how to answer when a job candidate asks, “how did I do?”

A reader writes:

Lately at the end of interviews, I’ve had people asking me how they did in the interview. Everyone who has asked me this question hasn’t done very well. I think it’s a really awkward question that puts the interviewer on the spot. What’s your take? What’s the best way to respond to this, especially if the candidate hasn’t done well?

I answer this question — and three others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • Bumper stickers when you drive clients in your car
  • Is constant knuckle-cracking acceptable at work?
  • Is there a point in your career where you should stop requesting expense reimbursement?

{ 165 comments… read them below }

  1. Your Computer Guy*

    Totally deadpan: “Terrible.”
    Back to normal, upbeat office voice: “Great meeting with you today, we’ll be in touch about next steps. Thank you so much and take care!”

    1. Melanie Cavill*

      I would be so crushed if I got such a delightful response and then didn’t get the job. I want to work with someone who deadpans that I’m terrible!

    2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      If the interview went well: You’re still in consideration; we hope to be in touch shortly.

      If the interview went poorly: We made an offer to our top candidate this morning, but I don’t think we can afford them. Still, when I called their current supervisor for a stealth reference yesterday, it sounded like they’re going to need a new job soon, so it could go either way.

            1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

              If an employer managed to pack that many red flags into two sentences, I’d be too busy fleeing to notice I’d bombed the interview…

  2. Somehow_I_Manage*

    LW1. Alison’s deflection is pitch perfect.

    I can’t help but wonder about those candidates though! I know that the ability to “read the room” varies, but this is an unnecessarily risky move even if you were very charming and *sure* it would be well received.

    1. Alice*

      It’s being pushed a lot on tik tok and Instagram as a guaranteed way to make you stand out and get a job. Herfirst100k has posted this as an ideal interview question and it seems aimed towards women and younger job hunters. I kind of see it could be a good opening to volunteer more information to support your candidacy, but it does feel a bit naive in the blunt delivery.

      1. Alice*

        It’s typically presented a bit differently though- along the lines of “has anything today given you concern about my ability to perform well in the role”?

        1. amoeba*

          I mean, this makes much more sense (although I wouldn’t limit it to today/the interview itself, but rather more generally). In that way, I think I’ve also seen it suggested here?
          Very different question from “how did I do” though, imho!

  3. Princess Peach*

    I’d be inclined to say something along the lines of, “It’s not a test; I’m not grading you. We’re interviewing several candidates though, and won’t make any decisions about moving forward until X date.”

    1. Educator*

      Ha! Even when I was literally a teacher grading students on oral presentations, I would deflect immediate “how did I do”s with a deeply Socratic “how do you feel you did?” before handing them their rubric.

    2. introverted af*

      Are you not ‘grading,’ albeit on a curve? You have no standards that you’ve judged the interviewee by?

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Yes, a hiring manager is “grading” in a way. But unlike a test in school, they cannot say “you scored an 83 for this interview.” Or, since you mention a curve, it is not helpful for a hiring manager to say “you did well in this interview” (or a professor to say “you scored an 83 on this exam”) only for the results after the curve to be “you did not get the job” (“after the curve, your score is a 59”).

        1. introverted af*

          I don’t disagree with the overall concern that it’s an awkward poorly phrased question. But I would argue it is helpful to know you did well or not. If you interviewed well but still didn’t get the job, then you know you’re not a bad interviewer, but maybe you’re missing a skill that you need to develop to stay competitive on the market.

          1. hbc*

            It’s helpful to know, sure, but it’s really putting the interviewer on the spot. There are a lot of negative things I’ve thought about a candidate that I wouldn’t want to say to their face right then. “It sounds like you over-inflated your resume and couldn’t speak in depth on your supposed areas of expertise.” “You did fine, but you came in as our fifth choice and stayed there.” “All your answers were about 2 minutes longer than they should have been.” “Not great, but we don’t have a great crop of candidates, so we might just have to cross our fingers and hope you grow into the role.”

            1. Willow Pillow*

              It also becomes a gendered issue – women are frequently harmed as revenge for smaller slights than being turned down for a job.

        2. linger*

          Yes! It’s especially unhelpful because (i) even the shape of the “curve” may not be known to the interviewer(s) until after all interviews are concluded, and (ii) the evaluation is probably multidimensional and not easily expressed as a single number, and (iii) an interviewer shouldn’t be sharing any hint of the relative “grades” of other interviewees anyway. (Cf. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est’s joke response above, in which that was perhaps the least concerning of the red flags included.)
          If one particular qualifying skill sought by the interviewer is lacking, that would be helpful to mention, especially as a final check that the interviewee hasn’t omitted something relevant (though again, probably not with explicit comparison to other interviewees).

    3. AnonyAnony*

      Hmm IDK. As an interviewer, I feel like I wouldn’t be able to truthfully make a statement like this at all.

      The candidates ARE being assessed and evaluated. Candidates know this coming into the interview. I don’t think they would believe this statement at all. They might actually get an impression that I’m being disingenuous.

      I also don’t know the exact date we will be moving forward. The decision timeline is a constantly moving target.

  4. Nervous Nellie*

    As a person with social anxiety, I understand the urge to ask how you did, especially since interviews are such rare and anxiety-inducing events. I agree with Alison’s advice that it should be made into a constructive question instead—offering to address concerns gives the interviewer something to work with, instead of asking them to validate you on the spot.

  5. Penny*

    I remember doing this in my early career. Usually I would ask, “do you have any concerns about my answers or experience that I should take more time to explain?” I got that shocked face look from putting people on the spot. Now I tend to end an interview by asking them if they need/want any additional examples of my transferable skills specific to the role.

    1. WiscoKate*

      Yeah I used that once and the interviewer was like, uh no if we had questions we’d just ask. I did end up getting the job, despite that awkward moment.

    2. ecnaseener*

      Yep, I used that one a few (and Alison does say “Are there any reservations I could address for you?” is fine) and found that there were basically two possible responses: “No, nothing, you seem like a great fit!” and “Uhhh, I can email you my feedback later if you want.”

      The illusory “Yes, actually, your XYZ doesn’t look like a great match but I ran out of time to ask about it so please tell me why it’s stronger than it looks” never materialized.

    3. ferrina*

      That’s a little different than “How did I do?” HDID makes it less of a conversation focused on mutual benefit, and more like a test. Your question invites the interviewer to ask about anything that they want more info on (though like ecnaseener said, almost all interviewers will have already asked their questions and be a little baffled by the invitation to ask more)

    4. Suzy*

      I see this question a lot on “careertok” (and other gen-z focused platforms) being endorsed as the “guaranteed to impress way to end your interview!!!” and I HATE it. It’s really difficult, as an interviewer, to be put on the spot like that, and it commonly leaves the interview ending on a negative note- especially if the concern is something that can’t be explained or easily fixed.

      1. Alanna*

        This definitely feels like hiring advice from someone who has never hired. The question wouldn’t shock me, but it wouldn’t be very useful — if there’s an easy follow-up question that addresses a concern I have about the candidate, I’m not waiting for permission from the candidate to ask it.

        My favorite question I’ve gotten is one Alison has highlighted before — what’s the difference between someone who is good at this job and someone who is great at it? It gives me a good impression of the candidate and it ensures that I’m doing my due diligence as a manager to define baseline expectations vs. above-and-beyond behavior.

      2. SchuylerSeestra*

        I have a vendetta against so called career coaches who share misinformation. I’m
        a recruiter, and while there are plenty of things that can and should be improved about hiring, they tend amplify the exact wrong issues.

        I actually don’t mind if candidates ask how they did/any concerns. I will flat out tell them. Tactfully of course, but I fill roles where the ability to take feedback is an important trait.

    5. DG*

      I get this question a lot as an interviewer, and I think the reason I dislike it so much (other than that it puts me on the spot and feels awkward) is that it indirectly insults my interviewing skills.

      *Of course* I occasionally have concerns about the people I interview, but I tailor my questions and follow up questions accordingly and/or pass along my feedback to the next person interviewing them and ask *them* to tailor their questions if I’m really short on time. Or my concerns are so significant that nothing they say would change my mind about their candidacy. Either way – please trust that I’m capable of getting the information I need to make a decision.

      1. AnonAnon*

        I feel exactly the same. I wouldn’t recommend asking this.
        As an interviewer, I don’t need to be prompted to ask any questions I need to ask to get the information I need.

    6. The Girl in the Red Sweater*

      I am SO glad you all are talking about this. I thought I was crazy when I tried this question (“Is there anything about my application that you have reservations or questions about?”) and it just got a really uncomfortable, confused reaction from the interviewer both times. Maybe some people can pull the question off well, but I’ve always thought it doesn’t work. Why end the interview on a negative? Why make the interviewer have to either say something uncomfortable or assuage your anxiety?

      1. Aerin*

        I think specifically the wording should be “Are there any reservations about my candidacy that I might be able to address for you now?” So if their reservation is that they are certain this would be a terrible fit, there’s no way you could address that so it’s easy to respond “No, I think we’ve got everything.”

        Although I would be curious to know if anyone has ever actually gotten a conversation out of this, where they were actually given the opportunity to explain something further. Even if there is indeed some strike against you that you could actually explain, interviewers aren’t really going to know that they’ve got the wrong impression.

        1. AnonAnon*

          Honestly, I don’t think it’s necessary to ask any of these similarly worded questions at all. As an interviewer, when I have the information I need to make a decision, I will guide the interview to a natural close. Asking a question like this breaks the flow to add even more awkwardness to the already awkward question.

        2. TrixM*

          I would *specifically* not use the word “reservations”, because it only has negative connotations.
          I also agree that “any more questions re …” could imply the interviewer doesn’t know how to interview, or be some weird flex to establish dominance. Of course, it mostly wouldn’t be, but it’s unnecessarily either way.

    7. miss_chevious*

      I’m sure it can be worded more artfully, but I actually don’t mind this question, because sometimes there have been some things I meant to ask about or follow up on that the conversation naturally led away from at the time. If there weren’t any hanging threads, so to speak, my answer would just be, “not at this time. Was there anything else you would like to ask or get more clarity on?”

  6. GiantPanda*

    I believe there comes a point when you stop requesting reimbursement for very small amounts of money.
    A cup of coffee with a candidate – no. Business dinner – yes of course. Mileage for very short distances – collect trips for a while or no. Longer travel or plane tickets – sure.

    1. Sad Desk Salad*

      I think this is where I’d land. There’s a point at which saving up all those receipts for small purchases are not worth submitting–it takes more time and effort than it’s worth. But before you start paying for those out of pocket, and not asking for reimbursement, it is probably worth checking out your company’s expense policy. For reasons of corporate responsibility, they may absolutely require you to submit everything down to the penny.

    2. Fluffy Fish*


      Why would someone be expected to eat a business cost regardless of their level? Its a business, not a charity.

      1. Stitch*

        Exactly. You should never be expected to financially contribute or shield a company from their accrued costs. They’re a business.

        1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

          This has never been my experience. The higher I went in the organization, the less time I had to sit down and fill out a form, and ditto for my boss.

          1. Fluffy Fish*

            And that is a company culture problem. I am busy. But I view expense reports as part of my job that I do while on the clock. It takes a few minutes tops.

            Would you have been fine with the company deducting a couple bucks from your pay here and there? Because that’s essentially what people who just eat the costs are doing.

        2. Caraway*

          Yes! Years ago I had an assistant level job that required occasional local travel for events. I sometimes remembered to submit for mileage reimbursement, sometimes not. But one day, the president’s assistant called me with a question about one of the events so that she could complete the president’s mileage reimbursement form, and I never forgot to request it again!

      2. Chocolate eclair*

        Its not expected but at some point its not worth the time to expense a cup of coffee or other small amounts. If you make $300k a year do you really want to spend 10 minutes filling out the online form to get your $4 back from Starbucks? It likely costs you more in time to fill out the paper work than the reimbursement is worth. Some things aren’t worth the hassle.

        1. analyst*

          yes, I absolutely do. because it’s my money and I’ll be doing the forms on PAID company time anyhow….

          1. parsley*

            I used to work for a firm where certain individuals earned more in a month than I did in five years, and you bet your arse they submitted their expenses for reimbursement, as they should have. Some of them tried to stretch the parameters of the expense policy, and we pushed back when that happened, but every mile and coffee and business lunch got expensed. It helped them that they also had assistants and team secretaries who would do the bulk of the paperwork after the receipts were handed over.

    3. Lyra Belacqua*

      At least at my company, we don’t have to submit receipts for anything under $25, which is expressly to cover things like a coffee, solo lunch while traveling, etc. Any company where you’d have enough expenses that it would be more of a hassle to submit the expense than to eat the expense should be giving you a corporate card partly for this reason.

    4. ferrina*

      Depends on how arduous the reimbursement process is. Sometimes the time spent filing the reimbursement isn’t worth the reimbursement (though hopefully the company would then improve their process). But on basic principal, file the reimbursement. It’s better accuracy for the company to know what their business expenses are, and nice for you to have that extra money (which you can turn around and donate if you’d like)

      1. Fluffy Fish*

        “Sometimes the time spent filing the reimbursement isn’t worth the reimbursement (though hopefully the company would then improve their process).”

        I used to get annoyed when I had to spend time at work on things I deemed stupid or a waste of time. But for my mental health I reframed it as I get paid the same whether I’m doing something I like or not. For me reimbursement falls into this. I don’t donate my time (which is ultimately money) nor my money to my employer and I get paid the same whether I’m filling out a form or actively working on a project.

    5. Chauncy Gardener*

      I’m in finance and I have never had the assumption that anyone at any level should have to eat a business expense. I’ve never heard of it anywhere else either.

      As I always say, “this is not your/my charitable contribution for the year”

  7. Stitch*

    You should never stop requesting reimbursement for business expenses also because you could be accidentally sending the message to subordinates that this is expected behavior. Not requesting business reimbursement could also create accounting and tax issues, depending on how it is handled.

    1. CharlieBrown*

      This comment is interesting in juxtaposition to the one directly above.

      I initially agreed that for very small amounts, I wouldn’t bother. But if your behavior is visible to those beneath you, it doesn’t set a good message. I totally agree.

    2. anon for this*

      Agree. I made someone I support expense little stuff for exactly this reason. He’d brush it off but people below him, who made less money, would then feel stupid for expensing things. Not good.

    3. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      How would my reports know what I’m submitting on my expense reports, let alone auditing them to see that I left out the $3.17 for the parking meter?

        1. Doreen*

          I could see an assistant possibly knowing what I put on my expense report if they had some role in processing it but I don’t see how they would know about the toll/subway fare that I didn’t include.

      1. Stitch*

        There are lots of ways they could find out. The way you keep receipts, the time you spend on them, the admin who handled your reports gets promoted themselves and thinks they need to not submit expenses.

      2. ferrina*

        I had a boss that didn’t know how to submit an expense report. I needed to expense something, and she had no idea and vaguely referred me to Accounting. It ended up being a huge time suck, and in the end I got too tired to expense for everything.

        That’s an extreme case though.

        In more minor cases, I think it’s just good to keep in practice every so often in case the process changes. That way you can guide your reports through the process (especially if it’s their first time submitting, or the process has a lot of hoops to jump through, or you need to submit receipts for everything or other behavior they might not use for personal expenses)

      3. Daisy-dog*

        Someone processes the expense reports – either to submit to payroll or to process a reimbursement in the system. That person may be lower level employee – think AP, an assistant, etc. They would notice a change. If currently OP takes trips and has 20-30 expenses/trip, then they start submitting 5-10 expenses/trip with all other factors remaining equal – they will probably notice something changed.

      4. Chauncy Gardener*

        Accounting would know and maybe start to think that’s the policy. Especially if the company policies aren’t well defined.

        1. amoeba*

          Eh, if it’s something like “the coffee I bought at the train station when travelling for work” or “the bus I took to the venue because I was too lazy to walk”, I don’t think accounting would know either (how would they?)
          So yeah, even now, this kind of thing I sometimes just forget/don’t keep the receipt. I’m good about expensing anything from the level of a meal, though. To be fair, I also don’t travel for work often, so the three coffees and two bus tickets a year don’t really add up to anything remotely substantial…

          1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

            > “the coffee I bought at the train station when travelling for work” or “the bus I took to the venue because I was too lazy to walk”

            Are those really legit claimable expenses? It wouldn’t occur to me to claim for a coffee or for a bus when it would have been reasonable to walk..m imo those type of things are personal preferences and not a necessary part of doing business! (I am in tech so I appreciate the necessity of coffee but…….)

      5. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        You delegate your expense reports to your assistant, who also checks your reports’ reports.

  8. Pucci*

    As someone is sensitive to sounds, I quite understand those who can’t stand the sound of knuckle cracking or eating or the like. But I crack my knuckles because my hands become quite painful if I don’t. My sympathies to both sides of this.

    1. Anonononononononymous*

      Same here. Other people’s dislike of the sound does not over-ride my need to be able to actually move my fingers.

      1. Goldenrod*

        Me too! I feel bad that people hate the sound (including my husband who HATES me doing this while we’re trying to sleep, but that’s exactly when I need to do it!).

        For me, it’s a habit I’ve had since I was a teenager, and it helps me relax. There is literally no way I can see stopping doing it. Just reading this article made me need to crack my knuckles.

        If a co-worker told me they hated it, I would probably try to move to another area to do it….but it would be difficult! I also love the sound of it, and have even purposely watched YouTube videos of people’s backs being cracked…

        No real advice here, just to say that this is a VERY difficult habit to break!

    2. High Score!*

      People who need to crack their knuckles could go to restroom. Cracking knuckles in quiet environments is going to interrupt everyone’s concentration.
      That being said, I once had a manager who could not stand the knuckle cracking sound, so if he irritated me, I’d forget & pop all my knuckles in front of him. I was young & obnoxious.

      1. no.*

        Yeah no. I’m not getting up and walking to the can every time the pressure in my fingers builds to the point of pain.

      2. aarti*

        I am not going to get up and go to the bathroom every time. I try to be respectful of my space but every little idiosyncracy cannot be a demand for someone else to change their behavior.

        1. Rake*

          Genuine question: why not? Do you crack your knuckles more than once an hour? Does it happen unexpectedly and immediately and you don’t have time to get there?

          1. Aerin*

            Yes, and yes. I generally do it several times an hour, often without consciously realizing that I’m doing it. And my job is largely taking phone calls, so I can’t just bail on a customer because my hands are a bit crampy when it’s something I can handle on the spot in a second or two.

          2. Rainy*

            Depends on what I’m doing. Yes, sometimes–a lot of typing or other types of specific finger movements will degasify the synovial fluid in the bursa of my finger joints. When those gases fall out of solution they form bubbles–specifically, voids–in the synovial fluid that push on the joints painfully.

            When you pop a joint, you’re using the percussion of the “pop” to force that gas bubble to break up and go back into solution. It may be a “habit” but it’s also something that eases pain or a joint that has frozen or can’t access full range of motion.

            And no, if my index finger hurts and won’t bend properly, I am not going to walk all the way to the bathroom and back just to pop a finger joint.

      3. drinking Mello Yello*

        I’m hypermobile and almost all of my joints crack A Lot whether I want them to or not. Does this mean I should live in the bathroom because there’s a chance my knuckles/ankles/back/sternum/clavicle/wrists might crack any time I move?

        1. Habitual Lurker*

          This, 100%.

          Most of my joints crack and sometimes they need to, because there’s something not quite in the right position (I can displace my ribs sitting still in a chair. It’s not a deliberate thing). I certainly crack my knuckles. I do it because at least 3 of the joints need putting back into place. Going to the bathroom means I’d have displaced joints (and thus pain) for longer. And I’d probably crack a number of joints getting up to do so.

          I get that some people don’t like it, but for some of us, it’s actually a necessity. And we might not want to tell people that it’s a necessity and why.

          Of course if the LW has misophonia or something like that, then some sort of middle way will have to be found, but there needs to be an understanding that the team member might need to crack their knuckles and this might need to be accommodated somehow.

        2. Rainy*

          I also have the sternum pop thing! It freaks people out, because it’s loud and it really identifiably comes from my chest.

      4. Moonstone*

        Absolutely not – people should not have to run to a restroom to crack their knuckles. That is just absurd. There are a lot of things that might annoy people when working in an office; as an adult, it is on you to get over it.

        I understand someone with misophonia might be more sound-averse than the average person. However, it is on that person to figure out a way to deal with it without putting the expectation on the other person to solve the issue. This letter just rubbed me the wrong way.

    3. young worker*

      how strange, I had never thought that cracking knuckles would be akin to burping. Like you, I also get pain from not cracking them. I would have equated the noise to more like yawning. Rude if if you make a show of it, otherwise just a bodily function.

      1. pieces_of_flair*

        Well, burping and farting are also bodily functions, but they’re not ok to do in public. For me (and I don’t think I have misophonia?), the sound of knuckles cracking is literally disgusting – like, nausea-inducing. I realize most people don’t have the same reaction, and some people actually need to crack their knuckles, so I just cringe silently and don’t try to police the behavior. But if I worked near someone who did it regularly, we would need to come up with a solution. Probably I would ask them to warn me before they did it so I could cover my ears and at least somewhat mitigate the effect.

    4. WillowSunstar*

      Sometimes when I stand up after having Sat working for a while, my back cracks. It wasn’t intentionally done, just happened. I would think this could be a age-related thing as I have never heard of it happening to young people, but don’t know.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        I’ve never cracked my knuckles, but I am in the habit of stretching my neck or rolling my shoulders, which for some reason makes quiet “snap, crackle, pop!” noises.

        When I was in a quiet open office, I tried to sit perfectly still because my squeaking chair was audible across the room.

    5. Vio*

      I often have to crack some of my joints in order to prevent them getting stiff and painful, most notably my neck (which is apparently the loudest), fingers and shoulders. occasionally my toes, which when I’m wearing shoes people tend not to notice and very rarely my knees. I always try to do so in private when possible because I know the noise disturbs some people.
      That said, I do sometimes do it out of habit and when I’m especially anxious. When I was a kid my mum always told me that I shouldn’t do it because it would cause arthritis, but she once made the mistake of saying so at a doctors appointment and the doctor corrected her, completely missing her glare (she later admitted to me that she knew it was a myth but was hoping to scare me out of it).
      It’s always worth politely asking if somebody can refrain, but like with many things it’s not always possible for them to make the accommodation. Reasonable people will try if they can and politely explain if they can’t. You’re likely to at very least learn whether or not the person is reasonable and that can at least help in deciding how to deal with it.

  9. Baron*

    I sympathize with anyone anxious enough to ask, “How did I do?” after an interview. I’m a pretty shy, meek person in most settings, but feel confident in my interviewing skills probably to a fault. It would never occur to me to ask an interviewer how I did, but I understand the impulse based on insecurities in other areas of life.

    This is a great situation in which to remind yourself that a job interview is a two-way street, not a test you’re being graded on.

    1. ferrina*

      I once had a candidate ask if she should leave one of her degrees off her resume, since she was worried it made her seem overqualified. She was asking at the end of the interview, so, um, it clearly didn’t stop us from interviewing her?

    2. Alanna*

      I sympathize with the impulse, and I really, really encourage people not to put their anxieties on their managers (or prospective managers!) to deal with. Part of being a professional is being able to self-soothe in moments of anxiety, discomfort, and uncertainty, rather than immediately seek reassurance.

      I struggle with this but it’s an important thing to struggle with and improve at.

  10. Estimator*

    The bumper sticker question made me think – what about state issued license plates? Florida has over 100 different kinds of license plates and some could be viewed as political (there is a pro-life one for example).

    1. CharlieBrown*

      The rule would still apply.

      I mean, it’s not like you can’t get a regular license plate or a non-political one. Just like a bumper sticker, you have to go out of your way and pay for a special license plate, at least in my state.

      1. Estimator*

        That’s what I was thinking, if you already had the plate before taking the job it’s expensive and a pain to change.

      2. TeaCoziesRUs*

        It depends. My car has free tags thanks to being a veteran. :) Most states that I’m aware of have free or reduced plates for veterans, based on disability rating. And I can see where that could be an issue when driving around someone raised by abusive military members or a vet themselves in a PTSD episode. Not sure what the solution would be – other than to pay for a car through the company or non-profit. It’s hard to remove a bumper sticker.

    2. High Score!*

      I would think that a car that transports clients should not only be free of any bumper stickers but should have a standard license plate. You don’t know what might alienate you’re clients so it makes sense to remain completely neutral. No, your clients don’t need to know your kid is an honor student at a school that their children are not eligible to go to, for example. And there’s plenty of opportunities outside of work to push your religion or MLM on to unsuspecting people. Sadly.

      1. Avery*

        Playing devil’s advocate here: what counts as a “standard” license plate?
        I know at least one state (I forget which, but it’s in the South) has two versions of their regular license plate, one with “In God We Trust” and one without. Which counts as “standard”? Both? Neither? Is there a reason to favor one over the other?

        1. High Score!*

          While not ideal, I’m thinking a standard state issued license plate even if it has “in God we trust” (unless there’s a custom message on it) is not going to stick out like a bumper sticker that has a religious message. I can’t even tell you what is on my plate, I just took the one they gave me and didn’t even think about the picture on it.

        2. keep the church out of the state*

          I would not consider an “In God We Trust” license plate to be a standard issue one. It may be the same base design as other plates, but the distinguishing feature is a slogan whose ubiquity is attributable to Cold War-era religious fervor, and which today is (inappropriately, in my view) still officially the motto of the US government. Like or not, using an official plate of “standard” design with those words is an endorsement of that connection between Christianity and patriotism, of state preference towards one religion under the guise of meaningless ritual, and imo it’s entirely innappropriate.

          Which is a really long way of saying that I personally think there is a reason to favor the actual standard plate, the one without a religious slogan on it. The other one says way too much about what its owners think the role of religion should be in the state, and even ceremonial deism is too much, imo.

      2. DataSci*

        What’s a standard plate? In Maryland, where I live, in addition to the assortment of special plates there are two “official” ones, the default (with the state flag) and one with a very bland environmental statement about the Chesapeake Bay (ours has a heron on it, the newer ones have a crab). Is “nature is nice” really so potentially fraught that you’d say this plate ought to be avoided? I think that’s a bit of a stretch.

      3. Dr. Rebecca*

        I think if you make people use their own cars, while not ideal, you give up a certain measure of control over what that car looks like. Bumper stickers, sure. License plate? …unless it’s deliberately and directly offensive, not just politically non-neutral, I don’t think an employer has the right to ask for the person to get a reissue. At least, not without paying for it.

    3. just another queer reader*

      Ideally this would be an expectation made really clear during the interview process (or earlier), just like, for example, if visible tattoos weren’t allowed.

      Candidates could choose to apply anyway and figure out how to comply with the policy, or just find a job that’s a better fit.

      1. Sunshine*

        I think this is probably the way to go. It absolutely makes sense to have this rule, but many employees might be in a tough spot if they weren’t told until later and maybe couldn’t afford new plates right then.

      2. ferrina*

        Great point. This definitely is something that would be a deal breaker for some candidates, and they deserve to know that in advance.

    4. Free Meerkats*

      If employees are expected to transport clients, the business should provide the vehicle. Period.

      1. Sunshine*

        Honestly this would be ideal. I would not want strangers in my car. I don’t even like having my own family in my car!

      2. CheesePlease*

        Yes ideally it would be the case. What happens if a client doesn’t like the myriad of things they may see in a personal car? The best way to prevent any serious issues is to make the car a neutral space for everyone

      3. CharlieBrown*

        I guess you’ve never worked in social services. (Lots of foster kids get moved around in a social worker’s car. It’s very much business as usual.)

      4. analyst*

        and this is the answer…my personal car is MINE, and frankly, I’m not using it for work unless I’m being compensated anyhow. Not interested in supplementing my work’s cost of business

  11. Knuckles (not an echidna afaik)*

    LW3: I disagree that knuckle-cracking is something everybody knows you shouldn’t do. My understanding is that knuckle-cracking is pretty harmless for your bones and joints (at least for most people). But making your coworker’s skin crawl is obviously not harmless.

    I agree with Alison though that this sounds like a deeply ingrained habit, and those are really hard to change. Jane might have to devote a lot of time and energy to be able to change it, and that could take her focus away from her other work. The only suggestion I can think of is to do some research on if knuckle-cracking really is bad for you. Depending on what you find out, it might stop bothering you as much, or you might come away with some really convincing reasons why Jane ought to try harder to break the habit.

    1. High Score!*

      As a knuckle cracker, it is a deeply ingrained habit but I know when I’m doing it as does Jane bc she does not do in corporate meetings. It’s not a big deal for the knuckle cracker to walk to the restroom & do it there rather than disturb the whole office.

      1. H2*

        I don’t think think that necessarily follows, that she can stop because she stops in some meetings. I find that I crack my knuckles way more when I’m sitting at my desk than anywhere else. First, when I’m typing it makes my fingers feel better (or it feels like it might), and second, it’s almost like a fidget—you’re typing, you pause to think about something, stretch, clear your throat, crack your knuckles, whatever. It’s different in a meeting where you’re concentrating and deliberately keeping very still (in a way that can’t be expected all day every day).

        1. ferrina*

          I sort of agree. I’m a chronic snacker, and obviously I don’t snack in meetings, but when I’m at my desk, I can have my snack open and be several bites in before my conscious brain says “Wait, don’t do that.”

          Habits are hard to change. It’s a big cognitive disruption, and you have to really focus on forming new habits. And that’s assuming that the coworker does want to change.

        2. Dr. Vibrissae*

          I try to be mindful that some people hate the noise, but with the knuckles it’s definitely a fidget. I have a similar issue with bouncing my leg while I sit: I can stop doing it, but it requires active concentration, and as soon as I’m focused on anything else I’m likely to start again. (Made me a bit unpopular during the class where all the seats were suspended from a single long desktop…)

      2. Aerin*

        I have several unconscious habits (hello ADHD) and can stop myself from doing them in situations where it wouldn’t be appropriate. It takes a lot of concentration and a lot of spoons, and is deeply, physically unpleasant the whole time.

        A job where I couldn’t ever do those things is a job I couldn’t do, plain and simple. I feel like that’s common to a lot of neurodivergent folks.

      3. Vio*

        But what if the very act of walking to the rest room is going to make something crack? While my knees aren’t my noisiest joints they have been known to make loud pops at times. Besides, I don’t think colleagues who actually need the toilet would appreciate the queues caused by everyone having to go there every time they need to make a noise that might annoy somebody.

    2. ecnaseener*

      It sounds like you think LW is only bothered by the sound because of a misconception that it’s unhealthy? I don’t see anything in the letter to imply that – the letter says most people know you shouldn’t crack your knuckles in front of others, not that you should never do it period. People just find the sound gross, the way other perfectly-harmless body sounds can be gross.

      1. Knuckles (not an echidna afaik)*

        High Score! – I don’t think the fact that she avoids doing it in corporate meetings means the behavior isn’t automatic. From LW’s description, Jane sometimes cracks her knuckles and *then* realizes that she shouldn’t have done it in front of LW. If changing a habit like that were easy, I would’ve succeeded one of the ~300 times I’ve tried to stop playing with my hair over the past 15 years. I’m very good at avoiding it when I’m, say, giving an important presentation, but outside of situations like that I still haven’t broken the habit.

        ecnasseener – You’re probably right that I misunderstood that. I personally have never heard that you generally shouldn’t crack your knuckles in front of other people, although I have met a few individuals who really didn’t like it. But then, I’m neurodivergent and tend not to get grossed out very easily, so this might be one of the many social norms I just never picked up on.

  12. Cease and D6*

    I recently had an interview that went the opposite way: the interviewers asked me how well *I* thought the interview went. The question really caught me off-guard. I managed to stammer out something vague and positive “From my perspective, I’ve really appreciated the opportunity to discuss [work topic] with you”. In retrospect, I don’t think that was a very good answer, but I don’t know what a good answer to the question would have been!

      1. Cease and D6*

        I suppose it’s possible, but the panel was made of pretty well-established people in the field, so I don’t know. It was for a job in a different country, though, so maybe it’s a local thing there.

    1. Sunshine*

      Oh my goodness, I would hate this. Anyone in their right mind who wanted the job would say it went well, right? Or I guess be honest if they felt they could have answered a specific question better.

    2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      If it had gone well: I’m very glad I had this opportunity to learn more about the organization and look forward to the continuation of the recruiting process.

      If it had gone poorly: Well, I’m going to be significantly less disappointed when you don’t hire me.

      1. Cease and D6*

        In the end they didn’t hire me and I was disappointed, so perhaps I should have done just that.

    3. Baron*

      I’ve found that this is not uncommon for jobs where they’re not sure if you would accept the job if offered – just a way of feeling the candidate out. I think it’s definitely not the ideal phrasing, though.

      1. ferrina*

        I would have chosen to interpret it this way.
        “I really enjoyed meeting you and learning more about the job! I’m really intrigued by X and Y aspect of the job.”

        Essentially providing my assessment of whether it felt like a good fit on my end. (note that even 5 years ago I wouldn’t have done this; when I was earlier in my career, I was much more interested in having a paycheck and getting a decent title and start on my career).

        1. Rake*

          Yup earlier in my career I would have answered “it doesn’t matter how I feel, you get to decide if I’m hired or not…?” And now I would interpret it as a sloppy way of asking if I’m still interested in the position. I still probably wouldn’t outright say yes or no but I would focus more on if I felt I would enjoy working there and not if I thought I “did well”

    4. SomebodyElse*

      This is a spot where you could sneak in that last thing that didn’t get covered or that you want to highlight.

      Interviewer: How do think this interview went?
      SomebodyElse: I think it went well except for the fact I didn’t get a chance to mention my extensive paperclip sorting experience. We spoke a lot about my current role as a binderclip sorter, and I’m not sure if I was able to tell you about my paperclip speed sorting award that I achieved in a previous role. You mentioned that the paperclip sorting was where you are currently experiencing some challenges and I wanted to make sure you were aware that I am as comfortable with paperclips as I am with binder clips.

  13. CharlieBrown*

    I normally would say that the knuckle-cracking issue is on LW3. People’s bodies make noises, and creaking and cracking joints when you move is a thing that happens.

    But it seems like LW3’s coworker does this excessively. That part is definitely not on LW3.

  14. fgcommenter*

    Tell them how they did, and if they haven’t done well, tell them what they didn’t do well.

    1. CharlieBrown*

      Nah. That opens you up to all sorts of potential problems if they don’t get the job.

      It’s an interview. The company is looking to fill a position. It’s not a coaching experience for the candidate.

      1. ferrina*

        Yep, I wouldn’t provide an assessment. Too big of a chance for them to misrepresent or misunderstand. And honestly, I’m not going to know how they stack up until I’ve finished my interviews and thought about each of the candidates strengths/weaknesses and how they fit with my team’s existing strengths/weaknesses.

        Besides, the candidates that most need the help are often the ones least likely to take the advice.

      2. fgcommenter*

        [blockquote] It’s an interview. The company is looking to fill a position.[/blockquote]

        And the company may have more positions to fill later. A candidate who knows they weren’t a right fit for the company may not waste the company’s time on a later interview for a different position. A candidate who knows they just weren’t a right fit for the position may not rule out attempting to interview for a later position the company opens that the candidate would be a great fit in.

        1. CharlieBrown*

          This is not on the company, though.

          I think you are assuming “how did I do?” to mean “how well do I fit this position?” That is not what this question is asking.

          And even if the candidate meant “how well do you think I did in this interview to show how well I fit this position?” that is still not something I want to talk about. I’m not grading a test; I’m trying to find the person who can best fill this role. I’m not grading on a curve; it’s possible that none of the current candidates will be good in this position and we’ll need to post the job again. It’s possible that I’ll have two or three candidates who appear to be perfect for this role. But I won’t know that until I’ve gone through this entire round of interviews.

          Really, if you don’t interview well but I think you have the abilities and skills to do this job, I may consider you. (This is something good recruiters do.) If you don’t get this job and then never apply again to us again (either for other positions or later when you have more experience)—well, that’s on you.

          And honestly, sometimes the requirements for the job change in the middle of the recruitment process. Annoying, but it happens. A LOT. We need someone with experience in ABCD software, which you have, but we just upgraded to EFGH software, which you know nothing about, but some other candidate does. Or vice versa.

          But again, my job is to try to fill this position–not to coach potential employees on how to be actual employees. Just do the best you can, and understand that nobody in the hiring process is required to give you an explanation for their thinking process. Or for the process in general, which is often above our pay grade.

          1. fgcommenter*

            I think you are assuming “how did I do?” to mean “how well do I fit this position?”

            “How well did I meet the criteria?”

            it’s possible that none of the current candidates will be good in this position and we’ll need to post the job again.

            That is a problem that can be reduced by providing feedback so the candidate will know if they would be a fit for a different position.

            Then again, since you took a “that’s on you” dismissive approach to the idea that someone wouldn’t apply again to the company for a position they would be a good fit for, maybe your area or field is too populated for this kind of feedback to be beneficial.

    2. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      Well, sometimes (most times) you are looking at them relative to other candidates. So you really can’t give them the type of black and white answer presumably they are looking for, until you’ve considered your entire slate of folks over all the interviews. This is why a neutral response is best, as well as noting the gaucheness of this question in your write-up. That said, you could respond something like, “that’s an unusual question! but overall it was a pleasure talking to you.” which maybe gives them a hint to drop that question in the future.

      1. Alanna*

        Plus, some people need some time to process an interview before they really understand how it went. It can be very tempting to feel great about interviews that were just good conversations with people who might actually be good BS’ers. I try to keep a poker face at the end because I often don’t fully understand whether someone is actually a good match until I’ve had a few moments for the initial impressions to clear and I’ve looked at my notes on what they actually said. Some of my best hires were not great interviews (brilliant but not good talkers), and I’ve had plenty of good first-round conversations with people who were thoughtful and fluent in talking about their work, then bombed when we started asking more specific questions in the second round.

        1. Roland*

          Yes! We are supposed to strictly evaluate candidates based on a rubric to mitigate bias. Off-the-cuff first impressions are a lot more likely to be rooted in bias than the final decision reached after seeing which objective items they did or didn’t hit.

    3. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      If you tell them what they didn’t do well, they might argue back at you. Well, I suppose that would confirm that you got the right impression, but it’s not a pleasant conversation to have, and it’s totally unnecessary to start coaching someone you don’t even want to hire.

  15. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

    Now that my teenage son has started cracking the knuckles in his TOES, I would welcome someone cracking the knuckles in their fingers. #prayforme

      1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

        Also, to be clear, I crack them by wiggling them in a certain way, not by putting my hands on them at all.

        1. Goldenrod*

          “Also, to be clear, I crack them by wiggling them in a certain way, not by putting my hands on them at all.”

          Me too!!

    1. Clisby*

      My almost-21 son cracks not only his knuckles, but his neck. He might or might not make it to 21.

      1. Engineer*

        Ooh, you’d hate hearing my brother in that case. He can crack all the way down his spine and does something with his shoulders to make them pop too. It’s impressively horrifying.

        1. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

          I can do this and I love it and I really try never to do it at work.

      2. FisherCat*

        I do this. Plus all the way down my back and on a good day, my shoulders. Have made it well past 21!

      3. Dr. Vibrissae*

        Pop my knuckles, my neck, my back, and my toes (although those not in public). In the mornings my wrists and ankles will also pop. I find it so deeply satisfying and pleasant that I get secondary satisfaction when other people pop their backs too. I pick up the neck thing by watching a friend’s father adjust her neck in high school and thinking oh I think I could do that for myself. I guess it’s just a good thing I have my own office. I’m very fortunate to have a spouse who can pop the hard-to-reach portions of my spine, because it’s uncomfortable to go more than a day without.

      4. MigraineMonth*

        My spine makes quiet crackling noises when I turn my head. It’s not really voluntary for me, but hopefully it’s not too loud.

  16. Michelle Smith*

    LW1: Are you even allowed to give feedback? A lot of places don’t do it basically as an across the board prohibition to avoid any avenues for lawsuits. I’d find out and then if you are prohibited from giving feedback, I’d say that. I think Alison’s answer could make the candidate feel like you are promising to provide feedback later, if they ask again after the rejection, since you’ve had time to reflect on the conversation.

    LW3: I think you are being overly sensitive. Hearing a sound you don’t like for what amounts to a few seconds a day doesn’t seem to be much of an imposition to me. Maybe you can request to change desks? My hands get stiff when I don’t crack them. I can’t imagine how I’d respond to someone asking me to stop doing it ever even at my own desk and I find it weird that you’re monitoring this employee during meetings to see if she cracks her knuckles. It’s not something that I would refrain from doing in pretty much any context if my hands were starting to hurt or stiffen. I don’t get it. It’s not anywhere near the same ballpark as farting. My knuckles don’t smell.

    1. Michelle Smith*

      I just want to edit to add that I’m not wholly unsympathetic to unpleasant sounds being annoying. I hate listening to chewing sounds. It makes me want to scratch out my eardrums. I still wouldn’t confront someone about it and tell them to check more quietly. I just deal with it because sometimes as an employee in a workplace, you have to deal with other people’s quirks and move on. That’s my perspective on it anyway. But I do think I might have been overly dismissive in my initial comment and I didn’t mean to be.

  17. MicroManagered*

    I asked this once–it was years ago, in my career-blunder years. Seeing this made me relive it all over again (facepalm)!

    I think, at that point in my professional life, I was more used to job interviews that were likely to end in an offer (think retail, restaurant, call center work). I was really asking “so what now? do I get the job?” and it may be worth considering if your candidate pool is likely to be people with similar job-seeking experience. In other words, are they newer in their career and maybe not sure what to expect?

    I think a factual recap of what to expect might help in some cases, but maybe not all. “You did great! Our next steps are that we’re completing our first round of interviews this week. From there… (whatever is true, next round of interviews, portfolio requests, references, whatever)” You’re letting them know that there’s still more of a process to complete before you make an offer and when they can expect to have an idea if they’re getting the job, which is what this question really wants to get at.

  18. Casey*

    I interview interns and they’re often thinking of it more like a school assignment where they get a grade, so for them the “how did I do?” feels like a necessary step to complete the cycle. Usually even a terrible candidate has SOMETHING that they did ok on, even if it’s just a single line item that was relevant. So my canned answer is (in a warm tone) “I always try not to make snap judgments one way or another! But I will say I enjoyed/appreciated talking with you about X.” Doesn’t leave them feeling crappy, doesn’t open up any cans of worms.

  19. AnonORama*

    LW4 — if it’s a hassle to expense a few bucks and you want to skip it at your level, that makes sense (or cents — couldn’t resist). But as others mentioned, you are modeling behavior, so definitely encourage your direct reports to submit. I’ve been on the other side of this and it has cost me money and caused angst!

    My first job didn’t allow “overhead people” to expense anything, “because overhead” (don’t get me started on the evaluation of nonprofits based solely on overhead rate, because I will go ALL DAY). At the next job we technically could, but my self-righteous boss condescendingly encouraged me to think about who needed it more, me or our clients. Even assuming she followed this guidance herself, which I have no idea if she did, she was from a super-wealthy family, very different from me. But her guilt trip worked; at my current org, we can submit for anything without pushback, and I…don’t. Just can’t get that “you’re robbing the clients” mindset out of my head.

    This is definitely a “me” problem, and something to work on at my next job. Long story short, if you don’t want to deal with reimbursement for two cups of coffee that’s your call, just make sure your employees feel supported in submitting for whatever they’ve got.

  20. Anon for rich dude*

    LW4 reminds me of when I worked at a company with a man who was independently wealthy who found filling out our clunky expense report a waste of time. He worked in sales and had business travel every week.
    We had a company policy of no corporate cards, everything on personal card. Expenses were paid promptly (report submitted by close of play Wednesday, paid value date Friday) so no one cared much about eating costs a few days. No local legislation on expenses « expiring »- if you had the receipt, it got reimbursed.

    This guy had no assistant, so his solution was to sit down once a year and do all his expenses. After a few years of expense reports between 80k and 100k they forced him to sit down and do at least a monthly report.

    That he would eat almost six figures over a year …whew, how the other half lives.

  21. MurpMaureep*

    I find most flavors of the “are there any concerns I can address for you now” question awkward and agree with others who said it can come off as implying 1) there are concerns and 2) the interviewer didn’t ask enough, or the right questions.

    Generally I would not be comfortable giving any feedback to a candidate while still in the interview process. There’s too much risk of it being taken the wrong way or leading to some kind of negotiation or justification. And it could make the candidate think that since the interviewer did ask a follow up question, all their concerns have been addressed and they’ll get the job.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Yeah, I’ve been asked variants of “is there anything you’re concerned about me as a candidate” and handled it tactfully in the moment, but my actual gut reaction was “no, I brought up what was on my mind as we talked so I haven’t suddenly thought of something else I should have asked!”.

      I’ve also turned this back to them by saying something like: nothing specific that I haven’t already addressed but is there anything you would have liked to mention and didn’t get the chance? I think in some cases they’re trying to find that opportunity.

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