.

            2. Sylvan*

              If someone doesn’t know anything about the subject an OP’s asking for advice on, they can just read without commenting. I do it all the time.

          4. Myrin*

            That’s a fair comment in general, except here the commenter didn’t expect anyone to educate them – I’m taking from their comment that they did indeed google it after reading the letter and being unfamliar with the term.

            And sure, they needn’t have included that part at all but I can easily imagine someone thinking “Hm, I feel like what I’m about to comment is sensible but maybe there are implications I’m not aware of since I hadn’t heard of this holiday before. Better put some sort of ‘disclaimer’ there so people know why I might be getting something wrong.”; in fact, I’ve had that exact same thought process before and worded my comment in much the same vein.

            People on this forum – and I don’t mean you in particular but just in general, given how this is a general tendency which often crops up – really need to stop dissecting every comment like they’re doing a literary analysis (and I say that as someone who is literally trained in that so I get the impulse but man, sometimes someone just writes something down in two minutes and doesn’t think about it too much before hitting “submit”).

          5. MBK*

            “This term is new to me” is not the same as “please do extra work to educate me about it.” In the context of the comment, “I had never heard of this holiday before, but I imagine you could just treat it like any other holiday” seems like a perfectly valid sentiment.

            I’m Jewish, but I wouldn’t assume someone who admitted they’d never heard of Tisha B’Av or even Yom Kippur was trying to get me to do any heavy lifting for them. Just that they were acknowledging a gap in their knowledge and experience and going from there.

          6. starfox*

            Even if they googled Juneteenth, it’s still appropriate to mention that they had never heard of it before so their comment might be missing out on some context.

            Not everyone on the internet is American.

    4. NYWeasel*

      I used to feel pressure to make meetings like this but my European colleagues are just super matter of fact about “sorry, bank holiday, won’t be there” for everything. So now I take the same attitude, and I’ve gotten zero pushback on it, plus I keep my holidays, so all in all a win!

      1. amoeba*

        Yeah, it’s really a non-issue here. We’re an international company, so we get a fair amount of “won’t be able to join as that’s a bank holiday here in the Netherlands”. We just shrug and go on without them (or reschedule if it’s too many/crucial attendants).
        This specific situation might be made more complicated by the fact that the holiday isn’t actually *on* Juneteenth but the Monday after? Not sure if that’s a national/common thing or something the company decided individually? In the latter case, it’s not a surprise that others won’t consider it, right?

        1. Irish Teacher*

          Looking from Ireland, I found the whole thing a bit confusing because here, employees are entitled to public holidays off (with pay) (or to double pay or an extra day off in the year in lieu). If the holiday falls on a weekend, the Monday is a holiday by default. So I assumed “federal holiday” meant “most things are shut, except stuff like supermarkets.” Googling, I am getting the impression I may have misinterpreted though and that federal holiday may not mean the same in the US as bank holiday or public holiday here.

          1. mlem*

            The US has two tiers of federal holiday (in practice, not officially). The “big”/common ones tend to be observed by most private companies — Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Fourth of July/Independence Day. These are days when so few people are expected to be available that most businesses just shut down and essential businesses make special arrangements.

            Then there are the less “significant” ones (Dr. Martin Luther King Day, Presidents’ Day, Columbus/Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Juneteenth, Veteran’s Day). They tend to have been established later and/or to be (expected to be) observed by fewer people. Most if not all retail businesses remain open, banks tend to close, and other private businesses are mixed. (My company supports hospitals, so they’ve recently moved to remaining open on these latter days — since hospitals do — and giving us extra PTO to use either on these observed days, or just randomly if we need or choose to work these days.)

          2. Hlao-roo*

            Holidays are confusing in the US because there’s an unofficial distinction between “major” and “minor” holidays. Federal government employees get all federal holidays off, but for non-federal workers holiday schedules are more of an employer-by-employer deal.

            For the “major” holidays (like Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas) most things are shut except for things like supermarkets. For the “minor” holidays (like President’s Day) some offices give their workers a holiday (but not all) and lots of non-office workplaces (stores, restaurants, etc) are open.

            Again, there’s no official distinction between the US holidays, just a more-or-less agreed upon societal understanding. Because Juneteenth is so newly recognized, it exists in an even more nebulous space than the other federal holidays.

        2. Antilles*

          In the US, the most common way of doing it when a federal holiday falls on a Sunday is that it’s observed on the Monday, just as the company is doing it. This is how the federal government handles Sunday holidays and a lot of industries/companies follow that lead. But it’s not universal and there’s plenty of different ways to handle it.

          That said, your simple “it’s X holiday, can’t join” works just fine here in the US too. If your attendance is really that critical, people will reschedule the meeting away from the holiday; otherwise, you just catch up when you’re back in office the next day.

    5. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      I think the fact that this is a DEI-specific meeting matters. Having that on Juneteenth is thoughtless, in a way that having a meeting to discuss the new llama initiative or changes to health care benefits wouldn’t be.

      1. Buzzybeeworld*

        There has been a lot of conversation about how white people should approach Juneteenth. Certainly them turning it into a day for beach parties and bbqs without consideration for why the day exists would be yet another case of white folks taking what’s important to Black folks/Black culture and co-opting it. Therefore, some white people have suggested that Juneteenth be a day of service for white people, rather than a day off. Doing DEI work might fit in that.

        Of course all-white DEI work has its own set of problems.

  3. The Original Stellaaaaa*

    I just googled Juneteenth 2022 and results are split on whether it’s being observed on the 17 or 20. June 20 seems to be the federal observance but June 17 pops up in bold print at the top of my Google results. It’s possible that the organization thinks the 17 is the correct day.

    1. Jackalope*

      Yes, federal holidays are always the closest business day if they fall on a weekend. Of the holiday is Saturday then it’s celebrated on Friday; if it falls on a Sunday it’s celebrated on Monday.

      1. Nynaeve*

        Not always. My org, for example, also considers if observing it on a particular day would cause it to fall into a different timecard reporting period than it otherwise would have, making it a not-infrequent occurrence that the rest of the business world is observing a holiday on Friday, but we are doing Monday so that the real holiday and the observed holiday fall into the same period, because our week ends on Friday night, not Saturday night.

      2. starfox*

        I didn’t know this. At my job, we just pick which day we’d rather have off, since we’re a small business. (I always prefer to have Monday off, personally).

    2. Claire*

      June 17 is the date that President Biden signed the law making June 19 a federal holiday. That’s probably what you are seeing in the Google results. This year June 19 falls on a Sunday, so the holiday is observed on Monday the 20th.

      1. Claire*

        That said, different states may have their own observances that differ from the federal observance.

        1. Blue Glass*

          States tend to align their holidays with Federal holiday if they also observe the holiday. (Not all states observe Columbus Day for example.)

          Juneteenth will be observed June 20 on the Federal calendar.

          And as for the OP, my guess is that since Juneteenth is brand new, the organization that scheduled the meeting for June 20 simply forgot or maybe was totally unaware of the new holiday. She should tell them.

          1. OP 2*

            They have been alerted! I’ll be interested in their response. I am not sure if they’ll reschedule the meeting, but I hope so because I don’t actually want to miss it.

            I think the root of the problem for me is that I work a little bit too much and have FOMO. But I am also a new mom and am being more selfish with my time than I used to be.

            1. MCMonkeyBean*

              I know you probably meant that in a jokey self-deprecating way, but I think an important part of taking more time for you and your family is to stop thinking of that as a selfish choice! <3

            2. Nameless in Customer Service*

              Thank you for pointing this out, and all good luck and enjoyment with your new child!

            3. Exception to the Rule*

              It could be that they elected to have it on Juneteenth because it’s a federal holiday & board members might have fewer conflicts. Just a thought.

          2. Lena*

            It doesn’t really matter if it is a new holiday, there is still no excuse for ignorance or feigning unawareness of Juneteenth. The information is readily available with a basic search. It’s so frustrating that it’s left up to POC to either have to educate or have the holiday go unacknowledged especially since they claim to value DEI initiatives so much.

    3. Covered in Bees*

      Yeah. My kids’ preschool is closed on the 17th, rather than the 20th. I know the convention is to observe it the following Monday if it lands on a Sunday, but I think this was a staff choice in this case.

      1. doreen*

        And there’s not really one convention for this sort of thing. Some employers close on Monday for a holiday that falls on Sunday, others give a floating holiday, some treat holidays that fall on Saturday differently from those that fall on Sunday. It’s possible that the organization is observing the holiday on the 17 , it’s possible they don’t observe the holiday at all – and it’s also possible they don’t designate an alternate observance when a holiday falls on the weekend.

        1. Antilles*

          Since it’s a brand new observance, it’s also possible that the organization just hasn’t shifted to treating it as a holiday – similar to how MLK Day and President’s Day are only observed by 20-30% of private companies.

      2. KRM*

        My employer is doing Friday the 17th as well. Acknowledgement of the holiday plus the fact that most employees prefer a Friday off means this first go-round they’re giving us the Friday.

        1. Marmalade*

          I just changed jobs – Oldjob (public state university) has Juneteenth off on Friday the 17th. Newjob (private midsize company) is giving us Monday the 20th off. Monday makes more sense to me, but I’m guessing Oldjob went with the Friday because it was still a “teenth” or because they’d be missing 2 weeks of Monday summer school classes thanks to the July 4 holiday also being on a Monday.

    4. Patty Mayonnaise*

      This is a good point. Perhaps the OP can say something like, “My company is closed for Juneteenth on that date, so I cannot attend” instead of “It’s Juneteenth and my office is closed,” in case the other company is closed the 17th.

    5. RussianInTexas*

      It also might be how the payroll is set up. Even though the NY Day of 2022 fell on Saturday this year, my company gave us the Monday after off, instead of the Friday before, as they would normally, to have that day as a holiday in 2022, not 2021.

    6. Umiel12*

      Juneteenth has been a state holiday in Texas since 1980. Usually, only us state employees got the day off, but in Texas when a holiday falls on a weekend the state employees miss it. That includes New Year’s Day, the 4th of July, etc. So although Texas has observed the holiday for 42 years, we probably won’t get any time off this year.

    7. AMillionBooks*

      Man, I’m just bummed reading through this and seeing all the folks who get holidays. Our office is “closed” on several holidays, but we either have to make up the time later in the week or use our accrued PTO (which also has to be used for sick days and normal vacation days). We actually accrue less PTO than we used to, in order to make things “more fair” to workers in other states. I feel like I shouldn’t complain though, because at least I get some PTO at all. A very American mindset, I’m guessing.

    8. Sparrow*

      Yes, my organization is closing this year on June 17 for Juneteenth. I’m not sure why (I would’ve expected it to be on the Monday), but instead of assuming this company isn’t observing it at all, I would definitely wonder if they had done something similar!

  4. Heidi*

    I did a strengths test once because my boss was super-enthusiastic about it. I got the feeing that she was disappointed that I wasn’t as enthusiastic, but then wrote it off as me being a typical Analyzer. I think the main critique I have with it is that the results primarily reflect what you believe about yourself but there isn’t any external validation so the accuracy will depend on how self aware or deluded you are about your abilities. If OP finds that their interviewer is really enthusiastic about strengths, then that might be a situation where it would be advantageous to bring it up. But the OP might end up interviewing with someone like me, who knows what their own strengths profile is but doesn’t know what any of the other strengths are about so it’s not that helpful.

    1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      Yes, exactly. Those tests are self-assessments, so they tell you more about how you view yourself rather than how others view you.

      Psychometrics in general is a….sticky area and there are plenty of people who consider them pseudoscience. The cost of including those test results is likely higher than any potential benefit, and I would be hesistent to bring them up in an interview process unless you were sure the interviewer was a fan.

      1. Ginger Dynamo*

        Yep, definitely steer clear. You may encounter a rare interviewer who considers your psychometric test result useful, but odds are higher a reader either won’t know what the result means, or will be questioning the appropriateness of including it in application materials. Several people would see it as akin to listing your star sign or Hogwarts house.

            1. HigherEdAdminista*

              Your loss, we are ambitious about completing projects! ;-D Or maybe that’s the Virgo in me.

      2. DataSci*

        Yeah, if I saw any sort of self-assessment like that on a resume (I’m not a hiring manager, but am involved in interviewing candidates and thus see a lot of resumes) my response would be an eye roll at best, quiet “what were they thinking” with my co-workers at worst. In no universe would it be positive or even neutral.

        And I’ve never seen it, which may say something. Though whether that’s “it’s incredibly uncommon” or “those candidates got screened out before the in-person interview stage” is impossible for me to say.

        1. Esmeralda*

          It depends on the field. Higher ed student affairs and similar — you might talk about it at an interview? It would be weird on a resume or cv even for this field, but lots of folks in the field put a lot of credit in it. (Insert eye roll)

          Our first year students have to take it. That’s actually a pretty good use — it organizes and categorizes what they know about themselves. People also like using it with students because the focus is on strengths, rather than deficits.

          It can also be useful for a group at work — what might be better ways to communicate with your colleagues, who might be good to pull onto a project because they have a particular strength, that sort of thing. Especially for a large team, where it’s harder to know everyone’s strengths and personality, or where people have not been working together very long, or for people who don’t notice things like this. And just getting together with colleagues to discuss results is helpful — making connections, learning about each other. So it’s an ok tool.

          1. Ginger Dynamo*

            I have lots of problems with workplaces using these tests as metrics informing work assignments, actually. They can be useful for self-reflection, but too many psychometric assessments and personality tests have problems with replicability, or treating traits that occur on continuums as being absolutes, or treating certain traits as polar opposites when they aren’t. That, and most people are biased self-reporters of their own strengths and behaviors. I’d much rather see objective records of previous work product and achievements as opposed to personality test results being used decide who should get particular assignments. I mean, imagine getting passed over for an assignment you’re fully qualified for on paper because the boss doesn’t think it will vibe well with a Wizard-type Analyst or KWFJ

      3. 3PL*

        I think the problem is more that there is an entire industry devoted to misusing the word “psychometrics,” which is a subfield of statistics. Means, correlations, and complex models don’t care whether someone thinks they’re pseudoscience.

        The things people object to are certain kinds of vocational and personality tests. Yes, the Meyers-Briggs is pseudoscience. No, the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory is not pseudoscience. The Strong Interest Inventory, which is not a measure of strong vocational interests but a vocational interests measure invented by someone named Strong? Not pseudoscience in itself but it depends on how you use it. Some vocational or personality inventories have social desirability bias or deliberate-lie scales, which an employer will probably not know how to interpret even if you put the scores in front of them.

        The main problem is that there are only two most-likely outcomes: (1) the interviewer doesn’t know enough about the test to have any idea what the results mean or how they’d be useful in evaluating your fit, or (2) the interviewer knows more about the test than you do and it’s the MBTI and now they have doubts about your judgment. BEST case, it’s not likely to help you. Worst case, your potential employer now knows you have a hobby that is about as valid as tarot cards but nothing like as much fun.

        1. Ginger Dynamo*

          The tarot card comment made me chuckle—my friend in high school rotated interests every month between MBTI testing, Neojungian theory, and tarot phone apps

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I laughed out loud that your boss used your test results to contextualize your failure to be excited about your test results.

      Most of us, if told a test result of “blue triangle” will give us the most useful outcome, are able to answer the multiple choice questions so as to land ourselves in “blue triangle.”

      1. Emmy Noether*

        I heard of a test where the possible results are whale, dolpin, shark, or owl. And apparently if upon hearing that your first response is “wait, why are three of those water-based animals and one’s a bird?”, you immediately get classified as an owl. (I’m an owl).

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            Why are there 2 cetaceans, a fish, & a bird? No love for reptiles?

            I am a turtle.

        1. L.H. Puttgrass*

          What if your first response is to sing, “One of these things is not like the other?”

    3. NewJobNewGal*

      I was also forced to do a Strength Finder by my boss, and the results were to be added to my email signature. So I pre-read all the strengths and picked the ones I wanted on my signature then answered the questions to get those qualities. I didn’t want to be labeled forever with qualities that could produce bias.
      To me, seeing any kind of personal survey results on a resume/cv would be the same as listing “Libra” or “Gemini” as a hirable quality. As much as the applicant thinks it’s an awesome quality, the hiring manager can easily interpret the qualities as a negative. “I don’t want a Futurist on my team. We need to focus on the now.”

      1. Generic Name*

        My company did strengths finder a while ago. I’m giggling at the thought of putting it in your email signature since one of the strengths is “woo”. It’s intended to be as in wooing/sales, but it always makes me think of new age woo. Lol

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          … I would swear that exact issue came up in the past, that the company wanted the strengths in the signature and the OP did not want to list “woo” as their email signature.

          1. Hlao-roo*

            It has! First question in “boss refuses to wear hearing aids, putting strengths in your email signature, and more” from October 31, 2019.

    4. quill*

      Were I hiring, the main sticking point I would have was “someone thought this personality test was so important it went on their resume, now I have to google what an IFNJ is.” It’s self reporting, it’s only slightly less arbitrary than newspaper horoscopes because it’s a questionnaire, rather than a birthdate, and it does not tell me, a person not into it, anything about your work.

      I’d have the same qualms if you listed that you were a pisces, or literally anything else that you can’t prove and isn’t related to work. (Yes, I know the birthdate would “prove” your star sign but I wouldn’t know it when I was interviewing you.)

      1. Scandinavian Vacationer*

        I’ve used StrengthsFinders with an agency that also put these traits into email signatures. However, I used it in my follow up email to my interview and gave examples on how each of my strengths could benefit the role/agency. So I KNEW the hiring mgr knew this instrument, and I also framed each strength into the role for which I was applying. Your mileage may vary.

  5. Buzzybeeworld*

    Alison has often recommended rejecting internal candidates in person. These days a video call is the new in person meeting, so I was surprised by her response to LW 1.

    The reality is, no matter how a rejection happens, somebody will take issue with the method used to deliver the news.

    1. MK*

      I don’t think Alison actually said that you should reject internal candidates in person, just that you need to offer more explanation than a form rejection.

      But yes, there is no universally acceptable way to reject candidates. I am sure many would find an email dismissive and the offer to discuss further patronizing.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I’m glad that I’ve never had to reject a job candidate, because whatever method you choose is bound to upset or annoy someone. Rejection is inherently upsetting news and there’s just no ideal way to deliver it.

        Video call rejection sounds absolutely awful, but there’s probably someone out there who would prefer it! I much prefer to be rejected by email, because you can just move the email out of your inbox and forget about it. Frankly, there should probably be a multiple choice question on every application form that says “if you are rejected for this position, how do you prefer to receive the news?”

        1. JM in England*

          My preference would also be the email route because I have always found bad news easier to process when it’s in writing.

        2. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

          Frankly, there should probably be a multiple choice question on every application form that says “if you are rejected for this position, how do you prefer to receive the news?”

          Ha, what a good idea!

        3. Parakeet*

          For the most part I prefer email, but the one time I got a video rejection – as much as it was awkward to wonder if I was about to get a job offer and then not get one – there was a reason for it. I was the runner-up candidate and they wanted to talk to me about doing some paid consulting work (which I was happy to do!) alongside the rejection for the full-time job.

    2. allathian*

      I think it’s unrealistic of hiring managers to expect rejected candidates not to feel disappointed about the rejection. There’s simply no good way to do it, only bad and worse ways.

      I think that if you’re rejected without even getting an interview, a form e-mail/text is perfectly appropriate, and anything else would feel excessive, given that so many employers don’t even bother telling applicants that they aren’t moving forward with their application. If the hiring process involves multiple interviews, a more personal email would be appropriate, especially if the interviewers think the candidate might be suitable for another position.

      For the final rejection, either a phone call or an email would be okay, but even in internal hiring, I think that an in-person meeting, or its online equivalent, for delivering a rejection would be unnecessarily cruel. Just do what you would do for an external rejected candidate.

      1. Allonge*

        I don’t think any reasonable manager expects candidates to not feel bad about rejection; it’s more that even with the best of intentions there is a really good chance that the message delivery method will be subject to criticism – as you say, there are bad and worse methods.

        I also think that in-person puts too much on the staff member, but some people will get an email and feel that ‘manager could not even look me in the eye, what a ****’, and that is not objectively wrong either.

    3. allathian*

      I think it’s unrealistic of hiring managers to expect rejected candidates not to feel disappointed about the rejection. There’s simply no good way to do it, only bad and worse ways.

      I think that if you’re rejected without even getting an interview, a form e-mail/text is perfectly appropriate, and anything else would feel excessive, given that so many employers don’t even bother telling applicants that they aren’t moving forward with their application. If the hiring process involves multiple interviews, a more personal email would be appropriate, especially if the interviewers think the candidate might be suitable for another position.

      For the final rejection, either a phone call or an email would be okay, but even in internal hiring, I think that an in-person meeting, or its online equivalent, for delivering a rejection would be unnecessarily cruel. Just do what you would do for an external rejected candidate.

      1. londonedit*

        I agree. People always have wildly differing views on this (some people come down on the side of ‘I’m an internal candidate, they know me, I can’t believe they rejected me by email, that’s so rude and impersonal) but I would hate to be called into a meeting – in-person or video – to be rejected. By all means, send a more detailed and personal email than you would if it was an external candidate, but personally if I was pulled into a meeting only to be told I wasn’t getting the job, I’d be absolutely crushed and it would be so awkward. At least with email you can take a deep breath and take the time to read and digest the information. In person you’ve got to desperately try to arrange your face into some sort of neutral expression and smile and say nice things while you’re being given bad news. Ugh. I don’t even think people should reject candidates over the phone – again, you’re probably expecting good news if you’re getting a call from the hiring manager, and having to do the whole ‘Oh, it’s no problem, thank you so much for considering me’ thing while you’re stinging from the blow of rejection is just such an awkward thing to make people do.

    4. DyneinWalking*

      Pretty sure she only recommended to give them a personALIZED rejection, not just a form letter. But the message itself should still be given in a way that allows the applicant to process the new on their own time, for all the reasons Alison listed in her answer.

      1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

        Agreed. I’d say that time to process the new on their own time is the primary reason.

        1. UKDancer*

          Definitely. I applied for an internal job and the person advertising the job called me on Teams to tell me why I’d not been successful. It was awful because I wasn’t expecting the call and found it very difficult to compose my face and not let my feelings show. I’ve always preferred with internal jobs to get an email so I can digest the news and then an offer to discuss it later when I can get some feedback.

          1. RabbitRabbit*

            I found out in the middle of an all-staff meeting that was being held to let someone else go (basically to get everyone else out of the office so she could be informed and pack up her desk). In fairness, I found out that the job opening was being pulled altogether and rewritten dramatically, but that meant I wasn’t interested any longer either. And I still had to sit there and process this while sitting around a meeting table staring at colleagues, some of whom knew I had interviewed for the position, while still being glad that I wasn’t getting the worst news of the morning. It still would have been nice to have been taken aside for 30 seconds prior – or afterwards, even – so that was not handled well.

    5. BRR*

      I also thought the recommendation was in person but I think other commenters are correct that it’s just to not do a form email. I can easily see someone writing in, expressing frustration at receiving an email and not being told face to face though. While it wasn’t great, I do place part of #1 as there’s no great way to reject someone.

      I’m also not 100% sure Alison saw that it was an internal job not that it would necessarily change the advice.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        I think the confusion both about the recommendation and with what happened in the letter is there’s a difference between “personalized” and “in person”. My understanding is if it’s internal, it’s worth it to give someone a personalized rejection. That doesn’t mean face to face or phone though. The problem in the letter is the HM seemed to forget they could provide a personalized rejection via email which is what they should’ve done.

    6. Banana*

      The last internal job I got rejected for, there was no follow up at all, I just heard at happy hour a couple of weeks later how everyone was so stoked that Jane had a new job working for Steve, and uh, I interviewed for a job working for Steve recently, and oh yep, it’s that job. Awesome.

      1. Dragon*

        Same here. I found out I hadn’t gotten an internal position when the updated firm roster showed the chosen candidate’s name as the boss’ new assistant.

        It turned out to be just as well. A few years later the boss and another employee left to start their own firm. They invited his assistant to come with them, but she declined. I would have too.

  6. Seal*

    #1 – This has happened to me no less than 3 times. The first time I actually had to play telephone tag with the HR rep for a few days before I found out I didn’t get the job. The second time the HR rep set up a phone meeting for the next day, only to tell me that they weren’t hiring anyone because they were rethinking the position description. The third time just happened a few months ago. I was an internal candidate who had been doing the job I applied for on an interim basis for over a year. My boss and I had developed a good working relationship and they gave me glowing evaluations. A few days after the interviews were done, they scheduled an in-person meeting. After keeping me waiting for 15 minutes, they told me they had hired someone else. I was completely blindsided and it took all my willpower to not cry in front of them. Once the new person started, my now-former boss made a point of ignoring me. Needless to say I’m job hunting.

    1. bamcheeks*

      It has happened to me three times, and every time I think it was a truly authentic, “You were a good candidate and the choice was HARD and we want to make sure you know that!” But to be honest I kind of don’t care– the important information for me is, “this is not going to happen” and the “but you were really good!” is extremely secondary. It’s just not as important to communicate the latter when someone is trying to process the former.

      1. REJECTED*

        On the candidate end, I just experienced this with an organization I work closely with, from a hiring manager who I know personally outside of work. We played phone tag for a couple of days while I got my hopes up (surely it must be an offer if they want to connect so much!).

        Turns out it was a polite rejection. Knowing how hard the decsion was blah blah blah didn’t make the phone call any easier for me, but it did help preserve the relationship that already existed and allow me to leave the door open for future opportunities.

        So glad it wasn’t a video call, though.

      2. Gone Girl*

        You know, that’s a good point. I’ve had very apologetic calls/rejection letters overall, which I suppose helps it feel less cold and calculating, but tbh “you should be proud knowing that you were our second choice” does not matter. All it means is that I’m not getting the job. What I would like to know is how *not* to come in second next time.

        1. bamcheeks*

          When you’ve got over the initial disappointment and downgraded all those, “maybe I’ll be working here! Maybe this will be my commute! Maybe these are the problems I’ll be working on! Maybe these will be my co-workers! Maybe I’ll be freeeee to never have to think about [annoying problem/person at current work] again!” expectations, it’s nice to hear that I was appointable and a close second and in particular to hear the invitation to apply for any future roles that might come up! But I can’t think about that when I’m in the throes of going, “uggggh, guess this isn’t my ticket out of Having To Work With Gary and the World’s Suckiest Finance System after all :’( “

    2. The New Wanderer*

      My manager found out I didn’t get an internal promotion (for the job I’d been doing informally for six months) a while before I did but for whatever reason the team of managers decided to keep that decision a secret for several weeks. And that was after they prolonged the selection process by several months. It just dragged on and on so it was pretty anticlimactic when I finally was told. It was via phone call with my manager, but we had a good working relationship and I know she was sincerely disappointed on my behalf. She also strongly supported me when I left six months later.

      For an external job, I appreciated when the recruiter left a voicemail to tell me I’d been rejected instead of making me play phone tag to hear it live. Just say the important stuff and let me decide whether to call back (if invited to).

  7. It's a me*

    LW #3 – I have always talked to my manager about complaints about our workplace, and it has always been something to bond us. At best, it drives us to work together to improve the organization, and at worst, it makes me feel like I am not the only one who sees the gaps.

    If my manager refused to hear any complaints about things above them, I would find it really off-putting, and would likely struggle to build a relationship with them. It sounds like in your case you thought your employee went a little too far, but I think you should be a place to bring frustrations to.

    1. Bagpuss*

      I think the issue was that the employees *wasn’t* raising complaints about the workplace, they are complaining about their experience as a student at the university, not about their experience as an employee.

    2. Covered in Bees*

      As Bagpuss mentioned, the conversation wasn’t about the job but the university’s program and some of the professors there. Not things OP could do much about.

      1. BethDH*

        And things that are super awkward at a lot of institutions. Faculty and staff often move in very different org structures on everything from hiring processes to communication protocols to compensation packages and it can be a lot more complicated than “one of my reports complained to me about another manager” — more like “one of my client-customer-coworkers is complaining to me about one of the board members.”

        1. Koalafied*

          Yes, the grad students are still more customer than employee (even though they work for the university, they only have the job because they’re a grad student in the department), but LW is fully an employee now. The last thing she wants is for her employer to think she’s actively helping stir a pot of discontent with her subordinates, AKA the employer’s customers.

          As an employee she now represents the institution in a different way than a graduate student – while a grad student does represent their program and is expected to present themselves well to benefit their program’s academic prestige/reputation, an employee is seen as a representative of the entire institution and is expected not to undermine the university’s business need to attract and retain students.

      2. Chapeau*

        At my second job out of college, several of my new co-workers were graduates of the same program I had graduated from, and we discussed our in-common professors almost as a way to bond. My boss at the time asked if one professor was still telling stories from doing public relations for the Army during the Korean War (he was).
        But it was also several years (decades really) since boss had graduated, and a few years after I was out of the program, so there were no issues with boss not appearing to be my boss. He may have actually asked me about a couple of professors from his time there to break the ice during my interview now that I think about it.

    3. Colette*

      If it’s something related to your job, it’s relevant to bring it to your boss. But in this case, it sounds like it was related to the university but not the job, so there’s no reason to bring it up in that situation. I don’t know that it’s unprofessional – the details matter – but it’s irrelevant.

    4. LW3*

      LW3 here! The replies are correct. The complaints weren’t about the workplace, but about the university program, which the libraries are separate from. If any of our student workers had complaints about working at the library, I really hope that they would feel comfortable bringing them to me, or even just general complaints – I don’t want for them to feel like they have to lie and pretend everything is okay if I ask them about their day or how school is going, after all!

      However, it was the line between that and “I am venting to you as I would a friend/fellow classmate” that I was unsure how to navigate. I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to participate in badmouthing specific professors, for example, and especially not at work, regardless of my personal feelings towards them.

      1. Yeah, nah*

        “I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to participate in badmouthing specific professors, for example, and especially not at work, regardless of my personal feelings towards them.”

        I’m curious as to why not. Professional decorum does not require pretending that people who suck don’t suck, especially when you don’t work with them. Librarians vent about academics who behave poorly all the time, and I know I’ve had conversations with bosses about people who we’ve both worked with before but aren’t necessarily working with at the time. If you’re a “No Gossip At All, Ever” person, that’s totally valid, but this doesn’t seem like that.

    5. Abogado Avocado*

      You write, LW#3, that it’s “not the type of conversation you should be having with your boss” when student employees criticize “specific professors that we had shared.” But there are situations when junior employees should be having this type of conversation with you.

      Usually, the university or college employs both library workers (like you) and professors. And if student employees are complaining about something actionable — such as gender or race discrimination or sexual harassment — you are obligated under Title IX to report it to higher authorities. You aren’t permitted to metaphorically stick your fingers in your ears and say, “lalala, I can’t hear you.” I know this issue isn’t what you were writing about, but deciding a priori that you’re not the proper person to whom complaints about faculty or other aspects of university life should be directed can also close you off to actionable complaints that under Title IX that you’re obligated to take seriously and report. (See, e.g., Penn State.)

      All of which is to say, having an open door for student concerns isn’t a bad thing.

      1. starfox*

        Yeah, I’m really torn on this one! In my academic experience, there really isn’t such a hard divide between graduate students and faculty… since most graduate students are a combination of student and staff. There isn’t such a strict hierarchy. Like, in my program, grad students and professors were closer to being on the same “level” than, say, undergrads and grad students. (Of course, there is still a power imbalance there, and I’m disgusted at the number of grad students who date professors, but that’s not the point I’m trying to make).

        I guess I’m having a hard time seeing it as “inappropriate” or “unprofessional” to vent to someone about a shared experience. I understand why LW3 wants to shut it down, and I would want to as well because I don’t like listening to long, negative conversations. But I don’t see it as an egregious overstepping of boundaries, I guess, especially of LW3 was doing the same venting with the students in the past. I’m probably wrong, to be honest.

        But I have a feeling this is also why universities don’t often hire their own graduates to fill faculty positions.

        1. Ginger Dynamo*

          Is LW3 faculty or staff? Based on the tasks they’re completing and their assignment to oversee the grad workers, it sounds to me like a staff role, but I may be misinterpreting. What they’re doing sounds almost like being a postdoc in other academic programs, rather than a full faculty member. That may also explain part of why their grad student workers feel justified venting to them about a program that LW3 is just one step out of. From what I can tell, complaints like these in an academic environment aren’t necessarily inherently inappropriate to talk about with a boss because their employment is a consequence of them being enrolled in the program, but you should be allowed to set a boundary here if you do not want to have these conversations, OP (barring Title IX complaints you must mandatorily report, of course)

          1. starfox*

            Yes, I believe LW3 is staff. I agree… it’s not inherently inappropriate or boundary-stomping to vent about shared mutual experiences, but is also totally fair to want to put a stop to venting.

  8. just some guy*

    Psychometric tests can be a controversial topic. Some people swear by them, some consider them quackery, with various shades in between. Unless you know for sure that the people who’ll be reviewing your application are likely to be favourable to the specific test you’re referencing, AND that your profile is the kind they’re looking for (“sorry but we’d prefer a KQNB for this role”) probably best to describe aptitudes in more general terms.

    1. Texan In Exile*

      I worked temporarily for a woman in Austin who used the Birkman test as a pre-employment assessment tool. (Which it was not, apparently, designed for.)

      There was a question on the test that had something to do with the definition of “superintendent.” I got it wrong (but she still hired me, but ONLY AS A TEMP) because it turns out the answer was a superintendent is the person who lives in an apartment building and takes care of it.

      I had never lived in an apartment with a superintendent. I had no idea. None.

      I classify this bias in the same category as my college economics textbook that used taxi medallions as an example of how restricted supply can raise prices. I had never ridden in a taxi in my life. I had no idea what a taxi medallion was. (And – this is on me – I was too intimidated to ask my professor.)

      Having seen how they can be misused and abused, I am on the “quackery” side on the tests for sure.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I am fairly sure I learned about taxi medallions in my 30s, from watching White Collar.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          I learned about them from reading some analysis of ride-hailing services.

          I grew up in an area with taxis but not medallions.

          Also, I know people in education, where a superintendent is definitely not the building manager.

      2. Elenna*

        Plus, based on the Wikipedia article it sounds like taxi medallions are a US-only thing, so that also excludes any students from other countries.
        (I’d never heard of them until this comment. Not sure if it’s because I’m Canadian, or because the number of taxis I’ve ridden in can be counted on one hand. Pretty sure none of them were in the US, either.)

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          I grew up in the Chicago land area. Never heard of them until I read an article a few years back. When there was a problem with speculation.

          I mean, I don’t drive a taxi, why would I know all their licensing details?

        2. Emmy Noether*

          I think calling them “medallions” is a US thing, but there are definitely more places where taxi licenses are expensive and restricted. But I only know because I once had a conversation with a Paris taxi driver about this (they have to take a test, which is quite difficult, and pay the city for the license).

    2. Venus*

      Myers-Brigs was developed years ago by someone who disliked her daughter’s fiance and wanted an excuse to break them up. And now it is a required test to prove compatibility for some jobs at companies in the US, which should be illegal if it isn’t already.

      1. Lena*

        I especially love when they say to answer honestly because there are no wrong answers. Although the reality is that there are answers that will land you the job but answers that won’t.

        1. Antilles*

          The reason they say that is because the personality test itself says there’s no wrong answers because all personality types have advantages and disadvantages. So they’re just listing what the test itself says.
          But when companies use these tests, they ignore that caveat because they’ve already pre-decided that they want “strong willed go-getters and leaders” or whatever…conveniently ignoring the every type has a disadvantage part of the equation.

        2. quill*

          Same as the pre-employment screening questions where if you choose the ‘morally correct’ answer every time they decide you’re lying, or where any answer other than “I am a cheerful cash register automaton that knows exactly how much bad behavior to admit to” gets your resume thrown out. I did those a lot in college when they were first getting big.

        3. linger*

          Not to mention, all four Myers-Briggs scales are (approximately) continuous scales with (approximately) normal distributions, rather than truly dichotomous categories. Even to the (extremely limited) extent that an individual’s four-letter label does mean anything, it suggests that individual’s preferred/ usual/ fastest way of responding to a stimulus, rather than the only way they can respond.

  9. Antilla the Hon*

    I had a similar experience to #1, but it was via phone call. Nailed an interview with a big corporation for a fantastic position. I met with multiple managers for a series of interviews (all on the same day). The hiring manager said they had over 150 applicants and that she was really impressed with my credentials, resume, etc. We seemed to hit it off, too. After the interview, I was given a tour of their department and shown where the position’s office would be. I had a great feeling about the interview and my prospects, especially with the tour and feedback. I even found out later through the grapevine that I was the managers’ first choice to hire. The hiring manager eventually scheduled a call with me and I was so excited! I really believed I had been chosen for the position and my hopes were high. Unfortunately, the hiring manager was simply delivering the bad news by phone that they were hiring someone else. I was really crushed and felt like a deer in the headlights during the call. I handed it well and was polite, saying all the right things. But it was AWKWARD as hell. I later learned that the hiring manager had hired her best friend. It was so disheartening. I felt like my time had been wasted and that I was the hiring manager’s token interview so that she could check the right boxes.

  10. GammaGirl1908*

    Not only should LW5 take the job, she should take the job with glee and fearlessness and abandon. If the new opportunity is a great move for you and would be an excellent opportunity, you should accept it and not look back. As I’m sure others will note, if your job needed to let you go for business reasons, they very likely would do it regardless of whether it was an inconvenient time for you (new baby? bigger mortgage? spouse just lost job?).

    But also, be very aware that you run a business, too — the business of YOUR career and household. If this opportunity comes to you and is advantageous for your business, then your current employer’s business will have to figure out a way to manage. And they will; they always do.

    Further, the next few weeks while you figure this out are a great opportunity for you to delegate coverage of some your regular tasks to your team and colleagues while you continue to ramp up on your boss’ work, because it sounds like it would be unsustainable for you to keep doing both your job and your manager’s job for the next several months anyway. The more you get others to learn to do some of these tasks, the more you will see that they’re not going to fall apart without you. They might have lots of questions and a bit more to do, sure, but they’ll learn it and it will grow THEIR skills, and then pretty soon they’ll be getting poached, too, heh.

    Congratulations on getting poached! This is exciting for you and speaks very highly of you!

    1. triplehiccup*

      AGREED. Please do not pass up an opportunity that’s good for you out of loyalty to your org! That loyalty just requires that you work hard and don’t sabotage your org. Loyalty to yourself should mean the same – and it comes first.

    2. Oakwood*

      Yes, do what’s good for you.

      I once worked for an organization that had apparently scheduled layoffs for a specific Monday.

      The news got out and several recruiters started contacting employees and mentioning the upcoming layoffs (which was news to the employees). The company issued a statement about the unprofessionalism of the recruiters and that there were no plans for layoffs. The Monday came and they started laying people off.

      I have to wonder how many people made major purchases over the weekend (cars and such) based on the assurances from the company that there would be no layoffs.

      Moral of the story: companies look out for themselves. You should too.

      1. Just stoppin' by to chat*

        All I can say to this story is a Carolyn Hax “Wow.” What an awful situation :(

    3. BRR*

      It seems like there are a lot more letters/open thread posts about feeling too guilty to leave a job and every time I want to yell “it’s normal to leave a job!”

      And just to give a different viewpoint since this phrase comes up a lot, I don’t 100% agree with “your employer wouldn’t hesitate to let you go.” My current employer’s budget got hit hard at the start of the pandemic and they prioritized not cutting jobs. This includes people whose duties involved in-person tasks (they got temporarily reassigned to other departments). Layoffs or longer furloughs would have been the easier way to get some budget relief. But all that being said, if I had another opportunity I wouldn’t feel guilty. In return for employing me, they’re getting my work. It’s not a lifetime commitment from either of us.

  11. GythaOgden*

    Given the importance of Juneteenth as a holiday in terms of a DEI programme, I’d hope they would respond to your explanation of why you don’t want to go. It does seem a bit shortsighted.

  12. JM60*

    #2 I had something similar happen. The powers that be scheduled a software release for memorial day. When I told my manager that they picked a company holiday, and she passed it up the chain, they rescheduled it to Juneteenth (also a company holiday).

    Eventually, they reluctantly rescheduled it until the day after Juneteenth. From what my grandboss said, the main person in charge of scheduling either didn’t realize that it was a company holiday (it’s the first year my company is observing it) and/or they didn’t care that much that they scheduled it on a US company holiday.

    1. fhqwhgads*

      It’s kinda weird they didn’t just put the original reschedule one day later.

  13. short'n'stout (she/her)*

    LW1, my commiserations. This happened to me, too – except it was an in-person conversation (many years ago). I went through the same process of preparing and dressing as if it were a follow-up interview, only to be blind-sided just as you were.

    This happened in a university, and the hiring manager was one of my then-manager’s peers. Not really an internal application as such, but I knew them slightly (and felt that they were a bit socially awkward) and had to see them around the workplace afterwards, which felt weird for ages.

  14. RunnerUp*

    #1 – I was once rejected by a hiring manager at a government agency by a phone call. Positions at this agency tend to be competitive and while he did reject me in favor of a candidate that had a bit more experience, he did emphasize that he hoped I would keep trying and that I was the type of person they wanted at the agency. Yes, it did definitely suck to get my hopes up when I got the call only to have them dashed, but I also appreciated knowing how close I had gotten and that it wasn’t my interview skills that were the problem. Otherwise, I would have replayed the interview constantly in my mind, wondering what I could have said differently. I agree that a video call is not a great way to do this – phone is better because the candidate doesn’t have to worry about what they look like.

  15. Turingtested*

    Letter writer #3 I used to work with mamy teens and young adults and often had to have the “just because you aren’t swearing or talking about sex doesn’t make this an appropriate conversation at work” talk.

    I always tried to speak to the person in private and frame it as “not all work rules are obvious and this should help you at every job not not just this one.” In situations like yours I’d gently point out that many people are devoted to the place, may have personal relationships with the people complained about etc. I’d reinforce that if it was bullying or harassment to feel free to speak up but to limit venting. I’d end things by saying they weren’t in trouble but they needed to stop x behavior as a matter of professionalism.

    This worked about 80% of the time and the rest were incorrigible.

    1. anonymous73*

      Bringing up swearing and sex is an odd way to point out that a conversation is inappropriate so I hope you weren’t being literal, because talking about swearing and sex with a student employee isn’t appropriate either unless it’s a conversation about harassment.

      1. Esmeralda*

        Well, that’s not true. Referring to swearing and sex as categories of words — that’s not harassment, especially not if Turingtested is saying it just the way they state it here. IN particular, the way Turingtested states it makes it clear to the students that “this other speech is just as seriously inappropriate as swearing and speech about sex”

        1. quill*

          Especially when the only peer authorities they’ve probably had as adults are RA’s, club leaders, and maybe some TA’s / LA’s (though where I went to school those were more to prep the lab / classroom than to do any teaching.)

          There’s a world of difference between showing up and dumping all your stress on your untrained RA who just has flyers to campus services and a desire to help, (which in and of itself: not a helpful system!) and your workmates.

          When I ran a club I could open it by yelling “Hey nerds, listen up!” and that is NOT professional behavior, that’s being 19 and trying to organize other 19 year olds behavior.

      2. Turingtested*

        Oh my gosh no! I meant more that people who are inexperienced in the workplace understand that some topics are inappropriate such as swearing and sex but that it can be harder to understand that not obvious topics can be inappropriate too. So part of the discussion would be something like “this might be surprising, but that was actually inappropriate to discuss at work.”

    2. Esmeralda*

      I call this the “Old Person Life Advice Talk”. Haha, my students seem to appreciate it. Overall they are nice kids, earnest, eager to do well — if they’re being incorrect, I assume they don’t know and it’s my job to teach them.

  16. Dr Wizard, PhD*

    I agree that LW3 seems very focused on asserting themselves as the boss and marking themselves as an Actual Professional, Not Like You Grad Students A Year Behind Me.

    I think you see this a lot in new young professionals, and they risk looking ridiculous and putting people off. I’m surprised Alison didn’t at least mention this risk. I get they don’t want to be seen as overly chummy, but letting your very-stressed staff vent is important, especially in a field with as few boundaries and private spaces as grad school and associated work.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Not sure who you’re agreeing with (nesting fail? I don’t see anyone else saying this) but I don’t think we have enough to conclude LW is overly focused on it. This is one area they’re unsure how to navigate, so they asked, and they’re not wrong to think they need somewhat more authority than still being seen as a peer. I wish we wouldn’t disparage people for asking for advice here!

      Anyway, the advice Alison linked to does cover not getting too caught up in asserting authority.

    2. BethDH*

      The part I would have emphasized that got missed I think is that OP may need to think of this not as needing more authority (changing their own position) but having a conversation with the student employees about their role when they’re on the clock. My student employees have trouble with this boundary, and when I was younger I would have thought it was about them not recognizing my role, when now I know it is more about them not recognizing their own roles.
      This is especially likely if OP themself didn’t have trouble putting on their “I’m at work” hat as a student and so hasn’t been expecting that specific issue.

      1. DD*

        “now I know it is more about them not recognizing their own roles” — that is brilliant. I think you are absolutely right. if I were OP, this framing would really help me find the right tone to address this. Your authority is that you understand what is expected and appropriate in both roles, and you can assert that authority in a teaching/mentoring/modeling way, not in a lording-it-over way.

    3. Ope!*

      It really seems like a nonissue to me. The MLIS is a two-three year program, so this is going to naturally resolve itself when these students graduate and OP gets a new batch to supervise. OP, you’ll be fine!

      1. Office Lobster DJ*

        I think this is an important point. The peer-to-supervisor transition is always a tough one, but OP3 is lucky enough to have a natural expiration date here, at least for the worst of it.

        OP, try Alison’s scripts, especially about not being the best audience. I could be wrong, but I suspect some part of your concern is rooted in wanting to make a good impression in your new role, especially when your new co-workers have seen you as one of the students up until now. This is all good and natural, but it may also make you overly attuned to conversations that you fear might cast you back into that role. Have any of your new co-workers been in the same situation? Could you ask how they handled it?

        1. Cleonaught*

          +1 A lot of this. It’s natural to be waaaaay too helicopter about your own behavior in your first out of program job. Heck, any new job. You spend about a year flailing and trying to show that you’ve got the right to be there and that other people didn’t mess up in hiring you into that position. Especially in academic libraries.

    4. LW3*

      Hi! Thanks for pointing this out. I don’t agree that I’m overly focused on it, but it was helpful to know that this is how it might come across to the students. If it seems that way in the letter, it’s because it’s the thing I’ve had the most trouble getting used to out of everything else in my job.

      BethDH, your framing is really great – I’ll try thinking of it that way! Part of my role as their supervisor is to teach the students these workplace norms to prepare them for their future careers. Again, I’m still very new to this role and I know there will be an adjustment period where I’ll have to figure out for myself what works best.

      1. Gracely*

        If it helps, as a student employee, I went from being a regular student employee to being a student supervisor when my boss had to unexpectedly be out on medical leave for several months. So I was suddenly in charge of people I had been peers with the week before (and was still peers with in class/elsewhere on campus). Hilariously, I had more power at that job(I had building and master keys because I closed the building at 2am) than I did when I moved back a couple years later to take on a full-time staff position (I did not even have a department key, and got locked out of my department once).

        The main thing I did was to focus on making sure the stuff that needed doing was done, and to be the one to step up and provide coverage if someone was out sick and no one else could fill in; that was really the main difference between the positions anyways. I was the one responsible for making sure things actually got done. When I had to assign people to do things, I tried to do so fairly, and take into account who was better at or preferred certain tasks so that no one got stuck doing a task they didn’t like for too long. I also found that level, asking someone to do something rather than telling them to do it goes a long way towards mitigating the issues. “Can you cover the 2nd floor info desk” vs. “You’re covering the 2nd floor info desk”

        Good luck! And this should only be an issue for the year you’ve got an overlap, so you’ll be fine.

    5. starfox*

      I’m not sure who you were initially replying to, but I commented something similar above–although after your comment, so I know it wasn’t me.

      But I agree. I’m not sure how LW3 is coming across in person… and there’s nothing wrong with shutting down the venting conversations at work–they’re not productive, you never know who is listening, and you never know who the conversations are going to get back to. It’s not a smart conversation to be having at work.

      But I don’t think those types of conversations are inherently inappropriate between a supervisor and their grad student employees–especially since their current work is entirely separate from the program. Perhaps I just went to a less formal institution, but there really isn’t that strong of a divide between staff and graduate students.

      1. LW3*

        Based on feedback from students I’ve worked with previously, I generally come across as very warm and someone they feel free to talk to about personal issues. I used to be a group discussion facilitator, so making students feel comfortable with me is something I am good at – which is why I asked for advice to “turn it off,” so to say. I’ll be careful not to overcorrect, however.

        The institution I work for tends very formal – it’s a prestigious research university. Koalafied in the other comment thread you replied to got the vibes right, regarding the relationship between the students and staff. I also think the conversation just came as a shock to me – since I’d been in their position before, it was something I would never, ever have talked about to my own previous supervisor (not because I couldn’t come to her about problems, but because it was a conversation I personally would have reserved for my fellow classmates and friends – outside of the workplace).

    6. I Fought the Law*

      Completely agree, as an academic librarian myself. #3 sounds a bit high on their new position and risks coming off poorly both to their supervisors and supervisees. This isn’t the corporate world where they might need to assert authority. Frankly, there is not that much difference between a brand new library graduate and a grad student assistant, and part of this person’s value lies in being a peer to the grad students in the first place. I had a graduate student years ago who completely changed their MO after getting hired full time, and it did not go well for them.

  17. Cam*

    I’m a freelancer, and I had a client schedule a zoom meeting only to tell me at the meeting that my services were no longer required. No problem at all (it was a budget cut and the person I reported to had already left), but a meeting would have been fine. It was just awkward. I mean, what did they want me to say?!

    1. ecnaseener*

      Ha, this reminds me of something similar that happened to me in school — it was a student-run club, I wasn’t paid or anything but I had a leadership role that involved supporting people’s projects start to finish. One student with a big project asked for a check-in meeting so I had all my notes ready for what he had planned to get done by this time, what his next steps were, updates on steps I had taken for him…
      And I remember him just barreling through the door and announcing “This won’t take long.” To which I said something like, “Oh?” And he informed me he wouldn’t be doing the project through the club after all. Thanks for the heads-up before I did all that prep work!

    2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I’m sorry. Im confused. You wrote “a meeting would have been fine.” Did you mean email? Or in person meeting instead of Zoom?
      Cuz yeah. Just freaking email me.
      Hell, text me.
      Just let me process the info alone.

  18. Quake*

    Whenever I say this people give me a hard time, but I would much rather be “ghosted” than given a formal rejection. Letter #1 would be one of the worst scenarios of my entire life. I’m so sorry OP.

    1. anonymous73*

      Rejections always suck and people have preferences. I personally would like to know, even if it’s a generic form email instead of being ghosted. But setting up a video call, with no information on the topic, and expecting someone to maintain a level of professionalism is just plain cruel.

  19. Constance Lloyd*

    I added my strengths to a resume once, but it was for an application with a company that was actively recruiting at my university and very vocal about how much they used strengths in the workplace. For two years of my life, part of my job was teaching people how to understand and use their assessment results, and I don’t even include that training (or at least the specific details of it) on a resume unless I know ahead of time the company actively uses the assessment. If you feel your top 5 are an accurate reflection of your approach to work, use that language as a jumping point to describe yourself. Then you don’t have to worry about people being unfamiliar with the assessment or, worse, familiar but with a negative impression of it.

    1. Covered in Bees*

      Yes. I like using the language as a jumping off point to talk about yourself. I’ve found the process helpful on clarifying what I want to emphasize about myself or identifying what I don’t want.

      1. Constance Lloyd*

        It’s also helped me talk about my weaknesses and pivot to how I compensate for them, when interviewers ask.

        I should add that the one time I had them on a resume, the top 5 were listed up with my contact information and the training history was grouped with other student leadership roles and awards. They did not and should not have carried any more weight than that.

    2. Katie*

      My company is allllllllll about it with internal resumes. They provide templates and that is a choice to have with icons and everything. I think it is silly and a waste of space on a one page resume (which they also push hard).

      1. Constance Lloyd*

        Another place I worked used the Birkman assessment and (surprise, surprise!) there was of course one guy who essentially weaponized the language he learned to explain why he didn’t need to change his bad habits and others should in fact change their own behavior to adapt to his, because he now had an assessment explaining that’s just how he was. The assessments are only ever as good as the introspection of the person being assessed.

  20. Chria*

    > My spouse says my organization needs to be bigger than me

    This is so, so critical. Unless you own the company you really can’t sacrifice your life for it. Do your best while you’re there and work with integrity, but companies don’t have the same sense of reciprocity that individuals/communities do and it’s very unhealthy to operate as if they do — both for you and for society at large, through normalizing and legitimizing such sacrifice.

    Given that this is a very critical (but limited) time in your organization and has the potential to result in job loss if not handled correctly, I would say that acting with integrity likely means pushing back your start date if possible and giving as much notice as you can. You could also start documenting as much of what you do now as possible, so that if/when an offer comes through you can start cross-training right away. You could maybe even start cross-training some lower level tasks now.

    As a final note: if you’re acting as director while your boss is on leave for several months, you should be getting an additional stipend for that. If your organization is expecting you to take on the role for no additional compensation, I would factor that into how accommodating I am in my transition period. What they pay you says a lot about how much they value you.

    1. Katie*

      Seriously, if a company is cheap enough to not provide an additional head or more money while someone is in leave during a critical time that could result in job losses, then they don’t have loyalty to their people. Therefore there is no loyalty to you.

      1. Chria*

        It is possible that while OP is stepping in for the boss they’re only handling the critical stuff and parts of their own role are getting deferred. But I do think covering senior role for more than a few days needs to be recognized with a stipend.

    2. MCMonkeyBean*

      I agree; you do not *owe* your company anything more than standard two weeks notice–but if you like the people you work with and are trying to leave on a good note then giving more notice I think is the best thing you can do if it is possible in order to leave things on a positive note. Even just three weeks would show you were trying to do more than the bare minimum for them, but obviously how much you ask for may depend on when your offer happens to fall.

      Also just to note–we often point out here that the point of a notice period is not to let them replace you, but in this case they actually likely would use your notice time to find someone else in the large company who could step in temporarily for your boss after you are gone. Again, that doesn’t mean you *have* to help them with that, but it is just a reason that extra notice might be an actually useful thing you can offer if your new job is willing and able to work with that.

      Beyond that, your coworkers will understand! It’s awkward timing, but it so often is and it’s not your fault if the timing works out that way so there is no reason to feel bad, and definitely do not for one second consider turning down a job you actually want just because you don’t want to leave your current job in the lurch. If your small team is part of a big company that have almost certainly dealt with this type of situation plenty of times. My company has had some unusually high turnover among higher-level employees recently and they always are able to pull someone from another team to temporarily fill any gaps. As your spouse says, they will make it work without you and be just fine!

      Good luck!

      1. Chria*

        I think a longer notice period really depends on the seniority of the role. As you say, a notice period is for wrapping up/summarizing your work and transitioning critical tasks to other employees. It’s just that as you become more senior, there are more critical tasks, they’re more complex, and therefore the transition would likely take a bit longer.

        Interestingly enough, here in Canada you can actually be sued by your employer if you don’t give enough notice. With one BIG caveat: *when you are in such a senior level position that the lack of notice is detrimental to the company as a whole.* This means a CEO can’t peace out with only 2 weeks, but your underpaid IT tech could quit with no notice, even if they’re the only person in that role. I’m not sure how often this clause gets evoked in practice, because the burden of proof is on the employer to show that the employee was in a position of authority and strategic importance to the company. It’s not just about losing money or being inconvenienced.

  21. Sarahh*

    LW1 For internal promotion, you are brought into an office with the hiring committee to be told you’ve been rejected. There’s no conversation about why or what you could do better. You just sit there for a few awkward moments and then thank them for considering you and go back to your office. The system is the same if you are promoted, so you have no idea going in.

      1. BethDH*

        Nah, they should know that there will be a lego at some point but never know which step will bring it.

  22. Autumn leaves*

    Just adding that a lot of companies don’t follow the full Federal Holiday schedule. You can let them know about Juneteenth but if they don’t have Veterans day, MLK, Indigenous People’s day off, it’s unlikely they will add Juneteenth. We have 7 (I believe and they are the regular holidays plus the day after Thanksgiving) official holidays plus 3 floating.

    1. Curious Canadian*

      Just curious as a non-American – how does this work? Here (Canada) federal statutory holidays are mandatorily either days off or days where you get holiday pay for working. You don’t get to pick and choose, that’s why they’re federal holidays. In the States do companies just get to select which statutory holidays they observe? Is there a minimum?

      1. Jennifer*

        Companies are not required to give any days off in the US. Therefore they can pick and choose which, if any, federal and state holidays they include in their calendar.

      2. Person from the Resume*

        In the US federal holidays apply to federal employees (military, post office, DOD, VA, Forest Service, etc, etc) and businesses which choose to follow them. Businesses do not have to choose to offer all holiday and some will nickle and dime their employees by not offering them all particlarly the more obscure ones or the newer ones MLK day (not offering MLK day at this point comes across as racist this point) and Juneteenth.

        It’s not required so a company will have a policy which says which holidays are offered to their employees (some companies may say all federal holidays). Juneteenth was such a last minute signing last year that I missed getting the day off (because of my scheduled my day off would have been the day that the president signed the memo) but I got holiday pay (retrosctively since when I started working that day I didn’t know it was coming my way). It was so last minute, that companies would have had to pivot quickly last year to implement it. Not impossible just react with urgency. It may be that some slow moving bueaurecratic companies haven’t bothered to add it to their calendar or are slow rolling it because offering an extra paid holiday to their employees costs them some money.

        TL; DR: In US companies can choose which holidays to offer to their employees; usually company policies do make it very clear and it doesn’t change year to year.

      3. Purple Cat*

        Companies get to pick and choose and there are no minimums. States can also create their own holidays – aka MLK was observed by a lot of states before it became a federal holiday. And fun fact in NH it’s “Civil Rights Day”. Only federal agencies are definitely closed.

        1. quill*

          Some states celebrate a holiday that isn’t on the federal calendar at all. Fun times when “we have A-F federal holidays off, along with one production shutdown week and state holiday. So no, we don’t get presidents’ day off.”

          (Anyone else ever baffled as a child that other people’s school districts got so many more federal holidays off? They didn’t line up with my district’s schedule regarding midterms and parent teacher conferences so we certainly didn’t get indigenous people’s day, presidents’ day, etc. We only got MLK day if it was right after finals.)

      4. After 33 years ...*

        In my Canadian university, we will not get a holiday next Monday (23 May) – it will be a regular teaching day, as always.

        1. L*

          Not getting the May two four long weekend sounds horrible! And also vaguely illegal, but I’m not an expert on employment standards, haha.

      5. Wants Green Things*

        There’s essentially “major” and “minor” federal holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Memorial Day, July 4th are all major (it’s like 7 in total). MLK Day, Presidents’ Day, Juneteenth, Veterans’ Day, etc are the minor holidays, so the banks and government will be closed but private businesses will still work.

        1. Cat Lover*

          Yep- I work at a doctors office and we get Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day off. All others we are open.

          We work with a lot of pediatrics patients, so being open when kids have school holidays is important. We also have very generous PTO.

      6. Beany*

        I work for a state university system. They observe all the Federal Holidays … but not necessarily *on* the date the Feds do. For example, last year they observed Veteran’s Day, Presidents Day, and Columbus Day (ugh), on 27-29 December — effectively giving everyone the week after Christmas off.

        1. Gracely*

          Same. We just found out we’re getting Juneteenth off b/c the state passed a law giving it to us, and we actually are going to celebrate it around the time it’s supposed to be (Monday, this year). I was a bit surprised we’re getting it off like a major holiday, since minor/new holiday observances are all lumped into the winter break, and our summer academic calendar had already been set. MLK is the one exception to that, so I guess they’re treating Juneteenth similarly. Whatever their reasoning, I’m glad. I much prefer getting holidays off spread out through the year.

      7. Princess Xena*

        I think my company only ‘observes’ labor day, Memorial Day, July 4, Christmas/new year, and thanksgiving, and those are all mostly because staying open on those days is a waste of time since most people would call off anyways

      8. Chria*

        Well Orange Shirt Day is a new federal holiday that some (most?) provinces chose not to implement. So I see a lot of parallels between that and Juneteenth, but also think there’s value in OP pointing this out, especially to an organization committed to DE&I.

        1. After 33 years ...*

          Truth and Reconciliation Day (= Orange Shirt) was new last year, and was implemented rather rapidly. In 2022, more provinces and businesses in Canada are moving to honour the day and its purpose.

          1. Chria*

            Not sure if you were trying to clarify something in my comment or just adding more info for other people who may be reading, but I was pointing out the parallels between these 2 holidays and I think my point still stands.

            I don’t know what the newest federal holiday was before TRD, but but in general unless it’s acknowledged by the provincial government it’s not a statutory holiday. Thus why Western Canada celebrates Family Day while Eastern Canada doesn’t, all of Canada has Good Friday off while Quebec has Easter Monday, Quebec doesn’t close on Remembrance Day, but they do celebrate St. Jean Baptiste Day while the rest of Canada doesn’t. Various organizations may choose to close on that day, but unless the provincial government recognizes the holiday, it depends on the organization.

      9. fhqwhgads*

        In the US, Federal Holiday does not imply statutory holiday. The latter do not exist.

    2. OP 2*

      My organization recognizes EVERY holiday, so I hadn’t really considered that. I do have a friend who didn’t have Veteran’s Day off and I thought that was very odd. I have run into this same issue with Indigenous People’s Day and in that case, there are often events on Indigenous People’s Day (whereas any Juneteenth-related events I attend will be on Sunday), so I had an actual conflict vs. my office is closed so I’m not working.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        My company recognizes only 5 holidays. Not even Memorial Day or day after Thanksgiving. So if you call us on Presidents’ Day, Veterans Day, MLK Day, yes, we are open.
        I used to work for a large multinational, and we still did not celebrate President’s Day or Veterans Day. My partner now works in a huge multinational corporation, they have 10 holidays, the company is extremely diverse, and none of the 10 holidays they have on schedule are: Juneteenth, Veterans, MLK, Presidents, etc. Only the “major” holidays + extra day here and there attached to them.

      2. anonymous73*

        Indigenous People’s Day is not a federal holiday. And honestly I don’t even know when it falls. I’ve only been a government contractor since August, but my husband has worked for the government for over a decade and doesn’t have that day off.

        1. RussianInTexas*

          I had to google, and it’s 10/10/22. It falls on Columbus Day, my city celebrates the Indigenous People’s Day instead. But you are absolutely correct, it is not a federal holiday, because federal holiday is still Columbus Day.
          I’ve never had Columbus day off anyway.

          1. RussianInTexas*

            14 states total. I am surprised to see my state on the list, but as far as time off goes, it changes nothing for me.

          2. Native American Commenter*

            I’d like to come in and stress that it’s not that the Columbus Day holiday has merely been renamed; Indigenous People’s Day is a whole separate holiday that is meant as a counter to celebrating a harmful historical figure like Columbus. That’s why it’s set to the same day as Columbus Day. IPD has its own stories and celebrations. It may share dates with Columbus Day, but it is not Columbus Day wearing a new mask.

        2. InsufficientlySubordinate*

          Many people now call Columbus Day , Indigenous People’s Day. I believe that’s what is being referred to.

      3. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

        I’m a US government contractor, and my company does zero holidays, all they give us is just straight vacation hours that we can use whenever we want. So I was always the one sending out meeting invites for holidays without realizing because I didn’t have them marked in my outlook calendar, and all the government people I send it to have to be like ‘uhh holiday?’. I try to pay more attention but sometimes miss it when I’m in a rush…I’ve definitely hit Thanksgiving a whole bunch of times. So it could be more of an innocuous didn’t bother to look at what holidays are there thing.

        1. Very Social*

          Wow, I hope they’re generous with the vacation! I’m also a US government contractor and all the contracting companies that I’m aware of give all federal holidays as holidays, though some maybe offered as floating. I’d be pissed off if I had to use my vacation time for holidays on which my office is closed.

    3. Brett*

      Our US based company was bought out by a European country, and one of the first things they did was scrap every US federal holiday, including Thanksgiving and Christmas, since there is no mandate to give employees those days off.
      They replaced those with optional floating holidays, but the company is still open on all those holidays now. So functionally they are just vacation days and you still have to arrange for coverage, will miss meetings, etc., but most likely it will be a slow day for people working that day. Unfortunately, those floating holidays are _unpaid_ for 50-80% of employees, depending on division, so a lot of people never take them now.

    4. starfox*

      I just looked this up, and the federal Department of Commerce’s own website ( doesn’t include Juneteenth as a federal holiday.

      It lists:
      New Year’s Day January 1
      Martin Luther King’s Birthday 3rd Monday in January
      Washington’s Birthday 3rd Monday in February
      Memorial Day last Monday in May
      Independence Day July 4
      Labor Day 1st Monday in September
      Columbus Day 2nd Monday in October
      Veterans’ Day November 11
      Thanksgiving Day 4th Thursday in November
      Christmas Day December 25

      I am… confused.

      1. starfox*

        Thankfully my office takes all these off except for Columbus Day/Indigenous People’s Day. We also have Juneteenth off this year.

      2. Scott*

        I am also a fed and looked at the OPM holiday schedule after reading the initial post. My read of Commerce’s website is that it is just outdated as it only shows the days that are holidays (e.g., January 1st) but not necessarily the date it will be observed in a given year. Compare this to OPM schedule for 2022.

      3. Nameless in Customer Service*

        Is the Department of Commerce the only Official List? Does it overrule all others?

        Next comment includes a brief incomplete list of links to other governmental and other lists of Federal holidays.

  23. catsamillion*

    LW3, I have been in this position! Sans master’s degree, though. I worked in higher ed for seven years and I had multiple interns every year. I actually loved being able to be an ear for them as they navigated their college experience. Sometimes it opened the door for me to advocate for them and other students like them. Sometimes it became a conversation about life and how things aren’t always fair or fun, and how to navigate situations like that.

    Generally, I liked to start my intern relationships by laying out the basics. I’d pretty much say, “you’re an adult, I know you’re smart because I hired you, so here’s what my expectations are. If you don’t think you can meet those expectations let me know and we can usually find a workaround. Also, I’m a mandatory reporter on campus, so while I’m here for you for anything you need, know that anything that equates to Title IX has to be passed along to campus authorities.”

    They’re there to LEARN. Managing students means you have to create a situation in which they can learn, not just complete tasks. I loved my interns and I loved that they could talk to me about whatever was on their mind. If you’re not comfortable with that, you can really just say “I’d like to keep our conversations relevant to work while we’re here together.” But honestly, some of those students probably have legitimate concerns that you should be listening to.

    1. Chapeau*

      Yes, this! I was youngish when I had my own student workers and grad students that I supervised — and thought of myself as much younger and cooler than I really was of course.
      But part of supervising them was teaching them business norms and how to navigate my boss and grand boss — their grand boss and great grand boss. It’s not just managing them and their work, it’s managing their learning experience in that workplace to some degree. We actually had learning goals in their semester employee evaluations, and one student had “learning appropriate office wear” as one of his learning goals. That was a lovely semester. He wasn’t offered a second semester, fortunately.

    2. Malarkey01*

      I think some of this as a new manager is calibrating conversations and figuring out where that line it, but it can be very useful to listen to complaints from those you supervise and it doesn’t mean you are co-signing them. I have a lot of people who might come to me needing to vent about the way our company is handling things, the way another division acted, or the way a business partner company is handling things. Sometimes those veer into the less productive sphere and I reel them back, sometimes I can help them work through why things are the way they are, and sometimes they are bringing very good things up that I should be advocating for them.
      While it can be a fine line, I don’t think you want to become the supervisor who always “touts the company line and won’t hear anything negative”. That’s a way to lose people and miss problematic things that make it hard for your employees to operate. I think it’s one of the harder things to learn as a new supervisor.
      My general rule is not to get into mean, gossipy, or not work related vents and to make sure that one person isn’t turning venting into a habit or just making it a conversation habit, otherwise I want to hear what they’re saying and have a few stock phrases to use if you think you can’t openly agree or explain it (I use thank you for sharing, let me think about this and see how we can make it easier for you to work with).

    3. starfox*

      “They’re there to LEARN. Managing students means you have to create a situation in which they can learn, not just complete tasks.”

      YES. This 100%! A lot of assistantship positions seem to forget this. Grad assistants work for pitiful amounts of money because we are there to LEARN, not to be cheap labor.

      This next part isn’t directed at LW3, just my personal experiences. My first assistantship in grad school was absolutely awful. They paid me $800 a month (before taxes) for 20 hours of work a week in 2016 and in a major city. My take-home pay after rent was less than $300. The attitude was always how I should be so grateful to them for “paying for my school.”

      Which, no, they weren’t paying anything… I just wasn’t charged… There’s a difference! My tuition didn’t come out of their budget. And I was grateful, in that I came to work every day and did the job they asked me to do (admin type work). There’s no way they could hire anyone to do that job for such little money.

      I had so many bad experiences being treated like absolute dirt at that position. Once, I was awoken at 6:00 am by a text from my supervisor asking me to come in at 8:00 am instead of my usual afternoon schedule. I had been in class the night before until 8:00 pm… I told her I couldn’t do it and went back to bed.

      She refused to speak to me all day, she was so angry…. But if I ever said anything, like “I literally can’t afford to eat with what you’re paying me,” I was lectured on how I should be more grateful to them.

  24. Low-stakes, easy solution*

    LW2, this is way too much agonising. “Sorry, our office is closed for Juneteenth that day” is all you need. It’s a national holiday. Don’t work on statutory holidays if you’re not getting the appropriate holiday pay. This other company may have just forgotten about it since it became a statutory day only recently; assume it’s an oversight and reply like you would if they were scheduling the meeting on Thanksgiving or whatever.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      I agree that this is the solution. Assume an oversight and explain why you can’t make it.

      US companies do not have to offer federal holidays to their employees and this organization (or the people working in this non-profit) may not be getting it as a holiday themselves so assumed you didn’t either. Or just that the Monday holiday is not even on their radar because the actual holiday is Sunday, and the federal date of celebration is moved to Monday.

      I can’t really get a bead on what this organization is that the LW volunteers with that they consider part of their job, but it sounds like normally these meetings are held on a work day so they may appreciate the information that they scheduled this meeting on a holiday for at least some people.

    2. OP 2*

      I truly envy this approach. I am not particularly good at drawing those hard lines, especially if it’s something I *want* to do (I mentioned in another comment that if this was a boring meeting I didn’t really want to attend, I would relish the opportunity). I am working on being more selfish with my time, especially as a new mom.

      Thanksgiving may not be the best example since my years of working in retail have numbed my sensibilities when it comes to working on Thanksgiving.

      1. Low stakes, easy solution*

        I don’t want to be too harsh here since this was also something I struggled with early in my career, but this is an essential workplace skill. It’s not about being “selfish with your time.” Your office is closed. The people who are in charge of organizing your work have told you they prefer you not work – because they closed your office.

        When I made the transition from on-call clinical care provision to an office job, I also struggled to reorient myself in terms of norms, but “don’t work when it’s not work time” was something I had to learn, along with “in this job, nobody should be naked” and “if someone pukes on you, that should be treated as unusual”.

        Directing your work efforts appropriately is a work skill. This is an opportunity to show that you understand your work landscape (by respecting that your bosses have asked people not to work) and that you have strong resource management skills (by demonstrating that you understand the need to manage your own human resources with reasonable time off).

        Look at it this way: if your boss asked you to write a one-page document and you write a ten-page document, is that better? No. It costs time and effort and doesn’t add to what’s been asked of you. This is the same principle.

        1. starfox*

          Drawing lines with your time *is* an essential workplace skill, and it’s one that I’m happy to say I’m working on improving. But it absolutely will reflect poorly on you in some work environments. Granted, these are the type of work environments you will want to avoid, anyway! And I do think the culture is (slowly) changing around the work/life balance.

          But a lot of us have been taught by experience in the workplace that our time isn’t valuable. We’ve been chastised and treated poorly by supervisors if we do try to draw that line.

        2. OP 2*

          It sounds like your work is a lot different than mine. While my organization holds traditional hours (8:30-5) and some of my coworkers are able to only work those hours, some of our roles (mine included) involve working outside of those hours. I work in the field with communities, which sometimes means working in the evenings or even occasionally on the weekends. So, drawing a hard line of “I don’t work when the office is closed” would mean I’m not very effective at my job.

          When I say I am trying to be more selfish with my time, what I mean is: not all of these after hours activities are high priority, so I try to be pickier about which ones I say “yes” to and which ones I skip. I also do a better job now of actually flexing my time. If I work Thursday evening, I come in late on Friday, for example.

      2. Wisteria*

        Perhaps I have misunderstood, but this isn’t part of your paid work, is it? I understood the advisory position to be more of a volunteer position, similar to sitting on a board of trustees. You can certainly draw your hard lines wherever you want, and maybe it makes the most sense to you to only do other obligations (“work” vs work) on days when you also go to work. It does seem like an odd thing to ask a company who you don’t work for to reschedule a meeting bc you have the day off. You are asking them to prioritize your holiday schedule over theirs, which might not be something they are willing to accommodate.

        I feel like there is a larger picture than this one meeting, though, which is whether you current work life balance can include as much time in this advisory role.

        1. OP 2*

          Because all of the activities related to my role on the advisory board occur during work hours and I, in a way, am representing my organization, I very much consider it part of my work. I do not take time off to engage in this work.

          1. Wisteria*

            Does your employer agree that sitting on this advisory board is part of your role? Or is it more of a, “as long as you complete all the work that we expect someone in this role to do, we don’t care if you take part in other professional activities during work hours.” That’s the real determiner.

            1. OP 2*

              They don’t care what i do or when I work as long as I’m doing cool mission-related stuff.

  25. Emma_G*

    LW2, any chance this other organization hosting the meeting is recognizing Juneteenth on a different day? My office is closed on the 18th this year for Juneteenth, while I know other offices are observing on the 20th. I agree with the posted answer and think it would be worth clarifying in the off chance this is a mismatch between your organization and the other one.

    1. Emma_G*

      Oops, I mean closed on the 17th! I just checked again and it looks like all state offices in my state are actually closed the 17th in observance, rather than the 20th.

    2. OP 2*

      I let them know and they said it was an oversight on their part and that it is unfortunately too late to reschedule.

      1. Rob aka Medaincat*

        So will you be informing them you can’t attend, or gritting your teeth and attending?

        (And too late to reschedule?That’s over a month away!)

        1. OP 2*

          Agree that it seems… not at all too late to reschedule! They booked a venue for it, so maybe that is the hang up? Perhaps they should have chosen the date more wisely.

          I really like this org and the work they do and the work I get to do as part of this group, so I will probably attend (no teeth gritting) and flex my time later in the week.

  26. Purple Cat*

    LW5 you fail to mention how much additional pay your company is giving you and/or the temp they have hired to cover your old work while you cover your bosses work. There’s your answer as to how much loyalty your company has to you and how disproportionate your feelings are toward the company.
    If you get the job, take it and don’t look back. Sure, try to negotiate a slightly longer notice period (a few extra weeks) but that’s it.

  27. MCMonkeyBean*

    I’m actually not sure I agree on number 1. I mean, I do think that if you are remote a phone call is probably better than an interview just because as you say all that prep time for the camera, whereas if you were in the office you’d be ready for the day anyway. But I think for internal candidates it is normal and often better to have a meeting to discuss their hiring decision rather than just an email. Maybe it is easier for me to say this because I wasn’t that attached to the position I didn’t get–I applied for two levels of positions on a new team being built and ended up with the lower level. My boss set up a meeting with me to basically explain why he ended up going with the other candidate for the higher level position.

    I would think in that kind of situation is is normal to have them want to sit down and explain the decision for you, especially so they can talk about if there is anything you might want to work on that could land you the position next time.

    1. Chria*

      I think the delivery of the news should be over email, so people can process it without needing to put on a stoic face. But yes, internal applicants deserve more follow up and you should have a meeting with them afterwards to explain things and also to coach them about what they could do to improve their own candidate profile for future opportunities.

  28. Veryanon*

    LW1: This happened to me recently. I applied for an internal position that I was really, really excited about, and I thought I had a good shot. I had to go through several rounds of interviews with various decision makers, do a presentation about my plans if I were to be offered the decision, etc., etc. I even had one decision maker tell me flat out that if it were up to him, I would receive the job. The hiring manager pinged me one day to set up a “quick touch base video call” and even though I tried to control my emotions, my hopes were really high. Only to be totally crushed when she told me that they had decided to hire someone else, who would now be my manager. To be fair, the other candidate was also very qualified and I had no issue with her being hired, except for the fact that it meant I didn’t get the job. But yeah, it was really, really hard to stay neutral in the moment and not fall apart on camera.
    Hiring managers, please don’t do this.

  29. OP 2*

    OP 2 here! I alerted the organizer and they said they did recognize the oversight, but not until it was too late to reschedule. I am still undecided about whether or not I attend. I’d really like to be at the meeting, but I recognize my own work-life balance issues at play (and I am a new mom, so I am trying to be more selfish with my time now). If it were a boring meeting, I’d relish the opportunity to skip it, but, alas, that is not the case.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      Good for you, OP.

      Sorry that their oversight is even forcing you to decide.

    2. Also BIPOC*

      They should at least record the session and make it available to everyone. Even as a genuine oversight, it would be the right thing to try to make it more inclusive and accessible (with the understanding that it can’t be perfectly inclusive).

    3. Prefer my pets*

      Would your employer let you flex? I’m a fed & for awhile I was working positions where a lot of our partners had events/meetings on the less-popular federal holidays and I was always allowed to earn credit hours for working those days/parts of those days and then use them either later that same pay period or whenever was convenient for me. (Incidentally this was FANTASTIC when I was earlier in my career and hardly got any AL)

  30. TotesMaGoats*

    #4-I 100% agree with Alison on keeping Strengths/MBTI/etc OFF your resume and cover letter. It’s a waste of space. I advise my students the same.


    If you are going into a job in the student affairs/support/career center realm, it MAY be helpful there. It’s the one place where I see it consistently used outside of the personal revelation category. I don’t think it should be there either but it is the outlier and fits the field. YMMV.

  31. Bumblebee Mask*

    For LW 1. I can still remember when I had been unemployed/under for a long time. I spent over 5 hours interviewing at a place. I got a voicemail letting me know to call them so I did. I was so excited. I assumed that meant I was going to be offered the job since if I wasn’t they would have just said so on the voicemail, right? Wrong. I had been temping as a receptionist for a mental health provider for homeless people when I called them back and found out I didn’t have the job. I wanted to cry so badly, but put on a brave face for the rest of the day. I can’t imagine how I would have responded if it were a VIDEO call.

  32. anonymous73*

    #1 I would actually reach back out to HR and tell them how it made you feel. It may discourage them from doing the same thing in the future.
    #3 Please please please…now that you’re a manager, stop dropping hints when you need a subordinate to stop a certain behavior. Being clear and direct will help everyone in the situation manage their expectations. Not just with the example you gave, but in all situations.
    #5 Never choose loyalty to a current employer over what’s best for you. You can’t always wait for the “perfect” time to leave a job for a new opportunity. If a place is going to collapse if one person leaves, then there were bigger problems than that one person leaving and it falls under “not your problem”.

  33. Cmdrshpard*

    I don’t know that it is necessarily bull, sometimes there really isn’t anything you can do better, you were a great candidate and they would have been happy to have you in the job, but another candidate has maybe just a tad more experience in field x. The requirement was 3 years experience in field x, they really hoped for 5 years, you came in with 6 years of experience, but another person almost identical resume but they had 7 years of experience in field x.

  34. Katy*

    LW1: I recently got a phone call rejection for an internal position, along the lines of “We’re going with another candidate but we liked your interview and encourage you to reapply if the position opens again.” And once I got over the “oh, their phone number! Are they hiring me? No, they’re not” disappointment, I was actually really glad they had called rather than letting the central hiring manager send out the same form email that I’ve gotten a million times. It gave me some real encouragement to keep looking for similar positions.

    A video call would have been awful, though.

  35. Tangerine Dream*

    LW #1 – My old boss said that if the person is an internal candidate, the hiring manager (not HR) should tell the person. He said to bring the person into an office or conference room, look very serious and say, “I’m sorry, but you didn’t get the job.” Then, stop talking and let the person respond. Then, tell the person that if they would like feedback, they should contact you in a week to set something up. Keep the conversation brief.

    I agree that it’s awful when you’re an internal candidate who didn’t get the job. And a good manager feels bad about not hiring a good candidate (and about making an internal candidate feel bad).

    I also agree that there’s no good way to do it, only bad and less bad ways.

    1. Chria*

      Oof, boss’s way is well-intentioned but pretty horrible. The only thing I agree with is making sure the hiring manager delivers the message rather than HR. Pulling a person aside and waiting for them to respond to you puts the onus on them to manage a potentially emotional reaction with no notice. Blindsiding someone with negative news and putting them in a situation where they have to put a brave face on is unkind. I also think that rather than telling them to contact you in a week to set something up, you should explicitly make it clear you value the opportunity to give them feedback and the offer isn’t just a brush-off.

      My ideal rejection scenario is an email that contains the following:
      1) notice that they didn’t get the job
      2) brief description of who got it, with or without their name (e.g. “It was a very close competition [if it wasn’t actually very close then replace that phrase with something like “We appreciate you taking the time to apply], but ultimately we chose Sansa/a candidate who had more experience in x/ skills in y.”
      3) proposed meeting date and time to give them feedback/career advice, ideally between 2 -5 days in the future so they have time to regulate their emotions but not so far away that it seems like you’re putting it off (e.g. “If you’d like some feedback about your application and some guidance about how to improve your candidacy for future applications, I’d be happy to meet with you on Thursday at 3 [or “one afternoon next week, choose any available time on my calendar”].”

      A bit involved, sure, but there’s a fine balance between showing you care and not putting emotional labour on someone.

  36. Sarahh*

    I’m not sure if they enjoy it or just think it’s a good idea. I’m guessing none of them read here! The one time I did get promoted, I thought they were going to tell me I wasn’t promoted as I’d already heard rumor that another person was. Instead they blindsided me with the news that they were promoting me to another spot, which was vacant because my coworker had passed away 2 days earlier. I burst into tears, and they were all staring at me. The family hadn’t even had the funeral yet.

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      That sounds awful about how they handled the opening due to a death.
      That is so wrong on multiple levels.

  37. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

    LW1 is reminding me of a terrible non-work experience.

    I had an appointment for an embryo transfer with my fertility doctor. So I took the morning off work, had a full bladder, and drove to the facility. Only to be taken to an office instead of the procedure room to be told my embryo was non-viable.

    That has also been in my mind as particularly non-empathetic – I didn’t need to use 4 hours of PTO and almost pee my pants for this, please just call instead.

  38. El l*

    Yeah, just nicely point it out. “Hey folks, would it be possible to reschedule? It became an official holiday last year, my office is closed that day, and I plan on taking the day off.” Meetings can be easily changed in most contexts – and you sit on a board, so you definitely have stature.

    I once scheduled a board meeting for Veterans Day, and one of the board members called me and asked me to change it – he was a veteran, though our organization had nothing to do with the military. And I did – no big deal.

  39. Nameless in Customer Service*

    So, Juneteenth, the newest US federal holiday (though it’s existed for a lot longer than that). June 19th (hence the name) The next comment is a link to my favorite article about what it is and what it means (hopefully _National Geographic_ is nonpartisian enough for most).

    A historical note: while Juneteenth is a US holiday slavery was an international concern and its legacy continues to be. There are more facts in the world than any human can know but declaring this one too trivial to be worth knowing is a statement with weight, not least after this weekend and one murderous young man’s idea of “reparations”.

    1. Nameless in Customer Service*

      To reply clarifyingly to myself, the young man who deliberately went into a heavily Black neighborhood of Buffalo NY on Saturday and shot 13 people, killing 10, 11 of his victims being Black and deliberately chosen on that basis, wrote “here’s your reparations” on his weapon before his rampage. As in the often-discussed concept of reparations for slavery. And reading this discussion about whether Juneteenth, the day celebrating the end of slavery, is worth knowing about, I can’t help remembering that.

      1. Yeah, nah*


        It’s fine to not know some things. But the pride in that ignorance is really something. Especially right now.

  40. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    I absolutely adore personality tests, strength finders, all that stuff, because I can make them say anything about me. Heck my personality isn’t stable at the best of times so a one off measure is going to be about as accurate as throwing a cup of jam at a moving train and hoping to hit the ‘G’ in Great Western.

    (Bonus: imagine a sound effect for that. It’s actually one of the mind tricks I use to distract from intrusive thoughts for a second)

    If I received a CV with a personality type etc. on it I wouldn’t discard it but I wouldn’t be too enthused about it either. There’s a common misconception that IT people have to all be a certain type (logical, highly introverted, socially inept etc) so we do actually get a few of the ‘I’m measured as being this type’ on applications thinking it’ll boost their chances of being hired.

    It doesn’t. Quick look round my IT department and you’ll not find two people the same.

  41. Observer*

    #2 Juneteenth

    Keep something in mind when you respond to the organization. Junetenth, and other legal holidays, get rescheduled around the weekend. That makes it very different ftom Yom Kippur or any other Jewish holiday. (I have no idea how other religions and cultures handle this across the board.)

    That’s not to say that they shouldn’t observe it. It just means that it’s quite possible that the person or people who scheduled this meeting may not have realized that they are stepping on the observance of the holiday, because they looked for a day that’s not June 19 not realizing that it would be observed on the next day this year.

  42. cmcinnyc*

    Re: Juneteenth. The State of New York is observing the holiday on Monday, June 20. The State of New Jersey is observing the holiday on Friday, June 17th. Agree that the LW should mention it–there may be a weird reason like this that the other office is open on the 20th. But I have people sending me meetings on Memorial Day and I have to remind them we’re closed. And so are they.

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      I think that part of the problem with Memorial Day is that I keep expecting it to be on May 30th, rather than being moved to the nearest Monday.

  43. Observer*

    #5 – New job opportunity.

    Something caught my eye as I was reading your letter. Are you going to be expected to take over for your boss AND keep doing your current job? If that’s the case, then I think that this REDUCES any sense of obligation or loyalty you should feel. Because from what you describe that just not a reasonable expectation. Unless they are planning to give you a temporary pay bump and get someone to back-fill some of your current duties that’s not really something that they should be asking of you. And it’s the sign of an organization that will be very happy to take advantage of you.

  44. Leia Oregano*

    Oh OP1, I have no advice, just commiseration. I was once called so that a hiring manager could reject me for a position I’d been really excited for, and I happened to be home with my mom dealing with the aftermath of my stepfather’s sudden, unexpected death. It was already a horrible day/week, made worse by the fact that I had to not sound heartbroken on the phone with someone I’d really wanted to work with. Hiring managers, unless you know the candidate really well and know how they’ll react, just send an email if you’re going to reject a candidate. Having a few moments to react without the pressure of a witness gives a person the freedom to cry a little if they need to, be angry/upset, shrug and move on, or whatever their reaction needs to be. No one should be forced to sound chipper as they’re being turned down for a job, potentially one they felt good about, and you have no way of knowing what they’re going through at the moment they happened to pick up the phone.

  45. Sarah*

    #1 is interesting to me. Every company I’ve worked for would break the news to internal candidates in person. I would imagine now, video call would be standard practice. I never would have dressed up for this sort of meeting or thought to prepare beyond what I’d already done. I would’ve figured this would be my make or break meeting and mentally prepared for it that way.

    But I guess I’ve learned something about how others would see it.

  46. Legal Rugby*

    OP #3 – Please realize that authoritative is different then setting boundaries. If you want to set student worker boundaries, it should be focused on your own behavior, and what situations you need to stop or remove your self from. (These will be different – racist/sexist jokes, you stop. Conversations between coworkers while they are reshelving books or doing research, you can remove yourself from.)

    That said, I’ve worked in higher ed. It is not inappropriate for them to complain to you. Its a learning experience for you as a supervisor. You have a couple different options – you can draw a boundary that you need to enforce; this can be helpful in providing them with experience in professional norms (Make sure you actually know what the norms of your profession are, and where they are just codified racism, etc.) You can also provide professional advice in how to navigate certain situations (“I found X to be really helpful in that class.”) You may also need to ask them if they want the problem escalated, if they are describing something that a chair, or dean, or staff member should know about. You should be aware, as a university employee, that their experiences could be different from yours, and be alert for complaints that you HAVE to report – if you are a responsible reporter, or if you hear about treatment that could be discrimination.

    I used to work in compliance, and many of our cases came from recent grads who were less intimidating to approach when a student needed help – or who they had known as students. You should also become aware of how your identities could have impacted your experience in the program, and ask yourself if your student workers identities are playing any role in their experiences. If you are saying to yourself “but I had that professor, and they were great!” that doesn’t mean that you should dismiss the student who is asking you (maybe not clearly) for guidance in navigating the situation.

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      Yep to this. Graduate assistants in a working a position at the Uni where they attend school aren’t just employees, they are also students. And the their complaints about the program and their complaints about certain professors are not just “person complaining about management” but are also “person expressing concerns about thing I am paying money for.” And often the only place they feel safe to express those concerns are to other people who are similar to them- ie: person who just graduated. Thanks to listening to Graduate Assistant complaints, a very abusive professor at a Uni I used to work at didn’t get tenure and the students who expressed concern went to their boss, because they trusted them. Yes, LW3 should shut this down if it gets personal, but they also need to realize that there can be really valuable information shared in these conversations.

      1. J.B.*

        I attend a library program and the department really shafted the masters students. The totem pole was PhD > undergrad > masters. Which really frustrated adult me who was paying a premium for the professional degree.

    2. starfox*

      Agree… I don’t blame LW3 for wanting to shut down the venting, but it’s not inherently inappropriate. OP’s tone in the letter sounds like they’re taking it as a slight or a sign of disrespect, but I don’t see it that way at all.

  47. Mimmy*

    #1 – Rejection over video

    While I would appreciate the attempt at being less impersonal, I agree with Alison that this was handled inappropriately. I’ve had it happen to me and it sucks royally.

    Years ago, I applied internally for a position in a different department at my then-current organization. Sometime later, I got an email from the HR recruiter asking to meet with me to discuss the position. Good sign, right? Nope! I got there for her to tell me that they filled the position with someone in that department. I was so ticked off!

  48. nogoodnameideas*

    THANK YOU for confirming the whole phone call/video call rejection approach is not good. I was rejected for an internal role and they called me to tell me I’d been rejected and said that HR policy was to call to reject candidates who were interviewed to make sure they confirmed that they knew that they were rejected which meant that at the end of the two sentence conversation they asked me to confirm that I understood I was not going to get the job (this was also while I was furloughed from the company in the midst of Covid and had gotten a heads up from my boss that my role was a likely layoff down the line).

  49. Lizzo*

    LW3: It’s super awesome that you’re interested in being a good manager, and that you recognize there needs to be a professional boundary between you and the students. Having worked in similar situations, I would advise you to be very self-aware about how you display your authority, and how students/direct reports are responding to your authority. I have seen new younger managers who act (or are perceived as acting) with a strong air of superiority and condescension as a result of their management power, and that can really sour the relationship.
    You might consider spending some time reading about leadership theory–authentic leadership, servant leadership, transformational leadership, etc–and contemplate which leadership style is most like you and/or which style most suits your particular workplace.
    Good luck!

  50. Ben Marcus Consulting*

    For LW1: I disagree. The only way to reject for an internal applicant is in defending order: in-perosn > video chat > over the phone.

    An email would be extremely poor form with someone that works for you.

  51. cardigarden*

    LW4: Putting those sorts of test results as a qualification/resume line opens you up to being evaluated in ways you might not expect. Listing an “introverted” MB type might invite unwanted scrutiny if the position is client/customer/people facing. For an enneagram type, as another example, be aware that they are all on a scale. You might consider yourself a healthy [number], but if your hiring manager knows anything about it, they might be concerned you have unhealthy [number] tendencies.

    If there are potential negatives you don’t want to be inadvertently evaluated on, don’t do it. It’s just asking for extra scrutiny.

  52. Higher Ed Kitten Party*

    LW #3: Higher ed pro here! Also a recent graduate, with tattoos and fun hair and a youthful style, despite being in my late 30’s. I worried about this a lot when I first got hired.

    I have found that the best tone to take with student workers is actually not overly authoritative, but rather kind and positive. You are cultivating a relationship with them as people, and also, you are helping them cultivate a relationship with higher education as a whole, and being overly punitive in your language can make students acutely aware of any power imbalances.

    It is important to me that student workers feel comfortable to ask “stupid” questions without judgement, and for them to know that I am primarily invested in their success. They know when I tell them that they cannot do something, it is because I want them to succeed, not because I want to punish them. Keeping a positive disposition goes miles for this!

    Definitely keep a few key scripts in your pocket – I am a big fan of “that sounds really hard, do you want advice or do you just want to vent?” and if they want advice or they want to vent, you can choose whether or not you want to be in that role. Sometimes my students need me just to confirm that their frustration is a valid thing, sometimes a student wants to understand the big, complicated reason why something is the way it is, and sometimes students just want to shit-talk a professor they think is too rigid. Obviously, I want to attend to the first two things and not the last – and students usually get why that is without me having to explain it too much.

    Good luck!!

  53. Spcepickle*

    I also have to disagree with letter writer one. I have both had to tell internal applicants they were not selected and been the not selected internal candidate.

    I once tried IM to tell people they were not selected, went over like a lead balloon. In teleworking time video call is in person. I think for internal candidates it is the way to go. I prepare feedback on what went right and what they could improve on and what other openings are coming.

    For external candidates who I interview it is either a quick phone call or email.

  54. Quiet Riot*

    LW #1 – I have been on both sides of this. I was once the hiring manager for a position where we had two very good candidates – but for different reasons. Our most immediate need meant that we needed to hire Candidate A but Candidate B would have been great if we didn’t have the pressing concerns. I wanted to call this person to let them know how great they were and that if we’d had 2 positions, we would have want them too. It literally took me 15 seconds into the call where I realized I had made a mistake – they thought they were getting made an offer. It *really* hit home when I was a candidate for my boss’ job. I was called to meet with his boss for 8am one day – given a couple of days notice. I asked if I needed to prepare anything for the meeting – “Nope – just come over.” I was so naive thinking this was about work. I finally realized exactly what the meeting was about when I was in the meeting and the grandboss said the hiring manager for the position was also going to attend (she was late). So I got to sit for 20 minutes (!) where they both told me how great I was, if the position was X and not Y you’d be a shoo-in, but that there was another candidate who had more experience (which was true). He even said that he liked to have these meetings in person – he could have sent an email but, “I’m not that kind of guy.” I told them both that I would have been fine with an email. I got to go back to my office and work *the entire day* because I had back to back meetings. Note to self: always send an email and offer to speak with the candidate if they want more information.

  55. OP1*

    Hello! This is OP#1. Thank you all so much for your replies! I read each and every one of them and particularly appreciate the well wishes and encouraging words. After reading, I think a few other details might be relevant.

    First, when I was told I wasn’t getting the job I received the generic, “But we were really impressed by your background.” There was nothing else. No what I could have done better, what they were looking for that I lacked or that the other candidate had that I didn’t, how I can improve my interviewing next time, “but wait we have another position you should apply for,” etc. That said, I didn’t get any constructive feedback, just the same line that could have been in an email.

    Second, for those saying its poor form to reject internal candidates through an email – My location alone has over 1,000 employees. This was for a location in another state that also has over 1,000 employees. I won’t divulge the organization, but I will say that I’d guess every one of you has heard of it, so it is pretty massive. I won’t run into these people in the hallway and it’s not a situation where they know me well or anything like that. When the org is that large, an email like the one Alison suggested is really, truly okay. I assure you.

    Finally, I agree with most of the comments that suggest an email for rejection is ideal, with the opportunity to schedule a feedback meeting separately IF you want it. I would have gladly taken that over the video situation I was put into.

    Thankfully, I was able to maintain composure on video, but it certainly wasn’t easy. It’s very awkward when you’re forced to go on camera, especially if the conversation has no content other than what could have been said in an email.

    1. Ben Marcus Consulting*

      Even for a large organization, rejection emails are indeed poor form. While an email can be useful for a lot of communications, it can also be cold. You don’t want to be cold to the people that work for you.

      Not to say that your organization handled it well, they clearly did not. At the least, there should have been a discussion about where you were weak and what resources are available to get you where you want to be. For a company that large, I would fully expect that standardized development pathways are available or even that leadership would help craft a plan with you.

      I’m on this side of perplexed by your line about attire and makeup. If business casual is ok for your company, its ok for the interview, too. If business professional is otherwise expected, I guess I don’t understand why it was a big deal for the call. If you took it up a notch for the call, great! But there really doesn’t need to be any consideration from your employer on this.

  56. Little Miss Sunshine*

    LW1, I have to disagree with Alison here. As a hiring manager, I make it a point to interview all internal candidates and to meet with them to provide my final decision and helpful feedback. Sometimes I redirect them to a different group, or I will give advice on training they could take to make them a better fit for the role, or even advise them to apply for a more senior position. I think this is critically important for internal applicants and I am infuriated by colleagues who think nothing of ghosting candidates entirely. Of course, I always tell people that this is part of my process, so they expect to hear from me one way or another. My company also places a lot of emphasis on mentoring and sponsorship so I feel like having this final meeting is living up to cultural expectations. Getting formal for a 15 minute call was a leap on your part.

  57. MP*

    In person rejections are always bad in my opinion.

    I had applied for an internal role within the same department. My boss pulled me into the office (can’t remember if it was scheduled or impromptu). She starts off with, “I have great news, we were able to open another role. The roles will be going to Joe and Susan. We will be giving you a raise, though.”

    Bosses, please start with the bad news. This is a horrible way to reject someone.

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