my boss and her daughter want to move in with me, my interviewer laughed at me, and more

I’m off today. Here are some past letters that I’m making new again, rather than leaving them to wilt in the archives.

1. My boss and her daughter want to move in with me

I’m working for the summer as a seasonal employee in a management position at an arts festival in a rural community. To accommodate the influx of out-of-town employees, the company has a housing department that organizes local apartments that we rent for a small weekly fee for the duration of our contract. Because it’s a not-for-profit and both money and housing are limited, staff can either pay more for a single accommodation or agree to live with other festival staff, who may be requested or are matched by the housing department.

As it’s my first season with this festival and I don’t mind roommates in general, I agreed to be matched, and over the past four months of my contract I’ve had two different roommates, both people with shorter contracts that butted against each other. Having a revolving door on my apartment has been a bit stressful, especially as my position is one with many stresses outside of adjusting to new living partners, but in general it’s been fine and I recognize it as a minor annoyance. But now that my current roommate is moving out my boss just told me that she and her adult daughter may be moving into the apartment with me next week, due to unspecified “life” reasons.

To be fair, it was presented as a bit of an ask, but I don’t feel I’m in a position to say no. I want to preserve a positive relationship with this company for the future, and also it’s very hard to turn away a person who is obviously going through a rough patch. I know a little bit about what’s happening for her right now, and I know part of it is that her daughter is having major health problems, which is certainly indicative that this will not be an easy living situation, along with all the other red flags. When you get right down to it, regardless of any other factors, the fact remains that she’s my boss, the apartment is too small for three adult people, and after four months of hard, stressful work I was really looking forward to spending the last month of my contract relaxing, instead of navigating a complicated and difficult living situation. On the other hand, I only have another four weeks on my contract. Is it really worth stirring the pot over a single month’s inconvenience?

Normally I would take this to someone higher up the chain in the organization, but unfortunately she’s at the top, and I’m directly below her, so there’s no intermediary available.

Ugh, it’s really your call, but I wouldn’t want to do that and you should be able to refuse if you want to — this is your living space, and you’re paying for it. It’s pretty unfair of her to ask you to take on a third person in a two-person unit, knowing that there’s a power dynamic that might pressure you into saying yes.

You could say something like this: “The apartment is really too small for three people. Is there another one available that you could use?” If you’re willing to do this, you could add, “But if there’s a one-person apartment available, I’d be willing to move into it as long as the rate didn’t go up and then you could have this one.” With that option, you’d have the hassle of moving, but you’d get your own place for no price increase.

If that doesn’t solve it, you’ll have to get more direct: “I don’t think I’m up for having three people living here. I’m sorry!”


Read an update to this letter here.

2. After I resigned, my coworker sent me advice about quitting gracefully

I gave my three weeks notice at my current job yesterday, and things have already gotten weird! About an hour after I had the conversation with my manager, I received an email from a colleague who is close with my manager, but who I am not close with. He congratulated me on my new position, and then sent three web links to articles on how to “gracefully resign.” All three links have these in the title, it seems like that’s the phrase he googled.

Am I being paranoid, or does this seem as pointed as it feels? I’m not sure where it’s coming from, as I’ve never had any negative feedback about my professionalism, and so far, my resignation has been very by the books. I’d like to ask him whether my manager feels that I haven’t been professional in my resignation, but I’m wondering if it’s just better to let this one go?

The details of my resignation: Yesterday, I emailed my manager in the morning asking when she had time to meet and talk. She’s a busy person, so she asked if I could call, to which I responded that I would rather talk in person. We confirmed a meeting time but not five minutes later, I got a call from her asking for a “hint.” I said that I would just need to have the whole conversation, a hint would be hard, and she said to just tell her. So I did! I told her that it had been a hard decision, that I had enjoyed working here, but that I had accepted another job offer and that my last day would be three weeks out. I also let her know that I still wanted to meet in person, because I was working on a transition plan but wanted to make sure our priorities matched up. It was a short call, but it seemed to go okay at the time. If anything, she seemed disappointed or sad.

For what it’s worth, my manager does have a history of speaking poorly of people behind their backs once they’ve done something to make her unhappy. I’m concerned that she’s not telling people the truth about my resignation, but I’m not sure if that matters.

Your resignation sounds perfectly done — you tried to meet in person but said it over the phone when she pushed you to (which is better than playing games about it) and what you said was everything you should say when resigning. So I don’t know what’s up with your coworker! Sending those links would have been an extremely snotty move even if you had been unprofessional, which you weren’t; you’re not even close with this guy and he has no standing to send you unsolicited advice in this context. It’s bizarre.

So yeah, either he is extremely weird and inappropriate (is he?) and did this on his own, or your manager misrepresented what happened and he’s still weird and inappropriate enough to think this is okay for him to do.

If you feel like pursuing it, you could walk over to him and say, “I’m confused by the email you sent me about resigning. Did you have a concern about the way I gave notice?” (I would do this because I would be irate and would want to force him to explain his thinking, but you might be better off just leaving it alone.)

You could also say to your boss, “Did you or Bob have some concern about the way I resigned? After he heard I’m leaving, he sent me some articles about how to resign gracefully and I can’t figure out why.”

Or you could just let it go, of course. But personally I’d enjoy making it awkward for them.


3. My interviewer laughed at me

I went on an interview for a marketing related job and met with three interviewers. As I was responding to the question of why I wanted to work for the company, I noticed one of the women glancing over across the table to her colleague, laughing. We made eye contact and the interviewer who was laughing quickly covered her expression with her hand, to hide her laugh. This is a company whose culture is about being inclusive and investing and valuing people and clearly this message was falling short in these three unprofessional women. Not to mention, the actual job title was being falsely advertised, which in turn was not a marketing job but rather an administration one.

What would have been the appropriate thing for me to do during a situation like this? Do you think it is appropriate for me to contact the director of Human Resources and the president of the company to inform them of their unprofessional hiring team?


That’s horrible, and I can absolutely understand why you were put off by it. But it’s entirely possible that she wasn’t laughing at you at all; she might have been laughing at an email or IM they both just received or who knows what else. Of course, she should have explained that to you and apologized (“I’m so sorry, we just got an odd email; my apologies!”) because any decent interviewer should have understood that it would come across rudely and that it would have been particularly hurtful if there was no explanation. She didn’t, and thus she is rude and an ass.

But it won’t do you any favors to complain to HR or the company president. These employees are known quantities, you’re an unknown quantity, and there’s too much baggage around candidates who go over interviewers’ heads to complain (i.e., they’re often overreacting and lacking in judgment — not a group you want to be lumped in with). To be clear, it’s not that this was acceptable; it’s just that it doesn’t rise to the level of reporting it, given the context.


4. What should I call my mom when she starts working in my office?

I’m a senior-level employee in a small-ish community human services organization (and in my 40’s, if it matters at all). My mother was the former director of another organization in our community for many years and recently retired. She’s very well known here and was absolutely brilliant at what she did. After her retirement, my boss offered my mom a part-time position in our office working directly with her on some special projects where her expertise and network of contacts will be really valuable.

She’ll be starting at our office soon and I just realized I’m in a bit of a quandry about what to call her when she’s here. It feels really weird to me to call her “mom” at work — but it feels equally weird to call her by her first name! Given the work she’s done in our community over the years, a lot of people know we’re related even though we have different last names. All of my colleagues know she’s my mom so it isn’t that. And my boss and I have made sure to be thoughtful about when and where our work overlaps, which won’t be much. She won’t report to me, and most of her day-to-day stuff will overlap more with my boss and another department, but given my role in the organization we will interact regularly. And really, our office is just pretty small so we’re going to see and talk to each other when she’s here.

Am I over thinking this? Is there some kind of office etiquette around how to handle this kind of situation? I don’t want things to be unnecessarily weird, but I don’t want to be unprofessional either. What do you think the smartest option is here?

There is indeed office etiquette around this! You should call her by her first name — both when addressing her directly and when referring to her to others. You’re probably going to feel incredibly weird doing it in the beginning, but that weirdness will fade, and it will be nothing compared to the weirdness other people would feel if you called her “mom.” Look at it this way: In the office, you’re relating to her as a colleague, not as your mom — and you want the way you speak to and about her to reflect that.


5. My coworker reacts badly when I won’t come in on my days off

I’m a relatively new grad school grad working at my first real job ever. I’m running into an issue with a coworker where we are the same level in title but she feels as if she has seniority over me due to her having been there before me. We work in a professional field where accreditation is legally required and she acquired hers after I did, despite graduating way before I did, and as a result had to actually have me as her “supervisor” for a very short time for professional ethics purposes.

Recently, she’s been slacking a lot and her supervisor had a talk with me about potentially firing her due to her slacking off. But she will just skip off work and then expect me to cover for her. It’s gotten to the point where she texts me on my clearly designated off days to ask me to come back into work to cover for her. She’s gotten so used to me covering her duties that she feels entitled and reacts badly when I tell her that I’ve indicated that this is my off day and I will not be coming back to the office just to do her job. But as a green employee, I’m just always very insecure about doing stuff like this. So how do I draw boundaries with coworkers like this?

“Sorry, I’m off today and can’t come in!” You can drop the “sorry” if you’d like.

You also don’t need to respond at all. It’s your day off. Mute her texts and go about your day.

If you want to, you can tell her, “Hey, just so you know, I’m generally never going to be able to come in on my days off because I always make plans for those days ahead of time.”

This is all 100% okay to do. You shouldn’t feel awkward about this; it’s very, very normal to want to preserve your days off, and it’s especially normal not to want to do major favors for someone who’s rude to you when you say no. Plus, it really sounds like your manager would support you and not her if it ever came to her attention.


Read an update to this letter here.

{ 76 comments… read them below }

  1. GammaGirl1908*

    LW4 will feel awkward calling Mom by her name to others, but will eventually get there. But it is a running joke in my family that when you are either not 100% sure of someone’s name, or, as for LW4, in that awkward space where an honorific isn’t quite right, but neither is their first name, despite all efforts, you generally end up calling them Umm, at least to their face.

    “Umm, hi, how are you? Nice to see you! So, Umm, what have you been up to? Oh, great, good luck in underwater basket weaving school, Umm, I hear that program has a great rattan and jute skills professor. Well, Umm, guess I’ll see you around!”

    My mom still laughs about how, when she came home at the end of her freshman year of college and the man who had been the church’s new minister was suddenly her new stepfather, she began calling him Umm. A friend of mine also remembers the awkward week that his grandmother Umm substituted his second-grade class. I’ve also known a few people who ended up on the college basketball team their (usually) dad Umm coached.

    1. KateM*

      I taught once a child of mine. I did notice the first time his classmates heard him addressing me as “teacher” they giggled a bit in a “that was unexpected but actually makes perfect sense” way. But they were 11. And he also had the extra help of our native language not being the same as the school language, so it was pretty clear when I was being mom and when teacher.

      1. SarahKay*

        I was on the other side of that – I went to the high school (UK, so ages 11-16) my dad taught at. Calling him Mr Kay was fine in class; it was on the rare occasions when I needed to knock at the staffroom door and ask for him that I hated, especially in the first year or so there when I was a very shy 11-year-old.
        About a third of the teachers knew me already from before high school, another third knew I was his daughter, the rest not at all.
        If I asked for Mr Kay then I’d end up with someone who’d known my since I was five and thought it was hilarious: “Hey, ‘Mr Kay’ there’s someone here asking for you,” chuckle, chuckle. Me: dying of embarrassment.
        Okay, learn from that, ask to speak to my dad – and get a teacher know didn’t know me at all: “What do you mean, you want to speak to your dad? Do you mean you need to use the phone?” in a faintly irritated voice. Me: explain that my dad was Mr Kay, while dying of embarrassment once again.

      2. Richard Hershberger*

        My older kid is a freshman in the high school where my wife teaches. It is no secret that she is his mom, but the situation has not arisen of his being a student in her class. This likely will happen his junior year, based on the one class that only she teaches. I’m not sure how they will handle this. I am just hoping I don’t get emails from her about his performance.

        1. EPLawyer*

          Well that will be a fun dinner time conversation.

          Son, I got an email from your teacher today. She said you didn’t hand in your rice sculpture project. Care to explain?

      3. Sally O'Malley*

        I teach high school seniors, and a couple of years ago I had my own daughter in class. She just … didn’t call me anything. LOL

        1. Kabe*

          I teach in an independent school and there’s generally only one teacher per course once you hit the middle or upper school grades, so you’re going to have your parent *eventually*. This is usually how it works out in the classroom, from what I’ve seen or talked about with colleagues. They just .. talk to their teacher/parent, without using a title or name.

          It is definitely normal/not awkward in our school’s culture that a student with a faculty/staff parent might ask another teacher something like “can I go to my dad’s office to ask him a question”during a study hall or at lunch or something, or go directly to a classroom or office in the building for dismissal rather than pickup. We’re a small enough school (~500 from age 3-18) with a healthy enough staff kid population that it’s generally known that they have a faculty parent and who they ‘belong’ to.

          Now, I’m a division dean … so now THAT might get awkward by the time my kiddo is in my division. She’s only five, though, so I have lots of time.

    2. Certaintroublemaker*

      One side benefit of calling Mom by Jane for work is that when you run into her in the break room at lunch, you can say, “Oh, Mom, I wanted to ask about the 4th of July barbecue this year.” Instant identification of personal conversations versus work topics.

    3. Empress Ki*

      I don’t think I’d be able to call my parents other than Mum and Dad. It’s so spontaneous that I would probably forget to call them anything else, even if I had to.
      At an old job, we had a receptionist who were the daughter of the boss. She called him Dad all the time in front of other staff and clients. Nobody bat an eye. It would have been very odd to us if she called him by his name.
      We aren’t in the US so it may be a cultural difference.

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        Perhaps it is. If so, it’s a dumb cultural difference (to me) because it makes having a child or having a parent seem unprofessional.

    4. LK*

      This wasn’t a work situation, but I spent years doing something similar with my husband before he came out to our families as trans. I didn’t want to out him, but was uncomfortable calling him by his old name either, so I just avoided calling him by name in front of others at all. This is easiest when speaking directly to the person – just establish obvious eye contact so it’s clear who you’re speaking to. I found it harder to work around while referring to him to others, but then, you won’t be avoiding pronouns as well, which solves half the problem, and you may find it less awkward to call your mom by her name when she can’t hear you do it.

      1. alienor*

        I did this with my mother-in-law for 20+ years. She wanted me to call her Mom and I wasn’t comfortable with that, but we clearly weren’t on a first-name basis either, so I didn’t call her anything when I was addressing her directly. If I had to call her house, pre-cell phones, I would ask for “your mom” if one of her adult kid answered, or “firstname” if it was someone else. If my own kid was around I referred to her as Grandma, which was fine because obviously she wasn’t my grandma. These days my now-adult child is estranged from her (by choice) and she lives in another country, so we both refer to her as “firstname” if she comes up in conversation and think no more of it.

        1. Artsygirl*

          My FIL ran into the same problem though his in-laws never asked to be called mom and dad – it was just his excruciatingly Midwestern, read awkward, politeness. In his mind they weren’t “Mr. and Mrs. X” after the wedding and he was not comfortable calling them by their first names. He managed to sidestep it for over forty years until they both passed which is particularly impressive when you consider he saw them every week. He told me this when insisting I call him by his first name.

        2. This Old House*

          What’s funny is that for the first several years of my marriage, I had no idea what to call my MIL. She had never asked me to call her by her first name, or anything else. It got a little easier after I had my first kid, so I could call her “Nana” much of the time. But then she got a temporary contract at my job! Since in that context the obvious only thing to call her was “Betty,” that’s what I called her and I’ve done so ever since.

    5. LtBarclay*

      Oh yeah! Growing up my best friend’s mother was an Umm. First name is much too informal, but Mrs. LastName seemed too formal. I think my nephew calls my sister’s best friend Auntie FirstName which is a nice workaround, but the adults have to think to suggest that kind of thing.

      1. bamcheeks*

        I had an ex who called his mum by a nickname related to her name, but not the same one that her adult friends used. So say her given name was Susan, Sue to all her friends, but her sons had always called her “Suzette”, and then that’s what her sons’ childhood friends and then sons’ partners/wives called her. I absolutely loved that– it really hit the spot in recognising the generational difference and family connection but didn’t feel like I was claiming equality.

  2. Jaxon Duke*

    @OP #1. Tell your boss she’s free to stay, but only if she’s willing to feed your pet chupacabra.

  3. Ellis Bell*

    It’s so ironic that how to gracefully resign guy is actually unbelievably awkward! I don’t know if I could resist forwarding him “How not to give unsolicited advice” or “How to be discreet around office gossip”.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Maybe that’s the missing piece of the puzzle – this guy’s idea of “gracefully” delivering an awkward message is to send a link with no clarification. That’s what he thinks LW should’ve done :P

      1. Zeus*

        What a power move that would be – sending your boss a link to a WikiHow on How to Resign From Your Job.

    2. Fluffy Fish*

      Agreed. I would have replied and asked if there was a particular reason he was sending me unsolicited advice on resigning.

    3. Artemesia*

      This was my first thought as well. I’d find a ‘when to speak up to criticize your co-worker’ article and send it along. And kudos for getting out; there be bees there.

  4. Irish Teacher.*

    This may be getting a little close to AAM fanfiction, but in the case of LW3, I think it’s very possible they were laughing at the company and not the LW. Like if the LW said she wanted the role for work- life balance and they knew the company was horrible about that or she wanted a role with career advancement opportunities and they knew the company could be difficult about those. It doesn’t sound like the LW said anything potentially embarrassing (as I think she would mention if she’d gotten tongue-tied or stumbled over a word or something) so they probably weren’t really laughing at her. It’s still disconcerting and unprofessional, but it probably wasn’t meant to be nasty.

    In the case of LW 4, I’d generally avoid calling her anything when speaking to her. You don’t usually need to address people by name.

    1. londonedit*

      I agree that the most likely explanation is probably that it was an inside joke between the interviewers – like the OP happened to say ‘I’ve been an admirer of your teapots for many years, and the way you attach the handles is gold standard. I’d be so excited to get involved in working on that’, when the interviewers know the handle department just had to recall an entire batch because the handles were falling off as soon as people touched them. It may well have had something to do with the fact that they were apparently misrepresenting what the job would entail – if the OP was talking about wanting to do X and Y in marketing, and the interviewers knew the job would actually have very little to do with marketing. It is still hugely unprofessional, though, because it comes from a place of ‘Ha, we know something you don’t’ and that feels like smugness. It’s also just plain rude to make an interviewee feel like you might be laughing at them. And if they *were* laughing at the OP for some reason, it’s even more rude. Coupled with the fact that they were misrepresenting what the job actually was, I think the OP would have been right to just walk away and congratulate themselves on dodging a bullet.

      1. Jackalope*

        It could also have been a completely unrelated inside joke; say, using your example sentence, they had been talking that morning and one of them used the phrase “gold standard” and then promptly tripped and fell in an amusing and non-painful way, and the person who laughed was suddenly recalling that moment. Or something else like that. It could have been related to the OP, but if there wasn’t anything else going on in the interview then it could have been a complete coincidence. If the interviewers had otherwise gone on being snotty I would have been less inclined to consider that an option, but it sounds like it was maybe just this one thing.

    2. allathian*

      Yeah, addressing someone by name is usually unnecessary unless you do it to get their attention. But even referring to your parent by name to other people can feel awkward until you get used to it. I still call my mom “Mom” when I’m talking to my dad, my sister, my friends, or my coworkers, and I refer to my dad the same way. But for some reason, whenever I talk about them to my MIL or her husband, I use my parents’ names.

      It gets easier as you get older, and I think that in my case it got particularly easy after the birth of our son. When I talk to him, I refer to my parents and MIL as his grandparents.

    3. Janeric*

      If OP3 prepared heavily for this interview and tends to be a little blunt in their way of speaking, it’s possible that their responses were echoing the wording of the rubric for responses to questions — and the other interviewer was doing either a “well this person is PERFECT” laugh or a rueful “did you send in a ringer?” laugh. (Ask me how I know!) If the place has a healthy culture it should shake out short term — if OP3 is offered the job, they could ask about that specific question in a curious way and try to get more information.

    4. Ellis Bell*

      I think that’s a reasonable inference; if two of the interviewers understood some sort of reference as funny, but OP didn’t – the chances of it being an inside joke are high. The idea of OP wanting to work at the company for x reason being funny could definitely be a slam at the company. It’s still reeeaallly rude though; if a candidate accidentally stumbled on an inside joke and I laughed, I would just have to say ‘sorry, that wasn’t about you, you just coincidentally reminded us of an inside joke, we were talking about earlier’. For all the candidate knows, you’re rolling your eyes because you think the answer’s stupid. Making eyes at one another is a bit of a step beyond accidentally laughing, too. Even if they weren’t poking fun at OP, they forgot to consider them.

    1. Empress Ki*

      You don’t stop being her mum because you’re at work.
      That’s so odd to call a parent by their name.

      1. I should really pick a name*

        In a good workplace, you kind of do stop being their parent when you’re at work.

      2. londonedit*

        I think there’s a difference between carrying on calling her Mum in the office when you’re interacting together, and doing it when you’re in a meeting with other people. I think you should use her name if there are other colleagues present. It would be odd to say ‘Mum sent me the latest figures’ or ‘I’ll have to ask Mum what she thinks about putting this bid together’, unless it was a very close group of colleagues in an informal meeting, and they all knew she was your mum. In situations where there are other people involved in the conversation I think I’d definitely use her first name, because it just sounds more professional and that way everyone knows who you’re talking about.

        1. Database Developer Dude*

          There’s a difference when talking ABOUT someone vs talking TO them.

          I would of course say “Dolly sent me the latest figures” or “I’ll have to ask Dolly what she thinks about putting this bid together”. When I go talk to her though, it would still be “Mom, what do you think about putting this bid together?”

          1. Michelle Smith*

            I usually don’t call my mom “Mom” unless I’m writing it on a birthday card or trying to get her attention in the airport. She knows who I’m talking to if I called her on the phone or I’m standing next to her looking at her in the face. It is more natural to me to not call her anything in most of those moments and just…speak to her.

      3. SpaceySteph*

        In HS I worked part time in my dad’s office (a medical practice). Everyone knew he was my dad, including many of the patients (he has family pictures on his desk so people who were observant recognized me), but I still called him Dr. Last Name when at work. If a teenager can do it, so can a grown adult.

      4. Ellis Bell*

        Is it that strange though? I was taught my parent’s first names when I was really young, because it’s stupid to say “mum” or “dad” if you’re lost in a big crowd. I use their names to introduce them to people who don’t want to call them mum or dad; “This is my mother, Mary Shelley”, and to acknowledge them with joint acquaintances: “You know Sherlock Holmes?! He’s my dad!” No, of course you don’t stop being related if you work together, but you don’t stop being related if you use their *actual* names either. Directly addressing them by their well known names is definitely a bit weird to start with, and it is pausing the intimacy and focus of the relationship a bit for the sake of context, but it’s fine to do that at work!

    2. Be kind, rewind*

      I worked in a pretty casual place for many years with my mom. I addressed her as mom, but would refer to her by name when talking to others, and that was just fine. I might have approached it differently if I were working in a more formal environment.

    3. allathian*

      In a small organization where everyone knows everyone else that might work, but not in a larger one. I still think that putting the parental relationship first is doing your daughter no favors professionally.

    4. learnedthehardway*

      One of my clients is a family-owned business. The kids call their father by his first name at work. It’s more professional and they say it helps with keeping boundaries between work and their personal lives.

    5. Camp staffer*

      My entire family works at the same place (a summer camp, so casual) and my kids all call my husband and me by our first names or by mom and dad, depending on their mood or the situation. I respond fine to both, and whenever anyone finds it weird, I tell them it doesn’t bother me as long they are addressing me with affection and/or respect. They work with others their own age who call me by my first name and I can see how they would feel infantilized calling me mom.

    6. CatMintCat*

      I actually have no idea what she refers to me as when talking to others – I’m not there.

      We are teachers, not in an office, so while we work together at the saame level of classroom teacher, we don’t spend a lot of time actually “together”. It’s a small school with only 6-10 adults (depending on the day) so everybody knows everybody quite well.

      I stay out of her stuff and she stays out of mine.

  5. Emmy Noether*

    On thing that irks me about LW3: they are thinking of complaining about all three interviewers (“three unprofessional women”), when the only unprofessional behavior we know of is one of them laughing. Why are the other two tainted by association in this way? Or is there more to this story?

    The fact that the job was misrepresented in the ad is also bad, but that may not be the interviewer’s fault.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      I noticed that too. It seems LW has made a lot of leaps here. The fact that he wants to tattle to the company president about this says a lot more about LW than it does about this company or its interview process.

      The fact that the job was misrepresented in the ad is also bad, but that may not be the interviewer’s fault.

      I used to write the help wanted ads and interview at my last job, and sometimes there was a mismatch. It was a small organization, and sometimes things were rearranged or a different new hire changed the equation, and so the position we were actually hiring for changed. It happens all the time!

      1. Gray Lady*

        My husband recently complained that he cannot get HR to quit using misleading boilerplate and specify the ad the way he wants them to. So yes, there could be a lot of separation between the people doing the interviewing/hiring and the content of the ad.

        1. Ama*

          I worked at a university for a while where HR was extremely bureaucratic and insisted that all job descriptions with the same title/pay grade us the exact same language. Which was ridiculous because even an entry level admin assistant job can be very different based on whether you are in the Bursar’s office or a science department with a lot of research labs or a humanities grad school that runs a public lecture series but HR insisted all those jobs had the same title so they must have the same description. Departments would just let HR post the template and then explain at the phone interview stage what the position actually entailed, but it did waste a lot of time because it was hard to screen candidates when the candidates didn’t actually know what they were applying for.

          Right before I left they announced they were really committed to doing a review of everyone’s job descriptions to make sure they were accurate and I always wondered if they ever actually did it or if they got a few weeks in and realized how far in over their heads they were (there were over 10,000 staff positions at that university).

          1. BUMBLEBEE*

            I work at one now! We have about 15 directors in my Division and HR wanted to post all vacancies as “Director” only. I pointed out that being a Director of Housing, a Director of Counseling, and a Director of Student Activities required some different experiences and even licensure, so while there would be skill overlap (each would need to be able to manage a budget, for example) there’s not much likelihood that the same person would be equally interested in all 3 jobs. HR thought we could just clarify “director of what” in the first round of interviews.

  6. DJ Abbott*

    Re #2, I’m glad I’m not the only one who might confront the guy and make him explain. So good to know there are others like me! :)

    Re #3, has everyone forgotten It’s rude to be on your phone when someone is talking to you? If these interviewers got a text or email they were laughing at, they were still being rude and disrespectful.

  7. Keymaster of Gozer*

    4: For a while my father worked at the same firm as me, totally different department. I addressed him by his first name when I had to answer calls he’d logged.

    It’s weird for about the first day, then you get used to it. He’s still ‘Dad’ outside of work though.

    1. Agile Phalanges*

      I have a co-worker whose father works at our company (pretty high up role, too). It’s no secret, but she still refers to him by his first name at least 90% of the time. I’m probably 50/50 on whether I ask her a question about “your dad” or “Name.” I’m sure it’s weird at first, but I’m also sure you get used to it.

      I also went to school with someone whose aunt was our teacher one year. He slipped up a couple times, calling her “Aunt Firstname,” but quickly got pretty used to calling her “Mrs. Lastname” when addressing school-related issues and “Aunt Firstname” when talking about going to her house over the weekend or something.

      Kids are pretty good at code-switching, but adults can adapt pretty quickly too.

  8. Richard Hershberger*

    The update to LW5 has coworker escalating to take weeks at a time off for physical therapy for a vaguely specified injury. To which I respond “Huh?” Is she getting disability notes from the therapist? Asking for treatment notes would be inappropriate, but disability notes are a routine thing. And while these can be for being completely off work, that tends to be for physical jobs. It sounds like this is an office job, where frankly all the work is “light duty.” Is she providing these notes? If not, why isn’t the employer asking for them?

    1. Sara without an H*

      I wondered about that, myself. And the manager in the situation seemed pretty passive to me.

      LW5, are you out there? If you see this, would you please send us another update? You did the right thing, but I’m very curious about how it all worked out.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        I second this, I want another update on that one. Mostly to find out if the coworker finally was fired after all, as she should have been.

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I also noticed that, and was perplexed till I came to the last few lines that stated: the manager was out of the office – so basically no supervision of the two of them.

      Also hoping that OP is out there and doing much better now.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        The absent supervisor also does not make much sense, in the context of coworker being gone weeks at a time. Surely if a supervisor is taking personal leave this long, the grandboss would assign someone to cover. If not, there seems to be underlying issues here.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          You’d think – but I’ve experienced plenty of “cats away, mice will play” situations during my career. Fortunately in all of them my work was very siloed from the mice so when the manager did come back/check in I never got in trouble.

    3. Wonka Chocolate Factory*

      It’s a fair question to wonder about, but it’s not really OP’s problem. If their manager had written in, your questions would be good suggestions for them.

  9. ecnaseener*

    As to the other part of LW3’s question (“What would have been the appropriate thing for me to do during a situation like this”) – what would y’all do?

    I’m leaning toward finishing your thought and then saying something like “I think I missed a joke in there somewhere?” (or better-worded lol.) Not going for a calling-out, just asking what was funny – partly to give them a chance to apologize / offer an innocent explanation if there is one, but mostly because if they were laughing at something you said, there’s probably some useful information about the job there.

    Not sure how much it would be appropriate to push if they brushed it off though.

    1. Lyudie*

      Yeah I’d probably do something similar. I would be very self-conscious if one of my interviewers started laughing and it would have thrown me off. If there was another explanation, I’d expect them to explain that when it was obvious I noticed.

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I would have said something in the moment too. Or asked about it when they asked “do you have any questions”…

  10. Peanut Hamper*

    I’m massively confused about LW 3.

    I think that either I’m missing something, or the LW is missing something, because I don’t see how you can connect the dot between one of the three people interviewing him laughing once and this company not living up to its values of “being inclusive and investing and valuing people”.

    Usually it’s the letter writer who has dodged a bullet, but maybe this time it was the company?

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      There’s quite a lot that can be extrapolated (not fanfic, it’s directly inferred from the letter) though. The laughing interviewer, as well as finding whatever it was funny, glanced over to the other interviewer. This means Interviewer 1 knew they and Interviewer 2 had some shared context, and that Interviewer 2 would ‘get’ why it was funny with just a look without it having to be explained. And presumably also knew how Interviewer 2 would react. Interviewer 1 didn’t apologise in the moment, just tried to cover up her face. And so on…

      It doesn’t seem very inclusive or valuing people to have a little private hilarious moment between the interviewers at the expense of the candidate – who, even if they did say something ‘wrong’ in the interview that rules them out or that the interviewers don’t like for some reason, has still taken the time out of their day to come to this interview and go through the process. It is rude and dismissive, which aren’t typically ways of being inclusive or valuing people.

    2. I'm Just Here for the Cats!!*

      I was wondering if the LW was a minority or physically disabled and thought that was why they were laughing. especially if it was something that could be in context. Like they just explained how they came from XY country and they laughed. Or if the OP has a speech impediment and they stumbled over words right before they laughed so the OP immediately thought they were laughing at him.

  11. Cookie Lady*

    We have a father-daughter pair at my office. She refers to him by first name when talking about him or mentioning him in an email and then generally doesn’t use a name at all when talking to him directly. She is upper management and has been here forever, he was hired last year to be part-time property manager/maintenance.
    The rest of us promptly started calling him Ranger Dad. He finds it hilarious.

  12. MirandaAround*

    I’m so glad to see the ‘gracious resignation guy’ back again! The original answers helped me navigate a non-work situation with an overbearing relative who asks me intrusive questions and gives unsolicited advice. Now I respond with a cheery “you mentioned the importance of getting enough sleep, of course everyone’s different, but here are some weblinks that you might find helpful”. It seems to work. They are reassured that I’m taking the issue seriously and I am navigating them away from interfering in my life.

  13. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP4 (what should I call my mom at work) – in a previous company, one of the managers ‘John’ had his father ‘ Steve’ as his grandboss (so in the reporting line were John’s reports, John, John’s manager, and then Steve who was the head of the whole area).

    A difficult situation for John’s manager for sure, but also John referred to Steve as ‘my dad’ when talking about him as well as talking to him directly! – saying things like “that should be ok, but … my dad will have to give the final approval”.

    I was never able to have much respect for John because of this, among other factors. He knew he was ‘untouchable’ while his dad worked there, and as a result got away with all sorts of things – until his dad left.

    In OP4’s case I’d be more concerned about the dynamics of being ‘higher’ in the organisation than your parent, than about what to call them.

  14. Artsygirl*

    It’s funny because I have actually interacted with both my parents in “professional” environments and always called them mom and dad never their first names. My mother was a teacher at my very small parochial school and of course I addressed her as “mom.” But after getting my masters degree I was hired into the same department at the not-for-profit my dad had worked at for over 30 years. It is a small department and a number of my new colleagues had known me from birth and I still called my dad “dad.” Despite this apparently not everyone realized we were related – we were in a common space one afternoon and he said “see you later kiddo” and a friend from another department says “I wish ArtsyDad called me kiddo” and I laughed and made some comment about adoption. She almost fell over because she had not realized we were related despite having the same slightly uncommon last name. I absolutely loved working with my father and did so for a decade before going back to get my PhD and he recently retired. Luckily in my new job I have been able to hire him on as a consultant to help with some research so still get to interact with him in a professional setting (and I still call him dad).

    1. Artsygirl*

      I will also add that this was a not-for-profit cultural institution so norms were pretty relaxed/casual and if I was in a corporate setting I likely would have called him ArtsyDad and not dad. There were a few parent-child relationships in the institution and lots of partners/spouses so the dynamic was not particularly unusual. Also we reported to the same person (his direct boss, my grandboss) so luckily we didn’t run into issues were there might seem to be favoritism.

  15. Mehitabel*

    #3: Would that we would all have the self-possession and presence of mind, in such a situation, to simply say “Thank you for your time today, but it’s clear to me that this position is not going to be a good fit for me” and then just excuse myself and leave. Especially if it’s become clear that the job was not as advertised.

  16. Lyudie*

    I followed the update link to #1 and saw the update for the person who needed time off to get clean from heroin, and I hope that person is still doing great and that their company worked with them to take the time they needed to get healthy.

  17. learnedthehardway*

    OP#5 – should have taken this to her manager. It wasn’t appropriate of the manager to discuss the performance issues of the other worker with OP#5, but since they did, the OP KNOWS the manager will have their back in addressing the issue. And it adds an important data point to the manager’s decision on whether to keep the other worker on staff or not. (Mind you, I would be pointing out to the manager that if they do remove the other worker, they would need to replace them, not expect OP#5 to be available 24/7).

    1. I'm Just Here for the Cats!!*

      See I thought it was ok because
      1. for a short time the OP was the other person’s supervisor. We don’t know if OP was still her supervisor when the manager talked about the performance
      2. The coworker’s performance is directly affecting the OP. The manager may have been asking for their opinion, like would you be able to take on more if we have to fire X.

      I find it more problematic that the manager is not putting a stop to it. And by reading the update it sounds like the supervisor is away on personal leave. This makes it sound like there is no one overseeing what the coworker is doing.

  18. JustMe*

    Re: LW 3 (even though I know it was a while ago, in case this helps other people). CW ableism.

    I once worked for a nonprofit that was extremely involved in increasing equity and economic justice in our local community. It was very apparent from the mission, the name of the company, the organizations we worked with, etc. My colleagues were interviewing someone for a program manager role, and when they asked him why he wanted the role, he said he was excited because, “I’m tired of working with mental midgets.” My colleagues were–understandably–shocked, and quickly wrapped up the interview. He did not get a call back. My colleagues spent the day talking about how that was a shockingly offensive thing to say, it was no wonder this guy was unemployed, etc. etc. etc.

    Later that day, they were interviewing another woman who was a fantastic fit for the company. When they got to the topic of why she wanted the role, the hiring manager immediately blurted, “She’s tired of working with mental midgets!” and started laughing, before covering her mouth in horror when she realized she’d repeated it out loud. The woman just sort of stared for a moment, was pretty curt with her answers after that, and didn’t respond to follow up emails or calls. (Again, pretty understandably.)

    Anyway, all this is to say that the hiring managers have their own internal culture, experiences, and inside jokes that may be at play. It’s definitely more professional for them to leave them out of the interview, but they can come up and not reflect the candidate. I personally think that in a situation like that, the interviewee would be pretty within their rights to say, “Um, I’m not sure I understand–can you explain–?”

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