my boss wants 6 months notice, quirky backgrounds on video calls, and more

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

1. My boss wants six months notice

I’ve been working as a consultant with my boss for eight years, full time for five. We are the only two full time employees—we have freelance contractors, but I handle half the clients and he handles the other half. However, he is definitely the boss, and he makes twice what I do (although I am paid very well).

He has told me that due to the nature of the company and his reliance on me, he wants six months notice if I ever leave. His reasoning is that it will take him a long time to replace me, and he also wants to help me search once I decide to leave. I didn’t say anything at the time, and now that I’m thinking of leaving, I am having a hard time grappling with it. There is no company that will hire me and let me give that kind of notice, so basically, I’d have to quit without the safety net of having the next job to go to. What if six months runs out and I don’t have a job? I have a family to support, and just don’t see how this is tenable. Do I have a responsibility to give that kind of notice?

Haha, no. He can want six months notice. He can want two years of notice! That doesn’t make it reasonable for him to expect it or you to give it. Two weeks notice is standard, and three or four weeks in certain fields and for certain positions. That’s it, and that’s all you should feel obligated to give.

I suspect you’re worried that when you resign with two weeks notice, your boss might feel you broke your agreement — even if you never explicitly agreed to his ridiculous request. You can deal with that by saying, “This fell in my lap and they need me to start right away so unfortunately I can’t give more than the customary two weeks.” Or if you want to be more direct, you could say, “Six months wouldn’t be realistic. Every employer I’ve spoken with or worked for expects new hires to be available within a few weeks of accepting the offer, so there’s no other way to do it. I’m happy to do what I can to help with the transition during my remaining time though.”

2. Was this interviewer as bad as I think?

I had an interview just this morning and am a bit confused. I’m a recent college graduate so I don’t have much interview experience. I’ve done a few on zoom, but this morning was my first in-person interview ever. I don’t think this is how an interview should go, but maybe I’m wrong as I have limited experience.

It was an early interview, so the hiring manager was a few minutes late, which I didn’t mind. Another manager sitting in was very welcoming and polite and just sat with me discussing the company before the interviewing manager came. When the person interviewing me came in, she did not greet me in any way. She sat down and started the interview. I offered copies of my resume that I had brought and she said she had her own. As it went on, it was obvious she had not looked at my resume at all. I’ve had one job for four years in childcare while I went to college. I obviously discussed this a lot as it’s my only job. She’s then searching through a stack of papers trying to find my resume and saying, sort of annoyed, “Do you have any other experience?” as if I hadn’t just said I’ve worked here for four years from the time I was in high school to my college graduation. I had to pass a typing test to get this interview, she asks what my words-per-minute is anyway.

What really upset me was that when I was explaining my current job and that I love where I’m working and have grown a lot in my role, she asks why I’m leaving the job. I know this is a standard question, but to ask someone who just graduated college why they’re looking for a job was a bit ridiculous. As a candidate who took time out of their day to come to an interview and spent time prepping myself and researching the company, it was quite upsetting that someone couldn’t even be bothered to review my resume. Is this normal or did I just have a really poor first experience?

She wasn’t a great interviewer, but you’re reacting too strongly to a lot of this. There’s no reason to believe she had never seen your resume before; it’s possible, but interviewers don’t always retain everything in the days/weeks or even longer that might go by between when they look at your resume and decide to interview you and when they actually speak to you. Should they review it again right before you meet? Yes, definitely. But sometimes last-minute stuff comes up and gets in the way. It’s not ideal, but it happens and the best thing to do is to just roll with it and not let it throw you off. (Sometimes, too, your interviewer won’t have looked at your resume ahead of time at all, and you’ve got to just roll with that too. Sometimes they got pulled in at the last minute, sometimes other stuff just got in the way. Sometimes they’re disorganized and that’s a problem, but that’s something you’d conclude if you saw a pattern of disorganization, not just this one thing.)

Her question about whether you’d had other jobs isn’t weird. Just because you said that you’d worked the childcare job for four years doesn’t mean you don’t have other experience — people often don’t think to mention volunteer work, campus jobs, or other relevant things that might not be on their resume and it makes sense to ask the question. Asking why you’re leaving the job is indeed standard and not something to bristle at; yes, you’re graduating college and that might make the answer obvious, but people’s situations are different and it’s a reasonable question to ask. The typing test thing is mildly annoying but, again, not a huge deal.

To be clear, if I were coaching her on interviewing, I’d steer her away from most of this. But it’s really common and the best thing you can do is not be thrown off by it.

3. Two people proposing splitting a job

I’ve wondered about this for years, and after seeing your responses to other fictional scenarios I thought I’d ask.

Here’s the scenario: In an episode of “Jonathan Creek” (an excellent British show about a magician’s trick designer who uses his skills to solve weird crimes on the side), Jonathan is asked to work out how a man named Norman could have been caught on CCTV in London at the same time a dozen of his work colleagues swear he was at a meeting with them in New York. It eventually transpires that when Norman applied for the high-stress, high-pay job that requires him to work alternating weeks in London and New York, he hit upon a clever solution to the demands of the position: Norman stays in London and does half the work while an old friend and work colleague with comparable qualifications stays in New York and does the other half of the job, doing all the in-person work pretending to be Norman (presumably he attended the New York based interviews and Norman attended the London ones, although that’s not addressed in the episode). They split the workload and the money between them.

My question is not “would they get fired for this if they got caught?” as obviously they would. My question is what would have happened if Norman and his friend had presented this offer to their employer up-front as a two for the price of one deal? Would some companies be tempted? Would most be turned off by the weirdness? Would some potential employers accept with the intention of working them both full-time for half the pay? Would the cost of two insurance plans and other sundries be seen as outweighing the advantages? If you’d been on the hiring board and were presented with this option, what would your response be?

There would need to be some incentive for the employer to do it — like the two being unusually strong candidates. You’d have twice the costs of some benefits (assuming they gave them benefits for half-time work, which in the U.S. they might not), twice the administrative burden, twice the management burden (which is not insignificant — now you’re coaching and giving feedback and direction to two people rather than one), and a bunch of coordination issues that wouldn’t arise with only one person in the position, like continuity on projects and communication. That’s not to say it couldn’t be done, and even be done well. But it’s a lot more to take on for the employer, so the candidates would have to be appealing enough to make them want to.

That said, if it remains a candidates’ market, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more employers considering it in the future. There are a lot of well-qualified people who would like half-time work for all kinds of reasons.

4. Is a quirky background on video calls professional?

I’m switching from the public sector into the corporate world. I work out of my home office, which is clean, neat, and tastefully decorated. The trouble is that my taste is a little bit oddball. Think goth library, or “dark academia” if you’re a Tiktok person. Nothing within view of the camera is really offensive. It looks like an office. There’s art, some candles, bookshelves, a chair. The art is just a little weirder than the kind of Marshall’s decor that I see on most people’s walls. It’s not, like, adult themed. But most people just don’t have a medieval painting of heaven all over their back wall.

Wall with Bosch tapestry of a medieval painting.

This is roughly what shows when I’m on Zoom. It’s really the Bosch tapestry that gives me pause!

Previous coworkers and supervisors had no problem with it, and some even complimented me. I checked it with professional friends before interviewing, who said that it looked fine to them. But the first interview I had closed with the manager thanking me for the “unique energy I brought to the space,” and I never heard back on the job. I did the rest of my interviews against a plain wall, and I got hired! (Thanks for your fantastic questions to ask in interviews, by the way!)

Now that I’ve got this remote-heavy job, is my goth library too unprofessional for regular, everyday meetings? I really can’t tell if it’s genuinely distracting, or if I’m just really self-conscious. This room wasn’t meant for regular broadcast to the outside world, but it’s really tricky to set up a work space anywhere else in my house.

Nah, you’re fine. That’s not a particularly controversial, disturbing, or distracting tapestry.

I do think plainer backgrounds are useful for interviews if you can swing one, because you never know what biases an interviewer might have (and some interviewers hold candidates to different standards than they’d hold a colleague to). But now that you’re working there, it should definitely be fine. If it gives you peace of mind, you could run the question by your manager or a coworker whose judgment you trust, but I don’t think you need to!

5. Explaining why I’m leaving a job I’ve been at forever

I’ve been at my current job for so long that I think it’s hurting me in my job search. My role has changed a bit over the years, and I’ve always found the work and environment to be relatively interesting. However, my actual reason for staying was just to provide a stable position and health care for me and my spouse while he moved from job to job in order to rise up in his industry. We then started our own business in his industry and the goal was for me to run the business, basically until retirement. He ended up leaving me, and our business is being dissolved. I don’t have the qualifications to run it on my own.

Now that my circumstances have changed, I’m not as willing to stay at my current job and I’m searching. I’m having trouble getting any traction in my applications. I suspect this is because I’ve been at this job 21 years and the fact that it’s basically the only professional-level job I’ve held since graduate school. But when I do finally get any interviews, I imagine I will be asked why I’m leaving my current position after so many years. Should I be honest and explain what actually happened, or should I say something more vague and focused on the job responsibilities? I’m thinking something like, “My role has been very dynamic over the years, which kept the work challenging and interesting, but now I find I’m ready for something new.” Seriously though, I’ve been at my job for SO LONG that a statement like that doesn’t really make much sense. I’m kind of leaning towards the truth because at least it seems more … well, truthful.

Don’t go with the full story — it’s too much personal information for interviewers, and it’ll make some of them uncomfortable.

It’s very normal to leave a job simply because you’ve been there a long time and feel ready for something new. It’s not suspicious! You can simply say, “My work has been challenging and interesting, but I’m really ready for something new. I’m interested in this job because ____.” That last part is what really matters — pivot your focus to why this new job interests you, which is the most relevant thing to the interviewer anyway.

Also, on your resume, make sure you’re separating the various roles you’ve had at your organization into separate jobs there (assuming the facts support that, which it sounds like they do) so that you’re not listing just a single job but rather multiple jobs that happen to be at the same organization. That’ll help break up the time and highlight your progression.

Related: how to explain to your interviewer why you left a previous job

{ 499 comments… read them below }

  1. ES*

    re: LW3 –
    My church recently hired two people as co-directors of children’s ministry programs. It’s already a part-time, 20-hr job (salaried but no benefits), so each co-director does 10 hours of work. The church director was having trouble filling the role (we don’t have enough work to justify a full-time hire, and a past hire that combined other ministry functions to cobble together an FT job with benefits didn’t work well), and she had reached out separately to the two current co-directors to ask about their interest. The two are good friends and ended up talking about it, and they decided their bandwidth allowed them to take on 10 hours each but not more. So they got together and proposed the current situation to the church executive director and they were hired! It’s been a couple years now and their work is good, they like the job, and the programs they lead are thriving.

    Long story short, job-splitting *can* work, or at least it can work in an unusual context (nonprofit, P/T job, religious organization, SAHMs looking for very part-time hours). I’m not commenting to suggest it’s a universal truth but just to share an interesting case study of a place where it did work.

    1. Alan*

      Yeah, my wife did a job share with a friend, 20 hours each, both with benefits, at a school district. When her friend needed to work full-time, my wife got a different job in the district. Didn’t seem that unusual to me.

      1. Hats Are Great*

        Job-sharing has become so common in our local district, I’d say weighted about 70% to younger teachers having babies and 30% to older teachers undergoing treatment for health issues (or helping a spouse or parent with those issues). It seems nice, and it keeps teachers part of the school community when they’re not able to work full time for whatever reason, and that kind of continuity in school staff is important to kids’ learning.

    2. münchner kindl*

      In Germany, where parents have more employee rights, it’s often discussed how much right an employee has to demand an employer split a full-time job, especially one higher on the management ladder, into two part-time jobs so that two parents with small kids can work it. (There is no absolute right; and there’s more theoretical right that in practice can be denied by employer to be “too difficult to implement”.)

      Here it’s less benefits, and more just organisation required if Manager A comes in Mon-Fri mornings and Manager B in the afternoons (or A on Mon, Tue, half Wed., B on half Wed., Thurs, Fri), that they keep each other informed on all big and small stuff. Which can be done, but requires very well organized people.

      1. bamcheeks*

        In the UK a lot of public sector and large organisations will give you the option to ask for a job on a job-share basis. I know a few people who have done formal job-shares (this is technically one role split between two) — like teaching a primary school class — and I’ve had an informal job-share where I was 0.6 FTE and there was another 0.6 FTE with the same job title, although we had separate responsibilities.

        Generally speaking, the job shares I’m familiar with have happened due to internal moves and people requesting flexible or part-time working after they’ve been in post for six months (which is a protected right), rather than someone applying for a full-time role and then requesting a jobshare and the organisation either finding someone else who just happens to want the same role fractionally or backfilling the remainder of the job.

        That said, I think we’re generally much happier with the concept of part-time work– from what I’ve seen on this blog, it’s pretty unusual for people to be doing anything less than a standard 40 hour week, whereas in the three teams I manage 8/15 are working on fractional / less than full-time contracts.

        1. OP2*

          I was going to say this. Job-sharing is normal enough in my field that I’ve asked about it at a few interviews. Responses have ranged from “yes” (but I didn’t get the job), “no, we want someone here full-time for the continuity” (and I was offered the job even though I’d asked about it) and “we would consider it after a bedding-in period.” (I got the job and decided after a while that it worked OK for me as full-time.)

          It also fairly frequently appears on job listings, usually as an option; if it’s already a job-share, or they have a staff member going part-time and want to recruit cover for the rest of the job, it’s usually just advertised as part-time.

          1. OP2*

            Aaand I am not OP2 above. I forgot to change my username back from a previous comment. Nothing to see here!

        2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          Yeah, I shared a job with a guy at one point. We both worked part-time, and left post-its for each other in each of the three locations we had to work at. The schedule was designed so that we could only see each other if he came in early on Thursday and I stayed to have an early lunch with him before running off to another place.
          It was the boss’s idea, because there were too many overlaps for just one person to do everything. Nevertheless, our manager kept a file listing incidents that proved that we didn’t communicate enough. I came across it once while waiting for him in his office: i can read upside down, and what does anyone do when they see a folder marked with their name when nobody else is around?

      2. Bagpuss*

        I’m in the UK, and here there is no absolute right, but any employee has the right to make a Flexible Working request which can be for part time work, or other changes such as compressed hours. The employer has to considerthe request and there are a set of specifc reasons why it can be rejected, which are fairly broad

        -extra costs that will damage the business
        -the work cannot be reorganised among other staff
        -people cannot be recruited to do the work
        -flexible working will affect quality and performance
        -the business will not be able to meet customer demand
        -there’s a lack of work to do during the proposed working times
        -the business is planning changes to the workforce

        but it does mean that there is a statutory framework and that businesses can’t just have a blanket policy of rejeccting this kind of arrangement .

        In my experience it is mor ecommon for people to make requests when they are already employed, although you do sometimes get people applying for a job and asking whether part time is a possibility .

        where I work I’d say about half our staff are part time . Mostly we don’t have people who are formally stated to be job sharing – e.g. we might have 3 part time people on a team where the alternative might be 2 full time people, but each of the three has their own specifc role, rather than having 2 people sharing a role and working interchangably.

    3. Asenath*

      One of my former employers used to offer job sharing – might still do, for all I know. Not many employees took up the option, but a few did.

    4. Dr. Vibrissae*

      After my mother took a severance package from her 20 year career at big international company. She and a single dad with young kids split a white collar position at a local industrial plant that required thirty specific qualifications. It allowed them both to have benefits and a more flexible schedule. I have no idea how it was proposed, however, since this was nearly 20 years ago.

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

          The max number of qualifications allowed is 28

        2. Ann Nonymous*

          I thought you really did mean thirty, given the 28 requirements we recently read about here!!

    5. river*

      When I was at school there were two teachers who shared a class. One did the morning and the other the afternoon. It worked really well.

      1. alienor*

        My daughter’s kindergarten class was taught this way, but they alternated days. Mrs A had Monday and Wednesday, Mrs B had Tuesday and Thursday, and they took turns doing Fridays. It seemed to work smoothly and my daughter liked them both.

    6. PhyllisB*

      Reading #3 reminded me of something I read many years ago. Can’t remember where: a legal secretary was retiring and her office was throwing her a retirement party. 10 minutes after the guest of honor arrived…the guest of honor arrived. Turns out they were identical twins and had shared the job all these years.

    7. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      I have written this into/amended into grants before. Usually it is something like 2 PIs splitting a role, splitting a job between 2 people because we need both their skills in the role but it isn’t a skillset that you are likely to find in a single person (e.g. role is best suited to a person fluent in Hmong and Haitian Creole with a background in toxicology), to bridge funding gaps for people between grants because one funding source ends on a calendar year and the other doesn’t load $$ until the federal fiscal year starts, etc..

    8. Artemesia*

      I know a university situation about 45 years ago where they agreed to hire a couple who were both in the same field to a single tenure track role. It worked well for them because the husband and wife had separate specialties; they had a baby and wanted to have another and wanted to each be able to work part time and raise the kids.

      The biggest hitch was the health care as the university didn’t want to give them full family health care although they had one full job. This worked out and the university caved on that — everything else — workload, retirement funding etc was 50/50.

      they were each very productive scholars and as the kids grew older were allowed full time professorships. There was no guarantee this would be possible when they started, but they were so valuable that the university made that work too. They both made tenure.

  2. TexasTeacher*

    When I first went into teaching, I knew a couple of elementary music teachers that had job shared. I thought it was probably beneficial to the campus – collaboration on programs, etc., in spite of increased cost to the school district. The district was eliminating that as an option just as I was entering the profession, sadly.

    1. Thistle*

      Job share in teaching or administrative roles is rare but not unheard of in the UK. If they are to do it well, there needs to be a lot of extra time in handover and collaboration time. They end up working many extra hours a week.

      1. bamcheeks*

        Hm, I think jobsharing as primary teachers is pretty common, not least because teachers are so likely to be younger women. My daughter’s only in Year 3 but nearly half the classes she’s been in / the other class group in her year have had teachers job-sharing.

      2. Kate*

        I think it’s common, and particularly easily done with admin. I don’t really know what you mean about ‘extra hours’ – the admin job I had with job share we got paid for the days we were supposed to work.

      3. Humble Schoolmarm*

        Where I teach (Canada) it’s not uncommon. It has to be initiated by the teacher with tenure and they have to recruit their job-share partner. Younger people with small children tend to do 50-60% split, which can be a good foot in the door for the non-tenured when the job market is competitive. A 90 – 10 split is probably even more frequent because it gives the tenured person a day off every two weeks (usually Friday) and the 10% is usually taken by a retired teacher who still wants to do some work in the classroom.

        1. quill*

          The history of the teachers that I had with a job share was that they were both previously full time but during the same year had circumstances that took them down to part time… so the district had them split a classroom and only hire 1 new teacher rather than hire 2 whole new teachers.

          In terms of assignments it worked out OK: we just got grades back a little slower because they tried to grade the homework that they assigned, and it was alternating days.

      4. Irish Teacher*

        That’s interesting; I actually just messaged a friend who is teaching in the UK to ask this very thing. Because it is pretty common here in Ireland, like 4 teachers and SNAs are job sharing in the school I work in – that is like 8% of the staff.

    2. Eeeeka*

      My parents split a full time professorship for a while. One family, so only one set of benefits, but not your typical scenario.

  3. CaptainMouse*

    My mother and two other women split 2 jobs between the 3 of them for many years. This was completely aboveboard and they worked out the logistics before presenting it to their manager. My mother worked 4 days and the others worked 3.

  4. Detached Elemental*

    Re LW#4 When I’m at home, due to my small living space, I’m working out of a bedroom. I typically use a fake background of a non-descript office wall to hide my (usually unmade and covered in laundry) bed. When I’m in the office, I tend to blur the background, or I use a graphic showing my organisation’s logo, my name, and title. The various video conferencing platforms I use tend to allow all those options.

    Are any of those options for you?

    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      I didn’t see your comment before I posted mine. That’s my situation exactly, down to the messy bed in the background. Blurring what’s behind me and selecting other backgrounds save the day for me.

    2. High Score!*

      I already select a mildly interesting background that doesn’t violate any professional norms. It’s too easy to have something in your background that will offend someone. Like, one colleague had a small figurine of a politician and someone else noticed. Thankfully the person who noticed it thought it was cute but there are some people who take offense. That was a reminder that anything in your background can allow others to think differently of you. I am careful to keep anything of a religious, political, sexual, or weird nature out of my home office background in case I forget to use a filter.

      1. LZ*

        One of the C-level executives at my company works from home and has a bookcase in his office that takes up the entire wall behind him. In addition to books and military memorabilia he has a large and prominent portrait of Jesus displayed. I am not religious, and I also am not bothered/don’t care about seeing religious displays in people’s home offices. But I’m guessing that most executives aren’t necessarily concerned with professional norms or whether their office décor is inoffensive, and are probably putting a lot less thought into it than most of us on this thread.

        1. Snuck*

          I’ve known quite a few c-level executives and I’d say that every single one of them is VERY conscious of what they have as their background. This man has intentionally chosen to put a huge Jesus picture smack in the middle of his workspace. It might not be there for you, it might be there for him, to remind him of his own values (rather than to preach to you), but trust me, you don’t get to this level of senior management without having dedication, intent and considered thought in each step of the way.

    3. Number Four*

      I do use that sometimes. The problem is that it often makes my computer have an absolute fit, which introduces a whole new set of issues.

    4. Kes*

      Yeah I often enough work sitting on a bed and I use a fake background for video calls all the time. Many people I work with use either a fake background or the background blur effect so I would definitely recommend that to the OP

    5. Orange+You+Glad*

      Another benefit of a generic image background – no one knows exactly where you are working from. You can move around the house from office to kitchen to bedroom or work at a different location entirely one day. I know not everyone is able to pick up and go, but I like being able to log into a meeting from my parents’ backyard while I’m visiting them and I don’t look any different on screen than if I were sitting in my work or home office.

    6. Wheres Waldo*

      I actually took a picture of my office one day and now use that as my background, no one can tell if I am in the office, in my home office or outside on my patio.

  5. Miri*

    #3 – job sharing is unusual in the UK but not unheard of; I’ve seen it several times in my workplace (in the UK civil service). Usually it’s parents getting back into work while not having capacity to work full time, and usually (though not always) both work 3 days a week so there’s two days of Person A, two days of Person B, and one day with both together. Once teams and managers see it working I think there’s less stigma around it (although it’s not usual, it isn’t seen as weird or breaking professional norms, or not in a bad way if that makes sense!). There’s a network at my workplace for seeking job share partners – some people work with different job share partners in different jobs, and sometimes people find a good ‘match’ and move up in their career with the same person. There are two very successful senior pairs of job sharers that I can think of, who found they worked very well together, shared similar goals and interests, balance each other well, and have moved up as a ‘unit’. They are extremely well coordinated and basically function as the same person at work, you hear people say things like “I’ll have to check with KateandJulie on that” or “Should we invite KateandJulie to that meeting?”. (not their real names)

    When I’ve seen it working, the two people have truly complemented each other and the organisation has benefited from a variety of strengths that they wouldn’t have got if it was just one person in the role. Especially in leadership roles it can be a way of bringing in different views and balance to a role. That said I think they do often find themselves working more than the 3 days/week they’re paid for.

    1. KL*

      Yes, I see lots of job ads in the UK that say “job shares considered”. It’s unusual but not unheard of, definitely.

    2. Jesssss*

      I’ve worked with job shares in university admin and at a charity. It’s becoming more common!

    3. Green great dragon*

      I was in a jobshare (with different people) for 5 years and managed them. From the employers’ point of view, there is overhead – some meetings, like weekly check-ins with the manager, we both attend so they’re paying both our salaries for that meeting rather than just one. On the other hand, you get two brains for the price of (just over) one, and we’d play to our strengths, so the output was better quality than either would have managed on our own. The main different from part timers is that with a part timer there’s no-one other than the boss to cover the non-working days, which is great for the boss but does mean extra time from the jobsharers keeping up to speed with each others’ work. And ultimately, that was two people happy to work who would have stayed out of work rather than work full time.

      I am so much in favour of offering flexible working wherever possible. Keeps hold of some good people and a lot of institutional knowledge, and makes employees happier.

    4. Cambridge Comma*

      Is it really unusual in the UK? I’ve encountered it frequently in the South East since the 90s. Several teachers at my schools shared jobs, and many neighbours and friends parents etc.

      1. Thistle*

        It’s more common in certain sectors. It’s occasional in education, more common in the civil service but rarer in industry. In industry it tends to be more administrative roles.

      2. BubbleTea*

        I’ve known it to be common in the public and third sectors. My first job was technically a job share – advertised as a full time post, but ended up split into two part time roles because I couldn’t do full time.

      3. Bagpuss*

        I think it’s very common to have 2 (or more) people working part time rather than 1 (or more) in full time roles, but I think in many situations it isn’t labelled as a job share. For instance, where I work, we have one team where there are 4 people all of whom work part time – but each of them has their own role and their own clients – if there is something which needs urgent atetion on non-working day for the person who is dealing with that client/matter then another member of the team will deal with it, in the same way as if someone was out sick, but we wouldn’t label it as a job share as I think that would more typically mean that you had two people who were dealing with one set of matters/clients.

        I suspect it depends a good deal on the nature of the work – for the type of work they do it would be less efficient to have two people sharing as they’d each spend a lot of time catching up / reviewing what the other had done before being able to move forward, but for other types it’s much more practical to have a true share
        I don’t think it is unusual although I am sure it does vary a lot between different types of work.

    5. NZDoc*

      This is also a thing in the medical field in NZ – mostly in hospitals, where “full time” might be 60-70h/week but the way the team is structured is hard to manage ordinary part timers. Often it looks like alternating weeks, but each pair makes it work slightly differently. I haven’t done it myself though – and am delighted to be in an ordinary part time job preside the hospital these days so not ever likely to!

    6. Madame Arcati*

      I agree it’s totally a thing here. I have two colleagues that share a role and it works fine. Sure it has to be agreed in advance but (I am also U.K. civil service) it is, along with part time working again where possible and alternative working arrangements like compressed hours, part of the civil service’s commitment to flexible working, work life balance etc. We’re lucky not to have to factor in health insurance so that’s not a burden to the company and I think other benefits are pro rata (leave certainly is).
      I’ve seen that Jonathan Creek episode and whilst I doubt that it would be feasible at the senior level I perceived was involved plus the travel, as two British people with their own business iirc based in Britain, a job share could be done.
      Furthermore if I do remember rightly that Norman and Fake Norman effectively operated as a small business – they could I guess have been open about that but maybe it was important to present Norman as being face to face with the Americans b because of his reputation?

      1. Madame Arcati*

        Oooh I’ve just checked and that episode, “Time Waits for Norman” is in the dvd box set I have!
        I shall watch it tonight and report back on the open thread if anyone likes – lmk if you have a question!

      2. Jackalope*

        I would say that in this specific role, it would totally make sense to have one person working in London and the other in New York. Even if they both had to be part-time, that’s still a huge savings to the company in terms of airfare and such if they’re needing to be at in-person meetings on a regular basis in both cities.

    7. Silver Swan*

      I work for the largest employer in Australia and job sharing (along with a range of other flexible working arrangements) is strongly supported. I’ve seen it happen even in some of the most senior positions and they actually have a bunch of resources online about how to make it work, the benefits for both employer and employees, and case studies of successful job sharing.

    8. Ya-ya Roo*

      I have been in a jobshare in the UK and that role continues as a jobshare now that I’ve moved elsewhere in my organisation (small HE-related nonprofit). The role is designed as a jobshare to keep each person at .5 in that role and .5 doing something else directly related that really benefits from the knowledge and insight they get from the shared role (the two directly related roles are different, so person A does something like .5 Teapot Making and .5 Teapot Painting, whilst person B does .5 Teapot Making and .5 Teapot Marketing).

      I will say that it has worked with varying degrees of success, and a lot of that is down to the communication and expertise between the two people. When one person has had a much stronger background in that role, it can work out to be unbalanced. For example, they will both attend the same meeting, but Person A takes on a lot more actions and is a bigger presence, so may end up with people thinking they are the default person in the role and not reaching out to Person B as often. This is something we try to influence with better management of the roles and leadership that recognises them both equally to the organisation.

  6. SemiAnon*

    There’s probably a real market for less than full time professional jobs. There are a lot of people who struggle with the standard 40+ hours a week due to childcare, other care responsibilities, health issues, or side pursuits, and having to decide between working themselves into the ground but staying current professionally, paying into EI and pension and having benefits, and dropping out of the workforce and losing all that.

    The logistics are admittedly a bit tricky, but for many positions it would reduce the dependence on a single person in a position, as both people are unlikely to quit at the same time, and it could prevent burnout.

    1. talos*

      Some companies do a cool thing where they let you move to less-than-full-time (often 30 hours/week), often due to childcare or health circumstances, and let you maintain benefits, etc. The best ones don’t let it impact your career – my previous director was at like 70% time for several years when her kids were younger, and she clearly made director. I’ve never needed this, but it’s nice to know that it’s an option at my workplace.

      1. The Original K.*

        A colleague at my former employer did this; she worked until mid-afternoon so she could pick up her kids at school. She started as full-time and then reduced her hours. I’ve also known of schools that will offer full benefits to teachers who teach one less course than whatever a full load is.

      2. fhqwhgads*

        In the US at least, 30 hrs a week still counts as full time from a benefits (well, health insurance benefits) perspective.

    2. Bagpuss*

      Yes, definetly – Coming from a country where it’s pretty common, it’s a way of retaining good staff.

      We have one team of 5 where only one member of the team is full time, the others are all part time . 3 f the part timers are women who have hve young children, 2 were originally full tine employees and came back part time folllowing mat. leave, the other joined us as a part time employee. The forth person joined as a aprt timer as they have had some health issues and found full time was too much.

      For those who went part time after mat leave it’s entirely possible that they may return to full time at some point in the future when the kids are older / in school . but if we had told them ‘full time or othng’ when they returned then it would probably have been nothing, and we would have losst all of their skills, institutional knowledge etc

      In other teams we also have people who are working part time as they are approaching retuirement and gradually gearing down – and that has a lot of positives as it means that it’s possible to work with them on sharing knowledge, and when you have someone who drops a day or two you can manage transition of projects much more smoothly than if it is someone leavng and a new person taking over. (We sactually had an employee who movedto work for us becuase his previous employer was not willing to agree to him going part time as a lead up to retirement. While he wasn’t the easiest person to work with as he was a bit set in his ways, it worked out pretty well for us long term as he worked for us (part time) for a couple of years but almost all of his clients followed him and stayed on with us when he then retired , and those clients felt that they had had good service as there was plenty of time for them to be introduced to and transition across to other people inthe department.

      1. bamcheeks*

        For those who went part time after mat leave it’s entirely possible that they may return to full time at some point in the future when the kids are older / in school

        I went down to 0.8 FTE after my first child was born, and 0.6 after my second child was, and then back up to 0.8 and now 0.9 (which is basically just finishing early on Fridays and not feeling guilty about it.) I really hope I never have to go back up to full-time– I love working and I love my job, but full-time now just feels like a totally unreasonable amount of life for work to take up!

    3. Esmeralda*

      Many years ago I and a coworker tried very hard to split a job. Our boss would not allow it. Everyone will want to do this if I say yes!

      Sigh. She could not make the childcare work, so she quit.

      I had a very sick child, so instead of working part of the time, I went on leave and worked none of the time.

      Now the dept was down two staff members. They were still paying me (I had a lot of PTO). It was too much work to shift it all to the existing staff — well, they tried, and then another person quit (got a different job). Then they had to hire temps. Who could not do all the work that was now not being done.

      It cost them money to say no.
      It cost them the loss of three staff members (two permanently, one temporarily) to say no.
      It cost them a lot of resentment.
      It cost them good will.

      Job sharing like this is an idea from the 1970s — I remember talking about it with my cool older cousin who gave me her copies of Ms magazine… too bad employers don’t see how it can be a real plus for them, not just for the employees. (And if we didn’t have to get our health insurance at work, it would be a lot more cost effective for them. Excuse my lefty digression.)

    4. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      I’ve written job shares into grants and it isn’t actually that tricky to manage as long as your organization is already set up to give part-time roles benefits. I’ll write a job in at 2080 hrs (1 FTE) with a salary of X and calculate FICA and other indirect costs for the role to get Y. Splitting the role into 2 people, you just divide the 2080 hrs (1 yr FT) as you like then divide X and Y by those ratios. Where I can see it getting tricky is if the employer doesn’t already have the systems in place to offer benefits to people who work part-time

    5. Alexis Rosay*

      Totally. I worked at a nonprofit where we couldn’t afford full-time employees in certain positions, but it sometimes worked to our advantage when we actually found some amazingly talented people who preferred part-time work for personal reasons.

    6. Lightning*

      I do project-based engineering work at a company where it’s not uncommon for people to split time between projects anyway, so there’s quite a few of us (including me) who work part time, and it’s great! We still get benefits as long as we work at least 20 hrs a week.

  7. Jmac*

    If you’re so vital to the operation that your boss wants six months notice, he should be making you his partner. Otherwise two weeks is plenty generous

    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      When I left a previous job, my role involved a lot of moving parts and handing off external relationships to my colleagues, so I gave a month’s notice instead of two weeks to make sure I left things in a good place for them. My new employer in the same field understood this was standard and it all went fine.

      But six months? No way. You’re not an indentured servant.

      1. Caro*

        For complicated reasons I’m in the final two weeks of what has been a seven month notice period, in an industry / country where two to four weeks is the norm. Don’t worry about me, I’m being financially compensated for this extra notice and it’s definitely worth my while to choose to do it this way.

        No one cared about handover until last week, no matter how hard I tried to make the extra time they’ve incentivised me to give them useful to them, it really hasn’t been.

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          yes this is it! We have 2 or 3 month notice periods here, to ensure that the boss has time to find a replacement. But of course they then have to give notice if they’re working, so unless they hire someone straight away, there’s still a period where the desk is empty.
          Once, my boss was encouraging me to resign, because he couldn’t fire me (I was the most productive employee). A woman sent in an unsolicited CV and he hired her, in the hopes that I’d resign.
          There was enough work for both of us since I’d been outsourcing tons of work, and begging for someone else to be hired to help me out. I took advantage of her being there to have an operation (for a life-threatening condition).
          The boss was even more furious with me for that, even though Rachel was covering for me very well.
          We worked really well together, which also infuriated the boss.
          He was pretty glad in the end that I didn’t resign, because Rachel found a better job and left at the end of her fixed-term contract. He’d assumed she’d want to stay, but she had a trip planned to the US then the new job all lined up.

      2. Spero*

        Honestly not even sure if this LW is an employee – they refer to themselves as a consultant and then mention ‘freelance contractors’ later. Does this mean they are like a full time contractor role? Not even a W2 employee?

    2. Tinkerbell*

      If it were me, I’d probably give him however much notice I could between the time I got the new job and the time I started. If the company wanted me right away, that’d be two weeks. If it was more of a “your predecessor will be gone by the end of the summer and we’d like to onboard you before then,” I might be willing to give a month or so as long as I could met the new job’s requirements first. That’s ONLY if I was sure my current boss would be mature about it, though – if early notice would mean early termination, it’s just not worth the risk!

      1. Smithy*

        While I’m US born/based – I’ve also worked in other countries where the contractual notice period is longer and possibly its made me more comfortable with this model. The OP may be in an industry and seniority level where hiring is really looking for people to start NOW, but for a lot of jobs and hiring processes – in addition to understanding that people may not want to give only two weeks, it’s also understood that people may desire a break between jobs. So asking for a start date in a month or two (to give time plus take a break), is not unheard of.

        If money is tight, if there is a real need to keep no gap in employment, and if there are worries about being pushed out (and I have been in all three of those places) – then I do understand hedging your bets on two weeks notice only. Especially in the US where you’re not guaranteed being kept on. But in a situation where the conditions aren’t overall bad and the team is so small…that’s my preference.

        1. Observer*

          If the boss were asking for “a month or two” people would be reacting VERY differently. And Alison would undoubtedly have reacted differently as well – She does note that in some fields more than 2 weeks is standard.

          But there is no field in which *6MONTHS* is typical or reasonable. Yes, there are SOME specific situations where it makes sense. But the boss hasn’t made the case.

    3. WS*

      The newest employee at my workplace did give six months notice to her previous workplace, but coming to my workplace was going to involve moving. It’s not uncommon in professional jobs in rural areas to give a ton of notice because it’s going to be really hard to replace you – there literally isn’t another [X] in the entire geographic area. But I recognise that this is a significant outlier and it’s common on both ends – you might give six months notice, but the job you’re moving into has also started looking early. It would have to be normal for your location and industry for your boss to expect it.

      1. münchner kindl*

        Which is where the lottery bus enters the picture – even if the employee was 100% loyal, there can always be circumstances where they can’t work, so even in rural places or niche industries, any good boss/ competent owner needs to be prepare on how to cover absences. (Outside US, where vacation is legally mandated, summer holidays alone ensure that bosses don’t forget that).

        Steps can be looking for a temp agency specialized in that area; making sure documentation is up to date and extensive, or talking with existing contractors about taking on more.

        1. MK*

          The reality is that an employee leaving, even abruptly, be it for a new job or because they were hit by a bus, isn’t going to destroy a business. It might affect it in a negative way, like in the letter, the boss will probably need to turn down clients till they replace the OP, but they won’t close. When he says he needs 6 months notice, he doesn’t mean he needs 6 months so that the business won’t be destroyed, he means he needs 6 months so that the business won’t be affected at all. He is asking for an ideal scenario.

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            Some small companies can be destroyed by the death or disability of a key founder/partner, but seldom is it that way with an employee. But in a small company governed by tribal knowledge, a long term employee leaving will have a big impact.

    4. MK*

      If you rely on your one employee so much, you need to be prepared their leaving to disrupt your business. This boss wants to avoid that by finding a replacement and training them before the OP leaves, but that’s not realistic: what he should be aiming for during the notice period is winding up the time-sensitive projects, put others on the backburner and maybe hiring a temp. Two weeks is not generous, it’s standard. A month would be generous.

    5. Cambridge Comma*

      I also thought that OP could ask for some kind of partnership arrangement.
      I wonder what kind of notice and redundancy the boss would plan to give OP.

      1. The OTHER Other.*

        This was my question. If business went poorly would the boss give six months notice to the LW a before getting rid of them? IMO the boss is acting like the LW is a partner when thinking how hard they will be to replace but like an employee when it comes time to paying them.

        LW, you know the boss better than we do, but I’m skeptical that they would be spending six months helping you get another job.

    6. EPLawyer*

      Agreed. She does half the work, but he gets most of the money? Not her fault he structures his business so poorly that it is dependent on one person. What happens if she wins the lottery tomorrow? If he needs 6 months to transition because of HIS poor planning, then his business deserves to fail without the person who does half the work (for not half the money coming in)

      1. MK*

        She handles half of the clients, which does not necessarily mean that she does half the work. He may be 100% responsible for bringing in clients, as well as running the business. [That is a usual setup where I am from when a freelancer gets too much work to handle alone: they hire another specialist to do a lot of the work, but it’s still they who find and are ultimately responsible to the clients. When I practised law, I would have loved an arrangement that allowed me to only do the actual legal work for a good salary and a boss was responsible for finding and keeping (and getting payment from!) the clients and run the office]

        The OP’s boss has asked for an unreasonably long notice period and the OP should not feel obligated to comply. Other than that, I am not sure it’s useful for commenters to focus on the fairness of the whole setup with so little information. Especially since “A does the work, but B gets the money” is pretty much how labor works in capitalism.

        1. Artemesia*

          The pay may be reasonable; he may be the rainmaker and her work well paid just not as well paid as his and he may bring the most value. BUT she is then an employee and owes nothing but reasonable notice; 6 mos is not reasonable (unless it is university teaching in which case she needs to finish the semester). We know that if he needed to close down the business he would not be giving her 6 mos severance.

    7. Glomarization, Esq.*

      We don’t have nearly enough information given to determine that LW#1 should be made a partner in the enterprise. Any number of factors could be in play, such as how much capital the two individuals have contributed, what their shared workloads are like, what documents they may have in place, etc.

      Frankly, as with a lot of letters here, the LW has kept back so much detail about their industry (luckily it wasn’t changed to “llama grooming consulting,” ugh) that it’s hard to say what a reasonable expectation really is. Two weeks is the American norm for the vast majority of situations, but this could be one where the LW could cause serious trouble to the business or their own reputation in the industry by appearing to “bail” with only 2 weeks’ notice.

      1. un-pleased*

        Yeah. Consulting is a different beast. You pitch work with the expectation that a specific team will be completing a job, which can be a long-term commitment. Things change, of course, but at my org at least 30 days is customary and a couple months is not out of the question so that freelancers can be added if necessary. We serve organizations where five to six months of transition time is normal at leadership levels. Two weeks’ notice is nothing more than a social convention that is mistakenly treated as a natural law and is not one that can be universally applied. We simply don’t know enough about the type of consulting, etc., to be as absolutist as people are making this out to be. (And for reference, in the organizations I know, eight years isn’t nearly long enough to be made a partner, which can actually mean buying an ownership stake. Partnership would also depend on being someone who actually brings in a lot of business because sales responsibilities grow as leadership opportunities grow.)

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          It is, but the general premise still applies – at my firm we typically get long notice periods and/or contract former employees to finish projects, which we’ve set up a safe system for so people can be honest if they’re looking, but at the same time someone could decide they’re not coming in ever again and we’d just have to deal. Us and our clients. The absolute of “you need to be prepared for your firm to stay afloat regardless of what happens” is pretty universal.

        2. Artemesia*

          a month notice seems reasonable if not always possible, but he wants to tie her to his needs without compensating her for it. She isn’t his property and as always her decision should be based on what is good for her and her career. And once she moves on, she should not allow herself to be pulled back in to assist at old job while she needs to be putting in 125% for the new job. The first few weeks on a new job really require more than the usual total commitment until you have the learning curve under control. You can really undercut your own development and future by not shaking the old job off your feet.

          1. Glomarization, Esq.*

            he wants to tie her to his needs without compensating her for it

            Where on earth are you reading this? All we have is that the LW’s boss wants 6 months’ notice but it doesn’t appear that there has been any kind of in-depth conversation about how the nuts and bolts of the LW’s leaving would work. There’s nothing in the letter to indicate that any negotiations have started at all, never mind that the LW would get no compensation during the notice period.

            1. Artemesia*

              of course she gets paid — there is no indication that he is willing to give her additional compensation for putting her career on hold for his business. it is not enough that she gets paid — she would need serious additional money to accommodate this. is this not obviously what I and others have said?

        3. Observer*

          Consulting is a different beast.

          Except that the OP is no longer a consultant in any meaningful definition of the term.

      2. Observer*

        but this could be one where the LW could cause serious trouble to the business or their own reputation in the industry by appearing to “bail” with only 2 weeks’ notice.

        Highly, highly unlikely. For one thing, while OP’s often leave out stuff, something like this would be the kind of thing that a person would be likely to mention because it’s so relevant. Also, if “no employer” is going to be willing to wait this long, as the OP states, then it is not an industry in which notice periods of that length are expected. Because in those industries reasonable employers expect this kind of lead time.

        The fact that the boss ALSO wants input into the OP’s next job is also a strong indicator that he has unreasonable expectations of the OP.

    8. Oakwood*

      Tell your boss you can consult as a contractor–at double your previous pay.

      This is not unusual in the business world.

      1. Artemesia*

        This is not likely to allow her to make the effort at the new job to be successful.

      2. Anonymous Koala*

        This could be a good solution if you can cope with the work – perhaps 2-4 weeks notice followed by ad hoc 5-10 hours a week of consulting for an additional month or so. I’m most concerned about your reference from this boss if you don’t give him the 6 month notice. I’d work on cultivating reference-worthy relationships outside your boss if you can (hard to do when you’re the only FT employee, but not impossible) and/or documenting your successes in a very quantifiable, verifiable way so that if you have to walk away on bad terms you still have a lot to show for the time you worked there.

    9. Khatul Madame*

      It would be more realistic to make a substantial raise, like 50%, a condition of the long notice – otherwise it’s 2 weeks and buh-bye.
      This will make the boss more agreeable to a shorter, more standard notice period.

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        Yes, there should be an incentive for OP1 to stick around! Otherwise they’re putting themselves out for something (outside of standard business norms) that exclusively benefits their boss.

    10. pancakes*

      Maybe, maybe not. I’m more curious what sort of consulting they do where making realistic plans isn’t important.

    11. Daisy-dog*

      It should be a case where they get a very large retention bonus: equivalent to at least another 6 months of income and to cover COBRA for that time as well. I think it should be treated like a company that is closing a department/site and needs key employees to stay on to ensure everything is completed properly, so they need to be incentivized to not leave earlier out of fear of being without pay.

    12. Hannah Lee*

      If you’re so vital to the operation that your boss wants six months notice, he should be making you his partner.

      And barring that, he’s really dropped the ball on succession planning. What’s boss’s plan if LW wins the lottery tomorrow and heads to Tahiti? Or has decides to relocate for other reasons? Or if he or LW develop a serious illness where they can’t work for a stretch?

      If this is his company and his livelihood, he should have answers to those questions at his fingertips, something that’s not “my #2 is a consultant I treat like an indentured servant who can’t quit until I say it’s okay”

      If LW wants to angle for a stake in the business, he’s given her a great opening. If not, and LW knows she’s going to have a foot out the door soon, he’s also given her an opening for that. Maybe set aside some time for a conversation:

      “I’ve been thinking about what you said about wanting 6 months notice if I ever am moving to a new job, when 2 weeks (or whatever) is the norm in our industry. It made me wonder … have you thought much about succession planning? Or what your plan would be if either you or I couldn’t work for a while for whatever reason?”

      Any small business with the owner or a handful of people doing the lion’s share of the work, whose work efforts really are what the company offers (even if they have a staff doing some hands on stuff) really needs to have a plan, whether it’s a recruitment and training plan to build a bench of people who can step in in an emergency or down the line as key staff ages, retires, or just moves on, or some kind of insurance policies, other arrangements so that if a key employee dies, is disabled, or leaves, there’s a financial payment that eases that transition period while the company figures out what’s next. Or even if the owner is all “I am the company! I don’t need that stuff” it would make sense to know if your long term plan is to sell the company when you retire (and start planning, prepping for that) or hand the reins to someone else (same) even if you’re thinking you’ll stay on as a consultant or just shutter things when you’re done … it which case you may want to think about assets you can sell – client lists, equipment, real estate, intellectual property. But none of that involves your non-equity employees sticking around for the heck of it because it’s convenient for the business owner.

  8. CatCat*

    #4, honestly, I would not have that particular tapestry or probably anything else by Bosch on a work video call. Like, I don’t want my coworkers asking about the piece, looking it up, and then associating me with a painting of a bunch naked party people including a dude with flowers coming out of his butt.

    I’d pick some tamer and less bizarre Renaissance art.

    (FYI for others, that painting is called “The Garden of Earthly Delights.” Look it up, zoom in, and be amazed by this very interesting piece.)

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      I think since it’s her own house, it’s fine. In an office, I’d be more hesitant, but this is her home. And if someone looks it up, they are going to get to see a famous and important piece of interesting art. If she works in a very conservative field and meets with clients, that’s maybe a different issue (but there’s that handy “fuzzy background zoom feature for that), but I assume she’ll know if that’s the case.

      1. CatCat*

        The question was whether this piece is distracting. I think that it is because of its content. I’d want people thinking about the quarterly reports we need to get through during the meeting, not the painting. It’s hard NOT to think about the painting when you’ve seen it. I mean… I immediately started thinking about it just seeing it in this blog post. That has nothing to do with its artistic merits or its location. Fuzzing out the background could be a great compromise here though.

        1. Thistle*

          It’s more common in certain sectors. It’s occasional in education, more common in the civil service but rarer in industry. In industry it tends to be more administrative roles.

        2. Thistle*

          I work with someone who has an entire wall in his wfh office covered in dozens of small frames with cartoon style art in them. It’s all totally “professional ” art but for the first few times anyone videocalls with him, they tend to spend the time trying to view the art and see what he has up. Plus he rearranges it frequently, so there is always something new to see.

          It’s totally professional but can be rather distracting.

        3. TeapotExtraordinaire*

          Another option that OP could consider is taking a screenshot of a blank wall (or a neutral wall in her home with blander looking decor) and set that as a virtual background. You can even open an empty zoom call, face a plain wall, set to “blur”, take a screenshot, and then use this as a virtual background. Due to the way my house is set up, the wall behind my work desk has my liquor cabinet with all the bottles visible, not a super professional work background, and my apartment is weirdly shaped enough that’s there’s really nowhere else I can put my desk.n So – I took a screenshot on the “blur” setting of a more neutral wall in my home, and use that as my virtual background for when I take calls from my desk!

          This is great advice if you travel, or if your background at home is less than ideal, like mine is!

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

            Since it’s just a tapestry, it would be super easy to just take it down, take a picture of the tapestryless wall, and use that as the background after she puts it back up.

            Since OP is fully remote, she can’t do what I did, which is take a picture of my in-person office on a rare day that I went in. It does occasionally get a “oh, are you in the office today” but that only takes up a few seconds. Ironically, I don’t have any webcam at the office so if I have video on, I must not be in the office.

        4. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          Back in the 70s my aunt had a job as a secretary where she had to go to talk to mechanics about stuff. She was always very uncomfortable because the mechanics had plastered their walls with pictures of naked women.
          Ok now this is Art, a piece by a Surrealist artist working several hundred years before Surrealism became a thing, so it’s an important work and all that. But there are naked people all over the place.
          Courbet’s “L’origine du monde” is also an important work of art (don’t google at work).
          Neither are appropriate backgrounds for a Zoom meeting.

      2. MEH Squared*

        I’m with you, AnotherLibrarian, but mostly because I don’t think anyone is going to go through the trouble to look it up. I mean, how would they if they don’t know it’s a Bosch (whom I love)? If it’s just a tapestry in the background of a Zoom call, I don’t think it’s that big a deal. If there’s some way they can figure out it’s a Bosch…well, I still don’t think it matters much, but I will grant that I could be the outlier here.

        1. EPLawyer*

          Exactly. I think its a little too large of a background so your eye is drawn to the tapestry. But presumably in the actual zoom call you don’t see on the top of the head of the person so her head will be partly blocking it.

        2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          There are plenty of people who love art and are pretty knowledgeable about art.
          And from the picture provided, you can tell there’s plenty of naked flesh.
          Even people who are not knowledgeable enough to look the picture up, can be heavily distracted by so much flesh.

      3. Glomarization, Esq.*

        L’Origine du monde is a famous and important piece of interesting art, but even if I had a gallery-quality print of it I’m not going to site it in a place where it’s visible during a videoconference call. NSFW means NSFW, whether I’m working at the office or working at home.

          1. Glomarization, Esq.*

            I used an extreme example to make my point that the concept of “not safe for work” exists for a reason.

            1. pancakes*

              I tend to think extreme examples don’t make great points, on account of being so extreme.

              1. Rolly*

                On #4 I am disturbed by the way the tapestry droops in the middle. I have hung tapestries as a zoom background, and attached them to a rod at multiple points so they were more straight on the top. The drooping looks sloppy, which is generally not good for work.

                1. pancakes*

                  I’ve seen a few people say that. I get it, but I think it’s a bit picky. I’m not a fan of Live Laugh Love-style decor or faux-aged farmhouse-style decor, for example, but if I caught site of it in the background of someone’s work call it’s really not my business whether they like it or not, or have other priorities besides decorating, so I wouldn’t dwell on my thoughts about it. I can’t justify that. People who find themselves thinking “that’s a bit sloppy” can also choose to not dwell on that, and I think in many cases they should.

    2. WoodswomanWrites*

      I’m with CatCat here. It is a very cool art piece but includes images of naked fondling, something I wouldn’t want anyone at work to be looking up if they wanted to know about the original painting.

      You don’t have to move to a different space to avoid sharing the image. If you want to keep the colors in the background, the blur option hides specific images. My workspace is my bedroom which isn’t always tidy and I find the blur option works great. Alternatively, there are thousands of virtual backgrounds online available to choose from, or one of your own photos if you prefer.

      1. Maggie moo*

        Yes having fun art is fine, this particular orgy art would have me question a colleagues judgment

        1. lilsheba*

          Seriously? I do not agree with that at all. I am so SICK of people thinking they have to have boring backgrounds. I say don’t hide your taste, your office sounds fine. No need to hide anything.

          1. Eyes Kiwami*

            There’s a lot of room between “boring” and “garden of earthly delights”! There are so many paintings that don’t depict naked orgies and torture of the damned, nevermind the religious, homophobic and antisemitic messages of the piece…Literally any other painting would be better, except maybe some by Goya.

      2. Allonge*

        Yes, I think a blur in this particular case gives enough of a nod to the fact that this particular painting is slightly too weird for what is supposed to be an office now.

        And for once I totally disagree with Alison: Bosch’s entire brand is being disturbing, and this piece is not an exception. Like, amazing, and good disturbing, but disturbing all the same.

        1. DataGirl*

          I disagree with Alison on this one too. To many people Bosch is controversial, and that particular painting is very distracting and disturbing. A know many conservative, religious people who would put that solidly in the ‘devil worshipper’ category and we know how well that goes over in an office. I really would recommend using blur, or putting up a fake background.

          1. pancakes*

            I am so, so glad I don’t know people like that or encounter them in my day to day life. There are probably a number of other people in my city of 8+ million people who could say the same. Not everyone lives in that sort of environment. I trust that those of you who do know what the limits are.

            1. The OTHER Other.*

              Well, the LW asked for opinions about it. A significant number of responses her in this unscientific sample are saying they think it’s either inappropriate due to content or simply too distracting. Personally I like Bosch’s work but many find him creepy.

              1. pancakes*

                They asked for Alison’s opinion. I have long had the impression that more commenters here come from strict, religious backgrounds than one would find in a sample of the general public.

                1. Hannah Lee*

                  LW sent in a question to the Ask A Manager site, where Alison’s MO is to either post her response and then open it up to comments, advice from readers or just post the letter and ask for comments, advice from readers.

                  So while yes, they may have “asked for Alison’s opinion”, they did so on a site where the USUAL practice is to ALSO share the question with readers and have the readers give their thoughts, advice as well, so opinions, advice from the hoi polloi is part of the deal.

                2. pancakes*

                  Of course commenters tend to have opinions as well; I do too. That doesn’t speak to whether commenters here tend to be representative of any particular communities or points of view. To be clear I’m not saying we should derail on that right now, but I do think it’s worth thinking about.

          2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            “ A know many conservative, religious people who would put that solidly in the ‘devil worshipper’ category”

            I find this a bit disturbing because the triptych was originally displayed (all 9 feet high and 14 feet long for the full three panels) in a church near the altar. The image behind OP4 is the middle panel. Can we please judge artists working in the 1490’s by those standards and not ours today in the 2020’s?

            1. DataGirl*

              Sure “we” can, but that doesn’t mean that everyone LW encounters will do so. Here’s an analogy from my real life. When I’m driving with husband and the light turns green he immediately takes off. I hesitate half a second to check the cross traffic to make sure no one is running the light and going to hit me. He argues that since he has the green light, he has the right-of-way so it’s not his problem if someone hits him. Now technically he’s correct, however I personally would rather not be t-boned than be in a crash because I was “right”.

              If someone misjudges this piece of art as being satanic are they right? No. Does that mean that OP should risk potentially being thought badly of by someone in a position of power by displaying it when working? Well that’s for her to decide, I just personally wouldn’t risk it.

              1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                Fair enough – I guess what I’m hoping for is a world that doesn’t exist right now – where people understand that other opinions exist and have the right to exist just as much as my opinion.

            2. Rolly*

              ” artists working in the 1490’s by those standards and not ours today in the 2020’s?”


            3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

              The whole point being that it’s designed as a triptych with a religious message, making it highly suitable for a church.
              If you remove the panels on either side, you just get an orgy.
              Personally, I love it, Bosch is a favourite of mine for the sheer weirdness, but I would never have it as a work background!

        2. Anon all day*

          I disagree as well. I instantly recognized it as a Bosch painting, and while I have no issues with his work, I admit I would find it a bit odd that, out of the millions of pieces of artwork in the world, a colleague chose to hang a Bosch piece front and center. I think that’s what it comes down to, for me. Why pick such a potentially controversial piece?

          1. JustaTech*

            Maybe I’ve been following the Bosch Bot on twitter for too long, but “controversial” isn’t the first word that comes to mind when I think of those paintings. “Weird as heck”, yes. “Clearly there were drugs in the middle ages”, obviously.

            But not “controversial”. And while there is plenty of nudity (although if it’s human butt with a fish torso/head, is that really nudity?), it’s all so very small and in the screen shot so far away that I’m not sure that you’d really be able to see it on a Zoom call?

            1. Rolly*

              Controversial is not the right word, but the OP needs to ask themself: is something weird what they want to project to others? If they do, then cool.

      3. EventPlannerGal*

        I do kind of love the idea that the “naked fondling” is the notable/objectionable thing about the works of Hieronymus Bosch.

        1. Allonge*

          I know, right? Not the first thing that came to my mind either, but maybe in a work context the nudity is the easiest spotted issue…

      1. fhqwhgads*

        I was mostly thinking OP is ducking in the photo to show the print (and probably avoid showing face) but in real calls would presumably be higher up and thus blocking most of it, and it’s pretty far behind. So unless someone has a massive monitor it’s probably not that visible or that distracting. If it were five feet closer it would be, but for me this falls into “too far away to really notice”.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          Yeah, I even zoomed in on the photo she sent, and it’s still small and blurry. I wouldn’t give it a second thought.

      2. Hannah Lee*

        That’s my take on it as well. It’s too busy to be a good background on video calls.

        What I try to remember when doing video calls (for work, for community projects, with family, for social connection with friends or social groups) is “why am I on this call” and “what do I want my visual presentation to say, and why”
        If I’m on a social or family call, where ME being ME, expressing my interests, essence, whatever is important or a on community or professional call related to the arts, culture, individual expression where displaying works which are visually, culturally, thematically eye-catching, interesting underscores and ADDS to my presence and the group culture in a way that supports what we’re trying to do, then yes, artwork such as LW’s seems like it could be a perfectly fine or even fantastic post.
        But if I’m on a generic work call with managers, co-workers, clients, suppliers in a work/professional capacity that has nothing to do with my knowledge or appreciation of tapestries from the 1400-1500s, there are probably better choices depending on what LW wants to accomplish in those meetings.

        It reminds me of a Meetup I went to once – a mixer for single people in their 30’s and 40’s – men seeking women, women seeking men. There were lots of interesting people, dressed in a variety of ways. One woman who I knew from a different meetup group, and knew to be nice, shy but personable if you took time to chat with her, and very eager to meet a guy, came dressed in a faded long-sleeved sweatshirt with a big picture of cats on it. It was not one of those funny conversation-starter cat cartoons, but filtered photo artwork of cats with a dreamy landscape framing them, not quite Thomas Kinkade style, but more like the style people might have painted on their vans or den walls with wolves or elk. From what I could tell, she was not wearing it ironically). It absolutely conveyed something true and essential about her (she loved cats), and might have been a great choice to hang out with friends at a cat show, or if the one guy who was looking for a 40-something woman who defined herself by her girlish love of cats happened to be at this particular meetup. But depending on what she wanted out of that get together (assuming it was a date or two) and painting with a very broad brush about what society “says” most men are drawn to when looking for women to ask out on dates, there were probably other, better outfits more suited to a Singles Mixer meetup. As with choosing a Zoom background: what is the meeting? what do I want to get out of it? how will this choice help me meet my objectives? are all good questions to ask yourself.

        1. Happy*

          But if she only was interested in a date with someone who liked *her* as she was most comfortable, then maybe it was the perfect shirt for the mixer.

          If you want to spend a bunch of time cultivating the way your present yourself to the world, great! Have fun!

          I’d rather not invest that much energy into planning my outfits or zoom calls, and as you might imagine, I think the tapestry is fine for work.

        2. pancakes*

          There’s a lot going on in this comment. I don’t think it’s reasonable to think that every aspect of home decor visible in the background of someone’s Zoom call has been selected to say something to the rest of the attendees. Of course people are sometimes going to come away with impressions of their coworkers’ taste and style, etc., but it doesn’t follow that people need to be trying to play up to that, or trying to read deeply into what they see.

          How people dress for dates isn’t quite on point because that’s generally not why people go to work, but since you brought it up, I don’t agree that the woman in the cat shirt would be more likely to find a suitable date if she took care to style herself in ways she doesn’t quite like, in an effort to attract dudes who have little to nothing in common with her. Maybe that works sometimes for people who just want to be able to say they’re seeing someone, but it doesn’t seem like a good way to find companionship.

    3. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      It’s a very well-known piece in many basic art books. How is that controversial in any way? I first encountered it in high school back in the 1960s, long before the internet made obscure works familiar.

      1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        Agreed. I think if it was a contemporary piece, there might be some worry, but Bosch is hardly obscure.

        More to the point, it’s very detailed and looks pretty far in the background; I would be surprised if anyone could make out any offensive bits even if they wanted to!

      2. DataGirl*

        Bosch is well-known specifically for painting controversial subject matters. Or at least they were very controversial and offensive at the time they were painted. I’m not personally offended by his paintings but I know enough people who would be that I’d think anyone displaying that in the background on a work call didn’t have the best judgement. A particularly conservative and/or religious manager may be upset enough by it to have it negatively impact OPs career.

      3. Artemesia*

        Michaelangelo’s David is among the most well known pieces of art work in the world but I would not want to have a replica of his dong over my shoulder in a business call.

      4. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        It was the cover of my “World” (e.g. European) history book in HS in the 1990s. I am really, really, really struggling to see is as anything to clutch pearls over in an interview.

        1. HotSauce*

          Oh I don’t know, I work with several very conservative people who abhor nudity, even in art. I could definitely see one of them raising a fuss over something like this.

          1. pancakes*

            There are definitely people like that out and about in the world, but that doesn’t oblige the rest of us to abide by their standards. When former Attorney General of the US John Ashcroft wanted statues of “Justice” covered in the DOJ building, most people laughed.

          1. pancakes*

            It’s not a graphic depiction of real events. Neither are the hungry ghosts in the Tibetan thangka painting in my hall. I don’t have video calls in front of it, but that’s because it happens to be hanging in the hall rather than behind my desk. I wouldn’t be concerned about people getting stuck on their own fire and brimstone fears about the tiny, blurred figures they’d have to zoom in on to study if it was, and really don’t think it should be my problem if they do.

    4. Maybe I’m just unobservant?*

      To be honest I can’t even see what painting it is from the picture provided. It just looks like An Art from there to me. Honestly I don’t get any kind of quirky or “goth library” vibes, it just looks like a bog-standard basement home office to me. I suspect the interviewer’s comment about her “energy brought to the space” was more about pink hair than decor, honestly.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        A good reminder that the other person’s monitor may not display colors as intended: you see pink hair, and I see orange red hair.

      2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        I can’t tell what it is either, but it’s only ~1.5″ wide on my screen. If I was on a video chat with OP, she would probably be half or all of my screen sized, and I suspect I would be able to tell what was going on. And trying to figure out if that’s an owl and what in the world they are doing with it would be quite distracting, not to mention all the nekkid people.

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

        I only found it because I searched for the phrase “medieval painting of heaven.” That said, even without being able to see the fine detail, I could tell from the shot that there’s kind of a lot of skin color on it. Personally I wouldn’t leave it up.

        1. Here we go again*

          That painting is a triptych (3 paintings in one) by heironymous Bosch called the garden of earthly delights, it depicts heaven, garden of Eden and hell. There’s orgies (multiple) depicted in the heaven and garden of Eden. if you study the painting closely, there’s people being disemboweled and tortured in the hell part. If you love Bosch the tower of bable is awesome and in the same motif. But no torture. If this painting was a movie it would be NC-17.

          1. pancakes*

            The BoschBot account on twitter is a great follow if you want to see details closer up.

      4. Kelly*

        Yeah, I don’t see anything quirky or artsy about this space either, so OP, I think you’re good there. I *do* think the painting is distracting because it’s so busy, and for that reason I’d do a static virtual background for interviews. Once you’re hired, I don’t see anything wrong with this per se.

      5. Rolly*

        ” it just looks like a bog-standard basement home office to me”

        It’s not. If you recognize it (not everyone would, but it’s in enough art and history books that some small number will) a likley thought would be “Hmmm, Bosch (or a Bosch-like artist). Weird”

        1. pancakes*

          Nope, I don’t think it’s weird for people to have prints or tapestries of well-known and widely enjoyed paintings in their homes. It also doesn’t ring true for me that the only people who can recognize or contextualize paintings like this one are people who studied art history. I don’t doubt there are places where that’s generally the case, but it’s not necessarily the default, and certainly not standard everywhere.

    5. OhGee*

      Yeah, this piece is great but I wouldn’t want it in the background for interviews, specifically. Once you’re hired…depends on the workplace. (I describe my home decor as ‘permanent Halloween’ but I generally take meetings with a blank wall behind me and I ‘still’ get comments about the color of the wall!)

    6. kittycontractor*

      Yeah, my problem(?) wouldn’t be the art, it would be that I would be distracted trying to catch all the images and scenes on it. I would definitely be doing all of what you are saying here.

    7. BethDH*

      I would recognize it right away. To be fair, it’s my area, but since I also look at medievalism I know that this gets in a ton of memes and passed around as people discover that the past was not as puritanical as they’d been taught. It’s a distinctive composition even at a distance so quite likely someone recognized it.
      I wouldn’t be bothered by it, but I also wonder if the OP’s awareness of their space put them in personal-self mode and not professional-self mode. I’ve found that video backgrounds have the same effect on me as putting on my interview clothes.

    8. shedubba*

      Personally, I would find the Bosch tapestry distracting. But that’s because I always associate this one with its counterpart, the one of hell, because when I came across the pair in my school textbooks, I looked really closely at both of them and found the counterpart incredibly disturbing, in a body horror kind of way. So I don’t know if that’s a valid point to consider in this context.

      1. Laure001*

        Oh yes, the hell one is…crazy, disturbing, creepy, beautiful, horrific, incredibly creative. I’ve always thought Bosch was a precursor of Salvador Dali.

    9. Sara without an H*

      I don’t know — I’m not sure the average workstation camera is going to be able to pick up enough detail to recognize the dude with flowers growing out of his butt, or the naked guy with a musical score written on his. (I, too, love Bosch.)

      OP#4, unless you have a really fantastic camera set up, I think most people are just going to see a tapestry with a rather busy pattern on it. If you’re not sure, maybe ask a friend to join you on Zoom for a background and lighting check.

    10. Number Four*

      Those concerns were mine exactly! So far, anyone who recognizes it thinks it’s neat and “very me,” because I tend to have similarly weird teammates. It’s far away enough, my head blocks a lot of it, and it isn’t the bits of the triptych with the butt music or actual Hell, so I leaned towards “okay, I guess?”

      Currently it’s set up so I can quickly take it down and put it back up when I’m too nervous about it, hence the hook & nail setup that some other commenters have rightly called me out for. I’m thinking about putting it up in a nicer frame, which is why I wanted to put in the question and get some answers from people who aren’t my friends with similar weird taste.

      Do recommend zooming in on it! The great fun of the tapestry for me is that I can see all the weird bits when I stand right in front of it.

      1. Orange+You+Glad*

        Instead of taking it down sometimes, can you blur your background on your video conferencing system? Or load a generic picture as your background. It sounds like your teammates don’t care but if you have a meeting with someone that you are nervous to see it, can you change your background to a digital background for that one call?

        My general rule of thumb for backgrounds has been personal items/quirky images are good as long as you are ready for others to ask about them. I rotate through landscape photos I’ve taken on my vacations. They are a good talking point since they are personal (my photography) and let me share with someone new my travel interests and hopefully get to know them better. Others I work with have their favorite sports team as their background, photos of their kids/dogs, other hobby items, etc that we sometimes chat about before the meeting starts. For anyone outside the org I usually just blur my background.

      2. Kelly*

        Truly, your taste is not abnormal/quirky in this respect — Bosch is super famous, such that many people you’d interact with in an interview would at least find it familiar. It’s just that Bosch crams so much into a painting that it’s hard not to get distracted by it. I guess it would be like if you had a giant (naked) Where’s Waldo print on your wall when trying to convey to a potential manager your many sterling achievements.

      3. Wednesday*

        I personally would consider a Bosch poster/tapestry as bonus points in the candidate selection process. But more importantly, can you share what color paint is on those walls? I love it!

    11. Here we go again*

      I was about to say that as an art history minor. I love that painting; but That painting is famous for depicting a bunch of nude people in bizarre and compromising positions. If anyone has taken one college art history class they’d know that painting. It’s not professional unless your work is in the fine arts or S&M.

      1. pancakes*

        I’m not following on how you’re connecting the dots between “many people will be familiar with it” and “it’s totally not professional unless you’re in fine arts or S&M.”

        1. Here we go again*

          If you work in an art museum or fine arts field Co workers would be much more understanding about that painting. But subject matter can be disturbing to some, even some very open minded people. There’s people being tortured in one part of the painting.

          1. pancakes*

            It wouldn’t occur to me to think of someone upset about a well-known 16th century painting as open minded. I don’t think that’s fitting at all. Someone unable or unwilling to distinguish between a 16th century fine art depiction of torture (at a distance in the background, at that) and ongoing or actual torture that demands their attention is not good at sorting things out.

            1. Here we go again*

              Certain Images in the painting are supposed to disturb people. That’s what makes it a successful piece of art especially after hundreds of years. Showing some thing disturbing, in the work place unless it’s related to the work isn’t the wisest choice professionally.

              1. pancakes*

                I don’t agree there are many people who will be disturbed by this. A number of the comments here seem pretty out of step with the corporate art collections I’ve seen in offices I’ve worked in and buildings I’ve been to meetings in. Not that many of them feature nudity, but some of them do / did. One firm I worked at had a Spencer Tunick photo in an internal hall. Clients didn’t frequently pass by, but it’s not as if anyone draped a cloth over it when they did. I’ll link to a couple articles I found about this separately.

                1. pancakes*



                  From the BBC article: “Similarly, today McCoubrey has to think twice about where to hang works such as My Subjectivity, a large, UBS-owned painting by the American David Salle depicting a young girl sitting naked on a chair. ‘It would still be difficult in London,’ he explains. ‘But in Germany it would be different, because we have a lot of very educated clients there.’”

        2. FrankieCat*

          It’s precisely because many people will be familiar with it that makes it a questionable choice. Because it is so famous, many people will know exactly what it depicts. I knew it from one glance (really, even from just the description). While I love art, and that painting, I don’t want to speak to my colleagues while they are thinking about the well known details of that art, regardless of if they can be seen on camera.

          1. pancakes*

            Worrying or speculating about other people’s thoughts to that degree seems over the top, and misguided. You can’t peer into other people’s minds with great accuracy whether there’s a painting in the office or not, for reasons that have nothing to do with the subject matter of any particular painting.

    12. 30 Years in the Biz*

      When I saw that background I knew what it was instantly and felt the exact same. Cool and amazing art, but not appropriate and probably distracting on work calls.

  9. Sunny*

    LW#3 – Ok, but how did no one notice there were no airline tickets booked and/or submitted for expenses? How did no one in the London office ever say ‘Ooh, what did you do in NYC last week’, or in the New York office there was no ‘I heard there was a 3-day fog in London last week, how did you cope?’. I have so many questions (about this hypothetical scenario).

    And for LW#4 – I was expecting a genuinely quirky background, not a Bosch! I know it’s not a Monet or Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, but it’s not that out there. It sounds like maybe you dodged a bullet in terms of fit, if this is someone thrown by a famous painting.

    1. KL*

      In the programme, they make it clear that they have regular phone calls to catch each other up on the job and also the social side of things, so they could answer small talk questions.

      Tickets – no idea! Would it have been easier (in the 90s, when the show was made) to book them but not show up, without the airline getting suspicious?

      1. fluffoth*

        to work offices; “oh, i’ll handle the air tickets.”
        to wife; “oh, the office is paying for the tickets.”

        That episode was fantastic by the way.

      2. Liz*

        If memory serves, in the episode, both men are based in the UK and the one working in the States flies over each week. They meet at the airport exchange the company car and have a handover meeting. So airline tickets are still very much a thing.

    2. ZSD*

      I was wondering if any employers would ever actually set up a job this way, forcing the employee to live on permanent jet lag. Why not set it up to be one month in London, one month in New York? It would save on flight costs and generally make the employee’s life less miserable.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Back in the day, travel was not the hassle it is post 9-11. And law firms are always happy to bill their travelling expenses to clients.

  10. Heidi*

    For Letter 4, that’s a really famous painting and it’s not close enough to see all the naked people, so I’m honestly not seeing why anyone would have a problem with it. The OP might consider framing it, though. Framed and mounted art comes across as more intentional and permanent, whereas hanging it directly on the wall invokes a more informal feel.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Agreeing that framing it may help make it look more polished – but yeah, Bosch’s work is definitely not as mainstream as Rembrandt – and also contains more religious allegories as well (which in some places can be problematic).

      I would check with the boss before I looked into a frame.

    2. metadata minion*

      #4 — I would find it distracting, not necessarily because of the specific content, but just because it’s an enormous, detailed image that takes up a significant amount of the background and my eyes are going to be drawn to it.

    3. DataGirl*

      I think the fact that it’s a really famous painting is what works against her, honestly. Idk, maybe the kind of people who would be offended by the content wouldn’t have been exposed to it before and therefore wouldn’t recognize it, but is it worth the risk?

    4. Number Four*

      The lack of a frame is actually why I asked! The hook & nail setup is so that I can quickly take it down in situations where I’m nervous about having it up. I wanted to get a feel of whether or not I SHOULD be nervous before I made it a lot harder to stow off camera.

      1. Heidi*

        The original triptych folds up like little cabinet doors. Maybe you could find a frame with doors that you can shut. Or a curtain that you can pull over it. Or one of those folding screens.

      2. Meh*

        You don’t have to get it framed but you could have a bar across the top that will neaten up the look. It’s a tapestry hanger -kinda like a scroll hanger.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          This. They make bars with slots in them that you can put posters or tapestries in to hang them. The bars go on top and bottom, then the tapestry is hung by the top bar and the bottom bar holds it straight. Usually they are plastic, but in a wood-tone color.

    5. Raboot*

      +1 to frame. Rightly or wrongly, my first thought was that it looks a little dorm-room-y. Nothing against Bosch, it’s the tapestry-ness that makes it feel a little unprofessional. To be clear, I don’t think people need to be professional robots at work, and my background often includes things like “my cat’s butt” that are definitely not professional either. But since OP is already hesitant about it, making it seem more orderly should help with that.

      1. Rolly*

        Yeah. I’ve seen tapestries in high-scoring setups on Room Rater/ratemyskyperoom but they’ve always been hung taut.

  11. AnotherLibrarian*

    #2- Please let this go. Does she seem disorganized? Sure, but sometimes people have rough mornings and I’d try to show some grace here. I interview 5 to 9 people for each job I hire for, if not more. Sometimes two or three in one day. Keeping those all straight in my head is nigh impossible. It’s 100% normal to ask all the questions she asked and for many jobs the questions are standardized across the pool- so, you have to ask everyone the same questions even if the answer is pretty obvious. As a job candidate, you should be assessing your interviewer and the process as much as they are assessing you (how they treat candidates says things about them as a company), but as someone straight out of school, it is easy to get wrapped up in minor things and think they’re a bigger deal than they are. Nothing you’ve described here rises to the red flag category. But keep your eyes open, something else might.

    1. Alan*

      Yeah, my wife did a job share with a friend, 20 hours each, both with benefits, at a school district. When her friend needed to work full-time, my wife got a different job in the district. Didn’t seem that unusual to me.

    2. Allonge*

      This. And, LW2, there are a thousand discussions on this board about why interviewers don’t give people the benefit of the doubt, and how difficult it is to get a resume right the first time you are job seeking.

      Asking if you have other experience is checking if you missed something when you typed up your resume. Asking for your WPM is a cross-check in case you had a bad day at the test. Why are job seeking may be obvious, sure, but don’t resent easy questions! A lot of this has perfectly benign explanations. Good luck finding a good one!

      1. BethDH*

        Also, why people want to leave is often useful in assessing whether they have reasonable expectations about the new position, especially for someone early career.
        It can also give the interviewer the opportunity to sell the job to you, though it doesn’t sound like this interviewer did that.
        Often when I ask, I’m looking for a less cover-letter version of what you want in the role. If you say something about getting going in the career connected to your degree, I can talk about mentoring and professional development. If you mention regular hours, we can talk about work-life balance and how we keep the workload manageable.

        1. Allonge*

          Yes. As an interviewee, you rarely want the interviewer to make broad assumptions about your career in any case. In the end most questions in an interview have an obvious answer (I want to work here because I need to get paid, etc.)

    3. 16 interviews is a lot*

      One time recently I had to interview 16 candidates in two days. 45 minutes of talk time, 15 minutes for the panel to debrief, make our notes, maybe grab a short bathroom break, then into the next interview.

      None of us wanted to do it that way, but between timetable clashes and one of the panel members having just given notice, we didn’t have any better options. Sometimes it happens.

    4. hbc*

      I agree. I’d even say that asking “Why do you want to leave?” is a necessity after someone has talked up how much they love their current job, even if it seems obvious to you as the candidate. I’ve had any number of surprising answers to boilerplate questions. Heck, I’ve had candidates give responses that wildly differed from what they wrote on their resume.

    5. anonymous73*

      I don’t have any issues with the questions being asked, but the interviewer was rude and that’s not okay. There are plenty of justifiable reasons for lateness, disorganization, etc. but the very LEAST you can do is treat them kindly and respectfully.

      1. Cookie*

        I can easily put myself in LW2’s shoes (I was also young once) but I’m going to respectfully suggest that the interviewer was perceived as rude. The candidate is inexperienced (and that’s fine!), which led to them not fully considering why the interviewer seemed late, rushed, unprepared or whatever. As other commenters have pointed out, sometimes an interviewer has multiple appointments in one day, or other stressful work situations are happening that have necessarily drawn their attention elsewhere until the moment of the interview.

        LW2, when you encounter a situation that’s not going the way you imagined it would, try to be open and curious about what’s happening. This was an opportunity to learn about the company – what challenges does this interviewer face when they’re not interviewing candidates. (I usually ask “what are your challenges as a leader in this organization?”) Maybe you won’t want the job anyway, but use the interview to learn! It’s all good information. And someday when you’re the one interviewing new grads, remember this experience. Good luck!

        1. anonymous73*

          If the interviewer was the only one that OP had contact with, I’d agree. But she sat there with another manager first, so OP has something to compare. Inexperience in the job market doesn’t mean you can’t judge people by the way they treat you in life.

      2. Jennifer Strange*

        I’m not sure I see where the interviewer was rude? A bit brusque, sure, but I don’t know that that translates to rude.

          1. pancakes*

            In circumstances where no one is pressed for time, yes. Meeting someone who may be in back-to-back meetings and seems quite busy, it’s not ideal but not staggeringly rude either.

            1. The OTHER Other.*

              Not introducing yourself is rude; children learn this. Whether the rudeness is “staggering” or not is beside the point.

              1. pancakes*

                You’re basically saying that you’re not willing to consider context when you think about people’s behavior. I don’t think that’s a virtue, and I don’t think good manners compel that degree of rigidity.

                In my line of work, people are sometimes very pressed for time. Someone expecting an unhurried atmosphere with plenty of time for all the usual social niceties during those periods would be unrealistic and out of step. If your own line of work is never hurried, I would expect the standards are a bit different. Context matters.

                1. The OTHER Other.*

                  I don’t disagree about the import of context, but we disagree that the context here is indicating such a time pressure environment. This was a job interview, not emergency field surgery.

                  The interviewer refused a copy of the resume but then wasted time as she fumbled among her papers trying to find it. That’s not saying “OMG the time crunch!” to me, it’s saying “I’m low-key rude, and disorganized “.

                  While we’re on the subject of context, failure to introduce yourself puts the interviewee at a disadvantage because they don’t know your role or what questions to ask. I would have different questions for a sales manager than an administrator.

                2. pancakes*

                  I don’t think it does indicate all that. I think that’s an overly-harsh and self-regarding interpretation of fairly common and momentary hiring confusion. People sifting through piles of resumes aren’t going to memorize them, and may or may not have time to re-review them just before meeting. Even when people do introduce themselves, sometimes other people present don’t catch their name correctly, or soon forget it on account of nerves or distraction — that’s rarely an irredeemable disaster, particularly if they have one another’s contact information in print someplace, or can ask someone else later. If someone’s title seems important to know in the moment, saying something along the lines of, “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name, are you the Sales Manager?” is a fair question. It’s not as if they’re likely to glare at the candidate and say “that’s because I didn’t introduce myself, I’m ideologically opposed to introducing myself!” or something else ridiculous.

                3. New Jack Karyn*

                  “In my line of work, people are sometimes very pressed for time. Someone expecting an unhurried atmosphere with plenty of time for all the usual social niceties during those periods would be unrealistic and out of step.”

                  How long does it take to say, “Hi, I’m Jane Mugglethorpe from HR. You must be Wakeen”?

                4. pancakes*

                  Karyn, when that type of thing happens I don’t think it’s because there literally isn’t time to get the words out, but because people are a bit distracted. Of course it’s not ideal for an interviewer to be a bit distracted. I think it would nonetheless be a mistake to take it as conclusive proof that they’d be terrible to work with, or that the pace of work there would be relentless.

        1. anonymous73*

          She didn’t bother to greet her when she walked into the room. And OP mentioned that she sounded annoyed when asking questions because she couldn’t find OP’s resume…after OP offered to provide her with a copy. Maybe you don’t find either of those things rude, but I do. It takes zero effort to treat people with kindness. It’s not MY fault that you are disorganized and late.

          1. Jennifer Strange*

            I agree she should have introduced herself, but I can also see being rushed and figuring someone has already explained who she is. And it sounds like she was more likely annoyed with herself (i.e. flustered) that she was having trouble finding a resume. That still doesn’t translate to rude to me.

    6. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      Same. When we do interviews, we schedule them all back-to-back, 6 in a day, over 1-3 days since it is hard to find time when everyone is available so a dedicated block is easier. Usually we read the resumes/cover letters 1-2 weeks prior when we selected who to interview and then don’t look at them again until the day of the interview. I try to read all the resumes for the day, but I still have my actual job to do over those 1-3 days, so sometimes can’t do it on the day of the interview. And, if there are more than 5 candidates, I’m honestly not able to keep all the details of each person straight. Let’s not even get into the times I get pulled into an interview because someone is out, the HR person scheduled the wrong candidate (!!!) , HR sent the wrong resumes over for that day’s interviews (we don’t keep copies because of privacy), you are interviewing for multiple roles so keeping who is who is traight etc..

    7. Ann Onymous*

      It sounds like this interview was early in the day and your interviewer was running late. It’s possible she meant to arrive at the office earlier and look at your resume before the interview, but then something happened to make her late – maybe her kid missed the bus and needed a ride to school, maybe she ran into road construction that made her commute take longer than normal, or any one of the many other things that can make you run late. I’d much rather have an interviewer ask questions than make assumptions or misremember something from my resume.

    8. fhqwhgads*

      The only part of this letter that I think is a good reason to find this person rude is that she didn’t even say hello wen she walked in the room. Just lanched into question. And normally, I am very much not a small talk person. I don’t usually care if someone opens with “hello” or just starts talking to me in work contexts. But if it’s someone you’ve never met before, and an interview at that, and you’re late, I do think a “Hello, I’m so and so, let’s get started” is warranted. The other stuff in the letter is just being not a great interviewer. But the first ten seconds would probably have made me expect to not like this person. In fact, maybe that initial moment pushed OP more in the direction of being offended by the rest of the interview than they would’ve otherwise.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        Yeah, I expect at least a “Hi, I’m Jane Plane, manager of Teapot Decorating here at Teapot Depot. You’re here to interview for the Spout Designer role, correct?” and then a launch into questions. Basic, basic formalities.

  12. Where’s the Orchestra?*

    I have a minorly different take for OP4 – with the H.Bosch triptych panel background. Almost all of his work is very detailed, but very big on lots of nude figures, especially female ones. I would definitely check in with boss/coworkers for the culture of the office, before giving it a lot of airtime on Zoom. If you’re in the US, it’s still fairly conservative in a lot of places, and we’ll the nudity in Bosch’s work could be a problem.

    I know in my office he would be a problem because of the religious nature of the great majority of his work. Hieronymus Bosch mostly did triptych altar backgrounds (and this one is I think the middle panel from a work called “The Garden of Earthly Delights”) – so in addition to the nudity the religious nature of the piece may be a problem.

    But really, check with the office, it could be they don’t care.

    1. BethDH*

      This may be a bit of a stretch, but I’ve also seen a large number of nsfw memes and jokes based on this. Some are just “hey naked people from the past, funny!” but some are misogynistic or otherwise offensive.
      Luckily I haven’t seen Bosch being used as a fascist symbol the way things like runes and early medieval Anglo-Saxon art have, but it’s really easy for medieval art to be used to make commentary about the present in a way you might not intend.
      Again, I don’t think this is likely from what you describe, but it’s worth considering that it might not be a problem for being “goth” or “quirky” but because someone is interpreting it as another kind of message.

      1. pancakes*

        There isn’t any context around this particular tapestry that would support that, though. It’s not as if it has meme text on it, or as if there’s anything else in view that would give that impression. People who think they’re surrounded by coded messages or are always looking for supposedly coded messages are people who tend to get a lot of things wrong.

        1. BethDH*

          100% agree, sorry if it came off sounding like something else! I’m definitely coming from an environment with a lot of students/early career too so that’s a big factor.

    2. Number Four*

      Good tip! As a non-religious type who just thinks it’s neat, I hadn’t even considered that aspect.

    3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Realized I left this out – for the record I like Bosch’s work and the level of detail is really cool. He’s just not for every office.

  13. Cold and Tired*

    #2: I feel like one of the biggest transitions mentally from college to the working world is learning to emotionally detach from what you do and not take things personally. Unlike grades in school, which often have a kind of toxic association to your value as a human (which they shouldn’t), your resume and job skills are just puzzle pieces an employer is looking for to find the right fit for what they need. Not everyone is the right fit, and that’s perfectly okay. Distancing yourself emotionally and not taking it personally will help you see it as the transaction it is rather than any sort of personal judgement.

    Also, hate to say it, but be ready for people to show up at meetings fairly frequently for the rest of your career completely unprepared or not having read the agenda. It happens all the time, so save yourself the heartburn now and start working on letting it go.

    1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      Yeah. In school, you are the customer, so to speak — the instutition is theoretically set-up to serve your needs. You feeling accepted and learning are part of the stated goals.

      This isn’t true for workplaces and I think it can often lead to some awkardness and adjustment because that transition can sometimes manifest in slightly unexpected ways.

      1. binge eating cereal*

        I don’t know why seeing these things typed out is so groundbreaking to me, but it well articulates my (and others) experience with “kids these days.” I don’t doubt that this was the case when I transitioned from college to the working world 15 years ago, but also (working in higher ed now) I suspect it is more pronounced now as university budget models shift to be much more tuition dependent and the customer is even more important than they used to be.

        1. bamcheeks*

          There’s also a lot of this which is “hidden curriculum” stuff– that adjustment is much easier if you have parents and wider family who are in professional roles and can help you sense-check and process it, which makes young people coming from professional backgrounds easier (but not necessarily better) hires.

          I was at a presentation recently where they’d done a infographic describing the ways that a first working role is a culture change for a newly-graduated professional– things like the shift from “make it as good as possible” to “complete it in the time available”; “you’re the customer” to “you’re not the customer”; “feedback is structured and regular” to “feedback may be intermittent, ad-hoc”; “you manage your time right across 24/7” to “you have working hours and non-working hours”. Just all the ways that your development is now secondary to the needs of the business and department. It was really interesting.

          1. binge eating cereal*

            This makes a lot of sense and is really important as a hiring manager to consider when hiring new grads, especially those who may not interview as well. I can see this easily contributing to bias toward generational wealth.

            As an aside – that working/non-working hours was a big adjustment for me, personally – I was so confused about having free time.

        2. londonedit*

          Yep – giving an example from the UK, when I went to uni 20-odd years ago, it wasn’t long after the introduction of tuition fees by English universities (prior to that university education was free) and just after the transition from a student grant system to a student loan system. Now, I should say that fees and loans are absolutely nothing like they are in the US (when I was at uni tuition fees were about £1000 a year; now they’re £9,000). But when I went to uni, the general attitude was still that you were lucky to have your place on your course, and the university was doing you a favour by educating you and providing opportunities and allowing you to study for your degree. These days many more people go to uni than when I was a teenager, and over the years I’ve absolutely seen the shift from student to customer in terms of how people view their university experience. Back in the day we put up with shabby accommodation and older facilities and lecturers who clearly just recycled material from one year to the next, because that’s how it was and we were getting our degrees and having a bit of fun along the way and not having to fork out too much for the whole experience. Now, there’s a LOT more in the way of ‘I’m paying £9000 a year and getting myself into debt for this, I want to live somewhere nice and I want top-quality teaching and I expect the university facilities to be state of the art, because I am paying for my education and I want my money’s worth’. Which, let me be clear, is a perfectly understandable attitude to have. It’s just very different from the way things were 20 or 30 years ago, and it explains why young people fresh out of uni might come across as more ‘entitled’ (I hate that word).

          1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

            I mean, even if we set aside the ‘entitlement’ of wanting certain facilities, or similar….you were still the customer of the uni.

            They may have been giving you work and you may have felt lucky to be there…but ultimately the programme exists for students, which is very different to the work enviornment, where the employer doesn’t exist to provide a service to the employees.

          2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            Off topic, but Mr. Gumption and I just had this conversation about school costs and why we think forgiving student loans is a good idea.

            He and I went to the same state school in CA, but 9 years apart. When he was in school in to 80s student loans, especially private ones, were so rare he couldn’t think of a single person he knew who had them. Most people who couldn’t pay out of pocket got grants, did work study (which covered tuition), and very few walked out with debt. Tuition was $700 per semester for in-state, so not necessarily easy, but not impossible to pay off in school. Dorms and campus dining were pretty grim, but also cheap, and rooms were to be had for $100-200 monthly off campus. When I went in the early 90s, tuition was $3000 a semester, more people got loans to cover housing and non-tuition expenses, but thanks to work-study and full-time summer jobs, most of us walked away with minimal debt. Same grim dorms with the same furniture, same meh dining, and similar off campus housing costs (most I paid was $300 for a room with its own bathroom in a shared house). Top it off, all of our professors were tenured or tenure track.

            Today, though, everything is ridiculously expensive. The state went from covering 60-70% of the budget to something like 10%. Tuition per unit is now more than Mr. Gumption paid per semester, despite the education being approximately the same (very good). The dorms and dining are nicer, but holy crap are they expensive so they damned well better be. And off campus housing seriously costs not much less than a semester of tuition did when I was in school. And the money sure as hell isn’t going to faculty who are definitely not all tenured or tenure track anymore.

        3. Smithy*

          How I remember this most from when I entered the working world around 15 years ago was the frustration of being so educated in xyz and now “only” doing abc.

          That aughts recession/just get a masters degree led to a lot of more entry level work being done by people older/more frustrated with the fits and starts of their careers. Depending on where you went to school, I think there was still a potential of having encountered some fairly authoritarian academic or sports systems. So that transition wasn’t as painful as the one of having worked so hard to be educated/specialized/gifted and then finding the entry point for that professionally to be so difficult.

          At the time the “kids these days” pushback was more about us having to pay our dues before we could do the “cool things”. But then not really acknowledging that we were being told to get graduate degrees in greater numbers to then not even get the jobs our parents had received with only bachelors. So the “due paying” they had done at 22, we were struggling to do at 25-26 with even more education.

      2. The OTHER Other.*

        Overall I agree, but in this environment many employees have more options than they have before, and many employers are claiming to be desperate for qualified employees. I wonder how many employers quoted in in the many “we just can’t find good people” articles I’ve read over the past several months have ill-prepared and rude interviewers such as this one.

        Maybe this was something you could get away with in 2008, but right now most interviewees would find it off-putting and choose another employer.

        It’s a shame that hiring the people you are going to work with is so often looked at as a terrible low-priority chore to squeeze in between other appointments, lunch, and “real work”. The interviewer in this letter was utterly unprepared, and represented their organization very poorly.

    2. anonymous73*

      While this is great advice, OP shouldn’t ignore the fact that the interviewer was rude. I wouldn’t take the rudeness personally either, but it’s worth keeping the back of their mind if they’re offered the position and this person would be their manager. If they can’t be bothered to even say hello and think it’s okay to treat a job candidate rudely, how are they going to treat you as an employee?

      1. LW2*

        This was my exact thought. I went into this interview excited, the company sounded good and the recruiter had nothing but nice things to say about the team. After leaving the interview, I sat the whole one hour drive completely silent just zoned out and upset. Maybe it’s taking it personally, maybe it’s not. But to me, I don’t think it’s a lot to ask for basic kindness when you’re interviewing someone to work with you. To have an annoyed tone in your voice when interviewing someone just doesn’t sit right with me. I also had asked about growth opportunities within the company, I’m a new grad obviously my first job isn’t going to be my last. She danced around the question and the other guy flat out said there really aren’t any. To me, not coming up with a single example of growth in your company felt off. If one of these things happened, I get that it would seem like I’m overreacting. But for all of these things to happen in a single interview? A lot of commenters and managers are bringing up their experience as it relates from multiple different interviews, the situations are spread out and independent. This was one single occasion that multiple questions were asked rudely. One of these things happening, completely normal. But all together?

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

          thanks for adding in that info. I agree with you that the interviewer was rude. I wouldn’t take it as a red flag but maybe just be cautious if you plan to continue. Hopefully the interviewer wasn’t annoyed at you, but just the situation all together ( like they got pulled in at last minute or no one told them about the interview until just then).
          Keep in mind that it is perfectly ok to feel the way you do and if you don’t want to go further that’s fine.

        2. NotAnotherManager!*

          This is why you interview – you’re seeing if you want to work there just as much as them seeing if you’d be a good fit for the job. This doesn’t sound like it was a great interview, which definitely happens! Cross the job off your list and move on to the next one.

          It seems a little like you’re looking for someone to validate your belief that the interviewer was terrible and inappropriate. They don’t sound great, but also not really that awful, even all factors combined. Some people are not great interviewers, some people should never be allowed to interview – this person falls more into the former. (We have interview guidelines at work that my recruiter friend and I call the Bob Anderson Memorial Guidelines after a guy that should never have been allowed to interview and was quickly pulled from the roster. This interviewer had nothing on Bob.)

          If you’re just starting out, you’re going to have better and worse interviews than this one. It may stand out because it’s your first interview for post-grad job, but, for your interviewers, it’s just business as usual and some days are better than others.

        3. Smithy*

          As others have said, this interview doesn’t sound amazing and the personalities may not have clicked with you – but I will also call out that calling out no growth opportunities also isn’t necessarily bad and/or wrong.

          There are lots of jobs out there that don’t have paths for growth or promotion. And some employers will be honest about that, and some won’t. In my first seven years of employment I had two jobs where that was the case. In my first job, they were honest about it and basically said that when the job no longer suited me I’d need to leave to grow. At the second they kept on saying “maybe next year” until I got a clue that it would never happen.

          I will also say, that when I interview, I ask a lot of questions that could essentially be found on someone’s resume. Not because I haven’t read it, but because I find that in my sector a lot of resume industry jargon makes what someone actually did fuzzier. And asking someone to “walk through” their experience can cut through that haze. Also, while you may have heard the question on why you’re leaving the job as odd in regards to just graduating college – it may have been their way of asking what drew you to the specific role? Not just that you graduated so you’re looking for a more professional job, but why this job particularly attracted you.

          The interviewers tone and approach may just not have been a fit for you. And that is valid. But in my sector (nonprofit fundraising), a lot of what happened to you is common. Asking repeat questions, having no growth to offer, being curious to the point of suspicious why you’re interested in the position – all of that is relatively normal. If hopefully done more kindly or warmly.

        4. MsClaw*

          Couple of things I’m point out.
          I agree with several people that there may…. just not be a lot of growth opportunities from the position you’re interviewing for, and that’s good information for you. But instead of assuming that’s ‘off’, you should factor that information into your decision making. Will you be building skills that you could then use to take a higher position in another company 3-4 years down the line, for example? Do you want to work in a place where your role is considered a dead end?

          The other thing I would advise you to keep in mind when it comes to the interview process — the interview may well be the most important thing in your day. But it almost certainly isn’t the case for the person interviewing you. She may be squeezing you in between meetings, have a deadline she’s facing down, be in the middle of firefighting when someone reminds her about the interview; maybe she’s stuck interviewing you because the original person who was meant to interview you is out of the office, etc. It’s also entirely possible that she in fact *did* read your resume, was unimpressed, and feels the interview is a waste of her time. That doesn’t excuse rudeness, but it’s also something to think about in terms of your expectations for the level of enthusiasm for the people you’ll be talking to in interviews.

          Like, the tone of this really stuck out to me: ‘As a candidate who took time out of their day to come to an interview and spent time prepping myself and researching the company, it was quite upsetting that someone couldn’t even be bothered to review my resume.’ There are exceptions where people are really really eager to build the team, add people, desperately needs butts in seats, etc. But generally speaking, yes, you ARE expected to put a lot more effort into this whole thing that the person doing the interview.

          Her not introducing herself is really the only rude thing here.

        5. Allonge*

          So – if you don’t want to work here based on this interview, that is totally up to you. Especially if you have options, go for the one that suits you best!

          But low-level rudeness such as people rushing into meetings unprepared or forgetting to introduce themselves happens every day in working life. Do get used to this – it will happen to you even in places where all interviewers were perfectly polite and nice.

          Don’t base your career choices on a bad day someone else is having, is my point.

          1. Smithy*

            I do get the personality/vibe pieces throwing people. Interviews for the US federal government or UN agencies – a lot of networking prep ends up being about “it’s a strange process, don’t be thrown by the interview”.

        6. fhqwhgads*

          If there are genuinely no growth opportunities, I’d rather they tell me the truth about that than either lie or twist something to make it sound like there are.
          You’re not wrong about the rest tho.

        7. Chickaletta*

          You know, whenever an interviewer is rude or curt with me, I’ve never received an offer so all this might be moot anyway. I’ve had interviers tell me they didn’t like my response to a question (“well that’s not very original, everyone says that”), or other employees make sarcastic remarks when I’m introduced (“yay, finally someone to make the coffee” when I was applying for a job not typically associated with making the coffee was a huge red flag). And I want to be clear – it’s not your fault. Sometimes they’re just having a bad day or a bad week, but if you’re walking away from an interview with negative vibes there’s a good chance they are too.

          Chalk it up to experience, and better interviews will come.

        8. Curmudgeon in California*

          If that was the hiring manager, it would be a red flag to me. If it was just a random person dragged in to interview, meh, shrug and move on.

          The reason that I would see it as a red flag if it was the hiring manager is that if there is no synergy or meeting of minds in the interview, it probably won’t happen on the job. I can “connect” with a lot of different people, and even though I work in tech, being compatible in communication styles is essential. I can communicate with anything from gadflys to aspergers silent types, but they have to be willing to talk to me like a person too.

          I’ve had interviewers like you had. I didn’t get the job, even though supposedly they were desperate to hire and I checked all of the boxes. The hiring manager didn’t want to hire, or was too busy/angry/pushed out of shape to be interested in anyone new.

          It’s not you, it’s them. Chalk it up to experience and move on.

      2. djc*

        I agree. Maybe they were just having a really bad day, but I would take this as a yellow flag and keep an eye out for other behavior.

  14. HA2HA2*

    3. I suspect if a job wanted two part-time workers, they’d hire two part-time workers. It’s a heck of a lot easier to hire one part-time worker in the US and one in the UK than to hire one person to fly between the two, so if they really wanted a single person in both places, there’s probably a good reason.

      1. metadata minion*

        This also could be an industry where part-time work isn’t common and so managers don’t want to go through the hassle of finding someone who actually wants part-time and isn’t going to just leave as soon as they find a full-time position.

    1. Very Social*

      It boggles me so much that there would be a position with such a structured schedule of being physically in two different countries that I have to think there’s a really compelling reason it is supposed to be one person the whole time, or else the company would just hire two different people to begin with.

  15. WS*

    I work in healthcare where 90% of the work is happening on that day rather than ongoing projects, and it’s a majority female workforce, so job sharing is pretty normalised. I mean, you’ll see the same patient multiple times, but they’ll generally come in once a week/month/[time period] so you can schedule that easily enough. It also means that you’ve got a built-in cushion for unexpected absences – Jane might normally work Monday/Tuesday, but since Sarah is sick this week she can do six hours on Thursday as a one-off, and Mary who usually works Fridays can cover Wednesday when needed etc.

    1. doreen*

      I’m going to ask a question I’ve had for a long time – for jobs like you describe, where the work is happening on that day and/or each person has a specific list of clients/customers/patients , what is the difference between Mary/Jane/Sarah sharing a job and Mary/Jane/Sarah being part-time employees? Is it just a matter of the type of work (like doctors job share but hairstylists work part-time) or is there something more?

  16. Foreign Octopus*

    I know this isn’t the point of umber four but her hair is stunning, and I’m super envious of it.

    Also, I love the background and don’t think it’s a problem.

    1. Number Four*

      Thanks! It’s Good Dye Young Toxicity, if you’re also constantly on the search for THE copper hair dye. :)

      1. Hrodvitnir*

        Oh wow, that did turn out incredible! I’m contemplating something like that for my next colour, always nice to see someone’s results. :D

  17. Meghan*

    #5 Would it be appropriate to add the business that is being dissolved (I’m so sorry about the circumstances!) to your resume? It sounds like you did work there that might be beneficial, at least optically, to include on your resume. It would break up the appearance of only working in one place for 21 years. A lot of companies would be impressed by entrepreneurship even if you only talk about it as a learning experience. And stating that the decision has been made to dissolve it would likely prevent anyone from trying to get a reference from your old ‘boss’.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      That’s a good way of putting it as to why the OP wants to leave. But I would focus a lot on how their role has changed over time, and what they are looking forward to doing in their next role.

    2. EPLawyer*

      They aren’t working at the dissolving company. That was hubby’s business that somehow OP was going to run (although not qualified right now?). They worked at a company for 21 years for the benefits and stability while the hubby gained the experience to start his own company.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        “somehow OP was going to run (although not qualified right now?)”
        Sounds like a standard division of labor for family businesses. One person is the technical expert and the other handles business administration.

        1. pancakes*

          I don’t think it is the norm for the people on the business administration side to not know how business administration works, though. In some small businesses perhaps it is, but it shouldn’t be.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            It’s not impossible one could have enough knowledge to do it adequately for a specific small business that would not extrapolate to being hirable in that type of role at other established businesses. That’s how I took that part of the letter.

            1. pancakes*

              I suppose so, but being in that position doesn’t seem particularly valuable to talk about in an interview. It’s more or less, “I was going to try to make it work.” This person has a long work history in their main job and that seems more useful.

          2. Gumby*

            I took it as something like “Hubby was a plumber, I was doing all of the office admin, sales, scheduling stuff. Now that we are split, I cannot be a plumbing company all on my own.” Seems entirely reasonable to me.

            As for what to say in interviews, OP could bring up that they had a side gig that has since fallen through and that caused them to re-evaluate what they wanted from work (but pretty up the wording there a bit).

            1. pancakes*

              That makes a lot of sense. I think it’s safer to talk about re-evaluating without even mentioning a side gig, though. Sometimes that raises questions about what a person’s priorities are — are they hoping to turn it into a full-time career, etc.

              1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

                They can mention that they were giving their partner priority and now it’s “me time”.
                Like women who’ve been working part-time to pick the kids up from school, who then want to scale up and have an exciting career once the kids are old enough to take care of themselves at home.

            2. Helen*

              OP here, and this is the case. Ex-husband has a CA contractor’s license which we transferred to the S Corp, but I don’t qualify for the license on my own. Managing the admin side of the business is very different than building houses, and I can do the former easy-peasy but both would be necessary to continue the business.

    3. DivineMissL*

      I went through this recently after 16 years at the same job. The truth was, there was no room for advancement and pay was stagnant, and I was getting bored. But in interviews, I said something along the lines of, “I love my job, but after 16 years, I’ve mastered it. It won’t change significantly in 1 year or 10 years. I want to take the skills and experience I’ve gained and contribute to the success of a new organization that will give me new challenges and opportunities to learn.” Nobody questioned it.

      1. Quinalla*

        Yes, I worked my first job for 13 years and I just vaguely explained that I was ready for more challenges and advancement that I couldn’t get at my current job. This was the relevant truth, but not the whole truth and that’s fine for job interviews. My personal life stuff was that actually I was ready to leave the job ~7 years in, but then had kids and was happy to be at a job where I could “coast” while my kids were young. Then as they got older, I had a major injury (broke my hip) and again was not a good time to be looking for a new job. So again, my truth was accurate, but there was a lot more to it on my side that I didn’t share and frankly had no place in the interview. And yes, I also pivoted quickly to why I was interested in the company/job I was interviewing for and no one batted an eye at my answer. People are genuinely curious when someone leaves a job after a long tenure because it is so unusual nowadays, but most get it that hey I was done and it was time to move on.

        I hope I’m at this job for more than 13 years, so far it has been great, we’ll see though :)

    4. pancakes*

      I’d maybe leave that out. I don’t have the sense that the letter writer is looking for a job where they’ll be an entrepreneur, and “someone else set up a business for me that I don’t have the qualifications to run on my own” maybe isn’t a great narrative for an interview. It seems that with their long history at work, they’ll have more substantive skills to talk about than that.

  18. Banana*

    I’m in a similar boat as #5, except my employer is fond of reorgs and title changes, and at the same time they like to heap extra responsibility on a person in what should be a promotion, but wait months and months to do the requisite title changes etc to match. My actual job changed four months ago, but my promotion for that change hasn’t happened yet. However, I had a title change nine months ago to catch up from a reorg that happened two years ago. My resume would be a shambles if I tried to include all this chaos in it, so I’ve simplified it as much as I can, and I just have to hope that, if anyone ever calls my employer to confirm my job history, that they can make sense of it.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My company is the opposite side of that coin and it’s equally problematic for my own resume. Just about the point where I’m getting bored, management reorganizes, significantly changing my goals and daily tasks. My title now says ‘senior’ in front of what it was when I started (gulp) 20 years ago, but I can count out six distinct roles.
      It was such a dynamic job, but it doesn’t look that way on my resume, and that makes me really unhappy. (Advice welcome.)

      1. Doctors Whom*

        I have a very long tenure at my current employer and a series of technical promotions with oddly similar titles which can be difficult to translate for people outside the business.

        My thought for you to consider is that since you did six distinct roles – I would represent those like major projects with their own subheader & bullets, under the main title. Something like:

        Senior Llama Poobah

        Llama Distribution 2019-present
        – reduced delivery times for llama rentals by 37% year over year
        – brokered partnerships with new transit providers, reducing llama transit costs by 10%
        – increased return renter rate by 12% year over year

        Llama grooming 2016-2019
        – llamas featured in Llama Weekly’s “Best of” lists for 3 consecutive years
        – reduced turnover in llama grooming staff from 35% to 10% annually
        – developed grooming services business line to serve TV/film productions in Bubblegumville and grew to $15M annual revenue

        Llama whispering 2014-2016
        – developed new llama calming procedures for parties and events, improving llama health and customer satisfaction
        – our llama calming procedures have since been adopted as the international standard best practice by The Professionall Llama Society

        If it’s 6 roles at the same time, I would still do the above to break it down by role/topic area, just without the dates.

        1. doreen*

          That’s what I did when I was applying for internal promotions at my job. I had the same title for 15 years, but in that 15 years I had three different assignments and due to a reorganization , one of those assignments involved four different roles at the same time. I listed the title, then broke it up by assignment with the dates, and further broke up that one assignment into each of the different roles.

  19. Master of None*

    Follow up to Letter 5: I work in a private educational services company and officially my job title is simply “Instructor” but over the years I’ve done tons of tasks including onboarding and training, writing, project management, corporate training, and plenty of other tasks that I feel aren’t represented by the title of Instructor. My resume right now lists my position as “Corporate Trainer / Project Coordinator / Lead Instructor” because it represents more the wide variety of responsibilities I have. Is this dishonest? What should I do when my role title is different from my actual responsibilities and my does not redefine my position?

    1. FashionablyEvil*

      I happen to think functional job titles are fine if done within reason. (I’m speaking as someone who comes from a company with titles like Associate Research Health Scientist 4 and Senior Communications Analyst 2 which make little enough sense within our organization and absolutely no sense to people outside it.) Alison tends to recommend putting your formal/official title in a parenthetical in case someone calls to confirm your employment, e.g., “Director of Oncology Research (formally Senior Health Research Scientist 5).”

    2. acmx*

      Hmm, I don’t see your listed tasks to be much outside of what an Instructor does. Onboarding is separate but training/corporate training = instructing, I’d expect an instructor to do writing. Does your company have separate content creators and you just present the course?

      I would list Instructor and detail the duties that are outside the typical ones for an instructor (maybe project management).

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

        I bet their company is like the company I used to work for. The instructors would teach the material but the class material, etc were all written and created by someone else. You see this a lot with more professional development or licensure classes, such as real estate education. Often times the instructors would just read some of the material from the book and then expand upon it with their own experiences and be available for questions.

        And training is not the same as instructing. Training would be training another instructor on how to use materials, etc. While instructing is instructing students.

        1. Master of None*

          I do train freelance instructors but my “corporate training” is there because our clients are companies whose employees we teach, rather than individual private students.

  20. Jonquil*

    Job sharing is not unheard of here in Australia. It seems to be common particularly among mothers who work part time or need flexibility (my mum did it in the 90s for a while at a teaching job). I can’t speak to the UK exactly but “benefits” isn’t really a thing for jobs here, because health insurance and employment aren’t at all connected (as they are not in the UK because they have the NHS), so the cost of benefits is unlikely to be a consideration for the UK-based side of the operation.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      There are a bunch of UK statutory benefits such as pension scheme, 28 days’ PTO on top of sick pay, parental/carers leave etc, as well as employment protections, all of which would make it likely the conditions of employment would be different for the two job share partners. But many companies have employees in different locations and manage the different norms comfortably. It just might limit what the salary ceiling could be.

      1. bamcheeks*

        All of those things are typically offered pro-rate to part-time employees, and that’s very normal and not something that any organisation with an HR department or access to HR advice would struggle with.

        1. UKDancer*

          Yes, in my company part time and job share employees receive the same standard benefits (cycle loan / season ticket advance) and eligibility for things like childcare vouchers and gym membership (I think). Annual leave and pensions are pro-rata’ed I think. It’s a lot easier in the UK than it might be in the US because things like medical care are dealt with by the NHS so whether you’re part or full time doesn’t affect your healthcare.

    2. Jesssss*

      That said, you do need to train and develop both people, give them both time to do mandatory training etc – but good employers recognise that it’s worth it.

    3. Bagpuss*

      Job shares aren’t uncommon in the UK. It is often more expensive for the employer than one full time person once things such as NI, pension contributions, sick leave and training are taken into account, and because it does mean managing two people not one.
      And I think it’s even more common to have 2 part timers who are doing similar work even if it’s not officially a job share, so both may have separate responsibilities and clients they deal with, but the work could be covered by a single full time person.
      It’s often people who are working around childcare responsibilities or where some only wants to come back part time after maternity leave

  21. Emmy Noether*

    I once had to conduct an interview without having seen the candidate’s CV at all. I *thought* I was just sitting in to judge his answers on my field of expertise (this was for a different team), and that the other interviewers would ask most of the questions. Then, five minutes before, the (only, it turned out) other interviewer asked me if I had the CV and could send it to them… ooops. His LinkedIn had a bit of info, but not much detail. Retrospectively, I should have asked to be forwarded the CV right away when I was asked to participate.

    I solved it by beginning with a presentation round (which we always do anyway) and asking him to start by going over his CV.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      My first job out of college was really good at interviewing – especially the college grad interviews. But every once in a while, things came up that discombobulated the schedule. So I got pulled into an interview with literally 90 seconds notice. But rather than berate the candidate, I apologized. Of course as a college grad, the resume wasn’t 2 pages and crammed full of details, but you can still assimilate the basics in one or two minutes.

      If a candidate is scheduled for 4 different 1-1 interviews, and 1 of them gets off on the wrong foot, that’s not being disrespectful to the candidate.

  22. Elbereth Gilthoniel*

    LW#4 – this isn’t helpful at all, but your picture showed up directly above an ad for At a glance, the picture looked like part of the ad. And I thought to myself- that’s an odd picture to advertise a hotel room – you can’t even see a bed! :) I’ll blame my foolishness on the lateness of the hour.

  23. nnn*

    #5: You actually know the answer to the question they’re asking, it’s just hidden behind the other stuff.

    Even with your spouse and running the business out of the picture, you don’t necessarily have to find a new job. An option in your situation would be to stay at your current job, but you mention that you aren’t as willing to do that.

    So the question to ask yourself is: why aren’t you as willing to do that?

    The answer is probably something along the lines of “I’d rather have a job that’s more [X] or less [Y]”.

    Solve for X and Y, and that’s your answer, no backstory or baggage needed.

    1. MK*

      I think the OP is thinking that people will find it odd that she isn’t willing to stay at her current job “now”, after she has done so for two decades.

      1. irene adler*

        Yea! That’s exactly what I encounter every time I interview: “You’ve been at Company for over 20 years (that’s amazing!), why do you want to leave now?”

        Where I’m at is a very small company that lacks doesn’t look like it will be around for too many more years.

      2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        In which case she can explain, as she has here, that her spouse’s career took priority, and she did have other career plans that then fell through.

      3. Semprini!*

        If that’s the case, a useful explanation for all manner of things can be “The pandemic has really made me rethink what’s important.”

  24. Dhaskoi*

    #1 Your boss wants to trap you in that role forever, for his convenience. Don’t buy it, and brace for shenanigans if/when you give your totally reasonable 2 weeks notice.

    1. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Or it’s two people who are running an enterprise together, and they should sit down like the professionals they are and discuss long-term succession planning for the business?

      1. Mary Jane*

        Agreed. This feels a bit like what happened when a small business owner starts thinking of employees as “family”. Not with a deliberate intent to take advantage of them, but forgetting that someone who doesn’t own the business is not going to be as invested in it as they are. If OP trusts their boss to handle things well, they could start by saying “6 months’ notice would preclude me from a traditional job search. I’m also worried about you finding someone before I’ve found a new position, and then I’m left without a job. Can you explain to me what you imagine a transition period would look like?”

        It’s possible the boss is just entitled, so OP should go with their gut over having a frank conversation vs. just giving notice. But I like to assume good intentions when giving advice. Caveats are fine, but there’s no need to start off adversarial from the beginning.

      2. pancakes*

        “I’ll need six months notice” doesn’t give me professional succession planning vibes at all.

        1. Glomarization, Esq.*

          No, sure, it doesn’t sound as though the LW and their boss have put time into formal succession planning. But I’m also just not getting from the letter that the boss is some kind of ogre looking to “trap” the LW in this enterprise. There are a number of commenters on this letter seeing maliciousness when it looks to me that they simply have never gotten around to discussing what their business plan looks like over the very long term.

          1. pancakes*

            I’m not sure the distinction is important here. A business with no succession planning in place can be a trap as well. There are often letters here from people who feel trapped in the sense of not being able to take time off because higher-ups deprive them of coverage for one reason or another, and I don’t see this as being terribly different. The boss seems to see it as a trap. Whether he sees it that way because he’s exploitative or not great at running a business, it’s not a reasonable way to run a business.

          2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            The fact that he wants to “help” OP search for a new job doesn’t give off icky vibes to you?

      3. Observer*

        Or it’s two people who are running an enterprise together, and they should sit down like the professionals they are and discuss long-term succession planning for the business?

        Except that the OP has no ownership stake here. And the way the boss has framed it so far, they want to be calling all of the shots in terms of succession planning – not only a notice period that’s pretty much unheard of but even a say in where the OP goes next. And they are not suggesting any sort of work NOW to allow for more flexibility and business continuity when the OP leaves. If that’s what the boss had suggested, I would be applauding him. But all he wants is “thing continue the way they are and when you are ready to leave, you’ll do it on my terms.”

      4. Nikki*

        But they aren’t really running an enterprise together. The boss is the business owner, and the LW is an employee. They don’t have a stake in the business or even an employment contract.

        The boss does need to engage in serious succession planning for his business. But he also needs to be realistic that asking LW to give six months’ notice, without compensation in the form of a secure job (contract), a stake in the business, or additional pay to cover that notice period, is frankly an unreasonable ask.

    2. Cait*

      And the comment that he wants to “help me search when I decide to leave” is a HUGE red flag. More like, “He wants to sabotage any chance I have of leaving.” OP, you most certainly do NOT need to give six months notice. I doubt he would give you six months notice if he was planning on firing you. You owe him two weeks and nothing more.

      1. Observer*

        And the comment that he wants to “help me search when I decide to leave” is a HUGE red flag


      2. pancakes*

        I don’t know about sabotage but it seems pretty paternalistic, which also makes me wary.

  25. learnedthehardway*

    OP#2 – the interviewer wasn’t great, but not terribly bad, either.

    The question about why you want to leave – that’s a standard one. You’ll hear it in every interview, in one form or another. In your case, yes, it’s obvious that you are graduating and want to move from your keeping-the-lights-on-job to your career, but what the interviewer was really asking was “What are you interested in doing / what are your drivers?” AND “Why are you interested in our company?”

    Next time you hear a question like that, answer with something that goes beyond the fact that you’re graduating and want to get your career started, and tell the interviewer what appeals to you about their company and role. If you’ve done your research on the company, this is the perfect time to pull out a detail or two that shows you know something about the organization.

    1. El l*

      Yeah, and look, you especially have to expect that question when you give the “I loved that job!” line. If it’s so great, why are you leaving?

      (Mind you, I’ve given big-ups to my then-job in pretty much every interview, but I always then in the next breath talk about how it wasn’t a good fit for me anymore, and so on)

      They ask that of pretty much everyone. Nothing personal.

  26. sigh tho*

    The number one faux pas I’ve experienced when in LW2’s early career situation (am now a few years out) is when interviewers asked me what I did between graduation and the interview. I graduated in May, but was still interviewing in June, July, and August. This question was SO COMMON. Intellectually I understand why. You want to make sure the person fresh out of college is a human that knows life beyond the walls of academia. You may even be making small talk. But for a good portion of people, particularly liberal arts majors or ones that didn’t plan ahead with marketable skills (really tough to plan for that at age 18 when many choose a major) the truthful answer to that question is “I’ve desperately been searching for work. I spend hours and hours each day applying to places and only hear back from things I’m vastly overqualified for. I feel pressure to take every bad offer that will pay me 20k because I don’t want to wait too long and become unemployable.”

    Maybe things have changed now in this job market, but I don’t think you’re going to get the answer you want asking this question. I’ve lied and made up hobbies 100 percent of the time.

  27. Ms Doghouse*

    Op 3: Here in the UK job shares are a thing, especially in organisations wishing to support women around working and childcare, eg jobs in charities and education. In this fictional case it seems like an even more sensible solution for environmental and economic reasons, as it would save the employer the travel expenses as well as the environmental cost of flying an employee across the pond regularly

    1. londonedit*

      Yep, publishing employs a lot of women and things like flexible working, part-time working and job shares are very normal in the industry (where I am in the UK, anyway). Most of my female colleagues with children either do 3 or 4 days a week, have different working hours, or (before Covid) had WFH days one or two days a week. That sort of thing is very normal. I also know of a couple of roles in the company I currently work for where two people are job-sharing.

  28. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP2 (bad interviewer) – this seems like what I call a “worksheet” interview, as if the interviewer has a sheet pre-populated with boxes to put in the answers and they need an answer to put in each. She had to note something for typing speed, reason for leaving your current job and a full list of experience presumably.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      Yes, this almost sounds like an interview with an employment agency – they tend to be big on the check-box questions. A lot of these questions just sound very standard to me.

    2. LW2*

      This was an interview with an engineering firm. I had already had the pre-screening with the recruiter about 2 weeks prior. I know the questions were quite standard or as you said worksheet questions, which is fine it was mostly her tone that got me – which I can’t exactly relay here since these are typed words not spoken. She also didn’t build on my answers to these questions. I explained my job duties in brief and expected her to ask me to elaborate on whatever she was interested in.

      1. anonymous73*

        Nobody seems to be bringing up the interviewer’s rudeness here, and while I mostly agree with what Alison said, the rudeness should not be ignored. If this is the person that would be your manager and you are offered the role, I would take the way she treated you into consideration. Because if she’s willing to treat a job candidate poorly, it would be worse if you were an employee. Interviews are a 2 way street – in addition to them trying to see if you would be a good fit, you are determining if they are a good fit. And while yes she could have been having a rough day/week/month, I would be leery of a manager with that kind of attitude when things get tough.

      2. KRM*

        I once went to an interview where they had me meet almost the entire department, most of whom were not interested in interviewing me at all. Almost everyone who would not be working directly with me said “And why are you leaving [company X]??” which I found irritating because it was stated right on my resume that I was a contractor and the contract ended at [Date]. And they all acted surprised when I said I was on contract and looking for a permanent position. That company had major issues anyway (I asked about the basic structure of a day, looking for info on when people got in/left, meetings, etc, and the direct peers I was talking to got defensive and said “there’s no typical day here, we do lots of different things every day!!!!!”. Also sending me to an awkward lunch were it felt like they had told everyone not to talk about the job at lunch because ‘more informal, getting to know you!!’ but I still had questions about things and they seemed surprised and very hesitant to answer.). That was the job where I asked for an update because I had another offer (was just covering my bases, really) and the HR guy sent me an email addressing me as “K”. That would have been the last straw even if they weren’t rejecting me and I didn’t have another offer!

  29. Allison K*

    The tapestry looks like it’s not “installed” per se, it’s tacked up or pinned up? What if…you run a dowel through the top, then hang it from a cord attached to both ends of the dowel, and on the backside you put another tapestry that’s abstract or patterned or just not as representational? Then it would be easy to flip the art for the office day and flip it back for yourself. Which could even be a useful little moment of transition in and out of work brain.

    1. Ms Doghouse*

      Yes, that’s what jumped out at me- not that the subject matter is unprofessional, but that it looked hastily pinned up like you might see in student halls!

      1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

        I’m glad I’m not the only one! That was the only criticism I have of this particular photo. I’d mount the tapestry a little more securely, and maybe rearrange some of the stuff behind you as it looks a bit cluttered from this perspective. Otherwise it’s fine.

        When you described this as a goth style I was expecting lots of skulls, black walls, ornate candle holders, stuff like that. Having bright coloured hair and enjoying historical artwork is not particularly unusual IMHO. Maybe 30 years ago but goth and goth-adjacent stuff is pretty mainstream these days.

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

          I think you all are being a little too critical. I enlarged the photo for better look.
          1. Yes the tapestry is pinned up but by the looks of it, that’s how it is supposed to be hung up. I think by looking at the smaller picture it looks like its half falling down but if you make it bigger you can see much better and I think part of it is just the way the painting is that makes it look a little more sloppy.
          2. What is she supposed to rea range. the only things beside the tapestry is what looks like a chair or a love seat and what I believe is a box, which is probably on her desk or a table. And its a nice teal box not a crappy cardboard one. It probably has files or something in it.
          The room looks small so there probably isn’t a way to have the things rearanged.

  30. Other experience*

    LW2–just regarding the ‘do you have any other experience?’ question.

    You’d be astonished how many candidates leave valuable skills or experience off their resume in the belief that it won’t be relevant.

    I find that question to be one of the most useful I ask.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I presume you don’t ask it in a “sort of annoyed” manner though..

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        No, but tone is a little subjective she was shuffling through her papers, if she was exasperated that she couldn’t find what she was looking for or recall a key detail that could account for tone.

        I’m not excusing it or doubting OPs experience but it’s also useful to take a step back and remember that in an interview setting every small thing feels 10x magnified and take it in that context.

      2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        The “sort of annoyed” can be explained easily: the interviewer had something come up that made her late, and she could have been annoyed about that. And also annoyed because she knew she had OP’s CV but it wasn’t in the folder as expected. OP was making it all personal

  31. LDN Layabout*

    #Lw2, the fundamental truth of interviewing is that while the interview is likely to be the most important thing/focus of what you do that day (week, month depending on personal feelings and the role itself), interviewing someone is likely to fall much lower on an employee’s list.

    There’s multiple interviewees, there’s their BAU work, if it was an early interview there’s walking into the office in good time to carry out an interview and suddenly there’s an emergency with X, Y and Z and now your contingency is eaten up by essential stuff that outweighs refreshing your memory of someone’s resume.

    This interviewer doesn’t sound amazing, but you need to reframe where interviews exist within a company/work structure in your mind.

  32. Luna*

    LW1 – I know that my contract notes that, past the probationary period, the notice period has to be 4 weeks that goes until the 15th of the next month or the end of the month. Depending on when the resignation or being let go occurs in the month.

    LW4 – I don’t mind quirky backgrounds. Personally, I find that Bosch tapestry neat! Is that the Garden of Earthly Delights? If it is, well, at least it’s the far left of the painting. If you were showing the right side, I could understand it being a tad pause-inducing for people to see, haha!

    1. Nikki*

      I think longer notice periods are perfectly reasonable if there’s an employment contract that requires longer notice periods before the employee can be laid off, as well. But employment contracts are rare in the US.

  33. Phil*

    I once set my background image for calls to be a still image of my home office from the webcam POV, to see how long it would take people to notice it was an image with me kind of glitching in the foreground like you do when you have a fake background. I would also occasionally use it when I was working at the actual office to mess with anyone seeing me in person after doing a call.

    I like to sit and watch the world burn.

    1. OK?*

      This is a common thing though? I have lots of colleagues who use a picture of their office space (home or otherwise) as their Teams background. That way you see their space at its best, it doesn’t matter if they leave papers lying around and it looks untidy, etc, but it’s still more personal than the generic office background. This is kind of like saying “I like to bring a turkey sandwich to work and eat it right at my desk!! I like to sit and watch the world burn.”

    2. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      I took a picture of a nice bookcase and used that as a background for months.

  34. Natalie*

    I hope job sharing becomes more of a thing! I’ve seen it done in law firms where 2 ppl share the same full time file load and it worked well, since the nature of the work did require someone to be available every weekday.

  35. Rosamund*

    Surprised to see two answers I disagree with here. Job-sharing is not uncommon in the UK, to the extent that I would be wary about working for an employer who didn’t offer it. I’m not a job-sharer myself, but I see making it an option as a pretty important part of diversity and inclusion.

    And while I love the Garden of Earthly Delights, I think it is all of “controversial, disturbing, and distracting.” Even if the details weren’t discernable, I would question the judgment of anyone displaying it in a work context, even at home.

    1. Expelliarmus*

      It may not be uncommon in the UK, but Alison is based in the US and her answers reflect that. In the US, it is not in fact common to job-share like this, but maybe someday it could be.

    2. Eyes Kiwami*

      Yeah I’m actually really surprised people don’t find Bosch distracting! It is all of those things, and intentionally so! Why not pick literally any other art piece…

  36. Tau*

    LW1 – I am actually from a country where 6-month notice periods and above are not unheard of. My own is three months, but this often increases with longevity and seniority.

    And I think your boss is being ridiculous.

    There are three things that make long notice periods work over here, without which I would not even consider it:

    * reciprocity – your notice period is six months, and so is the notice period for termination. If your boss realises that he doesn’t need you anymore, or if you have a conflict at work and he decides he’d rather replace you, or whatever… Well, unless we’re talking gross misconduct, he can’t let you go immediately. He has to wait out the notice period.
    * protection – related to the above, when you give notice it cannot be shortened without both parties’ consent. If after you give your notice, your boss searches for and immediately finds a replacement who can start next Monday? Tough. He still has to pay you for the next six months.
    * culture – since these notice periods are common, everyone expects them and we’ve learned to work with them. We know, when we hire a new person, that they probably won’t start for another few months and might not start for half a year. Searches at director level may begin well over a year in advance. Similarly, if someone is being replaced, they likely have a very long notice period as well so the position won’t be left vacant for long. All of that means that you can go to an interview and say “yeah, I won’t be able to start until four months after signing the contract” and still expect to stay in consideration for the position.

    You’ve already stated the third doesn’t hold for you, and I’d be pretty skeptical of the first two as well in your shoes.

    Don’t do it.

    1. FashionablyEvil*

      This is solid and helpful framing—I appreciate how you’ve laid it out here!

    2. Pocket Mouse*

      Thanks for detailing the facets that go along with lengthy notice periods! I’m curious- does this lead to people being checked out or unmotivated as they work through their notice period? I can imagine someone who has been very ready to leave for a while, or who has essentially been told they’re not wanted in the role, would have a hard time showing up with enthusiasm for the current job.

      Also, how long is a common or standard notice period for entry-level roles?

      1. londonedit*

        In the UK the standard notice period is one month – it’d be rare for an entry-level role to have a longer notice period than that. Where I work they overhauled notice periods a few years ago because they had a blanket three-month policy (except for very senior staff where it was six months) and entry-level people were complaining at their exit interviews that it was out of step with industry norms and it had caused problems in their search for a new job. So now it’s one month for everyone up to a certain level of seniority, then three months, and then only the very senior people are on six months.

        I think because it’s all so standard, it’s just what you expect when you leave a job – you hand in your notice and you know you’re going to be there for another month or three months or whatever, so you view it through that lens. It gives you plenty of time to let any external people you work with know, and it gives plenty of time to finish things off that can be finished and/or to create handover notes for the new person. Of course people do end up checking out somewhat but I don’t think that’s a huge problem in most cases. From the opposite perspective, if I handed in my notice in and all of a sudden knew I’d be leaving in two weeks, I’d be in an absolute panic trying to get everything tied up and handed over in such a short space of time!

      2. Tau*

        I can only speak for my own experience, but… to an extent yes? I definitely remember feeling like I was going to lose my mind when I gave notice at the job that was doing a number on my mental health at the start of September and my prospective end date was end of the year. (3 months rounded up to the end of the calendar month.) I think there are some mitigating factors, though:

        * we have a system of written references in place that counts for a lot for your future job. (It’s, uh, also kind of nuts but that’s off topic.) Having a bad reference from a previous job can be very bad for your future employment, especially because hiring managers will generally want to see a written reference for all jobs you list. No point in sabotaging that!
        * we also have generous PTO, so the notice period is shorter than it might be as you’ll be spending the last few weeks of it on holiday
        * culture, again – working at a place for a few months after you want to move on is just how it works. I actually can’t imagine the US situation – the idea of handing in my notice and then walking out the door for the last time not even two weeks later seems unreal!

        You can also leave earlier if you mutually agree on it with your employer – I did this at aforementioned last job, managed to get away with leaving after 2 months – but obviously it’s up to them whether they’ll go for it.

        Re: standard notice periods for entry-level – I’m not actually sure because I did my entry-level work in another country :’) any input from other Germans welcome! I did find that the legally mandated minimum is 4 weeks for employees giving notice, rounded up to either the 15th or the end of the month, so it’s at least that. (And probably frequently 1 month, which is the *employer* minimum notice period for termination for an employee who’s been at the company for less than 2 years; the required employee notice period can be increased by contract up to the same amount as the employer notice period, but not beyond it.)

      3. Emmy Noether*

        I am also in Germany, like Tau.

        I’ve observed that if people have a good relationship with the rest of their team and their boss, they are usually not too checked out during their notice period. They are motivated by wanting to leave a clean ship for whoever is taking over their work. I know I even pulled some late nights during the notice period in my last job trying to get some stuff done on a project where people where depending on me. I’ve seen this from others too.

        Also, it’s often not announced immediately, so after giving notice, it can feel a bit… unreal at first, and since one has to pretend anyway, one kinda falls into the familiar rut of doing the job normally.

        Most notice periods I’m familiar with are three months, even entry level. Sometimes only one, but that’s considered shockingly short.

    3. anonymous73*

      That makes sense, but unfortunately that’s not how things usually work in the US. Unless it’s a contract position and the start date is in the future (which even then IME it’s generally not more than a month or 2), most companies aren’t going to wait for you to finish out your current job for more than a few weeks (maybe a month).

      1. Tau*

        Yeah, hence me saying I still think OP’s boss is ridiculous! I was worried the comments would end up with a lot of “six months is crazy, nobody would do that”/“we do six months and it works for us” , so wanted to bring up that six month notice periods do exist… but they requires a specific context and framework that to my understanding is rarely going to be in place in the US, and certainly don’t seem to be in place for OP. That makes the request inappropriate.

        1. Nikki*

          Yes, I was thinking the same thing!

          I previously worked in a position where six month notice periods are typical. But so are employment contracts.

          When I gave two weeks’ notice, my boss told me that I was bound to the notice period required by my contract. I pointed out that, despite my requests, they hadn’t actually given me an employment contract. He admitted that was their mistake and graciously accepted the two weeks’ notice. I worked another week or so as a part-time consultant just to help with the transition.

          There are certainly ways for LW1’s boss to enable a longer notice period. Simply demanding one and offering no additional compensation or job security in return is not it!!!

  37. Nene Poppy*

    Letter #3
    UK – local governmnent

    I would recommend that anyone who wants to job share or employers considering implementing a job share to have a trial run with the people involved. It will save a lot of grief and admin.

    I have had 3 job shares in my career – the first 2 were awful. The other people were so disorganised that I ended up doing all the work or dealing with problems they created. Luckily these were temp to perm and I declined taking the jobs at the end of the temp period. These were both in private commercial businesses.

    The 3rd was fantastic. We worked well together as we are both highly organised. We later, as a team, took on another job share within the service and therefore bringing our hours to ‘full time’. The jobs were within local gov’t therefore HR and management deal with this kind of arrangement all the time.

  38. Goose*

    Surprise that no one recommended background blurred for LW 4! I love this photo, but when I don’t feel like cleaning and tidying, or when my cat is being especially rambunctious in the background

  39. Kirsty*

    Job sharing is really common here in the UK, years ago i wanted to go part time around my college days when i returned to college, friend of mines daughter was also at college on different days to me and was looking for a part time job. We job shared my original job and usually she got an extra shift at the weekends when it was busy. Worked out well for everyone, i could go back to college, she got the part time job and my employer got extra cover at the weekend without trying to find someone willing to work only 1 shift a week during the busy season. But the big difference i guess is that the overwhelming majority of jobs here don’t come with benefits as we don’t need healthcare to be provided by our employer (although it is getting slightly more common to get a private health care plan) so the only downside from the employer end was doing 2 sets of wages rather than one.

  40. Beauty*

    Six months notice is HILARIOUS! I’ve heard of people in my field (vet med) say you should give 90 days notice, but none of the jobs I’ve taken would ever want to wait that long for a new associate to come on. We usually have contracts, but mine have all specified 2 weeks to 30 days. I gave my last toxic job 30 days against my better judgement (2 weeks was required) and ended up getting pushed out early. In my experience working longer than a couple weeks after notice for a small business that has trouble finding and retaining employees is an absolute nightmare of passive aggression and outright hostility.

    1. londonedit*

      Six months is reasonably common for senior roles here in the UK. A standard notice period is a month, but it’s common for mid-level roles in my industry (book publishing) to have three-month notice periods (say for a commissioning editor or a production manager) and then for people at the level of publisher or editorial director, six months is not uncommon. It makes sense because our schedules are long and we’re already working on books that will publish next year. My dad had to give two years’ notice of his retirement (not in publishing) because the company knew it’d take that long to get the succession plan in place.

    2. After 33 years ...*

      This discussion about notice time has come up here previously. It’s extremely field-, culture-, and position-dependent. For my job, 4 months is the minimum, 6 months is average, and 8-12 months not uncommon. I gave 8 months formal notice, and longer informally.

    3. Bagpuss*

      Yes, it is subject to the norms in the particular field but t sounds as though OP isn’t in a job or a field where longer notice would be normal.

      I’m in the UK, where formal employment contracts are the norm and where notice periods are generally part or your contract.

      In my field (Law) 3 months is bog standard, 6 months is fairly normal for senior roles (salaried partner, department head) and 1 month for support staff.

      I also think it is common for people who are planning to retire to let their employers know longer in advance, although my own experience has been that this is normally more of a ‘heads up’ that they are hoping to retire in the next year ratherthan giving specifc notice, mostly they then give the normal amount of notice formally once they have decided on the specifc date

  41. Feeling stuck*

    Question re lw1: I am in academia a professor and I actually signed a contract requiring six months notice, which I now regret for the reason stated in this letter here. Does anyone have any thoughts as to how much trouble I would get in if I quit with less notice? I am up for renewing my contract soon and I would like to reduce that amount of notice but I don’t know if they will go for it or if it will make them suspicious that I’m planning to leave. I will say that the contract also requires them to give me six months notice or compensation if they let me go. So I suppose if I reduce the requirement on my end they might also want to reduce the requirement on their end. From what I’ve heard six months notice is excessive even for academia. I am interested in any thoughts anyone has.

    1. Bagpuss*

      I don’t know how it would play in the US.

      Here in the UK , you would be in breach of contract and your (ex) employer could sue you to recover any losses, which could include things like any additional costs involved in paying a locum / using an agency to get someone in faster. (they would, here, have an obligation to mitigate their losses so they could only claim the difference between your salary and the amount they actually pay a locum, and would be expected to take steps to hire someone as a perment replacement asap, but there could be fairly siginficant financial implications. And of course it could affect your references and reputation.

    2. After 33 years ...*

      How many courses are you expected to teach in that time?
      We would normally expect at least 4 months, based on teaching commitments. As at your place, there is a system for mutual waivers.
      People do leave for a variety of reasons. That’s understood, but it can leave the department scrambling to cover for you. Most departments do not have spare teaching capacity – I’ve experienced the consequences of the “lottery bus” type of situation, and it’s not always solvable.
      As to reaction, a lot depends on why and for where. That of course will vary with your culture. Worst case: a colleague left our department for an administrative position at another campus in our system with ~3 weeks notice before the start of term, and the admin. was not disposed to give us a teaching replacement. Hard feelings ensued, although not towards the colleague. Best case: colleagues who leave for another university, in what is a step-up in rank / salary for them, and where they’ll continue to work as research collaborators with colleagues at old place.
      I’ll check back before I have to go to a PhD defence this morning….

    3. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I think this will depend entirely on the specific rules of your institution.

    4. L.H. Puttgrass*

      I’m curious—how long is your contract, when do you have to decide when to renew it, and does it have other provisions about leaving in the middle of a school year? I can see a school not wanting to have to replace a professor after classes have started. There can also be fairly standard hiring cycles, so I could also see them wanting notice in time to get in the hiring cycle. Those hiring cycles can determine what’s reasonable notice, too—if the hiring cycle means that you’ll get an offer in January to start teaching in August, 6 months is reasonable. If that offer usually won’t come until June, not so much.

    5. Anonymous Koala*

      From my experience in academia this is not terribly uncommon, mostly so that the university doesn’t have to disrupt teaching schedules mid-year. It’s very difficult to get a mid year sub for one course, let alone the 4×4 most teaching professors cover. I’m not sure how to renegotiate your contract, but if you can work it out so that when you do give notice you’re not leaving any courses in the lurch, I think that’ll go a long way towards maintaining goodwill with your current employers.

    6. DrSalty*

      Does it matter if you burn the bridge (AKA are you planning an escape to industry)? You have to do what’s right for you and your future.

    7. pancakes*

      “So I suppose if I reduce the requirement on my end they might also want to reduce the requirement on their end.”

      I’d be very surprised if they didn’t. I’d start with talking to other profs at the same school about this.

  42. ecnaseener*

    #3: I see a lot of people talking about job-sharing where both people have eg a 20-hour week, but it doesn’t sound like anyone has experience with the situation in the letter: trading off 40-hour weeks. I wonder if that would be more legally complicated, though it kinda sounds awesome to have every other week completely off.

    1. bamcheeks*

      No, I’ve never come across that– nor a “job-share” split over two locations! I think it would be possible in the UK– our pay periods aren’t legally required to be weeks the way I think they are in the US (where overtime has to be calculated on a weekly basis?), and I have a member of staff who works 0.5 full-time equivalent by doing three days one week and two days the next. There’s no rule that says that every week has to be alike, and lots of healthcare and other shift-based roles have working patterns like “two weeks on days, a week on nights, a week off”. Long distance lorry driving, too. But then, there’d be no advantage to making those job shares rather than just ordinary fractional contracts.

    2. Irish Teacher*

      I have colleagues who are working a week-on, week-off job share, with each doing full time one week and the other the next. I’m not sure if it’s TECHNICALLY a job-share or if one is taking their parental leave in every-second-week-for-a-certain-length-of-time blocks, but, whichever it is, she takes every second week off.

  43. Lab Boss*

    #4: I don’t think you have to worry that the interviewer who mentioned your backdrop chose not to hire you because of it. It would be wildly passive aggressive to pay you a seeming compliment that really is intended to signal you that your unusual decor was noticed and judged. Way more likely is that they genuinely just thought it looked cool and wanted to tell you, and then there ended up being a stronger candidate in the mix.

  44. Percysowner*

    LW#1 Put “and my 3 year old wants a pony” or some other request that its outrageous in your head. You can smile and nod, but 6 months is ridiculous and will keep you from ever getting another job, which is the point of the request.

  45. bamcheeks*

    LW1, depending on your role in the management of the business, I might take this in a different direction. If your boss is concerned about how he would cope if you resigned with less than 6 months notice, what’s the plan if either of you got seriously ill or injured or had another kind of crisis that meant you had to step back from the business at short notice? Would it make sense to have a couple of associates / consultants on retainers doing say 10% of the work who might be able to step up in an emergency?

    I wouldn’t present this as succession planning, but as contingency planning. For the stability of the business, having no plan other than “we will get six months’ notice of any changes” is just not a very stable or secure way to operate.

    1. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Nothing wrong with presenting it literally as succession planning. It’s a perfectly reasonable best-practice for any business to have a “what if one of us gets hit by a bus” succession plan in place.

      1. bamcheeks*

        I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, but just that if the boss is twitchy about LW leaving, then the word “succession” might suggest they have plans in the works. “Contingency” is more, “I have no plans to leave, but not everything is in our control.”

  46. Nancy*

    OP4: that looks like a standard room in a basement and I know many people with similar styles. It’s not unusual anymore. People I work with stopped caring about backgrounds in 2020, but you can easily take down the tapestry during calls or choose a background image if you are concerned.

    I highly doubt it’s the reason you didn’t get the job.

  47. GiantPanda*

    LW#5, if you get questions about moving on after your very long tenure at this job, you can be vague:
    “I needed to have a very stable job due to a family situation that has now changed, so now I’m excited to explore strange new worlds …”
    The same style of answer as “a health situation that has since resolved”.

  48. QuickerBooks*

    LW2: We’ve all had those first job interviews where the question “Why do you want this job” seems disorienting and bizarre. This became easier for me when I reframed the question in my mind as “Why is this the next logical step in my career and life?” Ideally the answer should be some form of win/win: the job should be a great opportunity for the company to benefit from your skills in some way and a great opportunity for you to benefit from the company. In other words, explain why this is the right “fit”.

    Good luck!

    1. Susie Q*

      ““Why do you want this job” seems disorienting and bizarre. ”

      I don’t understand this frame of mind. This is a good interview question because it allows the candidate to articulate what they think the job requirements and duties are while expressing their interest in those different aspects of the role. It’s a great way to filter out candidates who don’t understand the job and those who aren’t really interested in the role.

      1. Expelliarmus*

        It’s not that it’s a bad question, it’s that it can feel overwhelming for someone who is new to job interviews.

    2. LW2*

      I would have loved if she actually asked me why I wanted this job or why I would be a good fit or what I like about the company. However, she asked why I was leaving my current job after I explained that I enjoy my job and have grown a lot in my role over the years. Basically, I started my current job not knowing a single thing about the industry/role. I’m in a similar situation now as I’m looking for my first job outside of college. So I was explaining how I grew in this role to learn everything I needed to excel in the industry which is something I could do again in their industry with their company. So for me to be excited to tell somebody how much I’ve grown in my current role and can grow in their new role and then to be met with a rude “so then why are you leaving if you like it so much” made me feel like I was in this little box that I couldn’t leave. It wasn’t the standard “why are you looking for a job/leaving your current job” phrasing. Just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you should only do that.
      I understand none of you were actually there with me, but to comment on the questions rather than the tone and attitude of a person doesn’t exactly make sense especially when I myself have already stated I know that’s a standard question, just not how she asked it.

      1. Susie Q*

        But you didn’t explain why you wanted to leave your previous job. You said you’d grown so much at your current job and then said you would grow at your next job potentially at their company.

        This is a common question and there are lots of resources online that can help provide you with good answers. Just pick one and memorize it.

        Don’t focus on tone. It’ll drive you crazy.

      2. londonedit*

        I understand her tone was the main issue, but I definitely came up against this sort of situation when I was earlier on in my career. You’re always told not to badmouth your current employer, right? So when I was asked about my current job I’d talk about everything I’d achieved and how much I enjoyed the role and how great it all was. And then I’d get ‘It sounds like you really do enjoy your current job. Why is it that you’re looking to move on, exactly?’ And then it’s awkward because you feel boxed into a corner and like you have to backtrack and say ‘Oh, well, yes I *do* like it, but I definitely am interested in this role too, I really do feel like it’s time for me to move on…’ and then it feels like you’re contradicting yourself.

        I’m not saying the interviewer wasn’t in the wrong here – it sounds like they were brusque and didn’t give the best impression – but speaking as someone who lost out on at least one job in my twenties because the feedback was ‘We just didn’t feel you were fully invested in moving into this role; it sounded like you’re very happy where you are and we wondered how interested you really were in coming to work for us’, it is something to watch out for. You want to strike a balance between highlighting the parts of your current role that you excel at, and highlighting aspects of the job description for the new role that would give you a chance to grow and develop. You don’t want to leave the interviewer with a sense that you’re super happy where you currently are and it’d be a real wrench to move on.

        1. Clisby*

          Yes. Enjoying the job you do now and still recognizing it’s not what you want to do long-term are not mutually exclusive.

      3. bamcheeks*

        A really useful thing at interviews is learning how to turn the interviewer’s questions to your advantage. Generally when I’m translating interview questions for graduates, I say:

        Can you tell us about why you’ve applied for this job? – Can you talk us through your CV? – Would you like to introduce yourself? – all of these are effectively an opportunity to set out your stall with a quick four or five key points from your CV (current role/ professional specialisation / level of experience / short/long-term career plan.) All of these help fix in the interviewer’s mind who you are and distinguish you from the other candidates.

        Can you tell us why you’re leaving your current role? Can you tell us what attracts you to our company? — these are an opportunity to show how what you want lines up with what the organisation wants from you, that your interests are aligned.

        Remember, every question is going to be assessed against at least one other person, maybe as many as five or even a dozen, and what matters to the interviewer is not your personal, inner reasons for something, but what matters to the business– “why are are you leaving/applying for this” questions are mostly about motivation. If your answer to “Why have you applied for this job?” or “Why are you leaving your current job?” is something like, “You will pay me money” or “I have finished graduate school and want to work full-time now”, that’s kind of a non-answer because it doesn’t differentiate you from the next candidate in terms which are useful for the organisation. Whereas, “Having finished school, I’m looking for a job in X field, with the longer term ambition of ___” is something that actually differentiates you as a candidate and which they can assess against what the organisation wants from you.

        This doesn’t excuse rudeness, and a good interviewer will try and rephrase teh question to get what they want from the candidate. But it’s incredibly HELPFUL for the interviewer if you can answer the underlying question in ways that they can use to differentiate you from another candidate.

      4. Wisteria*

        “so then why are you leaving if you like it so much”

        Which is a fair question! They don’t want to hire someone who leaves jobs they like bc past behavior really is a predictor of future behavior. They are wondering if you are hard to retain bc you walk away even when you are happy. You will get this question again, so prepare now to discuss why you aren’t planning to stay in this job.

        Learn to be okay with brusque people, as well. There are a lot of “all business, no pleasantries” people in this world. You can only change yourself, so work on reframing what you believe about how people should interact as a first step in learning to respond differently.

        1. Clisby*

          It would be pretty strange for an interviewer to think people never leave jobs they like for better opportunities. Are they thinking nobody looks for a new job until they actively hate the job they’re in?

          1. pancakes*

            No, almost certainly not, that would be a really weird thing to think. I think Bamcheeks gave some really good advice on reframing this type of question as a good opportunity for the candidate to talk about why they’re a good fit for this particular role.

      5. Hybrid Mom*

        LW2 – I am currently helping with interviews for a new role at my job, so I want to start off by highlighting that perhaps I am being too generous with my reading of the interviewer. But from reading your initial question and comments thus far – it reads like you applied for an office/engineering job and only have experience in childcare. To me (a person who has worked in neither industry), they do not read as naturally aligned. There is nothing wrong with that, you are changing industries and people do that all the time. But, I think the interviewer was trying to get you to explain just why you want to transition from childcare to office/engineering work. I am sure the interviewer was brusque, cold, unpleasant in tone and that threw you off you A-game. But honestly, I see that not only as a very valid question but a bit of a softball. You should be prepared to answer this question in any interview when you are changing industries. And yes – maybe your degree lines up, and you just graduated, and you think it’s obvious; but many people do not work in the field of their degree so you should be prepared to state something like: “working at XYZ childcare was a great opportunity in college, it allowed me to expand my ABC skills while focusing on my schoolwork. However, why I am thankful to have worked for 4 years at XYZ and view the experience as very positive and beneficial; my classes/interest in blah blah field – particularly niche thing your company excels in – are where I want to direct my career now that I am graduated.” Grace under fire is an excellent skill to hone (and honestly the linchpin to my personal success) – so focus on how to note interviewer tone (you do not want to work for a major jerk) and then set aside for the time being in order to rock the interview.

        1. bamcheeks*

          It’s also a great opportunity to talk about the softer and transferable skills you developed in childcare– communication! being part of a team! operating in an environment where health and safety and risk assessment are critical!– which a lot of engineering graduates who haven’t had that experience might lack.

        2. LW2*

          I’m not faulting your comment, I actually very much appreciate this. The job was admin assistant. My goal at this point is to apply to entry level jobs despite my degree because I prefer to learn an industry from the ground up and grow in the industry/company. I’ve taken a ton of time to describe how my job has given me a lot of skills other than changing diapers. The “why are you leaving” question was on of the last things she asked me, so to have already explained my skills, how/where they can be applied, and to have already mentioned that I’m looking for a career where I can grow more and then to be asked a question I already answered was what I didn’t like.
          But I understand every interviewer is different and they have their own things going on. I appreciate most of what everyone is saying here. The advice for future interviews is very helpful. But I will say for anyone brianstorming excuses: she was on the original email interview invite, not last minute addition. I had a recruiter screen me first, if she wasn’t interested and felt I couldn’t apply my current skills she should have told the recruiter to reject at that point. I know to any job at this point I am simply a stranger on a piece of paper, so I try to not take it personally. But honestly, not a single person can say that if they took time out of their day, had to take prescreening assessments, and so on just to be treated like they were a nuisance you wouldn’t be the least bit hurt.

          1. RagingADHD*

            “Why are you leaving” can also be a screening question to find out other things about the candidate.

            -Did you have a problem with management? If so, does your answer reveal healthy or unrealistic expectations?

            -Did you get fired for cause?

            -Did you have a problem with coworkers? If so, does your answer make it sound like you were the problem, or like you have strong/weak interpersonal skills?

            -Are you going through major life changes that could impact your availability or interest in the job long – term? For example, are you likely to move away to pursue your career?

            Most job interview questions aren’t just about the literal answer. They are intended to reveal things about you in the *way* you answer.

      6. Hiring Mgr*

        Regardless of the specific questions, I agree with you that the tone is so important in these situations. When someone sounds rude or confrontational when it’s expected that they (as an interviewer/recruiter!) will be the opposite in can be jarring and an immediate turnoff. IMO if you are interviewing a candidate you should be doing whatever you can to make them feel welcome, comfortable, etc.. that’s just 101

  49. Susie Q*

    LW #2 I say this with the utmost sincerity, your resume is not important enough to be memorized. Most hiring managers are looking at many different resumes for the same position with similar qualifications and experiences. Do not be surprised if hiring managers do not memorize or retain everything in regards to your resume. I am not an HR hiring manager/recruiter. I am a manager who is part of the hiring process. Yesterday I had four interviews while trying to finish writing up the mid-year reviews for the ten people who already report to me. The interviews and interview prep were less important for me than doing excellent mid-year reviews for my staff. The people I interviewed yesterday probably got a “worksheet” style interview primarily because I’m required to ask certain questions and I didn’t have ideal prep time. As Alison mentioned, what is incredibly important to you is just another day in the life of a hiring manager and you need to detach your emotions from the process or you will get burnt out quickly.

    1. Lab Boss*

      That’s what really stunned me when I first became “important” enough to be on hiring panels. With a few very rare exceptions, resumes are virtually interchangeable (especially for entry level/fresh out of college candidates). I try to highlight a few key elements but so so often there’s just really no difference between one candidate having a BS in Biochemistry from one state university and another having a BS in Chemistry from the other state university.

      1. Susie Q*

        Yep the resumes I had yesterday were nearly identical except for different universities.

      2. JustaTech*

        When I was reading undergrad’s resumes (for work-study jobs) the ones that stood out were the ones that were objectively terrible (yellow text on a white background), and the one person who managed to make working at Subway sound interesting (and they got a much better job than what I was offering and I wished them well).

    1. Agga*

      OK? I really don’t get commenting to say that you don’t get it, but to each their own. You can scroll on by.

    2. works with realtors*

      There’s an entire Reddit of people (mostly tech bros) who share tips and ask questions about how to have two full time jobs without getting caught, so this didn’t feel too far fetched to me!

    3. pcake*

      because it’s fun? also the person is asking a question about how real-life workplaces would handle something.

      I really don’t get people who think AAM should answer to them on what content she does or doesn’t publish on her own site. her site can be anything she decides to include because it is hers. you can decide if you’re interested or not.

  50. ScruffyInternHerder*

    LW1 –

    Assuming you do not have a written employment contract stating this, and its not in the employee handbook, etc.

    ::Queue the full on snorting laughter::

    I’d at least mentally be saying my Gram’s favorite line about anything unreasonable: “…and people in he!! want ice water.” Depending on the level of caffeination, it might tumble out of my mouth.

    If you’re *that* important, you need to be partner and compensated accordingly, and there needs to be a succession/someone wins the lottery plan in place. Because life happens.

  51. Anne*

    I could have been the interviewer for LW 1! In my company, HR schedules interviews and invites the hiring manager to attend. In a recent case, I was not invited to the interview and didn’t know about it until I got a panicked text from a colleague asking if I planned to interview the candidate. I showed up late and without having reread the candidate’s resume to prepare specific questions. Fortunately I had interviewed another candidate the day before, so I had some generic questions for the position I could ask while skimming the resume to remind myself what I wanted to learn about this candidate. I felt like I flubbed the interview.

  52. Skytext*

    I know the scenario in L3 was from a fictional tv show, but it really seems untenable. One week in London, one in New York? Repeat ad nauseum? I know Alison talked about extra costs of managing two vs one employee, but it seems to me the expenses of this would outweigh them? A weekly transatlantic flight, which take up an entire day now that the Concorde’s no longer an option. So there goes 20% of the week’s productivity. Is the person supposed to pay rent on two apartments in two of the most expensive cities in the world? That they only get to live in half the month? Or is the company going to pay for hotels for two weeks every month? I can see a scenario where maybe a CEO has to have meetings in both cities headquarters or something, but this wasn’t that kind of job. The fact that two people were able to split the job AND THE COMPANY NEVER CAUGHT ON! proves this wasn’t that kind of job.

    1. Musereader*

      I think one of the things was that the episode is from the early 90’s so video calling was not so common, no smartphones, and concorde was actually still running, we are talking dial up internet era – so there may be other ways of handling it now – they both lived in the UK so would pay for houses in the UK, i think UK one stayed in a hotel in UK and the US one would have had the hotel in NY paid for, he did not live in NY full time.

    2. JustaTech*

      The flying back and forth isn’t all that unheard of, especially in the ’90’s. My friend’s dad got a high-level executive job in SF, but they’d just built their dream home in Maryland, and my friend was still in high school, so rather than move the family (again), her dad flew back and forth across the country every weekend for like 3 years, and the company paid for it. (They also paid for his apartment in SF.)

      Also, those flights don’t take a whole day if you’re willing and able to take the Red Eye (going east), and going west it’s more like 3 hours, once you incorporate the time change (8 hr direct to JFK).

  53. Hiring Mgr*

    #4 looks extremely common to me, at least looking at the photo here. I’m not familiar with library goth or dark academia but it must be pretty tame because honestly the background here looks pretty standard

  54. Michelle Smith*

    OP4: Just use the blur feature. It takes maybe 2 or 3 clicks to turn on and doesn’t require a green screen. Your background isn’t unprofessional or inappropriate, but it is really BUSY which can be distracting to someone like me, even when it’s innocuous. Would I complain? No. Would I have a hard time focusing on what you’re saying because there are so many colors and patterns happening behind you? Yes. Busy backgrounds are so frustrating to my brain. Blur would help you keep your space decorated exactly as you want without inviting anyone else’s criticism and minimizing how distracting it is. (By the way, I assure you it really isn’t a personal judgment on how you decorate. While it’s definitely not my taste, my brain has the same issue with backgrounds that flicker constantly because the user doesn’t have a green screen and jpg backgrounds that are needlessly busy like one coworker who uses a theme that makes her look like a floating head in outer space lol).

  55. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    Re: backgrounds.
    Maybe it’s just me, but I think a lot of people are overestimating the quality of their cameras and the size of everyone’s screens. If you’re in a call with multiple people (tiled mode), then you really can’t see the details of other people’s backgrounds, other than to say “that’s a bookshelf” or “that’s a fern”. Even an important one-on-one video call isn’t going to occupy a giant wall, a la Star Trek, but rather a 10″ square chunk of your screen.

    I had to zoom in a lot to OP’s picture to see anything other than “oh, that’s a tapestry with lots of blue and pink and beige”.

    1. bamcheeks*

      yeah, for all the people saying, “Bosch is not appropriate for a work call”, I feel like that’s only true if you can recognise that particular Hieronymous Bosch picture at fifty paces! For most people it’s just a random more-or-less symmetrical garden scene.

      1. londonedit*

        Yeah I wouldn’t be able to pick out exactly what it was on a video call, and even if I noticed some sort of naked figures I wouldn’t immediately pick it out as Bosch or have any particular opinions on that even if I did.

        1. UKDancer*

          Likewise. I don’t have bad eyesight but I’d struggle with the details because my camera is not amazing.

          I had one colleague with a massive cardboard figure of Seven of Nine from Voyager and that was easy to identify due to the size but mostly peoples’ pictures are small and blurry as a rule so I couldn’t tell you what any of my colleagues had on their walls. With my Voyager loving colleague while I was dubious about his taste in characters as DS9 is a way better series, but otherwise it was fine.

      2. AlexandrinaVictoria*

        Frankly, if I saw someone with this in the background, I would instantly want to be their best friend!

      3. Lab Boss*

        And I’m someone who WOULD recognize that particular Bosch at fifty paces, because I like it- the imagery is arguably not work appropriate (depending how much of a pass you give to fine art) but there’s a big difference between “this person is showing me naked pictures” and “I can see a picture that I know has nudity in it even though none of it is visible”

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          I recognized it instantly as well – I like Bosch’s artwork myself though (not at all an art major). I think his work is absolutely fine in some offices and not in others. To me it comes down to talking to coworkers/manager and finding that out.

    2. Sara without an H*

      Yeah, OP#4, I really don’t think your camera is going to pick up enough detail to immediately identify the work for anybody who didn’t major in European art history in college. My only concern is that the pattern might look a little busy and distracting, especially when reduced to tiled mode. It might help to set up a Zoom call to a trusted friend who could help you do a background and lighting check.

      Oh, and I want to thank you…I am planning to redecorate my home office. “Dark academia” is exactly the look I’m aiming for.

  56. Sarah the Lawyer*

    LW3: I’ve seen this work, and was very impressed with the results – two lawyers, both with kids at home, split a caseload at a non-profit I worked at, one working Monday Wednesday, the other Tuesday Friday, and both worked Thursdays. They kept doing it for 2 or 3 years, then they mutually agreed that one would step back and take a position elsewhere and the other took the caseload on full time – I think the decision was made because their kids were older and in school at that point.

    There were a couple reasons it worked:
    – They were both on their spouse’s insurance, so there was no need to pay double benefits (though I suppose there were double payroll taxes)
    – They had that one overlap day to coordinate. So there was always a time you could, if you needed to, get lawyer #1 and lawyer #2 in the same room.
    – They interviewed separately for the position and were separately both found to be qualified and a good fit – and there was never a feeling of “oh, I wish I was working with the other one” when working with them on their cases.
    – They were very good friends, came into the job together, and were highly collaborative. If there were ever any disputes between them about workload, we never saw them from the outside.

    Amusingly, they had extremely similar, but slightly different names – think Katie and Kate – so they really made for a dynamic duo, and it was regularly assumed by outsiders that they were the same person.

  57. Vermont Green*

    About the background: if I were on Zoom with the OP, I’d see the Hieronymous Bosch in the background and wouldn’t be sure if it was one of his anodyne paintings; or one that depicts death, nudity, torture, and sex. (I don’t know enough about his work to identify one from another at a distance.) I would wonder a bit about the person who used it on Zoom.

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      Does Bosch have anodyne paintings? Knowing next to nothing about his work, I more or less assumed that most/all of his stuff was like that.

  58. Grey*

    #1: And at the same time, your replacement is not going to apply for the job and wait up to six months before they start it. That means you might unemployed if your boss finds a good replacement for you right away.

  59. works with realtors*

    LW4: one of the execs at my org is completely dark academia: forest green wall, old leather chair, bookcases, etc. Not one of us thinks it’s weird – in fact, I love it because she always has great book recommendations! Although, I can’t judge – I work in my living room and have a 5 yo, so it’s not exactly a neutral or pristine backdrop.

  60. That One Person*

    #4 – First off I wanna say I love what I can see of that room, it has a nice warm energy to it (and love the orange hair, goes so nice with the colors of the room!). This is a great reminder of how to doctor interview areas a little, but I think once you have the job then the backgrounds can make for fun conversation pieces when people are a little early to a meeting and waiting to get started. If you’re not sure or uncomfortable sharing your home though I know there are ways to hide the background completely with those generated ones, you just might have a little outline that follows you. I imagine people are used to those to varying degrees as it is.

  61. Erin*

    #4 I also have a unique background tapestry hanging for my calls! I needed to add a little zing to my bland wall, and a richly colored/but not distracting tapestry hanging behind my chair fit the bill quite nicely. Mine probably qualifies as Dark Academia as well. I always get compliments on it, and they seem genuine! A few of my co-workers have also added tapestries to their WFH spaces, and I love seeing the different vibes when I meet with them. I vote to keep it!

  62. Abigail*

    Job sharing sounds like a nicer way to phrase “part time.”

    Like when people say nanny but mean babysitter.

      1. Abigail*

        It does in the sense that I think of professional jobs that are part time are an employers way to get out of paying for benefits.

        It isn’t negative towards the employee.

      2. doreen*

        It doesn’t to me – but I think in some cases it does to the people who refer to “job-sharing” in certain situations. I am sure there are situations where two people are truly sharing one job and where coordination and communication between the two are necessary – but I remember someone referring to sharing a job as a fast-food cashier and the only reason I can think of that someone would do that is because they think “job-share” somehow sounds better than “part-time”.

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      It’s not, it’s distinct. While the individuals sharing the job would be working PT, the job is a FT position, budgeted as a FT position, with a FT position workload and would be advertised as such.

      A PT position would be advertised and budgeted as PT. The workload would be a PT workload.

      1. doreen*

        That’s not the way it’s always used – I’ve seen references to job sharing happening when a full-time employee wants to drop down to half-time, and the position that will cover the other half couldn’t be advertised as a full-time position.

        But anyway, what you said is interesting. If I understand you correctly the job is advertised, etc. as a full-time job. So how does it become a job share – do Anne and Beverly apply for the job as a team or does something else happen ?

        1. Fluffy Fish*

          Your first example is the same – it just happens that the FT position is already partially staffed so they are advertise the shared portion. If the person left, they wouldn’t advertise it as 2 PT positions. That’s the distinction.

          Typically job share arrangements happen in one of two ways – like in your example, an existing person wants to drop back hours for some reason. Alternately, an applicant would inquire about the arrangement, but that’s probably less common. A company that was trying to fill a difficult position or has had experience with a job shared position may also advertise they are open to a job share agreement for the position.

  63. Hailrobonia*

    Re. the Bosch tapestry: I highly recommend the picture book Pish, Posh, Said Hieronymus Bosch
    by Nancy Willard, Leo Dillon (Illustrator), Diane Dillon (Illustrator). The blurb:

    “Here is an imaginative tale about the unconventional fifteenth-century Flemish painter Hieronymus Bosch, as told by his wildly dissatisfied housekeeper. Caldecott Medalists Leo and Diane Dillon and their son, Lee, depict a most unusual household filled with pickle-winged fish, flying furniture, and other bizarre delights.”

  64. Meghan*

    LW1: Unless you think he’d give you a six month notice if he were to fire you, I don’t think you’re under any obligation to give him six months notice when you leave. You’ve signed no papers expressing this, nor are you under contract. Be free!

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

    #2 I don’t have anything to add but this is common. I once interviewed for an admin position at a high school. The principle was the one interviewing me and she was late and seemed a little flustered but I told her to take her time. She had my resume and cover letter and was looking that over while she asked me some basic type questions. Then she started asking me about my math skills, and how I might have to monitor kids during study halls, etc. I gave truthful answers, that I had a learning disability in school that affected my math skills so that is not my strongest suit, etc, but that I would be fine if I had to fill in for someone during a study hall. Well, I must have said something that made it click for her and she said “Oh are you not applying for the teachers aid position.” She was very confused. I said no I had applied for the administrative assistant position. She “got me mixed up with the other person she was interviewing for.”

    I do not have a teaching education background and she could see that on my resume that was in her hand. She got really weird after that and the interview ended shortly afterward. It’s like she thought I should know that she got me mixed up with the other person. I was wondering why she was asking some of the questions but it was the first time interviewing for a school. For all I knew that it was normal to ask or that they were mandated. It makes me wonder how far it would have gone. Would I have gotten an offer for teaching assistant and been like “Wait I thought we were talking about the administrative assistant position!

  66. El l*

    I don’t blame you for not responding right away to “I want six months notice AND I want to help you job search when you decide to leave.” That’s bonkers. Agreements require both parties to agree, which you never did.

    More to the point, as Alison’s written elsewhere, notice periods do not exist so the boss can find a replacement. That’s a volatile timeline, depending on the job, so not a reasonable expectation. Rather, they’re to finish easily-sewn-up projects, to take care of any HR/accounting business before it becomes harder, and above all to document what you’ve done so your successor can get going easily. That’s it. And that’s why 2 weeks is the standard.

    If he didn’t build in redundancy to handle you leaving or being on leave, that’s his fault. Like the old saying, “Your failure to plan is not my emergency.”

    1. Despachito*

      LW1 – “I want to help you job search” – WTF??? This sounds so weird and intrusive.

  67. Alexis Rosay*

    The field where it’s normal to give a long notice period is teaching, because it’s expected that one will finish out the school year. But six months would still be way too long to expect.

  68. urguncle*

    OP #4 and others who may struggle with space and backgrounds:
    A few months ago, I ran across the MULIG Clothes rack at Ikea. The store had styled it with a piece of fabric hung over the top and I was struck with inspiration: I created a relatively small and cheap way to block off parts of my background. I ended up using two yards of upholstery fabric, sewed up the sides and put some Velcro on the bottom t keep it in place. It’s perfect to block off a messy background without sending my ancient MacBook into airplane liftoff mode, or just to put up so my partner can sit on the couch behind me and not be in-shot.

  69. Recruited Recruiter*

    LW #1, Don’t give 6 months notice. A previous employer gave it to me in writing that I had to give 3 months notice or they would give a bad reference. They fired me 6 weeks into my 3 months notice that I gave as a naïve young adult, because they hired my replacement.

  70. BritSouthAfricanAmericanHybrid*

    LW 3 – All the way back in the mid-1990s I was a technical trainer for one of the Big 3 automotive companies. I moved into the training management position but after the birth of my third child wanted to have more flex time. At the same time one of my trainers had just given birth to her third kid and was also looking at taking a step back. An opening for technical writer opened up and we both applied. We then came up with an idea and presented it to the boss – we would job share. We did it successfully for three years! I came into the office on Tues-Thurs, she came in Mon-Wed-Friday so we had the one day for meetings together etc. We would work on one project a time, divvying the work up. It was a win-win for everyone – I got more time with my kids, and actually my 24-hour week (with less travel, fewer days in daycare for the babies) meant I did not lose any money either. Of course there was no subterfuge there at all!

  71. Olivia*

    That last point on breaking out the different responsibilities resume is KEY! Especially if your job title changed! I didn’t get great responses to my job search until I broke out my very quick progression from intern to junior PM to full PM in the span of 1.5 years on my resume explicitly. Did it take up more room? Sure. Did it also allow me to hit alllllll of the keywords for most of the jobs I was applying for, and show just how quickly I grew into the role? Yes!

  72. DrSalty*

    LW1 – Your boss wants 6 mo notice, and I want a million dollars. You can’t always get what you want!

  73. You can call me flower, if you want to*

    A marketing agency that my former employer used had a couple of folks who job shared. As the client we never had a problem. Donna and April (the job sharers) were both really organized and communicated well. They both had little kids at home, so the flexibility of job sharing was idea for their situation. So I’ve seen job sharing done well. I just think you have to have people with the right skill set for it.

  74. Caro*

    LW2 – Hiring managers are looking at dozens, if not hundreds of resumes and cover letters. I’ve found it slightly odd when someone I hired acted disappointed I couldn’t remember something on their resume months after they started – really, all I remember by the point of interviewing is “their resume and cover letter were strong enough.” Of course, I do a quick review of the documents shortly before the interview, but I don’t think most interviewers make a special point to retain the information – there’s just too many candidates to feasibly do this.

  75. Student*

    OP #2: One of the things I wish I had known about interviewers when I started working: sometimes, your company will basically surprise you with conducting a job interview on short notice.

    I worked for a place that did this very regularly – the big boss would decide to hire somebody, and tell his executive admin to set up interviews. The exec admin would schedule with candidates first, then fish up random people in the department to do the first interview, often with only a day of notice (not enough time to read up on the candidate or the actual job post, given our other job duties). The big boss would only interview himself if first-line interviewers were happy with the candidate.

    Sometimes the random interviewers had very little to do with the job posted, so they would be pretty apathetic about the sudden assignment. I was often reading the job post and scanning the resume during a 15-minute break the same morning as the interview. Many of my colleagues just didn’t bother reading the material and would wing it.

    You can combat this as a candidate if you understand it. Be prepared to sum up your experience. Show that you are interested in the job, in the company, and ask the interviewers about their own work. Be a little forgiving of the interviewers if they act like they have no idea what they’re doing. They’re probably just first-line gate keepers; if you charm them a little, and convince them you have interest and relevant background, then you can get through to the decision-maker.

  76. CupcakeCounter*

    I gave a month’s notice at my last 2 gigs. Gig 1 was because I had been there 7 years, was the only person still around who had worked with a couple major things, and that major thing had an audit coming up. It was also around the holiday’s so my new employer wasn’t fussed about a January start date vs a late December start date.
    Gig 2 was HORRIBLE and I quit without another gig lined up. My boss and coworkers were very decent people and another coworker put in her notice the same day I did (also with nothing lined up) so we stayed through one additional monthly close cycle to train our replacements – who were also gone within 3 months. Funnily enough, I just got a “Congrats on your 1 year anniversary of leaving this hell hole” from my old boss a couple weeks ago.

  77. Observer*

    #1 – long notice

    You Write that e wants six months notice if I ever leave. His reasoning is that it will take him a long time to replace me, and he also wants to help me search once I decide to leave.

    That’s nonsense on the face of it. So much so that I would not only not give him too much notice, I would be VERY careful to not let him know you are searching and not even where you are going once you do give him notice. The only reason it would make sense for him to “help” you search is for him to be able to stick his nose in where it doesn’t belong. Given how much he’s expecting you to give up for him, what makes you think he’s going to use that capacity in a way that benefits you? In fact I suspect that he would use that capacity in a totally unethical way, to keep you from getting a decent job elsewhere.

  78. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    OP4 – one of my coworkers just switched to a new virtual background. It’s a giant stuff alligator head that looks like it’s about to swallow her whole. I’m curious what the CEO is going to say in our next all-hands.

  79. HannahS*

    OP4, I am VERY into the whole aesthetic thing that our generation is doing right now (live in a glass box condo but wish it was a coastal beach cottage? DO IT. Live in cut-and-paste suburbia but wish you were in Rivendell? YES.) but I tend to blur my background unless the wall behind me anything other than, like, a plant and a map of my city.

    The way I think of it is this: my curated and tastefully decorated space is an expression of my interests and personality, but the aesthetic isn’t my identity* and it’s potentially distracting at work. If anything in my background is going to lead a person’s attention away from my face and what I’m saying, then I blur it.

    *I mean, I have possessions that definitely reveal a lot about my identity. But while I’m at peace with clients forming conclusions about me based on my name and appearance, I don’t want them scanning my environment and making more assumptions. First, because they might be wrong, but more importantly because if they’re looking at what’s behind me, they aren’t giving me their full attention.

    1. HannahS*

      And to speak more directly about the tapestry, I think it’s visually distracting because it’s so busy, and I share a lot of other peoples’ reservations about Bosch in the workplace. In general, you should always give your colleagues the option to not see nudity. I work in a healthcare and my comfort with real nudity is much higher than the average person, and I still don’t want to call a colleague and be faced with even the most tasteful nude art in the background. Plus, overt religious allegory is potentially provocative in a way that you haven’t considered. I’m sure that you don’t have medieval Christian attitudes towards Jews, but my first response to giant medieval church imagery is not “Oh, cool art!”

  80. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

    For OP1, it sounds like the boss needs to bring on another full-time staff. If one person leaving with two weeks notice would cause major problems, that’s a structural issue. As Alison has noted before, the 2 weeks are to document what you’re working on/next steps/processes. It is not for finding and training a replacement. If the boss is nervous about that timeframe, he needs to do something differently.

  81. feath*

    Related to OP4: For interviews, I think it is better to do plain if possible, or blur filter if you can’t – but once you’re actually working then I tend to feel it out with what other people use. At my current place, once I saw the “this is fine” apartment and bob’s burgers counter that some people used for backgrounds, I figured I’d be fine with my old photo of an audience shot of a concert I went to when I felt like being interesting.

  82. Orange+You+Glad*

    #2 – I agree your interviewer was rude but I think you also need to realize your attitude about being a recent graduate thus certain facts should be obvious is not a good position to take. Generally, companies are interviewing people of all different backgrounds and experience levels for open positions (even entry-level openings). Many people have alternate education experiences – like working while in school or going back to school so no it’s not obvious that you are looking for a job just because you graduated. Also while it’s good to talk about your past job and what you learned there, if you are talking too passionately about it anyone would question why you are leaving. The additional experience the interviewer was looking for could be non-job things you learned in class, group projects, club activities, etc. I tend to interview exclusively current college students or recent graduates so I try to be a little forgiving if they are unsure how to interview but not everyone is going to take that approach.

    Also, remember an interview goes both ways. Both you and the company are feeling each other out to determine if you would be a good fit for their position and organization. If you aren’t feeling comfortable in an interview setting, you probably aren’t going to enjoy working there.

  83. Saraaaaah*

    I disagree with the general tenor of the responses to lw #2. It sounds like the interviewer was unprepared (whatever, it happens) but also rude.

    I’ve had a few interviews in my life where the interviewer just seemed irritated by my presence– maybe because they’re having a bad day, maybe because I’m not a good fit and their screening process sucked– but either way its irritating to go through the whole rigamarole of an interview and then feel like the interviewer is inconvenienced by you. I’ve been offered some of these jobs too! It’s a big red flag for working there in my opinion.

  84. University Schlep*

    My former company allowed split work for two people who did not want to work full time and it was fantastic. I wish more companies would consider it. In this case it was in the same office.

    The benefits the company got more than outweighed the extra costs (take into consideration that most people who are willing to work part time probably have someone else carrying the insurance)

    They were working similar jobs before and rearranged job duties to replace their second job with a new hire that they were both around to train (and support during vacations)

    They were available to scale up hours during peak periods and in the end it was decided the job was really a 48 hour a week job so they both worked Wednesday and relieved the stress of overwork from another person.

    When one went on vacation, the other usually added an extra day or two to keep the work going.

    Eventually one of them was on maternity leave and the other went to full time during leave with a temp to assist with overflow. They were happier and the office flowed so much better with the extra flexibility and cross training

  85. University Schlep*

    LW#2 – Also please keep in mind that many companies require that all candidates are asked the same questions in at least the first couple rounds of interviews. Questions like “do you have other experience not listed on your resume” and especially “Why do you want to leave your current position” are often boilerplate.

    1. LW2*

      After reading a lot of other comments, I appreciate the advice and blunt honesty. The way a lot of people are rephrasing the questions are definitely more of what I expected interview questions to sound like.

  86. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    Am I the only one who is more bothered by the boss wanting to help LW#1 job search than I am the six months’ notice? I can’t help but expect the boss would sabotage opportunities with the claim that they’re not good enough for LW#1.

    Either way, give what notice you can and don’t sweat the rest. To paraphrase the saying, if the business can’t survive the loss of one employee, it’s not a business, it’s a hobby with a revenue stream.

    1. Calliope*

      It’s possible but if he’s not a terrible boss, it seems more likely to be sincere to me. It’s in a consultant’s interest to help their employees find new jobs because if they place them with clients or potential clients, that can cement the relationship with the client. Happens all the times in law firms too.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Yep, very common in my world to pass along job postings or reach out to contacts if you know someone is looking.

    2. irene adler*

      I wondered how that might go.
      “Nah, you don’t want that job. Trust me, you’ll end up hating it there after one week.”
      “OH no, you don’t want that position either. Lemme tell ya, they make the worst job you ever had seem like Disneyland.”
      “I wouldn’t bother to apply there if I were you. They never respond.”
      “You weren’t considering THAT company, were you? No, no, no. That company, why they’re just bad news. Sure the job description looks like a match. But there’s so much more ‘under the radar’ with them. ”

      Nothing quite “good enough” for the OP.

  87. JSRN*

    LW2, the interview you describe seems pretty standard for how most interviews go. I’ve been to so many where the interviewer did not read my resume at all and kept asking me questions about things that were there….if they took the 2 minutes to even glance at it. It sucks because you’re expected to know about the company/what they do, but the interviewer can’t be bothered to skim over your resume. Hopefully, most interviews you’ll go on will be a better experience, even if you don’t get the job.

    But…never be afraid to end an interview early and walk right out if you feel really offended/disrespected. Like Alison says, an interview is a 2 way street and you are interviewing them too. An interviewer isn’t some overlord and the peasant candidates need to tolerate whatever type of behavior. I’ve walked out of 2 interviews in my working life due to rudeness. I will tolerate disorganized, but will never tolerate rudeness from hiring managers, no matter how badly I wanted the job. They are showing me who they are early on.

  88. Lumos*

    My office background is a collection of anime memorabilia and I’ve only ever gotten compliments on it. I didn’t use it as my interview background but I’ve otherwise just proceeded as normal. I brought it up in my introduction as one of the fun facts about me. I recently ran an event for my team and I had several people email me about how much fun they thought my background was. All this to say, sometimes an out of the ordinary background can lead to new connections and be a great ice breaker. :)

  89. Irish Teacher*

    Are job shares uncommon in the US? (Or other countries?) Or maybe they are specific to teaching. At least amount teachers in Ireland, two people splitting a job isn’t even uncommon. I suspect most schools would have at least one pair doing this. It is usually due to child care responsibilities, somebody wants to work less hours so they can spend more time with their children – the school I am working in had two sets of people doing it this year – out of a staff of about 50. So not at all unusual.

    1. IWantToGoToThere*

      2 part-time jobs for something that could be 1 full-time job do exist in the US, but I think they’re often not attractive to all candidates. US employers rarely offer healthcare for part-time employees, even if they offer it to their full-time employees. If you’re advertising for a part-time position, you’re going to narrow your candidate pool to people who a) have healthcare coverage through a spouse, or b) are desperate & haven’t been able to find a full-time job with healthcare.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Yeah, I guess that would make a difference. We don’t usually have healthcare through employers here. I think there are some companies that do it.

        I think most job shares aren’t necessarily advertised as such though. I think it is more common for somebody who has been working in a job for a while to decide they would like to job share once they have a child. Of course, this IS public sector, where we have rather more protections than the private sector too. In teaching, it’s often a temporary thing, somebody wants to job share for a year or two while their children are young.

  90. Currently Bill*

    LW4: I think it’s fine from a content perspective and I dig the wall color.

    My only suggestion would be to frame or otherwise mount the tapestry, so it looks like a more decisive choice. In the image, pinning it up like that give me college dorm feels.

  91. RagingADHD*

    LW2, a lot of your questions will be put in perspective if you consider that you are not the only person being interviewed for this role, and probably not the only person being interviewed that day. As well as the fact that the interviewer has a whole other job they also have to get done at the same time.

    Needing to hunt for the copy of your resume or asking about your WPM doesn’t mean the interviewer didn’t look at it. It means that you made the basic cutoff, and the interviewer (who has never met you before) needs to recall which candidate you are so they can move on to more substantive topics.

    And no, graduating doesn’t automatically mean you’d look for a new job. A lot of people keep working at the same job for a while after graduation.

    When you are interviewing for one job at a time, you can focus fully on all the details of that company and have them top of mind. When you are juggling multiple projects and interviews simultaneously, needing to refresh your memory is just the normal way the human brain works. It has nothing to do with “not being bothered.”

    If you make a habit of taking things like this personally and getting upset, you are going to stay upset and stressed out a lot of the time, and miss out on a lot of good opportunities.

  92. MaryAnne Spier*

    My parents had that Bosch framed in their bedroom. I always smile when I see it pop up anywhere.

  93. EMP*

    LW4, I would check in with office norms before you just run with it. Even though individuals you work with most often might be fine with it, the company as a whole may have a different take. My office is pretty casual but we were recently asked/reminded, via email, to have “professional” zoom backgrounds (they provided some examples of flat color with the company logo) when in meetings. However, I’m not sure that’s made it into new hire documentation, so there’s every possibility that if our next hire has a painting behind them at home, they’d be unexpectedly going against our office’s official preference until someone thought to bring it up. I wouldn’t say it’s a huge issue but if you’re unsure enough to write in to Allison, I think it’s worth explicitly checking with your manager or someone with longer tenure at your new place!

  94. IWantToGoToThere*

    LW4 – An easy solution might be to use the background blurring filter on Zoom or on whatever video conferencing service your company uses (if available). People would be able to see that you have something on the wall behind you, but they wouldn’t be able to tell whether it’s a bland nature scene from Ikea or something more unusual. I find the blurring feature tends to look more natural than using a fake background.

  95. Bluebell*

    Just here to add my petty giving notice story. I gave 6 weeks notice so I could wrap up an event I was managing. My boss gave me a disapproving look and said “ we’ll have to discuss that.” Luckily, a few days later they told me that date would be ok. Before I started, they had the position open for a year, but they managed the next search so badly, my successor didn’t start for 15 months!

  96. RVMan*

    The Bosch is rather not-work appropriate, especially the way the letter-writer has it here. The middle panel of the “The Garden of Earthly Delights” isn’t intended to depict Heaven, it rather depicts the eponymous “Garden”, a false, fallen Paradise given over to the sin of Lust. The third panel, the “Musical Hell”, is the direct result of that Garden, it isn’t a counterpoint Hell to a Heaven. The point of the triptych is that abandoning Godliness (the first panel) in favor of ephemeral sins of the flesh (the second) leads inevitably to damnation (the third).

    Presenting only the second panel without the context of the first and third can be interpreted as a rejection of Bosch’s original subject in favor of an ‘endorsement’ of sins of the flesh, which though very modern, is also a bit work-unfriendly in its own right. So either centering this image in a work-related chat will be seen as explicitly religious, explicitly anti-religious, or just explicit, depending on how you read isolating the Garden without the godly or the damnation. None of these is work-appropriate themes. Leave out the religious interpretations and the two side panels of the original work, and you have a huge orgy, which is also not work-appropriate.

  97. Anon for this*

    I disagree on letter #4 — I would strongly de-recommend that painting for a professional setting. Not because it’s “quirky” or “goth” (both fine!) but because it includes nudity and sexual content, and pretty intensely/hardcore at that. Yes, it’s distant, but I recognized it immediately and I was not an art history major. It’s like seeing a poster for Fifty Shades of Grey — my mind *immediately* goes to the sexual content even if it’s not clearly visible, which is not what I want to experience at work.

    My reason is a bit different from others — it makes me feel uncomfortable in the same way I second-guess indications of creepiness or sexual harassment. It does not seem like you present as a cis man, LW#4, which is helpful, but I think the same standards should apply — and I and other people I know have encountered men in the workplace who used art to be creepy without crossing any clear lines that could be pointed to (because it’s art, so not sexual harassment!). It’s almost like a…power thing, that some people do, to insinuate the sexual content without giving a clear HR violation. I absolutely know people for whom explicit wall decorations were part of a larger picture of something that eventually added up to a hostile work environment. So I would have a very jarring reaction to that and be doing some extra-wary mental calculations upon first seeing it, to make sure I didn’t have to be careful around the person who put it up. Not because they like the art — that’s fine! — but because they chose to display it at work and I’ve seen bad non-aesthetic motives for doing so. This effect would be magnified if they were my boss or there were other power dynamics.

    And to be clear, I’m not a pearl-clutcher — I actually love the painting. Just not at work!

  98. Hedera*

    LW2: I realize I’m likely too late to the discussion here, but after reading your letter and your comments in various threads, I’m strongly getting the sense you’re both taking a lot of the situation way too personally and reading far more intent into the interviewer’s behaviour than is necessarily warranted. The “sort of annoyed” tone could easily have been frustration with herself for not being able to find the paper she wanted, and while yes, you had a copy you could have given her, she did already have a copy. There’s no reason she would need two copies of the same thing, and not everyone fresh out of college has ready – or free – access to printing, so she could have thought she was doing you a favour by letting you keep your copy in case you might need it. Other people have addressed why a lot of the questions weren’t blow-offs, and I’m inclined to agree with those who said the “why are you leaving your previous job” was both a logical question and a softball, especially after you talked so much about loving your long-term job in a totally different industry.

    If the vibes really were rancid, they were rancid – that’s fair. But from what you’ve described, you had a totally normal job interview, up to and including the WPM screening and a slightly harried interviewer, that may or may not have gone the way you wanted. Yeah, you prepped and didn’t get the same feeling back, but for an office admin job they’re probably looking at dozens if not hundreds of applicants. This is by definition FAR more important to you than it is to them. It sucks but unfortunately job hunting does suck 99% of the time. I hope your search is successful, whether at this place or somewhere else, and I hope your next interviewer does introduce themselves!

    1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      Yes, the interviewer was annoyed with herself, for arriving late and for not finding the CV where she thought she’d put it. She was having a bad day.
      Maybe she’s always like that, maybe not.

  99. Amy*

    “and he also wants to help me search once I decide to leave” — This seems odd. Like he expects you to announce you want to leave, and then he’s going to job hunt with you? Having your current manager participate in your job search is just really weird.
    I’d take the traditional route. Search for jobs and interview on your own time, and like Alison said give the cutomary notice. You don’t owe him anything more than that.

  100. Jack Straw from Wichita*

    RE #3 – I worked as a secondary school teacher for years and had two coworkers who proposed a shared schedule and got it approved. They were both excellent teachers and had worked together for 10+ years. One had a new baby at home and one was nearing retirement with health concerns that the half-time schedule helped alleviate.

    They attended things like parent-teacher conference and open house nights together as a team. It worked out incredibly well! Surprisingly well, to be honest, for both them and the administration.

    Part of the proposal they presented included the fact that the new baby teacher was going to move to half-time or quit, and the nearing retirement teacher was going to have to go on medical leave/disability of she didn’t move to the half-time work. It was lose them both or let them job share. Again, they were both excellent teachers who the district wanted to keep, but also in small school with an English department of only four teachers, losing half your staff would be a nearly crippling blow–so their proposal was approved and now, 6 years later, they are still each working half-time in the job share.

  101. RebelwithMouseyHair*

    OP1, Alison is right that this might increasingly be possible with a market skewing in favour of the workers.
    A friend runs a restaurant. As is increasingly the case since Covid, he’s having difficulty hiring staff. He put up a ad in the window, advertising a slightly higher salary, no luck. Then he put up a sign asking for part-time staff, and suddenly he had enough workers. So he has a bit more admin to do because he has six workers instead of four, but nobody wants to work that kind of job full-time. People have lives, and sometimes have side hustles or studies that make full-time jobs unappealing.
    After all, they did promise us that with more and more robots doing work for us, we’d have more free time on our hands. It’s great to see it happening.

  102. Liz*

    Where is the advice on how to handle future references needed from the boss who wants 6 months’ notice (and will surely have an unreasonable, negative reaction when they don’t get it)?

  103. Eclecticism is a Virtue*

    LW #2, I have interviewed many people over the years. There could be a lot going on behind the scenes that you’re not aware of. Maybe the interviewer wasn’t planning to be in the interview. In your case, maybe it was the same person you scheduled the interview with, but if they draw from a pool of interviewers, that could be the first time they saw your resume. I worked in a call center and about a half dozen of us acted as a pool of interviewers. I would receive an instant message telling me someone was up front for an interview and asked if I could take it. I would have, at best, 1-2 minutes of notice to look at their resume. Maybe the day before they interviewed a dozen people for the same position and were honestly starting to get a little tired of the interview process. Not professional, but if you spend all week interviewing people and no one is coming close to what you are looking for, some frustration is perhaps understandable. I think part of your reaction came from, understandably!, to you, this was your “One Big Interview” and you expected the interviewer to treat it much the same way. And you can argue they should have, or to at least acknowledge it was to you. But to them, it may have been Interview #79 out of 100 interviews. (At my call center job, we needed to hire around 200 people at a time, so each of us could be in dozens, if not one-hundred, interviews depending on our availability and how the interviews went.)

    LW #5, I’ve been at my current employer for 11 years. 5 in one position (the call center mentioned to LW #2), 6 in another (my current role). The idea of leaving has occurred to me, including how I would handle the same sorts of questions. And this is what I concluded: the feeling of wanting a new challenge, a change of pace, a new environment (different companies handle different aspects of the same work in different ways), that feeling can come at any time. It could be within the first year, 2 years, 5 years, or 20 years. No decent employer/interviewer is going to have a problem with when that wanting something new happened. They may be very curious of why now, after 10-20+ years, you want to leave, but they won’t fault you for it. In my case, it would be something like “changes in the organization, new managers, new software, and so on, gave me enough variety to keep things fresh for a number of years, but now it’s time to try the work in an entirely new environment.”

  104. foxesboxes*

    #3 – I’ve done this! About six years ago, someone left my workplace, and a coworker and I both said, “You know, I’d do this but it’s a lot to take on.” We decided to propose to management that the two of us BOTH take on the role and split the work. They said yes, and we shared the job for several years before my second half moved on to another company. There are many things I like about steering the ship solo (although now with a WONDERFUL second in command), and there were challenges to the shared job, but for the years we split the work down the middle, we were a successful team, and I still think it was the right choice for us and for the business at the time.

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