should my spouse have to be background checked for my job, one-way video interviews, and more

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

1. My work assignment would require my spouse to be fingerprinted and background checked

As part of my job, I’ve been tasked with securing a permit for the organization to serve alcohol at an upcoming event. In our jurisdiction, this requires submitting extensive personal information, background checks, fingerprinting, etc. for the applicant and spouse (“and spouse” is bold and underlined in the application instructions and forms).

I’m one of the few employees of our organization who is married, and I’m not comfortable with having my husband do this. He would certainly pass the background checks – he’s never had so much as a traffic ticket – but he’s a very private person and is not comfortable with it. Even if he was, I feel like it’s asking a lot for my employer to expect my husband to take time out of his workday to attend the appointments associated with applying. Is this as unreasonable as I think it is, or am I off base?

I want to push back, but I’m afraid it will look like I have something to hide. I’ve thought about asking someone else to do it but there aren’t any great alternatives. Our CEO really should be the one to do it (technically, no one else has authority to sign the forms on behalf of the organization) but he can’t due to a conflict of interest due to his relationship with the local authorities. My supervisor is also married, so her husband would be subjected to the same requirements. The org has a few other employees, but this event isn’t within the scope of their jobs. So, is there a tactful way to decline this, or do I need to suck it up and ask my husband to do it?

What on earth?! I’m dying to know the reasoning behind the spouse requirement.

If your husband just needed to sign his name on a form, I still wouldn’t love it, but just having him do it might be the easiest path since you don’t have other great alternatives. But fingerprinting and a background check and time off work for appointments? You can quite reasonably decline on those grounds. I’d frame it to your boss as, “Gavin is swamped right now and can’t take the time off work to do everything they’d require of him. Since that means I’m not an option, how do we want to handle this?”

(Also, any chance there are options that don’t require any of you to apply for the permit — like using a catering company that has their own liquor permit?)

2. Should we use one-way video interviews?

I’m in the middle of a hiring process, and my HR department is recommending that we do a one-way video screening (Spark Hire), instead of a phone screening. We have already done preliminary screening of written responses and need to cull the list down to a manageable number for zoom interviews. What are your thoughts on one-way video interviews?

Resist! Candidates hate those, and with good reason. They’re horrible. You’d be asking your candidates to invest not-insignificant time on their end doing something a lot of people find really uncomfortable (even people who are comfortable on camera in a more natural back-and-forth set-up) and to invest more of their time in your process without any opportunity for them to ask their own questions and find out if they’re even interested in the job. (This is true regardless but it goes double if the “written responses” you mentioned were something more than a resume and cover letter. If you have already asked them to produce something beyond the initial application, then it’s way too much to ask them to do yet another thing before they can even have a conversation with you.)

And you will lose some of your best candidates who will nope out rather than bother with it.

Do phone interviews so you can have real conversations with people. If you’re not convinced everyone you’re considering is worth the time of a short conversation, then cull them from the pool (or put them in a maybe pile to possibly go back to later).

3. Giving a dishonest reason for a layoff

In one of my first jobs out of college, I was in an assistant to two senior people at my organization. One of my bosses, Shirley, was super organized and easy to work with. The other, Laverne, was extremely unreliable. From what I could tell as her assistant, she worked maybe 20 hours a week max in a salaried full-time role. She worked in the office one morning a week, when we had a weekly team meeting with her boss. Otherwise, she “worked” from home and was almost entirely unreachable. Fending off folks demanding a response from Laverne became a significant part of my job. Projects were delayed, collaborators were livid, significant mistakes were made, costs were incurred, all because Laverne was unreachable and ultimately not really doing her job.

I got a sense from vague comments from Shirley and other senior folks that Laverne had some significant things going on, possibly health related, but she was not on FMLA to my knowledge — everyone, including her boss, seemed to expect that she would be working a normal number of hours, and none of this really appeared to be above-board or accommodated.

So clearly Laverne was not doing the tasks of her job. In retrospect, I do think Laverne was placed on a PIP while I worked there, because we had a very strange meeting where she called me into her office to let me know that “we” really needed to start doing better, and was very frantic about it for about two weeks.

The interesting thing was, Laverne was a nightmare to work with internally, but she clearly had a real knack for parts of the job. Everything was chaos before a project was delivered, but she had some of THE best performing work in the organization. In terms of sales metrics, she was doing incredibly.

Eventually, Laverne was let go — probably about eight months into my time there. However, her boss let us all know that Laverne had been laid off due to her market area underperforming, and there not really being a market for what she did. This was the same week that one of her recently released projects had reached a metric that our organization gave out special plaques for, so clearly the market for her work was there. Even though Laverne had been making my life miserable, it really rubbed me the wrong way to be so obviously lied to about why she was gone. I think as a kindness to Laverne, her boss decided to say she was laid off rather than fired due to poor performance, but that felt kind of unfair to the rest of us who had been dealing with her. I expected to feel hugely relieved that Laverne was gone, but the whole situation left a bad taste with how everything was handled.

Should her boss have been honest with us, or is this a reasonable thing to do as a manager of someone who is performing poorly, but possibly due to circumstances outside of their control? Did he assume that we would all know what really happened so it didn’t matter if he had a different cover story?

It’s common for employers to try to help fired employees save face a bit; in general, firings (and the circumstances around them) should shared on a “need to know” basis. Colleagues need to know the person is no longer there, of course, but they don’t usually need to know “and it’s because she was doing a terrible job.” So it’s not uncommon to be told something more bland than the real story.

What’s unusual in this situation is that they came up with a really specific cover story that didn’t make sense for the circumstances. They may have figured that anyone close enough to have seen the problems would read between the lines (and really didn’t need more information than that) … but I also wonder if this is the story they told Laverne herself. Sometimes employers do try to lay people off instead of firing them (there are times when that can be a kindness, although there are times when it’s not) and it’s possible they decided it would be easier for all involved, Laverne included, if they framed it as being about the market rather than her work, regardless of what the actual facts made clear.

4. Interviewing for out-of-state jobs just for practice

My soon-to-be-graduating-from-college son is getting contacted by recruiters for out-of-state jobs, even though he’s listed as interested in local jobs only. His stepmom, who used to work HR for a large company, told him to apply for those jobs even though he knows he wouldn’t accept them, because the practice he’d get from the whole process is good, plus they have connections and contacts that might lead to a local job.

This isn’t a good idea, is it? Applying for a job you know you’d never accept? My thought is no, but I’ve never worked HR, so, maybe?

It’s not a terrible idea for him to get some interviewing experience in low-risk situations, but he also shouldn’t waste a ton of people’s time while doing it … so I could see taking a few initial calls with recruiters to get a feel for how they go (and who knows, maybe someone will have an opportunity that intrigues him enough to consider a move) but he shouldn’t progress through multiple steps in their hiring process if he’s sure he’s not interested. Also, he’s very likely to be asked about his willingness to locate in those initial calls, so he’d want to be prepared for that.

If part of the motivation would be that the recruiters might have leads on local jobs too, then he’d want to be especially careful not to come across like he’s wasting their time. So, an initial call = fine, but remaining in their process after that = probably not.

5. Can I ask for clarification about the wording of this rejection?

I am currently, let’s say, the director of llama grooming at a very small company. I recently applied for a position as a manager of llama brushing at a much larger organization. Though the title is a step down and the area of focus is less broad, it seemed like the level of responsibility was on par with what I currently handle.

I just got an email letting me know that they’re not moving forward with my application. I’m disappointed, but understand that they’re making the decisions that are right for them. My question is about a specific line from the rejection email: “We hope you’ll continue to keep an eye out for more senior level openings that match your skills and experience.”

I am conflicted about how to interpret “more senior level openings.” To me there are three options:

1. Please keep an eye out for additional/other senior-level roles similar to this one that might be a better match for your skills than this one was.

2. Please keep an eye out for jobs that are more senior to this role, as we think those would be a better match for your skills.

3. This is the form letter they send out to all applicants and I am reading way too much into it.

I really like this org and don’t want to ruin my chance of maybe being hired someday by sending a reply digging into the ambiguous grammatical implications of their polite and timely email. No one likes unsolicited grammar critiques! But … I also feel like getting some clarity on what they mean would help me to be a better candidate in the future, and I would really like to be a better candidate in the future. Do I need to just let this go? Or can I send a brief and polite email asking for a little clarity? I need to just let this go, right?

Yeah, let it go. I agree it’s ambiguous and could be any of the three options you listed, but I think it would be a little too much to write back and ask for clarification.

For what it’s worth, I’d guess the third option (form letter) is most likely, followed by the first option (apply for similar roles). The second option (target jobs that are more senior next time) seems least likely to me if there wasn’t any other context for it (but could be more likely if, for example, they’d told you in an interview that they were concerned the role wasn’t senior enough for you).

Also, keep in mind that while candidates tend to read rejection emails really carefully, scrutinizing each word for meaning, on the employer’s end they’re often written more haphazardly than that. I would just continue to apply for roles there that interest you and seem like the right match with your skills.

{ 479 comments… read them below }

      1. Here for the $$$*

        But only if you want 19 pieces of flair, if you want 34 pieces of flair then you need to say 34.

      2. Princess Sparklepony*

        Are you really satisfied with the minimum number of flair? We just want you to express yourself….

    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      Yes, hire a bartender. I can’t imagine an organization requiring this kind of invasive task of an employee when they can hire someone with the required license for a one-off event.

      1. yala*

        I think an individual liquor license is different than a permit to serve liquor at at a specific location.

        Like, I had to get a liquor license when I worked at the bar of the movie theater, but I’m pretty sure the movie theater had to have its own permit serve alcohol.

        I can’t fathom why an organization’s permit would involve the OP’s spouse getting finger-printed tho.

        1. Princess Sparklepony*

          I can. The city wants to make sure that some unsavory type isn’t using their spouse as a front. Likely something happened in the past that led to the rule.

      2. Tiger Snake*

        Honestly, I was wondering if LW1 is trying to get this license in a ‘Dry’ county.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      …And that bartender is from a catering company that has the permit.

      Some areas have very tight liquor laws. I suspect the organization must get the specific permit to buy & provide alcohol regardless of who actually serves it. A catering company with bartenders will have the permits needed. OP’s employer is trying to avoid the extra associated costs like a bottle markup. I wonder how they will react when the site requires insurance riders for serving.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I have gotten federal clearance to access a military database that didn’t require this much from me. Hire a caterer, because the requirements are clearly intended to discourage people from getting a license lightly.

        1. No Fingerprints*

          My spouse had to get mid-level federal/military security clearance for a couple different jobs (military contractor, VA hospital system with access to PHI) and I think they asked for my name, DOB, maybe SSN…but I certainly didn’t have to be fingerprinted (!!) or go to any interviews myself. I suspect they did some kind of background check but it was entirely non-invasive, as it were. So a local government requiring more for a liquor permit seems bananapants.

          1. bamcheeks*

            But they have very different purposes. A security check for a federal/millitary role is checking to see whether you have any vulnerabilities that could make your spouse blackmailable or coercable. The background check for a liquor license is looking to make sure you’re not trying to help your husband Dogfight Dan get around a ban on owning a commercial licensed premises. It’s not a case of one being more serious than another, it’s the type of problem they’re trying to avoid.

            1. EPLawyer*

              That’s my thought. They don’t want the applicant to be the stand in for the real bartender. Who should not be serving alcohol for whatever reason.

              Because someone once tried to pull a fast one, everyone now has to go through the onerous process.

              1. Lydia*

                Even in the tightest jurisdictions around alcohol they don’t ask for fingerprints and interviews for the spouse of the person working. It doesn’t matter what their thinking is, they are overstepping.

            2. mark132*

              That still seems wrong to me. So now because someone else did something wrong, you get punished by association?

              1. Lavender Provence*

                That’s how legal relationships like marriage work. Consider an offset for the hundreds of benefits that piece of paper brings you.

            3. Princess Sparklepony*

              That’s what I was thinking as well.

              I seriously love this groups ability to come up with the best fictional names. Assuming Dogfight Dan isn’t a real person… at least I hope so.

          2. Dulcinea47*

            this is almost certainly a state law somewhere. IDK where you live, but some of us live in states that held onto prohibition as long as they could and still have that mindset.

          3. Momma Bear*

            Exactly. Maybe someone will get interviewed depending on the level of security but for an event where the spouse isn’t employed by the company or going to be serving…? No. I’d push back. I’d really want to know why they didn’t go with a caterer/bartender.

        2. Sloanicota*

          Sadly, my org at least wouldn’t want to pay an expense they weren’t planning on, not realizing that their staffmembers’ time and goodwill is actually their most valuable resource, sigh.

        3. Stitch*

          I’m really wondering if LW is even pursuing the right kind of license here. It seems like the job is asking LW to get a personal and long term license instead of say, the business getting a short term one (a previous job of mine got one, it just involved getting a one day permit with an insurance policy)

          1. Ama*

            Yes this seems really, really strange for a one off event. I once had to look into a health department certification process for a school cafeteria and this seems far closer to that level of documentation (although even that one didn’t require spousal background checks).

            If this is truly the process OP should tell her boss that this is a case where it would be worth it to hire a caterer who has already been through this process so they don’t have to worry about the license not coming through in time, it failing because of some bureaucratic mistake, etc.

        4. MCMonkeyBean*

          Yeah, I was assuming this was going to be a case of someone applying for a job with high level clearance or handling a lot of money. This is a ridiculous ask for a one-off event!

          1. Snow*

            Yeah. My brother was seriously considering jobs at one point that would have involved working on government information-security systems, and there was a decent chance I’d be involved in his security clearance process somehow – if nothing else, being called and asked to verify what they already have on him. That’s one thing. For a short-term liquor license? I just checked, and the only requirement in my state is that you write down the name, birth date, and address of everyone who’s actually involved in serving it. Even the person applying doesn’t need to get fingerprinted.

        5. CL*

          I’ve organized events at the State Department that were less of a headache. The caterers had background checks so I didn’t have to deal with it.

    3. Nonprofitable*

      Letter Writer #1 here! We do have bartenders but due to the nature of the event the permit has to be held by our organization. First time I’ve encountered this in all my years of event planning.

      1. A Poster Has No Name*

        Just saw this comment. That’s…deeply weird. But either way, you shouldn’t be the one to put your name on it.

      2. A Poster Has No Name*

        How important is it that you serve alcohol at this event? If the CEO can’t get the permit, maybe a dry event is the way to go.

        1. elle *sparkle emoji**

          Yeah, this is what I was wondering. If it’s this intense to get approval for a one-time event I’d think it’d be better to change the one event somehow to avoid the hassle.

      3. EPLawyer*

        If you are required to get the permit, what else is required? Has the organization checked all the details that will go into having alcohol at this event? Might as well cover everything at once instead of piecemeal.

        I know for a lot of organizations not having alcohol is not an option (people won’t come, won’t donate, etc.).

        1. Nonprofitable*

          Well, since you asked…the application also requires a list of our board members including their dates of birth, SSNs, and any past convictions or pending charges. But that’s a problem for the CEO to deal with, since I don’t interface with the board.

      4. Cake or Death*

        I think you should do some more digging on this. It seems completely weird that EMPLOYEES of an organization would have to apply for a license. Like, that makes no sense, really. Especially when none of you have any legal authority over the business.

      5. Rural Juror*

        Nonprofit event person here. Can confirm that this is a thing I have run into. Many municipalities require the nonprofit to be the holder of the special event alcohol permit, even if there is a catering company or bartender actually serving. And I haven’t personally had to do the spouse thing, but I’ve seen it before. It’s ridiculous!

        1. My Useless 2 Cents*

          Yes, but that is the company correct? that needs the permit. Not an individual employee who must hold the permit??? Especially not one who is not legally authorized to make company decisions (based on OP’s stating that only CEO can legally sign forms on behalf of the company).

        2. Iris Eyes*

          Municipalities having such onerous restrictions is a reason many event venues and even one restaurant I know of are just outside city limits, or on the other side of the county line by an inch. I’d say its very likely that if the municipality restrictions are this overthetop there are venues a few miles away that have figured out how to navigate this with a lot less red tape.

      6. Jessica*

        Nonprofitable, as Cake or Death said it’s really weird for your organization to expect an employee to be the licensee rather than someone who signs for the organization.

        Even if caterer license isnt an option (e.g. I volunteer with an org where we sometimes have events and sell alcohol which requires one type of special permit and sometimes we have events where we judge peoples homemade efforts to make mead/ale/etc which requires a completely different permit) then in terms of liability and insurance it isn’t reasonable for your employer to put you in the cross-hairs.

        If the CEO cant do it, then the board of directors should be arranging it (and probably the president of the board should be arranging it) – something where it is clearly a license of your organization. It is absolutely worth pushing back on even if you need this onerous licence in your jurisdiction that it is wrong for you and your spouse to be applying as the licences. Even if your role is “event coordinator “ or “event organizer”.

      7. Glomarization, Esq.*

        If you do not have the legal authority to sign this application, then the issue ends there. You cannot sign the application on behalf of the company if you don’t have the legal authority to do so.

        And I don’t have your job description in front of me, but “event planning” shouldn’t include “obtaining and holding a liquor license in my name for company purposes because the company’s CEO, who does have legal authority to sign on behalf of the company, can’t get the license.”

      8. dawbs*

        I would be wary of being the defacto bartender forever.
        Because if they go through the effort and expense of making you do this, the nexxt time and next time and next time and next time thre’s an event, you’ll be bartender!

        1. WillowSunstar*

          Right, how many times have we read about something similar happening on this site or similar?

      9. Nonprofit Event Planner*

        Hi! This is totally normal and we have to do this every year to get our donated liquor. They’re asking you to be the “agent” for the organization. We used to have a member of our staff serve this role, and then after she left, she still served this role for us for a fee. She moved away, so to avoid subjecting another staff member to go through the vetting process. We hired a lawyer to complete this process. Expensive, but worth it.

    4. A Poster Has No Name*

      OMG, yes. There are reasons freelance bartenders or catering companies exist. No individual at your company should have to go through this process for just 1 event. It makes no sense.

      1. BlueSwimmer*

        Former restaurant bartender here. I would never want to be the license holder. At least in my state, the person named on the license is responsible/could be liable for any situations that come from over-serving people, like drunk driving accidents. I know these laws really vary by jurisdiction.

        1. Here for the $$$*

          This is a REALLY good point!! Aside from the entirely ridiculous background check nonsense, you may be opening yourself to untold legal liability if someone is overserved!

        2. Overit*

          THIS 100% !!!!!!
          As a former event planner…OP needs to run like the wind from this “opportunity.”

        3. Just Another Cog*

          This was the first thing I thought of, too. Like will you or your spouse have any personal liability if things go south? This just seems pretty hokey to me. Like the organization’s legal counsel hasn’t thought this through.

    5. goddessoftransitory*


      But seriously, unless the LW is working for the NSA and they’re hosting an INTERPOL cocktail party this is ridiculous. And how is this level of clearance for employees and the spouses who do not even work there cheaper or less involved than just hiring caterers???

  1. Ashley Armbruster*

    #3, am I shocked that Laverne’s boss, who was clearly not managing her or holding her accountable, was too chicken to be honest about why she was fired?

    noooooo I’m not.

    [I’ve dealt with conflict avoidant bosses who purposely don’t give real feedback towards problem employees because they don’t want to be seen as “mean”]

    1. MassMatt*

      At the start of the letter, I was thinking hmm, she was not working/unreachable, and finally got laid off— let this be a warning to all those “I just do the minimum and watch Netflix four hours a day” letter writers I see here and elsewhere.

      But then I got to her stellar sales. The company gave out plaques for a project she did? This does not sound like a slacker, it sounds like someone who successfully prioritized sales. Maybe she was unreachable because she was SELLING, or thinking up the pitch for how to sell.

      Maybe Laverne’s boss did not really give a hoot about how reachable she was when she was setting the sales records?

      As for “the real reason” not being given for the layoff, or the layoff being cover for someone being fired, this is really common, especially the higher up the totem pole it goes. Companies want to make clean breaks without bad blood or drama, and especially without potential lawsuits.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Interesting interpretation. You’ve found a way that both could be true. She may have demonstrated that they can get high sales IFF someone dedicates 90% of their time to sales only, which could easily be more cost per sale than business can justify.

        1. hbc*

          Yeah, I think it’s possible that Laverne wasn’t the greatest but *also* there isn’t a great market for what she sold. It’s quite possible to meet a (possibly poorly thought-out) rah-rah sales goal with something that is a terrible business model. Say, volume sales on something that has a terrible margin. Percentage increase versus last quarter when last quarter was terrible. Initial launch volumes when three customers buy everything they need for five years and the sales pipeline is now empty.

          If they don’t replace her, it’ll be clear that they didn’t think this was a worthwhile market.

        2. LinuxSystemsGuy*

          This makes even more sense if the company had a commission system or a bonus system that highly leveraged sales numbers as a metric. Laverne is devoting 90% of her time to sales, because it’s what makes her money, but the company really needs to to spend more time on other stuff.

          Which of course indicates a systemic problem with the business as well as a problem wit Laverne, but it wouldn’t be the first time we saw a systemic problem at a company.

      2. Colette*

        Clearly Laverne’s boss did care how reachable she was, because she doesn’t work there anymore.

      3. Smithy*

        While this obviously might not be the case – I have been in situations where there are teams that are performing quite well, but it’s known that once those staff members leave, they’ll never be replaced.

        Specifically, I work in fundraising and have seen a few departments take that approach to snail mail fundraising teams. They might have a team still bringing in great numbers that warrant all sorts of recognition and such, but the organizational decision has been to long term transition into only doing digital fundraising to reach those audiences. As long as they have a team in place led by a Director who knows what they’re doing, they’re happy to keep it going. But when that Director retires or needs to be fired/laid off – the announcement would be the same – that due to changes in the market, this team was being dissolved.

        In the one situation I know best, the Director in question had been doing this work for a long time. She was close to retirement, and in many ways could do the work while being half engaged, having a bad attitude, and knowing she was never moving further up or to another team. So she’d do what she needed to, get her numbers, and behave however she largely felt. I left before she made it to retirement, but I think she managed to hold on that long and when she did leave that team was officially dissolved and junior team members officially moved to other teams where they’d been slowly getting cross trained.

      4. LW #3*

        I was the letter writer!
        We actually didn’t do any sales on our side — I was trying to be vague because it’s a small industry, but it’s more along the lines of Laverne conceptualizing the product and participating in the production, and then further down the line marketing and sales folks get involved, but we never do any direct selling.
        So more that Laverne really knew her market and had a really good sense for what would sell, but she wasn’t doing any sales in that sense.

      5. The OG Sleepless*

        I had a coworker who was fired once. He was good at the actual llama grooming, but he was absolutely insufferable toward the other llama groomers and the llamas’ owners. Our boss just sent out an email that Fergus no longer worked with us. Everybody knew why without being told. Nuff said.

      6. goddessoftransitory*

        I read it as Laverne being an outstanding salesperson promoted into a position that had nothing to do with sales, that she could not handle. She continued to do what she did well–sales–so well, in fact, that she was officially recognized. But whatever her actual job was, she wasn’t doing it.

    2. Adam*

      I don’t think there’s any indication the boss wasn’t managing her. If they had been having tough conversations with her, there’s no reason for the LW to know that, and the LW assumed that she was put on a PIP and then later fired, which sure sounds like holding her accountable. I’m not particularly surprised that it took a while for it all to resolve, an employee that produces stellar results but causes collateral damage on the rest of the team often gets a lot of opportunity to improve, and if Laverne did indeed have a medical issue in play, that also rightfully inclines people to be more lenient.

      1. AD*

        I think I agree with this. It definitely sounds complicated having someone who produces good work but has the issues Laverne had — in addition to whatever medical stuff she had going on which OP doesn’t know about. Maybe a more generic “Laverne no longer works at X company” message could have gone out but I don’t see much to get worked up over going on here.

    3. Bilateralrope*

      Being honest doesn’t require saying why she is gone. Just say that she is no longer working here.

      One place I worked security at had a standard “this person isn’t working here after {date}” email they sent out. I’ve seen them use it for firings, redundancy, resignations and one person being transferred to a different site. Only the name and date changed.

      1. Stitch*

        +1. The only reason I’ve ever seen a reason listed for a person being fired, it was a very senior exec and she was fired following a very public financial misconduct report (it was the the media).

        Everyone else, the info about why they left isn’t made known.

        1. Anne of Green Gables*

          There have not been firings in my department since I’ve been here, but there were 3 that I’m aware of from before my time. The only one that I know the reason for involved adult material at work. They had everyone in that shared work area leave early that day, and there was no way to keep everyone who had to vacate the area quiet after it happened. Though I’m also not sure they would have tried to hide the reason in that case.

      2. orange line avenger*

        Agreed. Frankly, I think it’d be a bit of a red flag for an org to publicly broadcast the reason for firing (unless it was something that was already in the news, as in your example). It’s just not done, and it’d make me worry about the way the org/their HR team handles confidential stuff in general.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Just say that the person no longer works there as of DATE. Not that hard. We have monthly divisional meetings where we’re given the names of new hires, those who left (no reason given unless they retired), and transfers. Also which area they are leaving or joining as the case may be.

          On the other hand, my last organization only told you about higher ups leaving. Caused a lot of confusion when you had no org chart & were looking for a SME who was now gone.

          1. This Old House*

            Same here, at my current job. If someone is retiring, they will often send out a note, or we’ll get an email about a retirement party. But as recently as last week, I sent a calendar invite to a coworker and got a bounce back, guessed that they had been fired (it would not have been a surprise), waited a few days for some kind of notification given that I needed to work with them on a fairly regular basis, and finally asked my boss who checked with their boss and confirmed they no longer work here.

            I find this a very frustrating practice!

      3. MCMonkeyBean*

        At my company if an email went out with that little information everyone would definitely assume they were fired. Because when they aren’t fired there is usually a lot of flowery language about where they are going next and how much we’ll all miss them.

      4. WantonSeedStitch*

        Yeah, the one and only time someone in my office got fired, it was just an email from their boss saying, “As of today, Bleminda is no longer employed at Teapot University. If you need to discuss projects she was working on, please contact Wilhelmina, who has temporarily taken over responsibility for those projects until they can be permanently reassigned.”

      5. LW #3*

        This is more along the lines of what I would have expected! If the message had just been “Laverne’s last day was {x},” I think we would have all comfortably drawn our own conclusions and quickly moved on. Using an excuse that was so obviously not true is what made me feel weird about it. Better to provide no detail at all, I think!

        1. AD*

          If Laverne was a higher profile and award-winning employee though (from what it sounds like in your letter), the organization may have thought that that kind of abrupt announcement wouldn’t have worked, for whatever reason. That’s not to say the message they went with was the right one.

    4. onetimethishappened*

      Yeah I agree. Its also possible as OP speculated that Laverne had some personal stuff she was dealing with. Its not really appropriate to say “Laverne is suffering from XYZ illness and thus was let go” or “Laverne’s partner divorced her and left her with nothing and she is fighting a huge court battle everyday and can’t commit to work and her personal life at the same time”.

    5. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      I don’t get too upset about lying about things that people are not entitled to know in the first place. It’s no one’s business why she’s not working there any more. I don’t see the sense in lying about it but I also don’t see getting upset about it.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        In my experience, when management lies so pointlessly & obviously about something they don’t need to lie about, they are untrustworthy in other things, too.

    6. House On The Rock*

      I’m not seeing evidence that Laverne’s superiors were not managing her or holding her accountable. LW even says that at one point Laverne tried to rope them into improving her own performance. It’s entirely possible that the performance management process, especially for someone who was, in some ways, a very high performer, was intensive and drawn out. It’s also appropriate that the LW wasn’t privy to it.

      Are there people who manage poorly because they are conflict averse? Absolutely. But it’s also true that even when performance issues are managed correctly, it’s not at all obvious to others that it’s happening. And in many organizations it takes a long time to resolve, especially if there was something like a medical condition in the mix.

    7. Heffalump*

      Quite a few years ago I started a new job with the understanding that I’d have a 60-day salary review. When the time came, not everything was copacetic, and my manager said the owner (sole proprietor) didn’t want to give me a raise at that time.

      She went on to say that a few years earlier she had had to fire one of my predecessors. She was a new manager and not confident in the role, and she couldn’t bring herself to tell the guy the real reasons she was firing him, so she’d told him a bunch of lies. She felt bad about it and said she didn’t want to do the same thing to me.

      I successfully addressed the performance issues, was with the company for a couple more years, and did get raises.

    8. Joolsholland*

      I maybe wrong of course, but I was informed at one point that employers should not be stating whether another employee was fired, I don’t know if that’s a company policy, or if it’s a law in our state or something. At my organization it is widely known that if somebody is fired, we generally just hear “So-and-so is no longer with the company”. This is always heard as “so and so got fired”, as we often know when somebody is quitting, retiring, or there is a large layoff.

  2. Observer*

    #1 – Background check for your spouse

    If it’s your work that’s requiring this, then I think you can push back. It’s really not reasonable. But if it’s the liquor licensing authority, that’s going to be much harder to push back on. Not because it’s a reasonable requirement – it’s not. But because it’s not something your employer can get around directly.

    The only thing I could think of is to find out if doing something like using a caterer would avoid this problem.

    1. Fikly*

      Except that while it’s a liquor licensing authority requirement, almost certainly, it’s a one time work need for one person to do it, and because this person is married, their spouse is getting roped into it.

      This is a one time thing, very different than if you apply for a job that requires a security clearance, and you go into understanding that spouses (and more) will be background checked as a matter of course.

      There are alternate employees in the organization, as well as alternate ways, most likely, to get liquor at the event, such as the excellent suggestion of hiring a bartender/caterer.

      1. Atomic Tangerine*

        And even so – my spouse works for the US department of defense and during the hiring process they did indeed background check me but did not require my fingerprints(!) or for me to appear anywhere in person to complete tasks. Thus seems so over the top.

        1. CertifiedNotACrook*

          The US gov will sometimes require fingerprinting of spouses. It’s rare but it is a thing. They mostly care about financials and susceptibility to blackmail which don’t normally require it, but they’ll do it if they are unable to speak to enough people to establish your identity. The one person I knew who had to do this was a former foster kid and therefore didn’t have people to vouch for her identity throughout her childhood/young adulthood.

          1. Splendid Colors*

            Well, maybe they should do more vetting–look at that white supremacist kid in the National Guard who posted our Ukraine documents on Discord.

        2. Stitch*

          Same, I know I’ve been investigated for my spouse’s security clearance but I’ve never been fingerprinted for his job.

          To serve alcohol at a single event? This seems incredibly invasive.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Spouse and I are both Federal Employees (different agencies) and both are listed on each others disclosure forms and both have also been checked during hiring processes. It has never been as big a process as this liquor license application is laying out. Honestly it has never gone past: name (names if any changes), DOB, and SSN to make sure there weren’t any skeletons that could become liability concerns. We’ve never done interviews for spouse’s job.

        3. KatEnigma*

          My husband got his TS clearance, and they asked for my social, etc, but yeah, didn’t even interview me (considered a waste of time lol The US gov’t just assumes I’d lie to cover for him) let alone expect me to be fingerprinted.

          1. Angry socialist*

            I did get interviewed for my spouse’s Top Secret clearance, but I wasn’t fingerprinted.

            LW, DON’T sign anything! Don’t put your name on anything. Pretend you don’t have a spouse. Just a million times no.

        4. tamarack fireweed*

          Plus, working in a top secret clearance situation is a much weightier decision than working in a position that, once, would put you in a position to serve alcohol at an event.

    2. Wintermute*

      this is where I stand, it’s a common statutory requirement and if the law says it’s required– you aren’t going to talk your way around the law.

      That said oftentimes a spouse’s involvement is far less involved than the primary applicant, they just want to make sure you don’t have a record that would make having a stake in a bar a potential problem for the city (gang ties, history of alcohol-related offenses, etc). That doesn’t require the spouse to also be given the third degree.

      1. Stripes*

        It sounds like OP 1 is fully aware that the requirement can’t be dodged if they’re the applicant. The letter is about declining to be the applicant — so that someone else at the company applies for the license, or that (as Alison suggests) the company finds another solution altogether.

      2. Still*

        The LW can’t push back on the spouse requirement and still get the licence, but they can absolutely push on being the ones to get the licence for this event in the first place.

        1. Wintermute*

          that is a good point. It’s also confusing to me why they seem to be going through the requirements for opening a bar to serve liquor one time. Most jurisdictions I know of offer something like what’s commonly known as a “wedding license” (usually legally it’s called something like a limited, provisional, event, or restricted license) which allows you to serve alcohol at a closed event (as opposed to serving the general public).

          Maybe their jurisdiction doesn’t have any other options but it strikes me as unusual that to serve liquor one time at a closed event you need the same license as if you wanted to take up a career as a publican.

          1. Snow*

            Yep. In my state it’s a Special Event License. It costs $25 per day you intend to serve (up to 10 days before you need to start applying for long-term licenses), and you have to provide the name, birth date, and address of everyone who’s actually serving booze. The applicant also needs to provide a letter explaining any recent felony convictions or liquor law violations, if applicable. I’m not sure they do a proper background check on the applicant, certainly not on their spouse.

      3. JM60*

        The law might say that a person and their spouse need to sign and give fingerprints in order for the employer to serve alcohol at an event. They can talk their way around it, with alternatives for the employer being:

        – Forgo alcohol being served at the event.
        – Have someone else cater alcohol at the event.
        – Have some other employee opt-in to signing/fingerprinting for the organization, even though they aren’t really in a position that usually has authority.

        It’s not like the employer will suffer undue hardship if the OP’s husband doesn’t sign/fingerprint.

        1. Wintermute*

          That’s a good point, honestly I would be trying to get out of this for a number of reasons.

          As the licensee you’re legally responsible for everything that goes on, that’s the whole point of having a single legally designated permittee. If anyone gets overserved, if anyone underage gets in, if anyone drinks and then drives, you are the legally responsible party.

          In order for me to sign up for that I would need some damned strong assurances from my employer that they will have sufficient staff, including people watching the door, enough staff who have no other responsibility to ensure no one is trying to be sneaky (handing off drinks to someone who is overserved so they can keep drinking, etc) and people to back me up, as well as absolute assurances that I will face no career repercussions for exercising my legal duties, whatsoever even if I have to cut off a VIP or take the car keys of a key stakeholder.

          That’s why you use an exterior party, because if a caterer has to cut someone off they get any heat for it, if some mucky-muck is upset at that you can get a different caterer next year (they’d do the same of course) but they’re not going to hold it against an employee that they had to throw out their spouse or even call the cops.

          1. Artemesia*

            This. I’d wonder if I was not going to be the person sued when someone has a DUI wreck after the party or for any of the other disasters that can ensue that a caterer needs to be well insured for. I’d not want to be this fall guy for the organization to serve alcohol. — so ‘no’ — not just for the husband but for oneself becoming the licensed alcohol responsible person.

          2. Emily*

            This is a really good point. The legal liability seems like a bigger deal than the fingerprinting.

          3. Sharon*

            I agree! It sounds like you’d be applying for the liquor license PERSONALLY. Is it possible you’ve misunderstood and “Applicant” can just be the company name?

      4. AlsoADHD*

        I think the push back is in being responsible for the random liquor license thing at all, though not trying to fight the law.

    3. Roland*

      It’s required by law IF the job requires OP to do a specific work task – the thing OP would be pushing back on is being asked to take on the specific work task. Neither OP nor Alison are talking about breaking the law, just how to avoid being put in that situation in the first place.

    4. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      I thought it was reasonably clear that Alison was saying that the LW should push back to her employer, not to the licensing authority.

    5. Orange You Glad*

      I’ll admit I’m not familiar with liquor license laws but the way the letter was worded, it sounded like the LW was just asked to be responsible for the application. To me, that doesn’t mean she specifically needs to be the individual on the license. If the license is for the business then the business owner or general manager should be the individual on the license and take on all the liability of it.

      My position frequently has me researching and applying for licenses on behalf of my company. I might add my info as the contact person, but the company owners/management are listed as the ones responsible for the license.

    6. IDIC believer*

      As an employee, I would NEVER apply for “any” license in my name that is a company license. And have refused to do so. There are liabilities associated with “every” license (read fine print) that an employee shouldn’t assume.

      At work, I’ve completed paperwork for a variety of licenses (ex: Medicaid provider) but the license was my employer’s not mine. The identifying info was the employer’s (EIN not my SSN, employer address, etc). For some my signature & employee status was sufficient, other times the top execs’ signatures were required.

      LW please don’t proceed without knowing your liabilities if the license is issued – “unless” it is solely in your company’s name.

    7. Overit*

      I would refuse to be the license holder under those conditions because it is unreasonable for my employer to expect my spouse to jump through hoops.

    8. Sparkle Llama*

      On the head of the org having a conflict of interest- the city should be able to address that on their side with elected officials abstaining from votes or different staff signing off on things. I work in local government and we always find a way to deal with it.

  3. Bowserkitty*

    #4 – It’s been suggested to me before to interview with call centers if you want interview experience but don’t plan on taking the job. Not sure how well this works for practice but putting it out there.

    1. John Smith*

      My *personal* experience is that call centres will take on almost anyone and say almost anything to get people on board (how a call centre can say that no two days are the same is beyond me, but I digress). The problem I’ve *personally* experienced is that the bar is set quite low and the hiring process in a call centre is very much different to those of other working environments. I’d compare it to being asked to colour in a picture of a duck with these crayons v. being asked to submit a self portrait using oils on canvas. Or maybe I’m wrong and was just unlucky 7 times in a row.

  4. Observer*

    #2 – One way video “interview”.

    Don’t do it. You will lose good candidates.

    It’s also misleading to call this an “interview”. It’s not, because by definition interviews are interactive and two way. What it really is, is an audition. And done in a particularly bad and useless way. It takes practice to be able to record yourself responding well to written questions via webcam, and that assumes good equipment and the right environment. The equipment and environment issues come up with actual interviews as well, but at least the interactive nature can often help over-ride that. With an audition where someone is speaking to the ether? You won’t be selecting for any of the skills you probably need, unless the job is to be an “influencer”. Because that’s the only set of skills you will be selecting for.

    1. TinySoprano*

      Heck, a lot of opera programs use video auditions these days and I HATE IT. Big voices just don’t record that well and it’s so awkward performing for a camera, which is not even part of the job. It doesn’t even work well for auditions, so it certainly doesn’t belong in general hiring.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        At the risk of veering into Saturday territory–you’ve just confirmed for me that the French film Diva will forever be a period piece. Key plot points would not survive rampant video and social media.

        (Maybe there’s a light-hearted column idea in there for Alison— fiction/film that wouldn’t be easily moved in time because of business practices.)

      2. Warrior Princess Xena*

        I didn’t know this was a thing! Audio or video auditions would make more sense in theatre-related fields, but I’d have to agree about the challenge of recording. Even getting my little local choir to sound as well on recording as they do in person is a challenge. For a professional musician I’m guessing it would really require access to a professional recording studio, at which point it’s probably less expensive and annoying to fly people out to do live auditions.

        1. TinySoprano*

          I’ve been known to break microphones, so the local professional recording guy doesn’t want me back…

    2. allathian*

      Oh yeah. I hate appearing on video anyway, especially if I have to watch myself. I’m fine with video meetings, because I see my mirror image and I’m focused on other people, but I don’t even want to watch recordings of video meetings where I appear on someone else’s screen, so not mirrored.

      So yeah, I would nope out of one-way video “interviews” no matter how attractive the job seemed otherwise, unless it was literally a matter of getting a new job or becoming destitute.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        A friend recently told me it’s possible to hide the self view on Zoom and that doing so has been shown to reduce the stress and fatigue of video meetings. That’s now my standard setting. I turn it on once in the beginning to make sure the webcam isn’t just showing my forehead and then I turn it off. SO much better.

        1. JR*

          I read that it particularly reduces stress for women, which strongly motivated me to habitually hide the self-view. Otherwise, I find I spend half the meeting distracted by making sure my facial expressions look “right!”

      2. Armchair Analyst*

        yeah to me and the fact that the companies that use these are usually younger and led by younger people, the vibe i always get is that they are focusing on shallow appearances, no matter what that has to do with the job. good point here

        has anyone ever made it past a one-way interview?

        1. There You Are*

          I made it past a one-way interview for a 3-year rotating position (work a year in Accounting, a year in Finance, and a year in… Supply Chain? I think). They were hiring up to five people for their program, and brought a group of 20 of us all in for two days of interviews, dinner, and team-building “games”.

          I was able to get my makeup and camera lighting juuuuust right so that I didn’t look my age at the time (early 50’s) but it was clear that they program leaders were shocked — shocked! — when I, a middle-aged, overweight woman, turned up for Day One.

          I knew immediately that I’d never get the position but went through with the whole two-day thing anyway because I was just about to graduate and was on the tail end of 4.5 hard years of studying for a Bachelors and then a Master’s. Having someone buy me dinner and let me play games with other about-to-be-graduates was a nice break.

          And, sure enough, I got the call early the next morning while I was at my internship that they just didn’t think the program was right for me.

          But I have enough solid experience in my chosen career now that I’d pass on any job that required this. I have recruiters — internal and external — messaging me daily about roles that I’m qualified for so why would I even bother with a company that had such a silly hoop?

    3. Cat fan*

      It also introduces the possibility of bias before they even get to the interview stage. At least you can keep it sort of blind as you narrow down candidates before an interview, this just introduces more variables.

      1. scandi*

        There are even companies that provide this service and include AI analysis of the videos – also known as automated bias reinforcement. You can get a higher “score” on those interviews by, for instance having a bookshelf in the background. But they advertise them as “unbiased” because the video is not evaluated by a human (instead they’re evaluated on an algorithm trained to find patterns, aka biases, in human interview data and reinforce them).

        1. BethDH*

          Do you happen to have an article about this or name of one? I tried googling and got too much noise to find it.
          (I teach on things like computer “vision” and would love to include something that feels a lot closer to students’ lives than a lot of my other surveillance examples)

          1. scandi*

            I’ve seen a bit about HireVue and Interviewer AI. The bookshelf one resulted from an investigation by German journalists who examined a software called Retorio. They also found indications of a racial bias, and changed scores from factors such as wearing glasses. MIT Tech Review has also assessed one software called MyInterview, where the applicant who answered all the questions by reading a Wikipedia page on psychometrics in German received a score of 6/9 for her English capabilities. I’ll link the articles in the follow-up comment.

        2. Keele99*

          Yes! From what I’ve read, the ‘unbiased’ algorithmic screening just selects for confidence. Any of those inpersonal screening tools just leave a bad taste in my mouth. I interviewed at two companies last year – one made me do a psychometric screening ‘game’, a one way video interview, and a chatbot case study and the other just had two rounds of interviews with humans. Guess which offer I ended up taking?

        3. Sheesh!*

          So my choice to appear on camera with a blank pastel colored wall behind me (no views of my living space) will be held against me?

          I do wear glasses so that’s a good thing because “smart” people wear glasses, that’s what I’ve heard.

          1. DataSci*

            I do the “blur your background” thing, because my home office is tiny enough I don’t have a door, and it’s across the hall from my kid’s room, with his decorated door (or his messy room if the door is open!) If they’re going to judge me for where in the house I keep my bookshelves, their loss.

    4. Miette*

      OP #2 I cannot express how odious it is to endure one of these types of interviews from a candidate’s perspective without risking my comment being screened here. It is a major PITA and a timesuck with absolutely no return. As Alison says: RESIST

      1. rayray*

        I absolutely HAAAAATE one-way interviews so much. Any company that requests one, I assume their HR/recruitment team is lazy and cutting corners. I also think about how it may be done to discriminate against candidates based on appearance.

        Interviews should be two ways. I like the companies that send you a link to schedule a 15 minute time slot and then you speak to an actual human being.

    5. Totally Minnie*

      I hate Spark Hire so freaking much. They started using it at my old job during the pandemic, and I was applying for an internal promotion so I had to do it. Recording 60 second answers to 5 questions took me over an hour. When you’re on such a short time limit, you have to be incredibly streamlined in your answer, and sometimes even basic conversational fillers like an occasional um or pause would push me over the time limit and I’d have to re-record.

      Eventually, I started writing out answers to the questions and reading them off the computer screen into the camera, and at that point I wished I could have just emailed in my well considered responses. It was so stressful and I doubt it gave the interviewers any useful information about me as a candidate.

    6. NotAnotherManager!*

      I agree with this – an interview is where both the candidate and I can ask/answer questions. It’s a two-way street. I think the initial phone screen is a critical part of this because it’s a way to (quickly and with little investment on either side) see if it makes sense to move forward with someone’s candidacy and have a more fulsome interview. (In addition to the phone screen, which is typically 15-20 minutes, we do a max of two rounds of interviews and do not require in-person unless the candidate prefers it.)

      Even as a hiring manager, I would HATE one-way “interviewing”. I want to talk to someone, not watch their YouTube channel, and I love follow-up questions because even some really good candidates don’t nail the answer on the first try (sometimes because of the way the question is asked or just because they’re nervous). I want to be able to clarify what I’m looking for and get more detail as needed.

    7. EngineeringFun*

      We use if for coop hires or interns. They don’t mind it as much and as a manager it cuts down on the time I spend interviewing people who are only temporary. More infuriating is the hiring freeze at our company. “Sure you’re an amazing intern but we can’t hire you. Full stop.”

      1. Jezebella*

        Are you SURE they don’t mind it? Would they tell you if they did? I kind of doubt it.

        You are probably losing good candidates because you require this annoying time-suck of a process. I wouldn’t do this for a permanent job, much less a temporary job. SO not worth the time and effort.

        Strongly recommend you reconsider this policy.

      2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        …but how do you know you’re not screening out people who you would want in your candidate pool? And seconding Jezebella’s point that it’s highly unlikely candidates would tell you the loathed it, since it sounds like you’re hiring a lot of people new to the workforce who don’t know how to push back in a work setting (and who have zero standing to do so).

        And please also consider the comments above about ableism upthread.

      3. Qwerty*

        They do mind, but don’t have the power to push back. Or they are so new to the interview world that they are willing to accept that is just the way things are done.

        1. rayray*

          Exactly, they’re probably too inexperienced to realize how crappy these interviews are, or they’re so desperate for a job, they put on the happy face and just do it.

      4. EPLawyer*

        Interns are not going to tell you that it sucks. They don’t have as many options, are new to the work force and don’t know they can tell you it sucks, and they want the job for a recommendation in the future.

        Basically, what you are saying is In this incredibly unbalanced power situation, it works for us so we are going to keep doing it.

    8. Momma Bear*

      Exactly. The company doesn’t want to be interviewed about the job, their management, their office norms….they give the applicant nothing that you would find useful in an interview. This is a HS video project.

    9. Blackbeard*

      CERN, too, started to do these dreaded one-way video interviews a few years ago. (I don’t know if they still do. Probably yes.) Awful.

  5. PhoneZone*

    #2 – re: one-way video screenings

    I’m not surprised that one-way video ‘interviews’ are generally unpopular with candidates – they … suck! – but I wanted to add in here that they are also kind of ableist. My spouse is on the spectrum and had one of these recently; they literally just froze in front of the camera, getting increasingly uncomfortable as the TIMER TICKED DOWN. Eventually they just closed their laptop and that was the end of that. (This hiring process had also provided no way to ask questions of an actual human via email or otherwise, so we hope they enjoyed their silent video of Spouse staring like a deer-in-the-headlights into the camera for several minutes before going dark.) Phone screenings, folks!!!!!

    1. Night Lark*

      Fellow autistic here. I have so much compassion for your souse here. I’ve had experiences like this and just can’t even. It’s brutal. I’m sorry they dealt with that.

      1. PhoneZone*

        Spot on, I felt so awful for them. It was incredibly demoralising, not to mention pointless. <3

    2. Fikly*

      Ableist and a fantastic way to introduce all kinds of bias as people take one look at a person’s appearance and physical characteristics and judge before a word comes out of their mouths.

      Not for nothing do a lot of people make it past phone interviews who don’t make it past first interviews, when first interviews are used for the same type of screening that phone interviews are used for today. Those people are minorities and people with disabilities that can’t hide them.

      1. PhoneZone*

        100%. Gives the hirer an opportunity to judge the ‘interviewee’ without ever even having to directly interact with them.

        1. Tau*

          The interaction part is a big deal. I have an overt disability (stutter) but I’m generally pretty personable and interview well. In a conversation, I can sort of lean into the flow of the conversation more and bounce off the interviewer and work to reduce the initial WTF impression. Especially because the stutter typically lessens in severity as we get to talking. In the stilted situation of me answering preset questions, there is nothing to mitigate that WTF, the stutter will likely be worse, and I’m afraid I’d never make it out of this screening stage.

    3. quicksilver*

      Also autistic, and I went through a screening like this a few months ago and had a very similar experience to your spouse. For each question I got 3 minutes of prep time followed by a 1 minute single-take recording, and for most of them I was able to quickly come up with a natural-sounding script to follow (I’ve had to give a lot of timed presentations in my career so far, so I’ve developed this particular skill in spite of the persistent accompanying anxiety), but the final question was on a topic I wasn’t expecting at all — basically a hard pivot into specific industry issues when all the other questions had been very basic behavioural stuff. So after waffling for about 30 seconds, I panicked about how ridiculous I was sounding and just like you described…I froze. Stopped speaking mid-sentence, ending with an “um.” And sat in horrified silence as the rest of the time ticked down.

      I was SHOCKED when I got a call back for the second round of (actual) interviews.

      All that said, I would actually always prefer to have the option of video over phone because I find audio-only communication to be pretty disorienting, and any of the bias I’m likely to experience will already be triggered by an interviewer hearing my voice and seeing my documented gender/name. But yeah, one-way screening is terrible! I put up with it because I was desperate and had limited options, which kind of made it feel even more dehumanising.

      1. Master Procrastinator*

        Solidarity with fellow neurodivergent folks who have encountered this method of hiring! I’ve come across it twice and hated it. The first time, I was at least given the option of submitting written answers, but I sensed that they’d prefer videos so I gave it a go. It took me forever to write scripts and get to edits I was happy with (and it took even longer to prep the unpaid task they set for the next interview stage). I was shocked when I got the job, but I quit during the induction period. Hiring process should have been an amber flag.
        Second experience was worse – 3 minutes to prepare each answer and maximum 2 attempts at recording a 1 minute answer. I normally interview well, but this was a mess because I was so focused on the timer and fitting a complex answer into 60 seconds. Never again!

    4. Cyborg Llama Horde*

      I used to work for a company that did these, and they were all awful — so awful that we often didn’t even watch them, it just felt so horribly invasive. But I do remember one, from a candidate we did end up hiring. Due to other, later circumstances, I strongly suspect he had anxiety. The “interview” consisted of four one-minute windows in which to answer, with a one-minute prep time before, so you got the question, had a minute to prep, then a minute to answer. This poor guy somehow clicked through his first prep time and prepped in the first one-minute answer, which meant he was trying to answer question #1 and #2 in the second slot, and of course he didn’t have time, so then that overflowed into question #3, with him getting more and more visibly nervous and freaked-out the entire time. I felt so badly for him.

    5. MCMonkeyBean*

      There’s a timer!!? I was sitting here thinking at least maybe the one benefit of a one-way video interview is that you could take your time putting together answers and maybe even rerecord if you flubbed something, and that while I would personally hate it I could imagine some people maybe preferring that. But with your added info this definitely sounds like it belongs with open office floorplans–someone in upper management who will never have to do it thinks it’s a great idea but otherwise literally no one wants is.

      1. scandi*

        Different software do it differently. There are versions with unlimited retakes, where you can re-record the answer until you’re happy with it (candidate spends 3 hours of their own time recording 10 minutes of responses), ones with a set preparation time (e.g. you see the question, and have two minutes to prep an answer and one try to record it before moving on), and ones where you have no thinking time or retakes, just talk. They are all awful in their own special way.

    6. Butterfly Counter*

      Honestly, this format reminds me of those old businesses that helped people date by recording men (or women?) talking about themselves on VHS, then their potential partners watched the tapes and let someone know who they wanted to go out with.

      “Hi, my name is Keith and as you can already see, I’m a snappy dresser. I’m looking for a woman with my same sense of style…”

      1. There You Are*

        I joined one of those places in the early 1990’s. Never got past the first date with any of the guys I picked (or who picked me), but I made some incredible friendships with other women!

        One day, four of us were all at our own tables, flipping through the books with pics and bios (to see which video we wanted to watch) and one of the bios made me snort-laugh. A woman at another table looked up and said, “Thank god. I’ve had that reaction to so many of these but was afraid to say anything out loud.” Which got the other two women in the place laughing, too, and then we all sat together.

        We made plans to show up the next week at the same time. Then the next week. Then it was lunch during the workday. Then happy hour. Then dinners out. Then clubbing. Then a road trip. We all hung out together for 3-4 years before life pulled us our separate directions.

        1. flchen1*

          Just to say, I love that you all bonded and formed a friendship over this, There You Are! I’m curious whether you’re still in touch at all. And also, did any of you find dating success that way? (You mentioned it was a bust for you.)

          1. There You Are*

            No one found any dating success through the service, though we all did just fine on our own.

            Sadly, we fell out of touch before the advent of ubiquitous social media and saving contact info in the cloud.

            1. flchen1*

              Bummers about losing touch, but yay for your successes otherwise! Thanks for taking the time to humor me!

    7. DJ Abbott*

      When I was job hunting, I encountered a couple of companies that had no way to reach a human. I spent about an hour on one of those trying to find a way to contact a human to get my résumé past the automatic screening, before I realized it wasn’t worth my time. They even had a chat bot that appeared to be human at first, until the third of fourth question where it completely missed the meaning.
      What does this say about how they would treat people who are hired? Your spouse and I are both better off not working for such companies.

    8. Bricking It*

      I was subjected to one of these video interviews when applying to work for a well known toy company that make popular, plastic, interlocking products that hurt like hell if you ever step on them barefoot. It was awful. It included a quick intro video giving tips on how to perform. “Make eye contact” they said. Great with who? There was no other person to make eye contact with.

      The questions themselves were beyond inane – why do you want this job, describe your previous experience – all of which was on my resume and cover letter.

      And did I mention the giant red timer counting down the seconds. Should you try and take up the whole time, keep it short? The lady in the intro video was of no help.

      Then when I didn’t get the job – which HR were gracious enough to tell me personally over the phone – I gave them feedback on the process and highlighted how it would potentially discriminate against neurodiverse folks and was told “well it works for us, all of the people we hire are great”. I’m sure they are but what about the people you don’t hire? I was also told they need the video screening system because there’s a lot of video collaboration with their Danish HQ. But it’s not the same thing, is it?!

      Sorry for the rant. Had to get it out of my system.

      1. Momma Bear*

        Nice screen name there.

        I’m glad you gave them feedback even if they didn’t take it. I agree it’s ablest.

      2. Becca*

        “‘Make eye contact’ they said. Great with who? There was no other person to make eye contact with.”

        This reminds me of an acting class I took over Zoom where I got feedback that I was looking down too much and needed to look at the other people in the scene. I was looking at them. The problem is the screen is below the camera so it didn’t *look* like I was looking at them.

      3. Gumby*

        I would be so, *so* tempted to answer with something like:

        “At first I thought using this type of interview process treated candidates with a disturbing lack of respect and was implemented in order to more easily and more efficiently eliminate candidates based on protected classes like race or gender or possibly just to allow biases based on attractiveness free reign without the annoying requirement to have an actual two-way conversation. However, it’s never good practice to assume the worst of others and now that I see that the questions are ones that have already been answered by the written application materials, I realize that you are just supporting someone on the hiring team who is unable to read English – kudos for being inclusive! So let me read my cover letter…”

        Obviously only if I really 100% didn’t care about getting the job. But I honestly see the video interviews, especially when they are generic questions, as being demeaning. They say “perform for me on camera before I will put in the minimal effort of talking to you, even in a 10 minute phone call. I the great an powerful Employer and you must perform for me. Perform!”

        In person you can get away with “tell me about your experience” because I can watch your expressions and tailor my answer to what you seem to be looking for. Or I can give you a really short answer that leaves room for you to follow up on what seems most relevant. On video? It’s very unlikely to give you information that is relevant (i.e. not based on my appearance) that isn’t in the resume. Nothing can be tailored to the situation; there is no follow up.

  6. Night Lark*

    #2 – what exactly would a one way interview accomplish? Is this the same as what I’ve heard of a few times where you prerecord questions? Either way it sounds genuinely awful for everyone. I get the sense that this is supposed to save time… some how? But I don’t see how reviewing one sided interviews is better than doing a bunch of phone calls? It sounds time communing for both parties regardless but the one sided interview is REALLY time consuming for the applicant while it seems like the effort stays the same on the hiring end. Maybe I just don’t “get it”; I’ve never hired but that’s why I am asking if it is as inefficient as it sounds despite the perception of it being time saving???

    1. Becca*

      Maybe the awfulness for candidates is part of the point? Like enough candidates would nope out that it would end up saving enough time for the company to be worth it vs phone screenings?

      But yeah don’t do it. The ones that won’t bother will be the better candidates, and just generally it’s a terrible and awkward process.

      1. Flipperty*

        Yeah, I tried to apply for a full-time salaried artist position recently (which as you can imagine are like gold dust) and they’d added so many extra hoops to apply – like you had to attend an in-person information session in order to receive the link to the online application form. The manager admitted it was to reduce the number of applications from undesirable candidates. The arts world in my country is extremely dominated by upper class people so there’s often a subtle “weeding out working class or minority applicants” thing going on.

      2. Night Lark*

        If I was a hiring manager, I’d be worried I’d lose the best candidates if that’s the point. I think it’s an ok point… but not if the hope it’s to cull out only the bottom of the pile

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        “We need to get rid of everyone who feels they have other options for work” is a valid screening tool, but not for a job anyone would want.

        Like the theory about deliberately putting spelling errors into your spam, because the people who miss those are also less likely to notice any other scam elements.

        (Someone upthread mentioned influencers, and yeah, that’s the one job where it makes sense to ask for a one-way video answering questions as demonstrating an actual job skill.)

      4. Ally McBeal*

        I had to do a one-way video interview for my current job – it was Stage 2, after the initial recruiter phone screen and before the writing test & live interviews. I’m in a field with notoriously demanding clients, so whenever I think of how annoying the video “interview” was, I like to think that they were testing me to see if I was willing to jump through irritating hoops for no reason – as a matter of making sure I’d be willing to do that for my clients. I’m positive that wasn’t the real reason but it helps a bit.

      5. TurnedMeIntoANewt*

        Totally possible. I was talking to someone once and they mentioned using an awful hiring process. When I mentioned that certain elements would be driving off good candidates, they went on about these are the rule and we only want people who can follow the rules. This was a non-profit with a very, very long list of open positions. You’re already offering a pittance while requiring a high level of training and certification. Something’s gotta give.

    2. Aqua Sumire*

      My organization uses Spark Hire. It’s convenient in a couple of ways. You’re right that a number of candidates will opt out of interviewing. This is helpful if the application pool is large. It’s convenient for managers, especially if it is a job they hire for repeatedly, because they can save the job and question set and send out mass batches to candidates over and over. It takes only a few minutes to send out a batch. I’ve seen them sent to 50+ candidates at a time. It’s convenient because they can review the responses on their own time. Got 12 mins until your next meeting? Can review one or two interviews. Want to watch them at midnight uninterrupted? Also an option. These responses can also be sent to the whole interview panel so everyone gets to see responses as opposed to one person getting the phone call. I work in HR so I have seen my fair share of these interviews come through. It’s true it can unfairly assess someone’s soft skills. I have had people I personally know apply, and they recorded just terribly. But also it has really given us a peek at people before we bring them in. I have seen so many people record in inappropriate places and wearing inappropriate things. It’s gives you a sense of the person as a whole. I definitely understand why candidates hate them though.

      1. Wendy Darling*

        The problem is that the people who opt out are all the people with other options. These kinds of interviews are increasingly common in some parts of my field and everyone I know who’s remotely a strong candidate just… won’t do them. The only people willing to participate are the people who are getting at least a little desperate. So as long as you don’t mind that you’re largely filtering out the most skilled people, I guess it makes sense.

        1. PhoneZone*

          Filtering out the skilled candidates with other options, yep – and also the camera-shy-but-otherwise-personable candidates, the autistic candidates, candidates who know they’re more likely to be discriminated against for they way they look, and so on…

          I’m not in a position anymore where I hire, but I have been in previous careers; I also personally would’ve *not* found it time-saving to slog through awkward videos of nervous candidates talking to no one.

          Aqua Sumire, if there are batches of questions to be answered for a role, why not ask candidates to answer them briefly in a cover letter?

          1. Jezebella*

            Right? I can read a bunch of answers FAR more quickly than sitting through a bunch of video. If you want to ask questions, do an email questionnaire. I would DIE if I had to watch a bunch of awkward videos for every single applicant.

            1. Elitist Semicolon*

              THIS. I can spend my 12 minutes between meetings watching one or two awkward videos and feeling uncomfortable on the applicants’ behalf, or I can read four cover letters/questionnaires and come away with a sense of whom I might like to interview.

            2. elle *sparkle emoji**

              Even if watching the videos are shorter than reading for some reason, watching an awkward one would feel 10 times longer than the actual run time.

        2. ClaireW*

          Yeah exactly, I’m not saying I’m some all-star candidate but there are more open roles in my city than there are people who do what I do who can fill them, and if I applied for somewhere and they asked for one of these I’d honestly just turn them down and bow out. It’s of no benefit to me to do it, because I don’t even get to ask any questions of anyone, so if feels like an insulting waste of my time. And that’s not to mention all the extra bias, especially as a woman in a heavily male dominated field.

          1. AngryOctopus*

            All of this. If I can’t have a conversation with you, and you just want me to record myself answering questions, I have other options so I’m going to nope out of that faster than the Roadrunner. It’s total BS. It’s also telling me that you don’t care about what the job can do for me or my career, because you don’t want me asking anyone any questions about it before I make a significant time investment into you. Nope, not gonna happen.

          2. Momma Bear*

            Agreed. People with options won’t play this game.

            I’d rather filter the resume and do a regular interview. I have done video interviews (both as a candidate and as a hiring manager) and that was OK. However, this one way video wouldn’t show me how the person interacts with my team. One of the things we do here is bring in 2-3 people who might actually work with this person to see how they interact. We had one guy who kept deferring to the men in the room and it was clear he wouldn’t take direction/input from a woman. I can’t tell that from a one-way video.

        3. Artemesia*

          It is like the big company I knew that directed software development applicants to their ‘job fair’ — yeah all the good ones noped right out of that and I knew at least one whom they pursued and begged to come interview — but that initial nonsense turned them off.

        4. Night Lark*

          Honestly even as someone who’s fairly desperate for a job right now, I’m autistic and this kind of interview process would ruin me (not speaking for all autistic people – just that speaking to no one would be too much)

          1. Wendy Darling*

            I’m not autistic, just shy and self-conscious, and I would epic fail at it. I’m very camera-shy and don’t do well speaking without listener feedback.

            That’s assuming I’d even deign to try to do it — I’m no longer entry-level and in my field anyone with any seniority just won’t play ball with this kind of interview process. There’s a lot of general resentment about how much effort companies expect applicants to expend on their behalf without the company even bothering to have a human get on the phone with them for 10 minutes.

        5. Robin*

          I really just don’t buy that all the high quality candidates will opt out. Some candidates will find it more convenient because they can record it on their own schedule without missing work. Some candidates have adaptability and polish as strong suits and just won’t be much flustered by this. I don’t like one-way interviews for some of the other reasons listed, but when I’ve been forced to use them by corporate recruiting, I have ended up making a couple exceptionally strong hires. I have seen many very strong candidates.

          1. AngryOctopus*

            But the point is that most strong candidates will say “huh, a time consuming “interview” process where I don’t even get to ask questions about the job, or speak to anyone I would be working with? Not going to happen”.
            Many of us here would not be flustered by being asked to do this, and would be able to complete it successfully. But the point is, many of us would not WANT to do such a thing, because we find it useless and annoying, among many other reasons. So that does indeed screen out a high proportion of very qualified candidates. Ones you would not lose by offering a phone screen.

          2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

            We aren’t saying all of the good candiates drop out, but that you’re filtering them out, meaning a higher ratio of okay-to-good candidates.

            Say the candidate pool is 100 applicants. The commentariat are saying most of those highly qualified will drop out (say 15). That means the pool is now 5 highly qualified to 80 okay candidates. So, how much time is being saved, since hiring teams still have to weed through more okay candidates to find a smaller number of the highest qualified candidates?

            My conclusion is none, because the filtering is biased against the best candidates.

          3. Wendy Darling*

            I’m not saying that all of them will opt out, but I am saying that it biases your applicant pool strongly toward people who don’t feel they have other options. The people most likely to opt out are the ones who feel like they have good prospects elsewhere, and that’s mostly going to be the stronger candidates.

            I can say in my field specifically that I’m involved in a lot of job search mentorship stuff and 100% of the mentors I know in those communities actively discourage people from participating in one-way interviews.

            I am also in a technical field, and to be honest, “polish” is not a high value skill in the work I do. You need to be collaborative and have tact, and a type of adaptability, but one-way interviews evaluate for none of those skills, and most of the really excellent engineers I know would do horribly. Of course #notallengineers but we definitely bias away from “does great on impromptu videos”.

      2. PhoneZone*

        Surely your company is, as Wendy Darling says, losing the wrong candidates from their large pools? Not just all the people with other options, but the people who are camera-shy-but-personable, who are autistic or have ADHD, who know they’re more likely to be discriminated against for how they look, and so on?

        If there are batches of questions to be answered, why not have candidates answer those in brief in their cover letters?

      3. Lirael*

        ok, but what about the fact that you’re enabling implicit bias and ableism into your process at a *really* early stage?

        1. Artemesia*

          This. Someone who has impressed in a phone screen is less likely to be screened out in the interview for their race or disability.

        2. Night Lark*

          Hi. It’s me. I get that it’s supposed to weed out people but it’s clearly not working as intended since I’ve read it’s most likely to weed out too candidates and less likely to weed out the desperate. I am the desperate. But one of the reasons I’m desperate is because I’m autistic (google the rates of under or unemployment in autistic people) and it’s not because I am a low quality / unqualified person and this kind of hiring process is 100% part of my problem

      4. Art*

        “But also it has really given us a peek at people before we bring them in”

        Have fun setting yourself up for lawsuits, I guess?

      5. ecnaseener*

        Recording in inappropriate places (read: not having a home office) gives you a sense of the person as a whole? Come now.

        1. The Person from the Resume*

          I was picturing a bathroom as an inappropriate place to conduct an “interview”.

        2. Totally Minnie*

          Yeah, I have to wonder what qualifies as an “inappropriate” place. I highly doubt they were getting people recording their videos in a strip club or a public bathroom or something like that. So if the “inappropriate” places were things like a car, a closet, or a park bench/back patio, they’re screening out a lot of people with shared living spaces who don’t have a lot of privacy options for no other reason than that.

          1. elle *sparkle emoji**

            And if someone actually had poor enough judgment to film in a strip club or public bathroom, I’d guess they probably demonstrated that poor judgment in other ways that could have been seen without the video interview.

          2. Wendy Darling*

            I assume there’s always That One Guy who would just totally do an interview someplace wild because he does not understand work norms, but there’s always ONE. Most people are just trying to do things in good faith. I have absolutely taken phone interviews from the floor of a walk-in closet because someone was jackhammering outside my beautiful many-windowed apartment. I once rearranged my parents’ entire guest room so I could do a video interview with a wall in the background instead of a guest bed and a cat tree.

            Unless there is actually someone taking their clothes off in the background or the person is on the toilet with their pants down I feel like we’re past judging anyone’s location, this long after the pandemic started.

            1. Sorrischian*

              I once had to take a video interview in our storm cellar when I was living with my parents just out of college – my bedroom just looked too ‘kids bedroom’ for me to want it visible on video and the guest bedroom was right next to where my dad was mowing the lawn (in retrospect, he would have been willing to pause his yardwork but I was 19 and panicked). I did bring in a couple of extra lamps and hang up a curtain behind me so it hopefully didn’t look quite so much like I was living in some doomsday bunker, but if they were judging on location … yikes.

              1. Sorrischian*

                (Not that it matters, but bad wording there – I was applying for a fellowship between junior and senior year. I was a little young going to college but not THAT young)

        3. Cyndi*

          And why should the company “get a peek” at people before interviewees get a peek at the company? Why is their personal environment a factor in hiring at all?

      6. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Two of the benefits you listed can be replaced by recording the phone call:
        “May we record this call and share it with other hiring managers, for this & possible future openings?”

        The issue of the applicant getting no chance to ask questions is too huge for me. Let them self-select out because of your answer to a question they asked, instead of losing people to the process who never otherwise need to be on a camera beyond videoconferencing.

      7. Sarah*

        I would never work for an organization that disrespected my time by using a one-way video interview. An interview is a two-way process. You’re getting the candidates who have no other options and/or are desperate enough to jump through ridiculous hoops.

        If you’re filling for low-skilled roles and just need a warm body, I suppose that’s fine. However, if you need quality candidates, you’re almost certainly missing out on the best applicants.

      8. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

        You know that expression champagne tastes on a beer budget? That’s what this reminds me of. The company wants standout candidates while treating the applicants like a herd. There’s a just a “dance for me” vibe to the whole thing. Either this is a position that requires a particular skill set and high qualifications, in which case 50 screening videos makes no sense, or it’s a position that is accessible to people with less education or experience, in which case assessing them so carefully is OTT.

      9. Darsynia*

        With respect, this feels like the things you tell yourself to feel better about something.

        The whole ‘peek at people first’ really stands out. Really REALLY think long and hard about what you’re really weeding out, because the kind of people who ‘record in inappropriate places’ sounds like code for ‘poor people without other options.’

      10. Observer*

        Your perfectly encapsulates many of the things that are wrong with the process – and the HR departments that use it.

        Some highlights:
        You’re right that a number of candidates will opt out of interviewing. This is helpful if the application pool is large.

        You mean that you value convenience over getting the best candidate pool? Or that being desperate and / or not having options is something you want to screen for?

        These responses can also be sent to the whole interview panel so everyone gets to see responses as opposed to one person getting the phone call.

        You don’t know how to record calls? If this is really an issue it’s perfectly simple to let people know you’re recording the call, and send that on. Which makes this sound like an excuse not an actual reason.

        It’s true it can unfairly assess someone’s soft skills. I have had people I personally know apply, and they recorded just terribly. But also it has really given us a peek at people before we bring them in

        You don’t see that these two things are mutually exclusive?

        I have seen so many people record in inappropriate places and wearing inappropriate things. It’s gives you a sense of the person as a whole.

        Actually, no it doesn’t. And to the limited extent that it does tell you anything, most of the time it’s stuff that is simply not relevant. This reminds me of the letter where the LW was dinging an applicant for taking a call from his “inappropriate” dorm room with its “chaotic” background – including such horrors are team pennants on the walls. That guy got dinged for a lot of good reasons, but at least he had the sense to take it with good grace and re-think his stance.

        1. LB33*

          I agree that there are downsides with this format, but plenty of good candidates will still go ahead with it if the company, role, etc seems ok otherwise. For many it’s really not that huge of an issue.

          It’s not accurate or fair to say that anyone choosing to go ahead with this kind of interview is either desperate or out of options.

          1. I have RBF*

            It’s not accurate or fair to say that anyone choosing to go ahead with this kind of interview is either desperate or out of options.

            As an older, enby, ADHD, disabled person in tech, I often would end up on the “desperate” end of things when I’m unemployed. But quite frankly, I wouldn’t do a one way interview unless I was about to be homeless.

            I have over 25 years of experience, but I’m not “pretty”, “thin” or otherwise conventionally attractive. It would be a real stretch for me to think that such an interview format would be to my benefit. Most likely it would just be another way to get screened out.

            Yeah, I’m pretty good speaking off the cuff, but only if I have enough warning of the subject that my memory is queued up. I don’t think that format benefits me at all, and is just a time saving thing for the employer.

            So yeah, at 25 years of experience I think that there are more downsides to this format than upsides. I’d have to be desperate or really entranced by the company to do one of these. Not likely, IMO.

            1. Lavender Provence*

              One way interviews would benefit you bc you get to choose the camera angle and lighting, and you get to rehearse your answers. You have the ability to present better than you might in person.

              1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

                All of that can happen with a real interview, where the questions are sent beforehand.

                And Alison had highlighted sending questions beforehand as a smart practice for hiring, for the scenario where not everyone does well at speaking off the cuff, but where speaking off the cuff is not a skill actually needed (i.e., many jobs).

          2. Observer*

            It’s not accurate or fair to say that anyone choosing to go ahead with this kind of interview is either desperate or out of options.

            True. Which is why it’s a good thing that no one said that.

            What is also true is that the people who are best qualified and who have the most options are FAR more likely to nope out that people who have fewer options. So to a very real extent you are filtering for low option — desperate people. Sure, it’s not a completely effective filter, but a healthy workplace should be trying to avoid that filter altogether.

      11. Jezebella*

        Gosh, yes, seeing what a person looks like is SO essential to the hiring process! Do you even hear yourself?

        Wanting “a peek at people” is WAY more inappropriate than a candidate filming in their car because they don’t have a camera-friendly home office or a even a quiet, private space at home.

      12. NotAnotherManager!*

        I am a hiring manager for positions that get a large number of applicants (entry-level, good starting pay, lots of training provided). I do not want to watch a bunch of videos of candidates answering questions, ever. It takes me far less time to scan resumes and cover letters (writing/proofreading is a required skill for my positions, so these are helpful documents) than to watch videos. There is no reciprocity and no feedback mechanism in watching the candidate channel of videos. Hard pass.

        I also think that this method of “interviewing” exacerbates bias (both conscious and unconscious). Folks have already mentioned the bias against the neurodiverse, but they’re certainly not the only group. Even smaller things like what do you consider an “inappropriate” place to record? I have interviewed excellent candidates for BigLaw support positions, and some of them appear from dorm rooms, libraries, and even their cars because that was most convenient or had the best quality connection.

      13. Zephy*

        “I’ve seen people that I know use this tool and they came across horribly, but it’s definitely giving us an accurate view of unknown candidates, yup, for sure.” Do you hear yourself?

      14. TurnedMeIntoANewt*

        This sounds like a terrible use of everyone’s time. Just because you CAN send out a link to 50+ people doesn’t mean that you should, especially if there’s only one opening. What a waste of many people’s time. What you’re describing could come to 9 hours of watching these interviews. Even more if you want multiple people to each review all of the applicants. Even if it is in tiny chunks here and there. This sounds like a really inefficient hiring system that is ripe for discrimination. I would probably do well on one of these because a previous career built the “speak on the fly” skills that have absolutely ZERO to do with my ability to do my current job.

        Pick a top 10 and do a 10 minute phone screen before setting up a real interview.

    3. Other Alice*

      If you simply want to reduce the number of applications and time spent reading them, just pick some at random and interview those. Same outcome and you’ll have less of a chance of reducing the pool to the people who are desperate and lack other options. Because I can guarantee, people who have options will not go through that nonsense.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        This! If you have 100 applicants and you want to get that down to 10, pick the top ten. Or pick a random ten. Asking all 100 to do something that the best candidates will nope out of is a really weird tactic, unless “desperate, will put up with anything” is an important criterion you didn’t want to come right out and put in the ad.

    4. Retired Merchandiser*

      I did one of these for my last merchandising job. I only agreed because I knew it was a formality; I’d already been hired, this was more of a “check the box” sort of thing. It felt strange talking to a picture on a screen.
      But if I ever go back to work, I won’t do it again.

  7. June Bee*

    LW1- if you haven’t already, you could try contacting the permitting authority and explain that this request is for your employer. If your husband has no affiliation and won’t be involved with the licensed activity, there may be a way to note that on the form so it’s not an issue. It can’t hurt to ask!

    1. Wintermute*

      It’s possible, it certainly won’t hurt you (some bureaucrat won’t care or even remember you) but I wouldn’t put a lot of faith in being able to talk sense into the government, they’re practically immune– not to mention statutory requirements are set in rock-hard stone, as in “if you don’t do it people are going to jail” stone, so they’re just not bendable.

      I am curious though as to the logic behind this one, are they applying for a permit to act as a bartender, or somehow does their work have them filling out the forms to own a liquor-serving establishment? That’s the only way I can see this makes a lick of sense (since many states have requirements when you apply for business permits because having a one spouse get a license on behalf of a prohibited person is/was a fairly common dodge)

      1. Artemesia*

        And if it is the latter– how much liability is the person then taking on for the organization. NOPE.

      2. doreen*

        I’m wondering what kind of event this is – I looked at permits in my state and they all involve either the sale of alcohol or serving alcohol to the public. There doesn’t appear to be any requirement for a permit to provide beer at a company picnic that is not open to the public unless the picnic is catered and the caterer will be serving the food and drinks , not just dropping food off. It seems odd for a company to bother getting a permit for a one-time event rather than using a caterer – may be they are planning to have a number of these events?

      3. Orange You Glad*

        Yea, I pointed out in an above comment thread that generally when applying for licensing on behalf of a business, the person accepting the liability of the license is the business owner or an appointed manager. If LW is that person then they likely can appoint another appropriate employee. If they aren’t, then they need to go to their management and confirm who that person should be. LW said they were tasked with securing a permit, not that they personally have to be permitted.

      4. June Bee*

        I’m currently a regulator and have spent much of my career being regulated. My experience differs from yours. Regulations are often open for interpretation. Regulators, especially at the municipal level, are often more than happy to help their customers navigate the best way to achieve their objectives. We don’t know the LW’s circumstances, so their best bet is to go right to the source for assistance.

  8. nnn*

    #2: I had to google “one-way video interview”, and based on the first couple of results it seems like it means the employer sends the candidate written questions and then the candidate records video of themselves answering the questions.

    The first thing that strikes me about this is how inefficient it is from the employer’s perspective – talking is way slower than reading, so you have to put all this time into watching videos of people talking.

    Second, it doesn’t give you a sense of candidates’ personalities or how they interact with people, it gives you a sense of candidates’ ability to fake the desired personality for the camera. Unless you’re hiring, like, newscasters, that isn’t terribly relevant to what they’ll actually be like on the job.

    It seems like it would be no less efficient and more informative to actually interview the candidates (by any medium). You’re still listening to them talking at the speed of talking, but you also get to see how they actually interact with human beings.

    1. SB*

      There are companies who will facilitate these for you. You send them the questions & the email addresses of the candidates & they send a link. The candidate opens the link & a question is either on the screen or spoken to them by an AI generated voice & they answer. Once they have answered they hit the next button for the next question. It’s very weird.

    2. coffee*

      Yes, I don’t know why you wouldn’t either ask for a written response or do a phone interview instead of this weird middle ground that’s basically the worst of both worlds.

      1. KateM*

        Well, seems they already asked for written responses – they can’t do that for two rounds.

        1. ecnaseener*

          Sure they can! Still way too much to ask of candidates before giving them any chance to ask questions of their own, but if they *must* have another round of asynchronous screening there’s no reason it has to be in a new format.

    3. Timothy (TRiG)*

      It’s something I’d be reasonably comfortable with. I’m in Toastmasters, including online meetings, and have a reasonably good home office setup (with, yes, a bookcase behind me). I also studied Deaf Studies, and much of my homework was videos (though not of my voice).

      So I’m probably better positioned than most people to do well on such a thing. I think I’d still hate it, though. It feels so disrespectful.

  9. Tulipmania*

    Re: liquor spouse license- if it’s the job requiring that, this reads as a “No Motorcycles in the Casino” situation, as in, they had one incident with someone’s spouse doing something wild and built a whole rule off of that.

  10. Tulipmania*

    LW2 unless it was an audition for a film, I would never submit to a one-way interview like that, no matter how good the job sounds. It’s

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        TinySoprano says above that it doesn’t even work for auditions! (Which I would never have guessed!)

        1. Happy meal with extra happy*

          Well, they said for opera/singing auditions, which is a lot different from acting. I think it’s common for actors to send acting reels for parts.

          1. Capybarely*

            Even then, seeing audition tapes from successful actors really emphasizes how different one way recordings are vs. interviews! A casting director may be skilled in finding strong candidates from this format and know what they’re looking for within the awkward, stilted, tinny recording. A hiring manager is very unlikely to have that skill set.

        2. BuildMeUp*

          I’m in the film industry, and during the pandemic, film/tv/commercial auditions were entirely self-tapes (recording your audition at home, with a friend or family member reading the other role[s]) or over Zoom. Some stuff has gone back to in-person, but a lot has stayed virtual.

          It’s good in some ways – more opportunity to re-do your audition if you don’t like something, etc. – but you’re also not getting the connection and direct feedback you would in an in-person audition.

          For opera/singing auditions, the microphone on your phone is just not adequate for stuff like that! It can feel odd to tape theatre auditions, too – as TinySoprano said, it’s just not how you’d be performing in the real world, even in an in-person audition.

    1. Gan Ainm*

      #2- adding to the chorus – I applied to a role which did not advertise that this was part of the process, otherwise I would have passed from the start.

      When they emailed me the link for the video recording it had the recruiters email so I just contacted them and said I’d be happy to do a phone interview but I would not be doing the one way video. It’s incredibly rude- I’m not investing my time without the opportunity to ask you questions to figure out if I’m even interested! And it treats people like a commodity – its’s also not representative of what people are really like, I hate being recorded but am perfectly fine I’m on zoom or in person, and so many other issues. For a job that doesn’t require being pre-recorded as a skill, why would you make this such a focal point of your recruitment?

      I did the regular phone interview and follow up zoom interviews, and was ultimately offered the role, and declined, in large part because of this video request. It gave me serious concerns about the hiring manager’s judgement, what he’s like to work for, and frankly, his critical thinking skills.

      1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

        Thank you, it was bothering me for these same reasons and this is really well said.

    2. b-reezy*

      I had to do one of these years ago after I applied for a teller position at a credit union (for which I was overqualified, but I needed a job) and it was horrific. I had 3 minutes to prepare an answer and 1 minute to record my answer, which was fine-ish until they asked a TWO PART question that I ran out of time answering…and there was no option to re-record. I basically got a decline as soon as they possibly could because it was just so awkward and terrible.

  11. SB*

    The one way interviews provide no real value to an employer IMHO. There is no way to ask a candidate to expand on an answer they gave, which is a really valuable way of garnering important insights about this person you are about to potentially sink money & time into. You also miss the important back & forth which lets you know how personable a person could be. I think even the most charismatic person on earth might be a bit thrown by one of these.

    1. bamcheeks*

      I am a pretty charismatic person who does a lot of presentations, teaching and coaching in my jobs— including switching to recording presentations and materials in 2020 — and I absolutely bombed out of one of these. You typically have like 2-4 minutes to answer the question, which is an incredibly tight amount of time, and really hard to judge unless you’ve actually written out a precise 180 word answer beforehand and stick to it. Which kind of defeats the object of doing a recorded answer rather than just a written answer.

      I don’t totally think that recorded answers are bad in and of themselves— for the kind of role I do and recruit for, a 3-4 minute “please introduce yourself, tell us why you want the job and what you’ll bring to it” would actually be a great way of assessing some very crucial information, *if* you gave people time to prepare for the question, write out answers and stop/restart the recording until they were satisfied with it. “Here’s a question, give a precise two minute answer which includes everything you need to say, and get it perfect first time” is the kind of skill set that high-level politicians, press officers and official spokespeople need and nobody else.

      1. I have RBF*


        Being able to speak, on camera, off the cuff but coherently, in a short answer format, is a very specialized skill. Even most politicians prepare before press conferences with short answers to likely questions from the press. You can often tell, in fact, when the question wasn’t one they were prepped for.

        It is absolutely not a skill required for my occupation, so using it as a way to week me out when it’s not even a job requirement makes zero sense.

  12. All Outrage, All The Time*

    #1. “I can’t ask my husband to take time off work to get fingerprinted so this organisation can get a liquor licence. How do you want to proceed?”

    Just be matter of fact about it. No one in their right mind would expect this of someone who didn’t work there.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I would tweak your wording slightly to “My husband can’t take time off work to get fingerprinted so this organisation can get a liquor lisence. How do you want to proceed?” Agreed that the right way to go is to be matter-of-fact about it.

    2. Hedgehog in a ball*

      I have to wonder how LW1’s employer is going to repay Spouse for their time. If I am taking a day off from my work to essentially do work for YOU, how is that not your responsibility?

    3. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      I’m guessing that this is a really old form, from the days of yore when most (non-admin) workers were men, and most wives didn’t work, or just didn’t work “important” jobs. At some point the words got updated from “wife” to “spouse” but the form didn’t get updated from 1955 to now. (None of which is helpful to LW, I know. I also think that getting a catering company involved is the way to go.)

  13. E. Monday*

    Re: #1 – I work in liquor licensing and can confirm that it is not an uncommon requirement to request personal information from a spouse, and this is definitely coming from the licensing authority and not the LW’s company. However, it IS very rare for the spouse to also be required to submit to fingerprinting and background check. Also, typically the applicant/responsible party for the license needs to be an owner or officer with the entity to be licensed (or in some smaller municipalities, the GM), not just a random employee. If this is a smaller town, my advice to the LW would be to contact the licensing authority directly and ask if it’s absolutely necessary. (Nine times out of ten they don’t care.) If it’s a bigger city (or a particularly persnickety liquor commissioner or power trippy town clerk), you may be stuck. All of this is assuming that you are the correct person to even be listed on the application in the first place. Good luck!

    1. Myrin*

      I’m both fascinated and befuddled by this – can I ask what the reasoning behind needing information on the spouse is? I’m not particularly well-versed in this topic but where I live (not the US) I believe a singular person can’t even obtain such a licence but instead it’s the establishment that’s a licenced entity so a spouse doesn’t even factor into the equation; I’m very intrigued by this.

      1. Wintermute*

        I would imagine that the reasoning is too many spouses were applying on behalf of prohibited persons and it was getting out of hand. Same reason the Nevada Gaming Commission practically goes down your entire family tree looking for ties to organized crime, so you can’t have your cousin’s wife take out the license because you are mobbed up.

        1. Goldfeesh*

          That makes sense. I remember hearing that a local rinky dink bar in my area was being run by the wife because the husband lost his liquor license, or she opened a different bar in a nearby town after he had to close his bar. Some such hinky deal.

      2. bamcheeks*

        It doesn’t seem that weird for me — in the UK, the typical and traditional licensing situation would be a pub, and it’s still a requirement that the name of the licensee is displayed. And traditionally they would be family businesses, so the licensing authorities certainly would want to confirm that Kate Publican wasn’t actually getting the license on behalf of her spouse Cathy Publican who is barred from holding a license since that unfortunate sausage dog incident. Licensing law here has a lot of traditional and pre-bureaucratic/corporate culture rules, so it still follows those kind of rules. Even chain pubs and cafes have to have and display a named licensee, I think, rather than being covered by a general corporate license.

        So it doesn’t seem weird to me that for an ongoing license you’d need to confirm that the license holder’s spouse/partner was also an upstanding and responsible citizen. I suppose what’s a bit more surprising is that there isn’t a separate kind of one-off license, if this is just for a specific event that an organisation whose primary business isn’t hospitality but which wants to hold a fundraising event or something, with less thorough rules. That’s the bit that makes me think there’s probably a less invasive workaround like hiring a catering company or something that most people use, unless this is a jurisdiction which has a very strong teetotal tradition and getting a license for one-off events just isn’t something that’s done very often.

        1. Bagpuss*

          YEs – You can get a premises licence but there still has to be a named individual who is the supervisor and who has to be personally licensed as well, and they can then authorise staff to sell alcohol.
          So Tesco / Wetherspoons can get a licence to sell alcohol from their shop / pub, but they would still need to have a manager who had a personal licence to sell alcohol who then acts as the supervisor. That person has to have a appropriate qualifications.

          (I think that there are some limited exceptions for members clubs and community events where you can apply for a waiver, but for for most places selling booze you need a named individual with a licence)

          1. Warrior Princess Xena*

            This does push things back into the region where OP is probably not the one who should be saddled with that license, unless they are the CEO or a similarly high-level executive. That’s a lot of liability for a staff member.

        2. Wintermute*

          In the US it’s much the same, you often need a named party who is personally responsible. They want to avoid a group of owners all pulling a finger-pointing game if someone gets overserved or someone underage or the like. There’s a name on the license, they are personally responsible for taking all reasonable steps to ensure that the liquor laws are followed.

          Also in the US there is often in many jurisdictions an event license which is designed for if you’re serving a closed gathering (as opposed to the public in general) for a single event as opposed to founding an establishment to serve liquor habitually. It’s colloquially known as a “wedding license” since that’s the usual occasion but the legal name varies.

          Of course being the US it’s a patchwork of laws. US Liquor laws are a fascinating lesson on the devolved system of the United States because there are a few federal regulations (mostly those of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms), but the basic regulations are at the state level. In practice, however, a good deal of the actual bulk of the actual practical regulations and restrictions, especially those on time and place of liquor sales and licensing, are a local matter up to the city in question. This often leads to friction when one area city has more permissive laws, such as allowing sales until midnight when a neighboring town cuts off sales at 10pm, or worse, neighboring states with different times.

        3. EPLawyer*

          Now I want to know about the unfortunate sausage dog incident.

          Yes I know you made it up.

          1. bamcheeks*

            I spent a few minutes trying to decide whether it was an unfortunate sausage dog incident or an unfortunate sausage/dog incident.

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              Housemate: “Were you defrosting a sausage for dinner?”
              Me: “… four of them, yes, why?”
              Housemate: “I managed to wrestle half of the last one away from the dog.”
              Me: “So we’re having pizza for dinner then.”

              It wasn’t actually unfortunate for anybody in the long run, except my husband who doesn’t like pizza much.

              1. Jay (no, the other one)*

                Me, calling my sister-in-law-the-vet: The dog just ate two pieces of raw chicken I was marinating for dinner! What do I do??

                SIL: Order pizza.

                (she went on to explain that uncooked chicken bones aren’t particularly dangerous for large dogs – it’s cooked chicken bones that can splinter and injure them)

    2. Stitch*

      Something I’m wondering about is my employer once secured a single day liquor license for an event (we had to get an insurance policy). Is LW maybe applying for a full permanent license? my experience was the one day license didn’t have any big background requirements, but I realize this is super jurisdiction specific.

      It just seems like a waste of resources to do background checks to this level.for a single event.

    3. Helewise*

      “All of this is assuming that you are the correct person to even be listed on the application in the first place.”

      This is what I’m wondering. You’ve been tasked with doing it, but that doesn’t mean that yours is the right name to be on a permit, and I wonder if whoever asked you to take care of it actually knows what’s involved. It’s typically a pretty significant process.

      1. Cake or Death*

        Yes, this! I’m pretty sure you can’t apply for a liquor license on behalf of an organization if you don’t have any legal signatory authority for the organization.

        1. Glomarization, Esq.*

          This is correct. Direction or permission from someone with signing authority does not equal actual legal signing authority.

          1. Stitch*

            It’s also important to understand that such signatory authority also generally cannot be delegated by contract. I work in a different legal field and the number of times companies try to send me contracts delegating legal authority to a non officer staff member is a bit insane. They are completely worthless in my field and I suspect many others.

      2. Michael G*

        “Ugh. I can’t be bothered to go down and go through all this baloney. I’ll just staff it out to LW1”

      3. Orange You Glad*

        Yup. To me “tasked with securing the license” means doing the research, downloading the forms, gathering the information, and then presenting it to the appropriate person to sign/pay/whatever. The appropriate person being the company owner/officer/manager.

    4. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Wow, I had assumed that “liquor license” was an anonymization of the real situation because it just made no sense to me. Fascination to learn that it actually is plausible.

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      So, if, in a worst case scenario, there is some kind of DUI or other alcohol-related incident arising from this event, would both the LW and her spouse be on a legal hook for it?

      Because to me that is asking a LOT from your employees and their spouses who do not even work there so there can be booze at one event.

    6. DisgruntledPelican*

      This is super bizarre to me. We get a liquor permit for events all the time at my org and we just go online to the WA State liquor board, pay 10 bucks and fill out a real basic form. The most personal information required is a birthday to show the person filling out the form is over 21.

  14. Nodramalama*

    Huh that lw1s husband needs a background check for a liquor licence is very weird. But for what’s its worth heeeaps of jobs do require background checks for family members or people who otherwise live with and there’s no pushing back. It doesn’t sound like this is that situation though

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      But they just require a name, etc. The spouse doesn’t need to get otherwise involved.

      All my jobs for over 20 years have required a background check, but this is more invasive.

  15. Federal Employee 019283*

    Letter 5 – I agree that there’s probably no use in pouring over the language. If other jobs come up that make sense, the LW can apply for them.

    That said, I think off the potential explanations LW listed, option 2 (look for jobs more senior to the one you applied for) isn’t farfetched at all. Alison said it’s unlikely unless there’s more context, but LW did say that the job title was a step down. To me that’s the exact kind of context that would make option 2 plausible, and maybe even the most likely of the three possibilities listed.

    1. Myrin*

      Yeah, I was surprised by Alison’s “ranking” because I immediately read it as option 2 (doesn’t mean I’m right, of course, but it didn’t seem unlikely in any way).

    2. A.P.*

      I think it matters what the rest of the letter looked like. If it seemed at all personalized, then your interpretation is likely correct. But if the rest just looks like a standard rejection letter then I would go with the other options.

      1. Riot Grrrl*

        Agreed. LW doesn’t say how far they got in the process or exactly how senior the role is. But in most cases, nobody doing hiring in bulk is going to spend that much thought trying to advise an applicant on their career trajectory.

      2. OP 5*

        If it helps for context, the email with this line in it was very brief, and it was in response to my initial application – I hadn’t interviewed or had any interaction with them.

        However, the brief email did reference the fact that I had volunteered with this org in the past – so the full line was something like, “We appreciate your previous volunteering in support of our Llama Brushing Outreach, and hope you’ll continue to keep and eye out for more senior level openings…” So it’s possible that it was written personally for me. That is/was certainly my hope. OR it’s possible that they have a form letter for people who have been volunteers in the past – it’s a large enough org with enough volunteers that it might crop up frequently in hiring.

    3. amoeba*

      Yeah, instinctively I would have jumped to that one as the most likely, especially as the OP said it would (at least nominally) have been a step down. The other two don’t really make a lot of sense to me – why have that as a standard response, so even to people who’d be *underqualified* for the current position?

      I can also see them having two or three standard replies/tweaking the standard rejection a little based on whether the applicant appears to be underqualified/overqualified/a bad fit for other reasons.
      It could also be about the salary requirement in case the OP had to give one already with their application? They might mean “more senior positions (which would be more in line with your salary expectations)”?

      Anyway, I’d definitely apply again at that company for more senior role (than this one)! Cannot hurt either way, right?

      1. ecnaseener*

        I can see it being a form letter, where originally it just said “keep an eye out for more openings that match your skills and experience” but a lot of people read that as “the one you applied to didn’t match your experience, keep an eye out for one that DOES” – and so the (attempted) solution was to plug in whatever level the candidate applied for.

        1. All Het Up About It*

          This is a good take!
          I hope it’s more likely 3 or 1 than 2, just because I would hope that it’s pretty understood that even seemingly obvious titles like manager and director are not direct correlations between different companies. I supervise people with manger in their title and my title is weird and vague enough where people often think that I’m the Admin assistant, instead department director. Other titles in our agency are also weird and just adding things like assistant and associate to the same title. No one from the outside is going to look at those two title and automatically know that one is a equivalent to a manger, one to a director. A third option is equivalent to an AVP and the same title without any additions at all is the CEO.
          Titles are a completely ineffective way to see that is really a “senior” position. And hopefully most people know that.

  16. Posilutely*

    I started reading no.1 thinking the job would be Minstry of Defence related or similar as I had to be extensively background checked for my husband’s job but then – what?! For an alcohol license? How incredibly unreasonable. And what would stop an UNmarried partner from doing something nefarious with the license? I’m intrigued as to what prompted the rule.

    1. Wendy Darling*

      The requirements are more stringent than when an immediate family member of mine was applying for a security clearance!

    2. Nonny-nonny-non*

      Yes, that was what I was thinking. Ex-partner used to work for the UK MoD and as part of his five-year security review I had to submit financial information and proof of ID (although not fingerprints) but he was working on a site that dealt with fissionable materials! You can see why they might want to be sure I was not a security risk.
      But for OP#1, while I can see why the liquor licensing authority might want to assess married partners, I don’t think it’s reasonable of their job to expect OP#1 to be the person applying for this license given the burden it puts on someone who is nothing to do with the business.

      1. Stitch*

        In the US they sometimes don’t even tell you that you’re being checked. My Dad found out when getting his own security clearance he’d already had a clearance record because my granddad held a very high clearance so the whole family had been investigated. He had no idea.

        1. Darsynia*

          Yeah some of that stuff is extremely strict. My sister in law missed out on a job at the NSA because of something her mother did when she was a CHILD.

        2. EPLawyer*

          When Hubby was in the Navy, he had a security clearance. He didn’t think much of it at the time. When he got out, one of the NEIGHBORS pulled him aside and said What did you actually do in the Navy. We had investigators talking to us for THREE HOURS about you. Trust me, his job wasn’t that exciting.

          Having said that, liquor laws in the US are really weird. Some of it is leftovers from after prohibition, some of it is, like has been said above, people getting the license in name only for the real person who shouldn’t have a license.

    3. Insert Clever Name Here*

      I initially thought it was unreasonable as well, until I read E.Monday’s comment above — it does makes sense that the licensing authority would want to ensure I’m not getting the license because my spouse’s has been revoked; I wouldn’t have thought of that! The amount of legwork being asked of the spouse is still unreasonable, though.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I mean, that part makes total sense, along with the example of the Nevada Gaming Authority checking everybody and his dog for mob ties. But since the LW doesn’t have the legal authority to hold the license for the company, let alone her spouse, this seems like a time waster at best and a huge liability risk at worst.

        1. Insert Clever Name Here*

          Yeah, I think that’s the bigger thing for OP to find out because I’m with you — while it is practical for people who need a license I’m not convinced *OP* is the one who needs the license.

  17. Sales Geek*

    #1: Our state’s liquor laws are similar but not quite invasive. My son’s wedding venue was a lovely B&B type of place nestled in the mountains. They can and would do everything (even providing a bartender) except provide liquor. They said that if they got a liquor license from the state the cost of the required liability insurance would put them out of business. Doing so would impose a cost on those who didn’t want to serve alcohol for the events

    Our state has something that’s akin to a provisional liquor license for events like weddings. In order to get this license you have to go to the county clerk and get a notarized printout of your driving record (I’m not making this up!) and then complete a form which can only be mailed via USPS to the state capital for approval. No email applications, no fax, just snail mail. The state recommended that you allow four to six weeks to get such a license.

    Although my son was paying for most of the wedding costs he lived in another state. Our state won’t grant these kinds of provisional licenses to out-of-state residents. I volunteered to be the licensee for the wedding. And since I was the holder of the event’s liquor license that meant I had to buy all the spirits for the wedding.

    The license was $50 but the spirits were $2,000. A good time was had by all and the venue was really lovely despite the weirdness about liquor.

      1. jj*

        I doubt it. People often use drivers license as a catch all for all state ids, without remembering/realizing that all states have an equivalent non driving license id card. I have personally never seen any legal paperwork require it specifically be a driving license vs any form of state issued id.

        1. Wintermute*

          in this case it’s not your license they want, it’s your entire driving record (AKA the record of any and all violations you’ve ever committed). Basically they’re looking for DUIs, if you don’t have any (including because you don’t drive) you’re fine. If you have a state ID you have a state driving record, it’s just blank, at least where I used to live.

        2. alienor*

          My daughter doesn’t drive and has had one of those IDs in two different states. I don’t think people even register that it’s not a driver’s license if they’re just glancing at it to verify who she is – it says so on the front, but apart from that it looks identical and she’s never had a problem (it has the same type of ID number, too, so on paper no one would know).

        3. Relentlessly Socratic*

          I used to have a (MA) state ID instead of a license (decades ago). Surprisingly, most places wouldn’t accept it as a form of proof-of-age. *shrug*

          1. Yorick*

            That’s really weird. I’ve had those in a couple of states with no problem. I also used my passport as proof of age for a while when my state ID was expired and I wasn’t in a hurry to get another one. People thought it was weird but always accepted it.

          2. Spencer Hastings*

            Whereas now, it’s literally called the “Liquor ID”, since that’s what people use it for!

        4. goddessoftransitory*

          I don’t drive and have a State ID–one of the new fancy ones so I can get on planes. It’s never been a problem.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Could as easily be one of the New England states whose blue laws are still restrictive.

        1. Hillary*

          Or a lot of the Midwest. Kansas legalized public venue (ie restaurant) sales in 2011. There are still dry counties and counties that don’t permit Sunday sales. My grandparents were members of a “private club” for almost 40 years.

          Minnesota authorized Sunday sales in 2017. Grocery stores only have 3.2 beer, nothing stronger.

      2. Blarg*

        In Colorado, which has only recently allowed Sunday sales, a licensee can only have one liquor license. In the whole state. So there’s one Target in the state that can sell full beer/wine/liquor. One Walmart. One of each of the grocery store chains. At this point, the small business owners are the ones fighting to keep it that way.

    1. Bagpuss*

      I’m in the UK and because here, you need a licence to *sell* alcohol but not to *serve* it, I’ve been to a few weddings where the reception has been in a village hall / church hall where the drinks have been free but there’s a ‘donations’ box inviting people to contribute to the cost, as that way, no one was selling anything and no licence required!

    1. Pippa K*

      But at least they didn’t require some poor schlemiel’s spouse to get a background check for their event liquor license.

  18. The Prettiest Curse*

    #4 – It’s not a bad idea for him to do a few screening interviews, just so he can get used to talking about himself.

    Throwing this idea out there in case it’s useful for anyone – in my final year at university when I was trying to get a graduate job, I was contacted by a finance company who needed practice interviewees for their new staff who did graduate interviews. I went, and it was so useful! All different interview formats during the day, and we all switched between multiple interviewers. (They paid me for my time, paid my travel expenses and gave us free lunch.)

    It was much less nerve-wracking on both ends because it wasn’t a real interview process – I had no interest in working there, and the interviewers were just practicing. (It did feel like a real interview in some ways, because it took place in their offices and they asked us to approach it like we would approach a real interview process.) I think they also asked us how our interviewers did, since getting them some practice was the point of the day.

    I wish everyone who needs to get used to interviewing could do something like this – nobody is born with the ability and knowledge to interview, it’s definitely something that you develop over time.

    1. Jacqueline*

      But it’s also possible that this is something the school offers. I know college career centers get a lot of flack here, but when I was a student, my center organized mock interviews. They brought in alumni professionals (I think) and you signed up for a slot.

  19. Sue Wilson*

    #2: I’ll be honest and say that the reason this feels disrespectful of a candidate to me is that one way video is furthering the asymmetrical effort interviewing allows between candidates and employers. If I had to guess why your employer is thinking about this, it’s because with phone screens, a hiring manager has to set aside time to do them, and commit to that time except emergencies, and with one way video calling, the hiring manager can review whenever they have nothing else going on (and can even interrupt viewings). Meanwhile, a candidate has to at least make the effort of being presentable and dedicate some thought to physical space considerations when doing one-way video calling, but the effort in a phone screen is as equal as it gets in hiring.

    So I agree push back, but also find out why they’re thinking about doing video screens. If this is a matter of convenience, make sure your company also thinks about what you’re telling candidates about what’s important to you here.

    1. KateM*

      Aqua Sumire has described it from employer’s point of view pretty much exactly as you have from candidate’s, down to “because it is convient for hiring manager but candidates have to make the effort so we can judge them”.

      1. Observer*

        Yes. And they even acknowledge that they understand why applicants hate them, but employer convenience (and ability to discriminate) over-rides that.

        So, yes. It feels disrespectful because it IS disrespectful.

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        I’m a hiring manager, and I would be appalled if our internal recruiters floated one-way video as a screening tool. I don’t want to (or have time to) watch a bunch of videos of someone answering the same question with no opportunity to have an actually conversation with them. I hire for jobs that involve nuance, flexibility, and interest in learning specific skills, and I can’t get someone’s aptitude for that from a <5 minute video clip. I'll stick with my old-school phone screens and finalist interviews via Zoom or in-person, depending on candidate preference.

    2. Iris Eyes*

      In my org the hiring managers don’t do the phone screens even, that’s what the internal recruiting/talent acquisition folks do. They are responsible for getting people into the pipeline and only once its been determined that they are a live person, with the minimum requirements, and is otherwise eligible for the position does the hiring manager start getting involved.

  20. talos*


    If you want to know my answers to some questions and review them on your own time: ask them to me in writing. It’s less stressful for me, and probably faster for you to review.

    If you want to see how I behave with other people and ask me questions with followups: ask them to me in a live interview (phone/video is super easy for me for initial screens!).

    If you want me to exit your interview process: do a one-way video interview. From my perspective as a candidate, a one-way video interview has all the stress and effort of a regular video interview, but none of the upside (like the opportunity to ask my own questions, or the opportunity to meet the person/people I might be working with). I get that it’s maybe (I guess?) better for the hiring people, but as someone who’s not struggling to find a job, I frankly don’t care that it’s easier for you when it’s harder for me.

  21. MK*

    #3, let me get this straight: this woman was brilliant at her work, but difficult to work with because she was unreachable, very possibly for a health-related reason. She was put on a PIP and eventually fired for this, despite overperforming in arguably the more important parts of her work. And you are resentful because she was not publicly shamed on top of being fired? Why?

    Also, if she performing so well in certain parts of her work, your assessment that she wasn’t working fulltime hours may well not be accurate.

    1. Myrin*

      I really don’t think the excellent sales metrics should overshadow the fact that “projects were delayed, collaborators were livid, significant mistakes were made, costs were incurred” and that “everyone, including her boss, seemed to expect that she would be working a normal number of hours, and none of this really appeared to be above-board or accommodated”!
      We always talk about how getting along with your coworkers and dealing appropriately with internal processes is just as important as “hard skills”/results, and I really think that same principle applies here.

    2. Still*

      “Projects were delayed, collaborators were livid, significant mistakes were made, costs were incurred, all because Laverne was unreachable”.

      Being brilliant at one part of a job doesn’t justify making everybody else’s jobs harder. If the company didn’t have a job for her that would only focus on the parts she was great at and didn’t require the rest, letting her go seems like the right move. I agree that the reason for the layoff/firing should only be shared on a need-to-know basis but it doesn’t sound like she was some poor genius that got wronged.

      And I get why the LW is feeling confused. This person was brilliant at A and horrible at B, and yet the message is that she was laid off for issues related to A and B is not mentioned? Of course that feels incongruous.

      1. LW #3*

        The last paragraph sums it up exactly! Very weird and gaslight-y to be so obviously lied to. I would have preferred they gave no reason at all.

      2. AD*

        If Laverne was public-facing enough (which seems to be the case from OP’s letter) I think the company may have felt obligated to announce something instead of just saying “Laverne’s last day was X”.

        Has anyone ever seen a company say “This person was let go or laid off or fired for X Y & Z performance issues”? Is that what you think they should have done? That’s not generally a thing. I’m surprised to hear this being suggested by some commenters.

        1. LW #3*

          Maybe, but I think if they didn’t want to give the real reason, no reason at all would have been better. I’m certainly not suggesting that they air her dirty laundry in public, but “Laverne has decided to go in a different direction” would have been fine. Or even “the company has moved away from selling Laverne’s type of product.” But saying that it wasn’t selling when it so obviously was was what made it so uncomfortable, I think.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      And you are resentful because she was not publicly shamed on top of being fired?

      I didn’t read the letter this way. I read it more as “The reason the company gave for her departure sounds like a lie to me, and now I have a bad taste in my mouth about the company [because they lied]. Should the company have handled this differently, or is this a common/accepted practice?” Much more about the companies actions than about shaming the woman who left the company.

    4. Riot Grrrl*

      LW is not resentful. LW simply wants to know how to relate to their company because they don’t know what or whom to trust anymore. That is a reasonable response in this situation.

    5. LW #3*

      LW #3 here!
      If anything, I actually felt that it was sort of unfair to Laverne to frame her removal under those terms. She was uncommonly excellent, I think, at identifying things that would sell well, but was potentially going through something that made it impossible for her to be sufficiently present at work. In a small industry, I think it would be much harder to reframe “there’s no market for what I do” than “I was going through some personal stuff that made it necessary to take a step back from full time work, but my metrics stayed consistently excellent.”
      I was not seeking a public shaming at all. I think what I expected was more along the lines of “Laverne’s last day is x, here’s who you should contact for her projects going forward” with no further detail. It was providing a reason that was obviously untrue that sat poorly with me.
      I’m very certain that she wasn’t working full time hours. The nature of the work was such that having the very good idea was a small part of the role, which she did well, but most of the role and expectations were the things that she was not delivering/not responding about. There simply weren’t other work things she could have been doing that I wouldn’t have seen as her assistant.

    6. LW #3*

      I was the letter writer for #3!
      I actually thought that the way this was handled was pretty unfair to Laverne as well. In a small industry, it seems much harder to reframe “there’s no market for my work” than “Personal stuff made it necessary for me to step back from full time work for a while but my metrics remained excellent.” It discredits the part of the job that she was particularly good at.
      I definitely had no desire to see her shamed at all. What I would have expected would have been more along the lines of “Laverne’s last day was [x], here’s the plan for handling her existing projects” with no further explanation needed. What really struck me as odd was the fact that they went out of their way to provide a reason that was clearly untrue.
      I’m very certain she was not working full time hours. The nature of the work is just that there was nothing she could have been working on in that time that I would not have eventually seen as her assistant, and none of the actual tasks of her job were getting completed in the time that she was unreachable. You’ll just have to trust me on that one.

      1. LW #3*

        oops, sorry. I thought my first comment didn’t post, sorry for saying essentially the same thing twice!

  22. Yoli*

    #2: Seconding the suggestion to phone screen. It’s our hiring season, and I’ve been doing most of them first thing in the morning or late afternoon since all of these people are currently employed—it helps to not need to be in work wear. I also take all my notes in one table so I can easily compare/rank responses and who I’m most eager to move forward.

    #3: My coworker got fired last week and I only know because she told me. (It’d be reasonable to assume from her email to the team and the timing in my field that she decided to resign.) I wouldn’t expect higher ups to tell me someone got fired unless there’d been an egregious, public breach they wanted to be seen addressing.

    1. Roland*

      I wouldn’t expect the company to say someone was fired, but I wouldn’t expect them to lie either. The classic line is “Yesterday was Priscilla’s last day with us, we thank her and wish her all the best”.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        I’ve seen “Priscilla is leaving Acme to pursue other career options” (implied: because she no longer has a career option at this company).

        1. amoeba*

          Well, that’s what they say for literally everybody who leaves my company (except if they retire), so I certainly hope it doesn’t mean they all got fired! Guess it’s just a standard statement (which has the benefit of being true in almost all circumstances…)

          1. metadata minion*

            My employer for when there was presumably Drama of some sort is “[Name] is no longer at [Institution]” followed by details as applicable about who to contact now about whatever it was [Name] did.

          2. Roland*

            That’s the point :) When they say it everyone, they aren’t telling you the person got fired and they aren’t lying. Of course if they only say it for fired employees, sure they’re kind of telling you, but the same can be said for an outright obvious lie like in the OP.

        2. eisa*

          Where I work, if a higher-up is being let go (x), the official wording is usually “leaving to pursue further education”. (I believe people “wanting to spend more time with their family” is also widely used in general ..)
          Whereas for single contributors, the only way to notice if you happen to be on the recipient list of their “goodbye, folks” email .. or the grapevine, of course.

          (x) In my country, we do not differentiate between “layoff” and “firing”, there is literally no distinction between that.
          There is only “Company does not want you anymore for whatever reason, employer-side notice period applies” and “fired for cause” aka caught with fingers in the till, punched the boss, etc. with immediate termination of the employment contract.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            I worked at a place that tended to use this phrasing a lot (to the point I could write their high-level departure emails from them from a template, had they asked), and it went through a fairly substantial leadership change (for the better) about halfway through my tenure. There was one higher-up who no one could could stand because they were an awful combination of terrible at their job, abusive to anyone lower than them on the org chart, and had the personality of a pit viper (and had only remained by the protection of part of someone very high-ranking in old guard leadership). I was dying to know who wrote their departure notice because it was gloriously vague and filled with platitudes in a way that, having seen the canned departure notice for year, it was very clear they had been fired and no one was sorry to see them go.

      2. Johanna Cabal*

        It’s so easy to know when someone is fired, isn’t it? It’s pretty obvious when someone is fired because of generic “we wish Fired Employee the best of luck” versus a farewell email from the employee themself in their last day, which everyone was aware of to begin with, often after a luncheon.

  23. Art*

    I’ve done a few SparkHire screenings as part of job applications and a huge UGHHHH to it for all the reasons listed. Just do a phone screen, please.
    Also, I feel like the SparkHire videos let hiring managers skirt around anti-discrimination laws without being blatant about it.

    A phone screen is cheaper and better for everyone involved, do not give SparkHire your company’s money.

    1. Observer*

      Also, I feel like the SparkHire videos let hiring managers skirt around anti-discrimination laws without being blatant about it.

      So much so that I wonder if that’s not a “feature”.

      1. Carlie*

        Physical discrimination seems like the only feature of this concept, to be honest. If the employer wants candidates to answer certain questions, let them submit them in a written form. If they’re looking for good speaking skills, speaking to a static camera doesn’t give them that because it is very different than speaking to a person (as everyone has noted).

        The only thing an employer gets from the video recording is what the person looks like and if they have a particular accent, and if their overall demeanor “feels” right to the person watching. And if that sounds icky, it should. It is. Might as well require them to provide a glamour shot with their application. It’s just as noxious and discriminatory.

  24. eisa*

    #3 :
    I for one am not happy when I have good reasons to think my employer is lying to my face.
    Also, as often seen in letters here, it is very demoralizing when management refuses to admit the issue re: a “problem bear” employee / acknowledge the hardship caused on others; and as evidenced in this letter, the same applies retroactively as well. (“Fergus ? What about him ? He was totally fine!” – Like hell he was, and now I am pissed at you because you are saying my and my colleagues’ ‘suffering’ never happened or was irrelevant.)

    So LW, I feel you. No advice, just that this is – in my opionion, unfortunately – something companies often do.

  25. Reality.Bites*

    Doesn’t “this jurisdiction requires” mean just that? That there’s no room to push back on the background check?

    1. Still*

      There is room to push back on the company requiring the LW to go through the process at all.

  26. TimeTravelR*

    Back in the day I had an extremely high level government clearance. My spouse was never fingerprinted for that so this sounds like way overkill!

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      I was thinking the same thing! I had a TS for a while, and it was an interesting process. I was asked for information about my roommates at the time, just just names and contact info, not fingerprints and background check authorizations. (I did have to fill out an extra form because one of them was not a US citizen – diplomatic parents who moved here when my roommate was an infant but never applied for a green card/citizenship.)

  27. I should really pick a name*

    So what’s a one way video interview?
    Does the interviewee prepare a video and send it in?

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      That is one option. Sometimes there’s a website that records video in real time. There may be some third tech, but those are the ones I’ve heard of.

    2. Retired Merchandiser*

      The one I did had a picture of the hiring manager on the screen and she would ask questions that also appeared in print. You had a set amount of time to answer (two minutes? Three? I don’t remember.) It gave you the option to review your answer and redo if you wanted to. Once. I redid one answer because I had a coughing spell.
      It was an odd experience, and I hope to never do it again but not as bad as I feared.

  28. Cat Tree*

    For #3. At my company, a handful of people have been fired over the years. The boss will say that they were let go for performance related reasons but without further details. This is really important so the rest of the group doesn’t worry that broader layoffs are imminent and that their job is also at risk. I understand the urge to save face for the employee, but it’s kinder to just be honest in a respectful non-gossippy way. And generally the employee’s poor performance was known to everyone who worked with them anyway.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      This is pretty much what my employer says. I’ve found out specifically why, years later, from people who know it from the fired person themselves, but Employer doesn’t tell us specifics.

      We fired our one of our EDs and it was framed as “he was leaving to refocus on other obligations”, which was true enough. They left out that he had apparently been under the impression that ED of our organization was a primarily ceremonial position, not an actual job, and had neglected us shamefully. We all kinda knew, though, so nobody considered this a lie–it was just not rubbing salt in his wounds. (And he did need to be fired. He was a Big Local Name and could have done us a lot of good with very little effort if he had tried, but he didn’t.)

    2. LW #3*

      I totally agree. Those of us who worked with Laverne were puzzled by the lie but I think had a general idea of what was really happening, but it’s also an industry where layoffs were, at the time, increasingly common, so there was real potential to cause alarm. I would have been happy if they offered her the opportunity to resign and frame it that way, but maybe this was about unemployment as well. Honesty without much detail would have been preferable.

    3. Kevin Sours*

      I find it interesting that 98% of the advice in this column is “say what you mean instead of dodging around the point” but this area is one were we are reluctant to apply that wisdom. Much of behavior around terminations is rooted in the idea that people won’t know things without being told. But generally by the time performance lead to termination people are aware. Being mealy mouthed about it just makes management look like they are bumbling and/or not taking it seriously. Honest but vague, event to a bare “just the facts ma’am” approach is better than telling an obvious lie.

  29. Testerbert*

    LW2: I join the Great Chorus of NOPE. HR are likely pushing Spark Hire because they’ve been sold on how much time it will save in the recruiting process, but ask yourself *how* it saves you time. Either each video will be watched in full, in which case someone will be sat watching tons of videos (so no time actually ‘saved’ and it becomes a Yet Another Job To Do), or the videos will be processed/scanned/evaluated by some crude ‘AI’ which’ll enforce unexpected/unintentional biases which you can’t control for before you have no visibility of the logic driving them. You also miss out on having a proper conversation with the candidate(s), which could lead to you missing out on key insights or being able to answer potentially vital questions.

    Then we get the real rub of the issue. It allows an organisation to discriminate with such laughable ease and with no investment in time or effort. You can be as ageist, ableist, racist, sexist as you please without ever having to look the actual person in the eye. You don’t even need to pretend that they are a human being or hide your visible disgust at them being the wrong age/race/gender, you can dismiss their entire application with a second’s glance and the press of a button.

    All in all, it’s bad, and your HR team should feel bad for even suggesting it. Candidates do not trust these ‘interviews’ and they are thoroughly, irrepairably flawed.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      One of the many reasons I love the person who runs our HR is that, when Spark Hire was suggested to her as a cost-savings measure, she shut it down in about five minutes with a specific explanation of why it was a terrible fit for our company culture, contrary to our hiring equity practices, and did not actually save any time/cost over current processes. Our HR runs lean and efficient already.

  30. bumblebee*

    I was expecting the first letter to involve security clearance. What on earth? Is this a diplomatic event or something?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Liquor laws in the US can vary wildly from state to state, and some of them are just plain weird.

  31. Delta Delta*

    #1 – Push back and refuse to be the nominal licensee. Fingerprinting is problematic. First, it’s a pain in the neck to get done in some places. In my area (which may be different than others, but maybe not) there are only a few places available to do fingerprints, and that often requires making an appointment during very limited hours. Second, you don’t actually necessarily know what happens with those fingerprint images once they’re taken, who stores them, and who has access to them. I recently drove from the midwest to New England and cut through Canada. I got detained at the border for a while and one question they asked me is if I’d ever been fingerprinted. I racked (wracked?) my brain and finally remembered I did full prints about 10 years ago to get a New York State gaming license. I have no idea if the Canadian government could see that or not, but it was a bit of a thing to remember that I had done it. I’m sure this happens to other people sometimes, too.

  32. A Pound of Obscure*

    LW #5 – I think possibility number 2 is the most likely, not the least likely. Sounds like LW knowingly applied for a lower-level job than they currently hold (or one that appears lower, on paper) and the company is telling them they are overqualified.

    1. OP 5*

      I don’t know if this context helps, but I did try to address the job title thing in my application materials – noting that I currently supervise the same number of reports as this position, my current area of focus is similar, etc. But I didn’t explicitly say, “Even though I’m nominally a director now, this manager role cleaves pretty closely to my current duties,” so I might not have been clear enough that it’s really a lateral move and not a step down.

  33. Hiring Mgr*

    I’ve never done a one way video interview so not completely familiar with the details. The downsides are apparent. One benefit I can see is if the format allows the candidate to pause, do-over, etc while answering given that it’s not live, which would probably help some candidates give better answers. But again I don’t know if that’s an option with these.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      A friend had a one-way video interview a while ago, and from what I remember they were able to do-over or re-record answers to 2 of the questions, not every single question. Of course, this is second-hand information and I don’t remember how many total questions they had to answer. I also assume that there are a few different softwares for one-way interviewing that might function differently.

    2. ecnaseener*

      From what I gather, it depends – some systems are just “upload a video of you answering this question” so you can upload whatever you want, while others are “click this button to start the timer & camera and display the question, you have 2 minutes”

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        That second one sounds like the utmost horror to me. If I knew that ahead of time there is no way I would agree to that.

        And if I didn’t discover it until I actually started the interview, I think I would just close my laptop and go and live in the woods.

  34. Student*

    #1: I work in national security. We don’t require spouses to sign forms or get fingerprinted even if your job requires working with classified info, including very sensitive classified work. We have to submit information about our spouses, and about any potential conflicts of interest.

    So, this liquor license application process is over-the-top ridiculous. If we don’t need to get spousal signatures and fingerprints to secure the nation, then we don’t need them to make sure liquor licenses aren’t abused.

    1. Seeking new name*

      this was exactly my reaction, as someone married to a federal employee with security clearance.

  35. MackM*

    I can’t agree with the advice for #4.

    Improving your interviewing skills has an immensely outsized impact on your career. You will be able to access higher salaries, more challenging and educational roles, and more influential networks. All of the social and technical prowess in the world won’t do you any good if you can’t get into an environment where you’ll thrive. It’s not fair, it’s not right, but it’s true.

    So for that reason, I say, practice interviewing freely. Take the call, take the interview, see how it goes. Maybe you’ll waste someone’s time, but you owe it to yourself and those you may provide for to advocate for your career *more than* you owe strangers (who are on the clock!) that consideration. There isn’t a fair solution to this problem, but I don’t see why that means you should hobble yourself for a business’s benefit.

    1. Still*

      You’re not just wasting the interviewer’s time, you’re taking an interview spot from someone who’s genuinely interested in the job. There are many ways to practice interviewing that don’t take away someone’s chance at a job you know for sure you’re not going to accept.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Yep, this.

        And even if the interviewer is “on the clock” they still have metrics they have to hit. If you’re interviewing knowing that there is no way you’re going to accept the job, you’re going to throw off their metrics.

        I don’t see why that means you should hobble yourself for a business’s benefit

        Because there are real people working in that business, trying to get their jobs done, maybe?

        This is phenomenally selfish advice from MackM. Please don’t do this.

      2. Niche Non-Profit*

        Companies conduct interviews all the time where they know which candidate they will hire before the process begins – they are wasting the time of the other candidates who have no chance. So I say waste the companies time – I get you could be taking an interview from someone else but you need to develop yourself and doing these interviews is not a cruel move.

        1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          Do some companies know who they’re going to hire before? Agreed.

          Is there any hard data that it happens all the time? I’m highly skeptical that such data exists. It’s also poor and inefficient hiring, since it means you are limiting yourself against a wider range of candidates (poor huring because there are good, solid data showing a group with diverse experiences is more innovative).

          So, I think it’s a difference in personal values. In my value system, I start with “do no harm.”

          And, as others pointed out, there are plenty of ways to gain interview experience without taking interview spots from others.

          1. MackM*

            It’s not a difference in personal values so much as I don’t see taking interviews as causing harm. I agree that doing this takes several hours of an employed person’s time, but I can’t consider that harm. Are opportunities I lose due to less interviewing practice harm to me? Is it harm to the employer who would have hired me, if I had interviewed a little better?

            The interviewer and I have a business relationship, and I expect them to be pursuing their interests and I expect them to expect self-interest from me. I’ll be honest in all matters where our interests don’t conflict, but I’m not going to tell a current employer when I’m looking for a new job, I’m not going to tell an interviewer it was just practice in my mind, I’m not going to freely disclose protected characteristics to my employer, and I won’t take layoffs, decisions on my compensation, or the like personally. I am also responsible for the insecurity I face as an at-will employee, by necessity.

            I don’t agree that alternatives to interviewing will get you as good as actual interviews. They can help, but actual practice is the best learning tool, and this skillset is just too important to ignore.

            I’m curious how this is different from the employee working 2 full time jobs simultaneously ( In my view, that is taking much more from an employer, under substantially more dishonest circumstances, but received mixed responses from Allison and the commenters.

            1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

              I highly doubt we’ll convince one another of anything, but here we go.

              Are opportunities I lose due to less interviewing practice harm to me?

              No, I don’t consider it a harm to you because there are other ways to practice interviewing that don’t waste someone’s time. More importantly, those other avenues don’t take away an interview slot from someone else who would actually want the job. Now, if you’re interviewing because you actually are interested in the job, I don’t consider that practice.

              Is it harm to the employer who would have hired me, if I had interviewed a little better?

              No, I don’t think it is, because the employer will find a good candidate. Just because it’s not you doesn’t mean they’re harmed.

              I’m curious how this is different from the employee working 2 full time jobs simultaneously (

              First, could you explain why this is relevant to our exchange? What do the comments on that letter that have to do with *my* stance on taking an interview purely for practice? It would make sense if you had posted that in a standalone thread, but it doesn’t really make sense to me in this one.

              Second, I had issues with that letter writer as well, so I don’t think it’s different…but I still don’t see the relevance to this conversation, as I don’t represent the AAM comment section.

        2. Peanut Hamper*

          Companies conduct interviews all the time where they know which candidate they will hire before the process begins

          You are proceeding from a very false assumption. Yes, sometimes companies know who they want for a position and they post the position (often because of regulatory rules or union agreements), but they don’t go through the time and expense of interviewing people for the job. Why would any company waste money like that? HR people don’t work for free.

      3. MsM*

        Also, if you really need the practice, you’re setting yourself up for a situation where you bomb to a memorable degree and harm your chances when you’re actually looking for the company to hire you. Get your practice with the career center or people who are willing to provide you constructive feedback instead.

  36. HonorBox*

    LW1 – I’m going to make an assumption, which I know I shouldn’t necessarily do, but there are a couple of unanswered questions that lead to a little bit of ambiguity, so here we go.

    I’m guessing your employer is having an event and it is at a location that doesn’t already have a liquor license. There will be liquor at the event, so your company is taking this on in order to do it legally. Legal hoops to jump through are extensive (honestly, as you’ve described them, I think far too extensive is more appropriate). I understand that there is need to be thorough with licensing something like this, but this does seem to go a little too far.

    I’d join the chorus suggesting that you find a third party to provide the license and service. Or find a different venue. Having secured a liquor license for an event previously, I know the license is the least of your worries…and costs. You’ll definitely need special insurance policies to cover your servers and those consuming. You’ll be purchasing the liquor and most places don’t offer any sort of return of alcohol once purchased, unless you’ve made specific arrangements with a distributor specifically (our event “purchased” a specific number of kegs of beer and any that were untapped could be taken back by the distributor and we were refunded). Many jurisdictions also require safe serving certification for anyone who will be serving the alcohol, which takes time and may cost money. So there’s quite a bit of financial and time exposure beyond just the hassle of getting the license. A catering company with a license or a venue that has a license is going to have all of that lined up. And as someone else pointed out, you aren’t putting anyone from your team at risk if they overserve or if they refuse service to someone who is “important” and that person gets upset. Much better to have someone else doing that less fun part.

    1. HonorBox*

      Sorry…hit enter before typing this last part.

      I’d check into all of the other requirements that your locality may have and figure out what kind of insurance policies you may need to have in place too. Mention that to your bosses so they have a good idea of all of the costs and exposure. Then if they’re completely convinced that this is still the right direction, see if someone else can be the point person on the application as your spouse is unavailable to leave work to have the fingerprinting, etc. done.

  37. Fool me once, Fool me a thousand times...*

    Re #1: the reason for the spousal checks is that the authorities have learned over time. Hundreds or more likely thousands of times, people who would be denied liquor permits have tried to use their spouse as cover to get a permit. E.g., Joe has a long history of hosting events and selling liquor to minors. Joe would never again be issued a permit because of that history. So Joe asks his wife Sally to apply for a permit. Sally has no record and no history. The liquor board issues the permit to Sally, and then Joe pops up and sells liquor to minors. Sorry that this LW is being punished for the behavior of others, but the authorities know how the game is played.

    1. Cake or Death*

      I think the main issue is that the LW shouldn’t even be the one applying for the license at all, since the license is for the organization and LW is an employee without any signatory authority for the organization.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        This. Just about every “nutty” regulation has sound reasoning in back of it (that is, those that aren’t just classist/racist, of course.) The problem isn’t the level of requirements for the license, but that the LW, who doesn’t have the legal standing to apply for this type of license in the first place, is being asked to do so, along with her spouse.

  38. Milfred*

    It’s not unusual for a person who has been denied a liquor license to have their spouse apply.

    The spouse is acting as a straw man to circumvent the denial of the license to the other spouse.

    Hence the need to do a background check on the LW’s spouse.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      This is the correct answer.

      Everybody who is saying that it is outrageous has just never had to deal with American liquor laws, which vary from state to state and are often quite onerous.

      1. Cake or Death*

        I think the issue most people are having with this is that the spouse is being required to do a background check for a workplace that is not his. If the LW was applying for a personal liquor license, this would make sense. But since it’s for an organization, it doesn’t really. And mainly I suspect because of the owners conflict of interest? But I’m not sure that LW can even hold a liquor license for the organization. I would assume if you were applying for a license for an organization, that the person with signatory authority of the org would need to apply for it. It seems they are trying to get around this by having the employees do personal licenses. Which to me is a horrible idea because that makes the employees legally responsible for anything that happens, not the org. I mean, what if something happens and the employees are prosecuted for it?
        I think that maybe they need to have a conversation with the licensing board and figure out EXACTLY what type of license they need, who needs to apply for it, and what the legal responsibilities are that comes with it.

        1. Glomarization, Esq.*

          The LW does state that they don’t have the authority to make this application. I won’t go nuclear and say that their boss is asking them to do something illegal, but the LW does appear to have been asked to sign an application that they can’t legally state will be 100% truthful, because it probably asks the signer to swear or affirm that they have the authority to make the application.

          1. Cake or Death*

            Yeah, this whole thing has me side-eyeing their employer. Because they might even be trying to have the employees get personal licenses, not applying for the business, so they can avoid the legal requirements/hoops that are required for the business to get a license, which is pretty shady.

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              If that is indeed what they’re doing it’s shady as Hades.

              We have to have all our drivers have servers’ licenses before they can deliver beer and wine–if we tried this kind of thing to “get around” that we’d be in a whole kettle of hot water posthaste!

        2. Lavender Provence*

          “I think the issue most people are having with this is that the spouse is being required to do a background check for a workplace that is not his.”

          That’s a pretty reasonable complaint for a spouse, or anyone, to have. Unfortunately, when spice get drug into things like this, the relevant statutes are the same regardless of the spouse’s occupation. I get why both LW and spouse find this outrageous. I think the only path forward for LW is to find a way to get someone else to get the license.

  39. madge*

    LW1, unless you and your spouse are planning to open your own drinking establishment at some point, let your employer know, using Alison’s language, that this isn’t possible. As someone who holds multiple licenses in several states, I’m begging you to walk away from this.

    You and your spouse are taking on the personal liability of everything that happens under that liquor license. Not your company, you personally. Depending on your state, if an underaged person is served alcohol at your event, you can be personally liable (fines in my state start at $1k each for the server and the license holder). In some states, you would be partially liable for someone who is overserved and gets in an accident. If at some point, you and your husband decide to go into the alcohol business, any dings on this license will affect that. Don’t forget, you’ll also need to get insurance bonds. And, once you obtain the state, the next rounds of fun are obtaining identical licenses from the city and county liquor authorities.

    Honestly, this is just such a bizarre way to do it. The company can’t “receive” and sell the alcohol without its own license. I cannot stress enough your personal liability here. Walk away.

    1. Wine Dude*

      I’m seconding this. I also have many licenses in many states. It is not uncommon for license applications to ask if the applicant if they have any close relatives/spouse who have ever had an issue with liquor laws – convictions, license revoked or denied, etc. That said, it really should be an officer of the company doing this. Walk away and bump this upstairs. (Calling the licensing authority and explaining the situation would also be productive. Then take the info you glean from that and let upper management deal.)

  40. Jenna Webster*

    Re: No. 1 – just tell them your husband refuses to do that. It’s an outrageous request and there are many ways to work around it.

  41. I heart my NC headphones*

    I’ll be the odd person out and say that as a neurodivergent person, I found one-way interviews a lot better than I expected! While yes, the recording increases pressure and I missed the chance to get to know the people I’d be working with, the software the one-way interview was hosted on allowed me to pause between questions. I could record a question, then take a few minutes to collect myself before moving on to the next one. Obviously this won’t work for all, I just wanted to provide a different view.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      But why video? Couldn’t it just be written answers? (still under time pressure if necessary)

      1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        I’m not a defender of video interviews, but it’s worth noting that not everyone is a great writer. Lots of people would rather talk than write (see: all of social media today). My mom was one — she spoke fluidly and easily, yet when she went to write what came out was stilted and awkward. The mom I spoke to on the phone and the mom who emailed me sounded like totally different people.

    2. elle *sparkle emoji**

      I’m also ND, and this video interview format would work for me, but some people have described software with flashing timers and limits on pausing or recording which would be a nightmare. I think if the video interviews have to be used it would be necessary to really look at the UX for candidates.

  42. Not A Manager*

    “Our CEO really should be the one to do it (technically, no one else has authority to sign the forms on behalf of the organization) but he can’t due to a conflict of interest due to his relationship with the local authorities.”

    This concerns me. I would never sign a legal form with that level of liability if I “technically” didn’t have the authority to do it.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Especially when alcohol is involved. If somebody does something stupid, you could be on the hook for quite a bit.

    2. madge*

      And it doesn’t even make sense with the way liquor license applications are set up. OP needs to understand that she is not being asked to obtain a company liquor license – she is being asked to obtain a *personal* one in her name and she is opening herself up to all the liability. Only a managing member/owner/legally designated person/etc. can sign a liquor license on behalf of a company. The managing member/etc. would need to provide the background check information but THAT would be on behalf of the company. And, again, she’ll also need to do this at the county and city levels (assuming the event is being held within city limits).

      All of this ignores the fact that what they need to do is just get a temp/caterer/picnic one-day license ($10-20 in most states IME) off the back of whoever holds the actual liquor license or the venue’s license. Call Liquor Control, explain the situation, and do what they say. I can pretty much guarantee the answer isn’t “become a liquor establishment yourself”.

      1. Cake or Death*

        “OP needs to understand that she is not being asked to obtain a company liquor license – she is being asked to obtain a *personal* one in her name and she is opening herself up to all the liability”

        100000% this!

    3. Cyndi*

      Whooooo I totally missed that bit. I hope so, so much that LW1 refuses to do this. It’s a minefield on so many levels.

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      Doesn’t sound like there’s anything “technical” about it. The CEO is trying to get something he/she shouldn’t get, for legal reasons, and putting the LW at legal risk to do so.

  43. Bunny Girl*

    #2 – One way video interviews

    Oh man I just had one of those and I was so salty about it! Because it said it was a video interview and I would record questions, but it ended up being a typed question and answer. There was no indication of this and everything lead me to believe this was going to be on camera. So I took time and made an effort to look nice just like I was going to a real interview. And I put it off for about a week so I had some time and energy. Annnnd then it was just replying to typed questions. I was really ticked off.

    1. Jezebella*

      Oh I feel this!

      I had a zoom interview yesterday with 3 people – a semi-final interview btw – and stressed SO MUCH about getting my lighting right, cleaning up my desk, makeup, everything. And then like one minute in, it was “Hey, we’ve got a lag, how about you turn your camera off, see if that helps” So I did, and it did. But man, I could’ve spent that time thinking harder about the actual interview Q and A if I wasn’t anxious about looking old and fat on camera.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        I have gone quite a bit without getting my hair done and it takes some FREAKING WORK to look like I’m not an extra in a zombie flick. I was pretty salty.

  44. Diana*

    I wonder if the liquor license thing is made with the idea that it’s for people holding private events at their home? Like spouses co-hosting? Still seems odd though, and as I say this I don’t know how many people get a liquor license for a private event!

    1. madge*

      Nope, it means OP is getting bad directions from someone. What OP is applying for is a personal liquor license in her own name. I only work in a few states but none allow a married person to skip including the spouse, specifically because of the personal liability involved. Unless she is legally designated as able to accept liability on behalf of the company (and from her letter, she isn’t), she cannot apply for a license on behalf of the company. She needs to run.

  45. alienor*

    #4, I don’t think it’s a bad idea to get some practice, but also I’ve found that almost invariably, the less I want a job, the more they want to hire me (and vice versa, the more I want it the more likely I am to get rejected or ghosted). I think it’s because people interview better when they don’t care that much and therefore are less nervous – and having been on the interviewer’s side of the table many times, almost everyone is super nervous, so if you aren’t, it will come through loud and clear. I’ve actually had a hard time extricating myself from interview processes where I was just applying to see what they had to offer, so the son should consider how much of that he wants to deal with.

  46. One HR Opinion*

    #5 – depending on how early in the process you get a letter like this, I’d suggest reaching out to someone on their team and letting them know that although you are a Director at your current position, it is more akin to a manager at a larger organization (if this is the case). That is one of the challenges of such wildly varying job titles. It’s worth a shot if it’s somewhere you’d really like to work.

  47. Seeking new name*

    My spouse has gone through the security clearance process, and work/gov needed a lot of info from and about me.

    Even then, the government didn’t fingerprint me. Absolutely wild that they’d need that just for serving alcohol.

    1. Relentlessly Socratic*

      “just” serving alcohol involves ensuring that people aren’t overserved, ensuring minors aren’t served, and taking on liability in the event that something unfortunate happens (unfortunate can range from slip and fall to killing someone with a car).

      As stated elsewhere, the OP here appears to have been asked to obtain a personal liquor license, which in many jurisdictions includes a spouse–because it is relatively common for one spouse to apply if the other has lost the license.

  48. OlympiasEpiriot*

    I had to look up “one-way interview” to see if it was what I thought it was. There’s a whole lot of companies out there who are providing this and I assume that means there’s customers for it.

    I don’t like this idea for anything except for actor audition reels or other positions which have appearing on video as part of the job description (newscaster, for instance).

    I understand that it is convenient for screening, but, I think it doesn’t allow for the variety of people who might be great in a regular interview and on the job but who don’t deal well with being filmed. Also, at least a couple of the sites I looked at required the applicants download software in order to do this.

    This is burdensome and off-putting.

    1. I have RBF*

      Also, at least a couple of the sites I looked at required the applicants download software in order to do this.

      Yeah, that in and of itself would be a hard “NO” from me. Most of these apps are either Windows or Mac, and my own personal systems run Linux, so I wouldn’t even be able to do these even if I wanted to. (No, as an unemployed person I would absolutely not be inclined to go out and buy a special computer to do this from. Not realistic at all. Even a cheap system is a week or two’s groceries.)

  49. learnedthehardway*

    I have opinions, lol – mostly because I deal with these sorts of things all the time.

    1. Unless your role involves national security, this requirement is ridiculous and it is an invasion of privacy. I would decline, personally.

    2. One-way interviews are nasty and disrespectful to candidates. They’re a necessary evil for some roles – like high volume, cookie-cutter positions where candidate quality is not the priority. They don’t allow you to engage the high potential candidates you really want, or to answer their questions – which is a part of the interview process. And they do bias things in favour of candidates who are comfortable in the situation – and many people are not. (Personally, my default in dealing with automated systems like this is extreme irritation, and it would be pretty evident, I suspect).

    3. Your manager was probably trying to be kind to the fired employee, but it doesn’t help to give inaccurate information about how the business is performing to employees and other management – that will affect business decisions, employee trust, etc. etc. (as it did with you). If Laverne had suspected health issues, your manager should have worked with her to find accommodations – I believe that is actually required in the US, from what I have seen on this site. That said, if Laverne’s under-performance was that well known, and everyone knew it, your manager should have just said that it was unfortunate, but things did not work out. He could still be a reference for her in the background, if he chose to. As it is, every other employee knows the real reason.

    4. The young man should try to be open to different options. He might end up finding his dream job elsewhere. I think it would be fine to have some phone interviews with recruiters for practice, but he should be up front that he is looking to stay in X location, and not go forward to hiring manager interviews.

    5. I don’t think that was a form letter – more likely, the corporate recruiter saw your resume, thought your experience looked great, but realized there was no way they could afford you for the role they have, and didn’t want to waste your or their time interviewing you for a position they knew you would not take in the end. But, they do want to see your application for future more senior roles, which is why they sent you that note. So, do keep an eye out for those more senior roles.

    1. OP 5*

      It’s possible that the title gave them pause, but this org also posted their salary range very clearly with the job posting, and it’s above what I currently make. Because they’re so explicit, I would be mildly surprised if the rejection was over presumed salary, even with the title disparity, but it’s certainly worth considering.

      I do think I might not have been as explicit as I should have been about the perceived disparity in the titles, and that might have made a difference. Or maybe they just had better candidates! But I’m definitely going to keep my eye out for other roles there.

  50. MxBurnout*

    LW1: It seems like we’re a little bit skipping over the part where the LW isn’t even, legally speaking, the person who can or should be putting their name on this form (let alone their spouse’s) — I think it might be a pretty good assumption that the licensing authority will figure this out and reject them on these grounds! If you’re already skirting the rules by deliberately misleading the licensing authority, the requirement that the spouse jump through hoops seems pretty secondary to the overall concern.

    Which brings me to my second issue: what *is* the “conflict of interest” that prevents the correct applicant (CEO) from applying? Are we talking about a technicality, or is the CEO asking LW to take on this task because there’s something on the spectrum from “mildly shady” to “pretty nefarious” about why CEO can’t do it???

    1. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Yes, it could be risky for the LW to make this application when they don’t have the legal authority to do so. And the spouse could be at risk as well. There could be an “unsworn falsification to authorities” issue or even a fraud issue.

  51. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

    I think I’m missing something here: what sort of “conflict of interest” would there be in someone with any sort of relationship with the local authorities applying for a liquor license?

    If that means “they won’t give Fergus the license because the mayor hates him” or “it’s a condition of Fergus’s probation that he can’t work in a bar,” LW1 really wants to stay away from this.

    Or, are one-day liquor licenses so hard to get that someone is going to town or county of corruption for giving one to a campaign donor? That also starts to look like they want you to be a straw purchaser, and if so, that’s risky for you.

    Your supervisor shouldn’t be asking you (her direct report) and your husband to go through all this time-consuming inconvenience so she and her spouse don’t have to.

    1. Hillary*

      Fergus might be married to the mayor, or their brother is county commissioner, or their mother is chief of police.

      Signed, someone who was very happy to leave a small town where everyone knows everyone for college.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Thank you! This is the part that was not clicking for me, and I grew up in a small town like this as well! I guess I’ve finally managed to put that behind me.

      2. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

        As another example, I had an employee of mine turn down a promotion to our state alcohol licensing authority because she works part time as a server at a local restaurant, and no employees of that organization can work with any of their licensees. (She ended up getting a better promotion elsewhere … then came back to us at a higher level a few years later. She’s awesome. She still works PT at the restaurant bc she enjoys it and makes great tips.)

      3. madge*

        Yep, but if Fergus is the only designated signor for that company, he signs or they don’t get a license. If small-town folk gonna small-town folk (one of our places is in a town of ~800 people…the pettiness is an awe-inspiring art form), the company contacts the state liquor agent to get them involved. If there is one thing the state will not abide, it’s the potential loss of tax dollars.

        Really, OP needs to just call the state and ask them what to do. They are not going to tell her she needs to get her own liquor license, and they will not refuse to process a permit application with the correct agent/owner/representative information.

    2. Polaris*

      I made a simple assumption that it was a family relationship. ::shrugs::

      The CEO can’t apply because his first cousin is the head of the board that approves these things, and the optics suck, as an example.

  52. BellyButton*

    There are certain levels of government clearance that require family members to also have background checks, but wanting to serve alcohol at an event, that your spouse won’t even be at, is ridiculous.

    I had a similar request once from an organization I was volunteering with for an event. I told them no, my husband wasn’t going to be there, and there was no reason. I told them if they required that I wouldn’t volunteer. They backed off and let it go. I think it is worth a push back.

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

      but it’s not the company its the city/county, So there really isn’t any push back. The law is the law.
      Others mentioned above that there may have been problems in the past where someone was not qualified to hold a license so they had in in their spouse’s name. But I think this should be in the CEO’s name. She should push back with him or demand they have someone who already has the license come.

    2. madge*

      Liquor laws are set by the state so there is no pushback option there. OP needs to tell her work that she will not be doing this. What they are asking her to do is get a full liquor license *in her own name*. That is bananas and so inefficient I can’t believe anyone who knows anything about serving alcohol is involved. Temporary permits exist for this exact type of offsite event. Whoever already has a license can apply for the temp/offsite version and have it in a few weeks. OP needs to call the state and ask for their guidance.

      Also, the CEO being unable to obtain isn’t a thing in any state I’ve worked in. If he’s the designated signor for the company, then he signs or the company doesn’t get a license.

  53. House On The Rock*

    I am, by my own admission, not great at interviewing (from the interviewer side) because I tend to feel a lot of empathy for the interviewee and I naturally want them to feel comfortable and do well. I don’t think I could even bring myself to watch a “One Way Interview” because I’d feel so much second hand embarrassment and awkwardness for the candidate being put through that.

  54. The Wizard Rincewind*

    I did one of those one-way video interviews recently. It was weird, but also, my stunning charisma has never been one of my strong selling points on camera or off so I just went with it figuring it can’t be worse than how I normally come across. I recorded everything once, didn’t bother with playbacks, and sent it off. I considered opting out of the process at that point, but the position really intrigued me so I tried.

    I made it to the next stage in the process where I talked to a real human and then they declined to move my application further so maybe the video helped more than I thought…?

  55. Glomarization, Esq.*

    I don’t know LW#1’s job title or job description, but unless the company is going to indemnify them for the risks they would take on by being the individual whose name is on the liquor license, I wouldn’t do it if I were them. (Never mind having to rope in their spouse in the process of applying for the license.) And in any event, the LW states that “technically” they don’t have the actual authority to bind the company when they sign a legal document on the company’s behalf. That’s not a technicality! That’s an actual thing! The application may even ask them to swear or affirm that they have the authority to make the application on behalf of the organization. Permission or direction from the boss is not the same as legal authority.

    As others have mentioned, I also wonder why the company is going this route rather than hiring a caterer and/or use a venue with their own permit to serve alcohol.

    1. Extroverted Bean Counter*

      Seconding all of this.

      I’m not a lawyer, but from a career in food/bev you do NOT mess around with the liquor commissions. Messing it up (by signing off when you do not have the proper designated authority, or trying to sneak by without including a spouse when that is requirement etc…) can have all kinds of really major repercussions. If the permit doesn’t get denied outright and it gets discovered later that you misrepresented or misfiled, you could be in for a world of hurt. Maybe the company + leadership will be lifetime blacklisted from ever holding a liquor license for any reason in your area. Maybe the company will be fined (could be $1,000 could be $100,000).

      If the company wants to do this, is HAS to be done properly. LW would be wise to walk far, far away from this.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I’ve flat out told people who get huffy at us not being able to deliver/serve them alcohol “there is nothing you can say or do to make yourself scarier than the State Liquor Board.” Because it is true. I’d rather try to French kiss Shelob than try to mess with them.

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

    #1. I don’t understand why the CEO can’t get the license. You say it would be a conflict of interest because of his relationship with local authorities. This doesn’t really make sense. I would do 2 things
    1. Talk with someone at the city/county and check to make sure you are looking for the correct type of license. Maybe this is a personal license and you should be getting a business or one-time license. Also, make sure that you won’t be legally liable if you do get the license in your name.
    2. Talk with your CEO and explain that since no one else has the authority to sign the forms on behalf of the organization but him that you do not feel comfortable because of the legal liability.

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      Somebody above posted that the actual event involved auctioning off donated bottles of wine, so they weren’t even serving the alcohol, just doing an auction, but it still fell under the purview of the Liquor authority.

      At this point it sounds like the whole damn thing is more trouble than it’s worth.

  57. Outofthepool*

    Liquor Verification: I think it is a private school with underage kids. When my husband worked at a private school, I had to be CORI checked and fingerprinted because we were both living on campus, even though I didn’t work there myself.

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

      Its not the company requirment it is the law for that city or county. So I don’t think it matters what the organization is this is just a requirment for anyone to get a liqure license

  58. StressedButOkay*

    I had no idea one-way/one-sided video interviews were a thing and I am thoroughly horrified by the idea of it. I’m nervous enough in a regular interview but the back and forth between myself and the people I’m interviewing with helps me not be nervous. To just … interview into the void is horrible.

  59. Llama Identity Thief*

    OP #2: I’ll be the weirdo in the commentariat. As a candidate, I love one-way interviews. They feel a lot less effort to me than written questions do – I can prep and talk about an interview question in 3-5 minutes, when actually committing my answer to text in some form will suddenly take 15-20 minutes. It gives me the ability to showcase how strong my speaking skills are, without feeling the crushing emotional pressure of having a person acroos from me judging me right now as I do it. It allows me to do an almost ritual level of preparation, while being able to abort that prep and choose a later time in the day if my brain is screaming. If I could have every phone screen and ESPECIALLY every written questionnaire replaced by one-way interviews for the rest of my job searching life, I couldn’t be happier.

    All that being said, a lot of that comes from my possessing even more confidence and first impression charisma than your typical mediocre white male, while also possessing a ton of privilege. I love one-way interviews because they play to my strengths in ways that don’t actually speak to how strong a candidate I am in the eventual job. And although I do believe I am a strong worker (when impostor syndrome isn’t loud) and am arrogant enough to think I’m at least an above-average candidate in any job pool, it’s clear one-way interviews favor me more than the actual fit I’d have in the company. Throw in the high levels of “facilitating implicit bias and ableism” and they are a poor choice for any company.

  60. EMP*

    LW4 – I have a few quibbles with Alison’s advice here, though I think having a recruiter (which I interpret as someone not necessarily working directly for the company in question) makes it a little harder to gauge the situation.
    If the recruiters are only working for these remote companies, then on the one hand it’s not great networking, on the other hand you’re not burning big bridges by wasting their time.
    Alison’s advice to just go through the first step doesn’t make sense to me, because often that’s just through a recruiter who may or may not do more than confirm you are who your resume says you are and set up a phone screen with the company. If you can get a phone screen, I see no harm in going to at least that step.

    And I think getting some interview practice can be beneficial enough to outweigh the risks of 1 or 2 interviews. If you get far enough in the process that they are offering to fly you out to a remote location you definitely won’t move to, then yes, maybe that’s a waste of everyone’s time. And if the job isn’t very closely related to what you want to do, the practice may not be relevant to the specific interview skills you need to build (this is especially true for technical roles, I don’t know about other fields). But if you’re doing a half day on Zoom or some phone screens, I think you’ll get a lot of benefit out of the practice and you can’t base all your decisions on other people’s time wasted.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Except that companies have a limited number of slots for interviews and if you are taking one of those slots when you know you are not interested, then somebody who may be definitely interested is losing out on a chance to interview.

      There are far better ways to get interview practice that don’t impact your fellow workers.

      1. EMP*

        You can’t optimize your life for someone else, and you don’t know that it’s such a zero sum game for that employer.

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          I used to interview and hire in my last job. Yes, it is a zero sum game. If I have ten slots for interview, I need to make sure that all those ten slots are people that actually want the job.

          Please stop thinking this is just some anonymous corporation and who cares? There are actual people that are impacted by a selfish decision like this.

          1. MackM*

            I think the question we’re having is, why should we, the candidate, accept the Loss in this zero sum game when we don’t have to? The nature of the labor market defaults this particular Loss to the hiring entity, for once!

            1. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

              If the company offers limited slots, then there are two “losses”: one to the company, & one to the person who otherwise would’ve got that slot.

          2. EMP*

            I have also been on hiring teams and we worked completely differently. It was basically rolling openings and we would keep interviewing until our open reqs were filled. We had high standards and were sometimes interviewing candidates over the course of months for a single open position to find the right fit. Different companies work differently and it’s not fair for the individual to do the least possible to disrupt a corporation’s work.

            1. Peanut Hamper*

              Again, it’s not the corporation’s work. It’s the work of real, actual individuals that you are disrupting.

              This is basically saying that you can just throw trash in the McDonald’s drive-through and not care because it’s “just some corporation” and completely ignore the fact that a real person who is probably not being paid a thriving wage has to go out there and clean up your mess. How utterly selfish this attitude is.

              If you know that you don’t want the job, then don’t apply.

  61. Chris*

    Honest question, but have you read the requirements yourself or talked to a lawyer/your legal team or reached out to the permitting agency to confirm that your spouse actually does need to do all the background checks too? Or were you handed an application downloaded by someone else in your org, an assistant or the CEO, who may not have done the proper digging?

    I’m asking because it seems a bit over-the-top to require the spouse of the party requesting a permit for an organization, a spouse who is unaffiliated with that organization, to be checked. But I could absolutely see a case where the spouse would need to be checked if a permit were being requested for a private event, like a wedding or baby shower or other such, or even being held by a small unincorporated business where the permit holder is the owner of the business and as such, legally, the spouse technically (probably) has a vested interest in the business even if they aren’t really involved.

  62. Ata*

    LW #2:
    I just did a video pre-screen “interview” for a [major US city] school district, and the individual schools that actually brought me into later steps in their interview process CLEARLY did not watch my video. I even brought it up in one and they were like “oh wait you had to do what?” The actual people doing the hiring did not care about it and did not use it. It gave me the impression that the district fell for some sales pitch for some service and these videos just existed because of that. It’s a good thing for me that they didn’t use them because I blanked HARD on the first one and couldn’t re-record, and the rest of the questions are a black hole in my memory – I could not tell you what I said. However that was a lot of stress and discomfort for me that didn’t matter in the end – all that mattered was my traditional phone screen and later panel interviews.

  63. Susannah*

    I realize it’s the liquor folks demanding this from spouse and not the employer… but this is just an outrageous violation of someone’s privacy, and I’d refuse to do it. Yeah, maybe it would go better to say, Melvin doesn’t have the time for these interviews, etc. But I’d start with, I don’t feel comfortable asking Melvin to go through an invasive background check and interviews when he doesn’t even work here.
    So yeah, it does sound like the company is expecting an employee to take on the burden normally assumed by a caterer or other person who has to get those licenses to do business. And that’s crappy. I’d refuse – even though asking an unmarried person is almost as bad.

  64. oranges*

    LW#4- A “soon-to-be-graduating-from-college son” is older than my middle school son, but he and his friends are TERRIBLE liar. Especially to adults. Especially if he’s being coached about it instead of a thing he’s trying to cover his own butt about.

    It’s a very risky game to send him out do to interviews with a lie hanging round his neck like an albatross.

    1. oranges*

      Edit to add: If step-mom wants him to practice so much, tell her to get on the horn and call in a few favors from HER recruiting/HR network. At least let him waste the time of people who agree to it.

  65. elle *sparkle emoji**

    LW 1– If I understand your letter and comments, it sounds like your organization has held events in the past that didn’t require this special license. Would it be possible to change this event enough that it doesn’t legally require you or your company to hold the license, either by making it a dry event, hosting at a venue with its own license, etc?

  66. Sybil Writes*

    Letter 1: It seems sus that CEO is having a subordinate personally file for a temporary liquor license for the organization. The fact that CEO has some sort of “conflict” makes it seem all the more likely that they are trying to hide that by having the application in someone else’s name. That by the way is the spirit behind having a spouse get vetted as well as the individual – to avoid one party from getting a license using another party ‘in name only’.
    Does letter writer understand the possible liability she may be taking on personally by doing this? Who’s responsible if someone is overserved or if anyone underage is served during this event? What are rules about carrying alcohol away from the event? Nope, nope and nope.

    1. Sheraton St Louis*

      Everything going on in L1 is suspect as all hell (except the actual letter writer).

  67. TX_Trucker*

    #1 When I worked on the east coast, the background check for the applicant AND the spouse was common. The rules vary a bit by state, and they also change for beer versus hard liquor.

    Almost every state has “dram shop” laws that may hold you liable if someone gets into a drunk driving accident after you serve them. If alcohol is not your main business you do NOT want the liquor license in your name. Save yourself the headache and the possible legal liability – hire a licensed bartender or caterer. There are temp agencies that specialize in this.

  68. extra anon for this*

    Re: #2: I recently noped out of an interview process that used SparkHire. I didn’t even know the salary range yet because it wasn’t listed in the job ad, but they wanted me to go to all that effort for a job that might not even meet my requirements?

    I did make an attempt to reach out to their talent recruiter first to ask the range before agreeing to the one-way interview, but I got crickets in response, so I withdrew.

    About a month later, I saw the job re-posted anew on LinkedIn, so I wonder if allllll their applicants refused? lol. I AM still interested in the position, but not if it requires that dehumanizing step without even knowing their hiring range.

  69. Skytext*

    LW 1 please don’t do this! You will be opening up yourself and your spouse up to all sorts of liability. And what really worries me is that it may not matter how much insurance your organization takes out, that may not even cover you if you are personally sued!

    You say that “technically” your CEO should be the one to apply—well to me technically means LEGALLY. I don’t think it would even be legal for you to apply when you have no signatory powers for the org.

  70. b-reezy*

    Oof, LW3, I worked for a Laverne. I was hired because they told me that she worked “16-18 hour days” and needed help on her accounts. Turns out, she actually just did no real work during the day, instead spending 4 hours with clients on site to schmooze, lunch, etc. She was a year behind in billing (over a million dollars!), something I cleaned up in a month. She was constantly unavailable, yet would be angry with me for not calling in to a client call because I was stuck in (still moving) highway traffic with no easy hands-free option, and constantly demanded that I drive 45+ minutes to the office in terrible weather when she felt that it was unsafe for her. There’s a ton more, but I outed her while she was on maternity leave and our boss was pretty shocked.

  71. Audiophile*


    I have started declining or asking if there are alternative options. All the platforms are clunky, to say the least and, it feels like such a time suck for an early round when I’m not sure I want the job yet.

  72. Hexiv*

    When I read the words ‘My work assignment would require my spouse to be fingerprinted and background checked’ my knee-jerk response was: well, that’s what you get for applying for a national security job. But it’s for an alcohol permit?! Why does selling overpriced cocktails require the same precautions as working for the CIA?

  73. PhilG*

    I did one of those one way interviews a couple of years ago. It was a pain to use the system and wasn’t at all easy or intuitive to use. I did make the next round, but went no further.

  74. Raida*

    4. Interviewing for out-of-state jobs just for practice

    He should apply for some of the jobs, yes.
    Not every single one.
    He should prepare a simple way of saying “I’m looking for local” such as “Realistically I’m starting my job search as local to me in [state] / [city region], but I feel like it would be foolish to disregard everything that isn’t local. There could be a really great opportunity I’d miss out on”

    Then he’s being up front, he’s saying that *maybe this job is so good he would move*, and he’s saying that he is open to great offers and great opportunities.

    If a recruiter shuts it down right there – cool.
    If a recruiter encourages him to go for a role that’s not local – cool. He’ll learn which recruiters are good at their job and which are throwing candidates at roles without care, he’ll learn what it’s like to interview for roles digitally.
    If a recruiter finds a local role – cool.

    So he keeps in contact with the recruiters, he gets across his parameters, he gets the experience, and he can note down which people are not providing him with good support and service as the recruiters’ applicant.

  75. Nazmazh*

    Re: #1

    I have heard of jobs with like, actual security clearances requiring spouses’/immediate family members’ backgrounds be checked. But I’m not even sure those required full-on fingerprinting (though it wouldn’t be that outlandish for something like that I suppose). [Like some government, military, or contractors to either, something like that maybe].

    But just to get the permit for serving alcohol at an event?! That seems incredibly over-the-top unless it’s the sort of event that requires interaction with people that could potentially be targets for something.

  76. Liu1845*

    On #1, it sounds like the company is having the poster get the Liquor Permit in her name personally, not in the name of the company. I want to know if this will make the poster herself incur any liability or the sole responsibility for making sure everyone follows the state and local laws. This sounds shady to me.

  77. Human on earth*

    Letter 1: “Our CEO really should be the one to do it (technically, no one else has authority to sign the forms on behalf of the organization) but he can’t due to a conflict of interest due to his relationship with the local authorities.” It sounds like that sentence sums up why the letter writer is being put into this insane situation. Did the CEO get a criminal record for not paying employees and bribing the cops? It sounds like he’s that kind of CEO.

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