can I cut short an interview with a bad candidate, a shrieking coworker, and more

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

1. Can I cut short an interview if it’s clear the candidate isn’t right?

So if I’m interviewing a candidate, and five minutes into the interview it’s become painfully clear that I would never, EVER hire this person, is there some way to gracefully end the charade at that point and recover the time that would otherwise be wasted? It seems rude to just stand up, shake hands, say “thanks for coming in” and show them out when we’re only a few minutes into the meeting. But it’s disingenuous to pretend that there’s any reason for continuing, other than just common courtesy, and not damaging the firm’s reputation in the recruiting community. Suggestions?

It depends on the reasons. If the candidate did something openly offensive — made a racist or homophobic comment, for example — you absolutely can cut things short and say why. Alternately, if there was some sort of miscommunication — like the job truly requires experience with X and somehow this person was invited to interview without it — I’d argue it’s often more considerate to be up-front about that: “I’m so sorry, I’m not sure how this wasn’t caught earlier, but we wouldn’t be able to hire you for this position without X.” Similarly, if they say something that indicates this is the opposite of what they’re looking for, it’s not unreasonable to say, “You mentioned you’d never want a job doing X and the majority of this job is X — does it make sense to keep talking?”

But if it’s something more amorphous like “I just don’t like this person” or “they don’t seem very bright,” do the full interview, or something close to it. Use that time to test your conclusions because sometimes those sorts of amorphous feelings can be rooted in some kind of unconscious bias and it’ll make you a better interviewer to interrogate that instinct. (And other times it’s based on something important, and that’s valuable to figure out too.)

Aside from those situations, this is someone who made the time to come in and meet with you and it will come across rudely (and potentially generate bad will toward your company) if you end things after five minutes. You don’t need to do the full amount of time you set aside, but do at least half an hour. You can use that time to test your conclusions and make sure they’re correct, and it’s an investment in courtesy and good will.

A lot of job seekers will say they’d rather you just tell them on the spot so you’re not wasting their time … but in reality a lot of people who say that also feel insulted by really short interviews. So I’d err on the side of the organization’s interest in preserving its relationships with people.

2. We were told “you’ll get paid when you get paid, and don’t ask about it”

I do volunteer work for a local nonprofit and get paid stipends for transportation costs. The type of work I do has me out in the community multiple times a week, sometimes out of town. I love my work, but I have recently run into a problem. Getting paid has never been on a schedule, but has always been in a reasonable time frame (no more than two weeks). Recently, my boss informed my team that for the foreseeable future, due to restructure within the organization, we will get paid when we get paid, and it may be a while. Also, please don’t ask about it because they don’t know when that will be.

I am the only person on my team who doesn’t drive, so I am reliant on Uber and Lyft or coworkers to get to engagements. I am on disability and don’t have extra money to spare while waiting to get paid. Not getting paid in a timely manner means that I will not be able to take on other engagements until I get paid for the ones I have already completed and I don’t see how this is sustainable for the long term, as we sign up for engagements weeks in advance. I don’t want to sign up, discover I haven’t been paid a few days before an engagement and have to back out at the last minute leaving my team in the lurch. How can I talk to my boss about this when they have already said don’t ask about when you’ll get paid?

Yeah, no one should have to float money to the organization for an indefinite period of time, and particularly not volunteers.

You have a lot of leverage because you’re presumably more willing/able to walk away than if it were a paying job. Say this to your boss: “It’s not possible for me to float money to the organization for an indefinite period of time, and I can’t sign up for engagements without knowing for sure that the transportation costs will be reimbursed quickly. Given that, how do you want me to proceed? Should I stop volunteering altogether until it’s solved?”

This isn’t “asking when we’ll be paid” when you were told not to ask that, although that’s an unreasonable edict anyway. It’s asking how and whether to proceed volunteering for them in light of this info.

3. Will it look bad to skip my former boss’s retirement party?

I’ve worked for the same large organization for over 20 years in a variety of roles. My job for the past two years has been the best fit for my skill set and values. Prior to that, I worked for seven years under a notoriously demanding, self-centered, controlling, and mercurial manager, Ron. We had a high-performing team in part because Ron was constantly pushing us out of our comfort zone, but it was a toxic work environment. It negatively impacted my marriage and work-life balance and led to anxiety and burnout. I took extended medical leave twice to cope and recover.

When I saw the internal posting for my current role, Ron said he was supportive of me transferring over. However, he made his permission conditional upon me finding my own replacement, as well as filling other vacancies on the team before I left. He also delayed my start date for the new position repeatedly.

In hindsight I wish I had pushed back because it wasn’t fair to expect me to find my own replacement. I worried I would lose the opportunity if I did push back, though. The transition was one of the most stressful times in my life and I was at my lowest point mental-health-wise ever by the time I started in my new role.

Now, Ron has announced his retirement and is throwing a party. Many former and current colleagues and executives will be attending. I have zero interest in spending an afternoon listening to speeches about how great Ron is. I don’t feel that I could honestly say to his face that I will miss him or that working for him was a good experience. I would also be out of pocket $40 for a ticket, as well as a half day of PTO to attend.

Would it be a bad look, career-wise, if I simply didn’t go? If people at my organization (including Ron) ask me why I’m not attending, what should I say? I don’t feel that I would use him as a reference in the future but my absence might be noticed.

Unless there are politics around this that you didn’t mention, it probably won’t look particularly bad to skip the party, particularly since it’s in a different location and you have to buy a ticket. If it were being held in your office during work hours and you didn’t have to pay to attend, I’d say to at least consider putting in a brief appearance, just as the path of least resistance. Plus you could look at it as a celebration of never having to see Ron again — a “good riddance” party in your head.

But needing to pay money and use a half day of PTO? That changes the calculus and can you just have a scheduling conflict if anyone asks you about it.

Read an update to this letter

4. Coworker shrieks disruptively

I live in a city renowned for its wind and regular earthquakes. We have a staff member who, the moment they think they feel an earthquake, shrieks and jumps up from their desk and hurries away. Not only is this behavior unsafe (drop, cover, hold!), it also disrupts the entire office of 20.

How do we approach this behavior? It has been allowed to continue for several years so we are on the back foot but, seriously, it is not okay. Our conflict-averse boss won’t approach the behavior with a barge pole. We are about to enter a period of two years of construction right next to our building in which will include heavy earth moving machinery and piling which will shake the building. Daily. HELP.

“Jane, could you please not keep shrieking like that? It’s incredibly disruptive.” Maybe add, “We’re starting two years of construction which is likely to shake the building daily, and shrieking is more disruptive than the construction is.”

If Jane truly can’t control her panic reaction, she should talk to your employer about how to accommodate that; maybe she needs a more isolated workspace where she’s less likely to disturb people.

If that doesn’t work, you should keep pushing your boss to step in. Conflict-averse managers can sometimes be moved to action if you make it more painful for them to continue not acting than to finally just act.

5. My interviewer really pitched me on the company … but then I was rejected

I was recently rejected for a job and that hurt a lot. One of the reasons it hurt so much was that the person interviewing me spent a lot of time singing the praises of the company’s environment and benefits and describing how various employees quickly climbed the corporate ladder, etc. She also went through the day-by-day schedule with me and presented the onboarding and training processes in detail. This was the first interview. (Also, an acquaintance works there for more than 10 years so I happen to know that the working environment and opportunities are truly exceptional.)

I knew from the beginning that I was not among the strongest candidates (I’m missing some technical training but the interviewer did not focus on this). The thing is that through this enticing company presentation, she made me feel that they feel very strongly about bringing me on board and that she gave me points on why I should choose them.

Is this normal and I’m overreacting? Do interviewers put so much effort into making the job/workplace seem so attractive even for candidates that are not so strong?

Yeah, it’s pretty common for companies to try to sell themselves to candidates, even before the finalist stages. It’s not a sign that they’re going to make you an offer; it can just be part of their standard process for all candidates. Just as you’re showing them the reasons they should consider hiring you, good employers want to show you the reasons you should consider working there — and on both sides, that’s before either of you have made a decision.

When you’re interested in a job, it’s really easy to read too much into this kind of thing, so it’s helpful to actively try to read as little as possible into what your interviewer’s intentions might be. It’s generally impossible to interpret interviewers’ behavior with any kind of accuracy … and even if they did love you and think in the moment that you’d be their top candidate, that can change two hours later when they interview the next person. If you can stay really clear on that in your head, it can make the whole process feel less emotionally battering.

{ 377 comments… read them below }

  1. Eliot Waugh*

    OP #4’s coworker may have some trauma around earthquakes, but she’s gotta find a way to get a handle on it, because shrieking frequently in the office just isn’t excusable.

    1. Sleve*

      Yeah. It doesn’t matter if it’s shrieking, yelping, squeaking or even just noisily gasping. Combined with the bustle of leaving the office, it’s simply too disruptive.

      1. whimbrel*

        So much this! I have a colleague who often starts their day with some sort of exclamation. I’ve started responding with a concerned ‘Are you okay?’, and they always apologize, but it makes me jump and I find it incredibly disruptive.

    2. Zombeyonce*

      I’d hope this is a job that can be done remotely. Someone shrieking that often seems unlikely to be doing it for attention but because of another issue, so probably won’t be able to stop easily.

      I feel bad for everyone in this situation, and hope that the shrieker can start working from home so they don’t have to panic every time a noise comes from the nearby construction. If that can’t happen and they can’t change their behavior, maybe LW can ask to work remotely.

      1. Jolene*

        Oh, maybe. But I have also met my fair number of people who thought this sort of quirk was charming or funny or “girly,” and had no clue how it was actually perceived.

        Basically, this could be involuntary and the result of a traumatic experience or a phobia or other legit mental health issue. Or, this could just be an annoying and/or obnoxious person.

          1. Vic WembanLlama*

            That seems unkind – if someone is really acting like this I’d think they’re clearly having panic attacks or a phobia, or some other mental health issue. You can deal with the behavior without insulting the person

          2. ClaireW*

            As a woman in a male-dominated industry whol also have severe anxiety and panic attacks, the LAST thing I want my coworkers to associate me with is ‘feminine and adorable’. Unless you know for a fact that she’s putting on an act, it’s more reasonable to assume this is a response she struggles to control. The whole ‘women act certain ways to manipulate men’ attitude is not great.

          3. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

            As someone who is easily startled and occasionally yelps (rarely at the office and not loudly), no, I’m not trying to be feminine and adorable, I have ADHD and get hyperfocused. What a weird take.

            1. Calpurrnia*

              OMG is my overactive startle response just another ADHD hyperfocus thing?? That would explain so much.

              Earlier today I yelped – maybe similar to the coworker described in this post – when my power flickering very briefly triggered my UPS to “click” on for 0.2 seconds. Luckily I work from home (hence the flickering power… I live on a mountain in a rural area, it just happens sometimes for mysterious reasons) and since I wasn’t on a call or anything the only person I bothered was my spouse in the next room… but this post is more relatable than it probably should be.

          4. Observer*

            This is classic ‘don’t you think I’m feminine and adorable’ behavior.

            Unkind and in my experience not accurate. I went to an all girls school, my personal social circle is highly female, and it happens that my field is highly woman dominated (social services). This is absolutely not something I’ve seen – and at work, I think this would be seen as *wildly* unprofessional.

          5. ampersand*

            This interpretation is extremely uncharitable.

            If you’re having trouble imagining that the coworker isn’t doing this on purpose, try reframing: imagine what a letter to Alison from the coworker might sound like. It’s more likely they’re embarrassed by the behavior and are having a genuine reaction than doing it deliberately because they think it’s adorable.

      2. Yooooo ND*

        That, and two years of construction sounds awful.

        I don’t have earthquake trauma/anxieties; but I do have some pretty big sensitivity around noise, and I would 100% need to receive an accommodation to work from home, or leave my job. I really feel for this woman and hope they can work out a solution that supports her well-being.

        1. JustaTech*

          Oh, two years of construction will be somewhere between awful and miserable. The shaking, the loud noises when something is (intentionally) dropped a few feet, the diesel exhaust that gets pumped into your air intake because that’s the only spot for the construction equipment to sit (OK, maybe that’s just my building), the endless traffic disruptions.

          For me it’s been well more than two years (what with COVID and all), but I will say that you can have your company or your building ask the company doing the construction for some accommodations/ concessions. For example, we have a lot of scientific instruments that are very sensitive to vibrations, so the company doing construction next door paid for us to buy special vibration-dampening tables to put the instruments on. Now, we couldn’t get anything like that for the road construction, but if it’s a company and not the government you might be able to get something.

          1. SweetFancyPancakes*

            Not to mention dust setting off the fire alarms. That happened in a building I worked in at least a couple of times a week due to construction. SOOO disruptive, and those alarms are LOUD. And every. time. we had to evacuate because- maybe? It was actually a fire.

        2. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

          I worked in a library where the construction was the library, not the building next door (one year doubling the size of the building, 18 months doing a gut-and-restore of each original floor). Earplugs were handed out freely to staff and patrons, and we were allowed to work at home except for our time scheduled to staff service desks. Meetings and training sessions were held in other buildings. They would give warnings before especially noisy days (e.g., when they were drilling new windows into the brick walls).

          We didn’t have anyone had a startle response like your coworker, but if we had, they would have been encouraged to work at home as much as needed.

      3. Observer*

        I’d hope this is a job that can be done remotely.

        That would be my first thought, too.

        If this job can be done remotely, that would be an excellent solution. And it would be easier to push N0n-Confrontational Boss to actually do something because there is a non-punitive solution at hand.

      4. Sir Nose d'Voidoffunk*

        My 11-year-old has been read the riot act on multiple occasions for loud yelps and screeches while he’s gaming with his friends. I try to give him the benefit of the doubt that he really can’t help it. But then…he’s an excitable 11-year-old.

        1. Princess Sparklepony*

          Plus at 11 they still have their kid voice. Those are really shrill for boys and girls. In a few years when his voice drops you’ll think back on this time fondly.

    3. Shakey*

      I’m guessing that they live in Wellington and possibly we’re in Christchurch during the big earthquakes.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          The seismography of Taylor Swift is hilarious. Twenty years from now that field will still need to exclude certain outliers in their historical data.

      1. Chili Heeler*

        could easily be San Francisco. Earthquake compliant buildings over a certain height sway back and forth a bit in the wind.

        1. The Rural Juror*

          Yeah, the buildings swaying has gotten to me on a windy day before (not in SF, but a relatively windy city). If I understand correctly, all high rise buildings are meant to sway within a couple of inches each way. For some folks, working in tall building might give them motion sickness!

          1. SweetFancyPancakes*

            Yeah, I worked on the 23rd floor of a 25 story building once and sometimes I’d get inexplicably dizzy and wonder why until I looked out a window and saw that it was a windy day. When the wind really blew, you could literally feel the building sway.

        1. MassMatt*

          Or maybe move? I was surprised there even ARE cities that “regularly” experience earthquakes. If they happen that frequently there, and scare her this much, and she still doesn’t know what to do (scream and run around is not it) maybe this is not the place for her to live or work? The majority of the world is not experiencing regular earthquakes.

          1. Emmy Noether*

            Yes, there are regions like this. The whole country of Japan, for example, experiences several noticeable earthquakes every year, and thousands (!) of minor ones. I experienced one both times I traveled there.

            If shrieker is n the US, there are plenty of places where they’re extremely rare though.

            1. Le Sigh*

              I have experienced two earthquakes and uh, no thank you to that. I understand blizzards, hurricanes, flooding, and tornados — they can be terrifying and deadly, but I guess I’m just used them. Earthquakes (and wildfires) are just a big ole no thank you. (Though I guess if I ever move to an earthquake-prone area I’ll just have to get over it.)

              1. Princess Sparklepony*

                Ok, that kind of makes me laugh. I grew up with earthquakes and I sort of know how to respond (I’ve lived away for a very long time.) But floods, tornados, hurricanes – those I know nothing about, I stay away from those areas. Blizzards, I just stay home after stocking up on food that can be eaten without heating up.

                It’s all what you are used to!

                1. But what to call me?*

                  Tornados are the only ones I know how to deal with. Sirens go off, down to the basement we go. Pick up the dog’s leash and some shoes on the way just in case, and hopefully someone has the sense to remember medicines and wallets. Then it’s time to settle in for a riveting night of lounging around the random collection of basement chairs until the weather channel releases us to go back to bed (somehow it’s always the middle of the night).

                  Or, if you’re like my parents and my dad’s side of the family back before we lived in a house with a basement, you stick the babies in an interior hallway and then all stand outside to watch the tornado fly overhead. I don’t recommend that option but am told the tornado that miraculously chose to spare us did look pretty cool.

            2. Ace in the Hole*

              To be clear, almost all of those thousands of earthquakes you mention are so small they can’t be noticed without specialized equipment.

              Of the ones that can be felt, it’s important to remember that earthquakes are a localized phenomenon. While the country as a whole may get X number of earthquakes per year, any given location in the country will only experience a small fraction of those earthquakes.

              1. Emmy Noether*

                Yes, you can probably expect to feel one or two of them per year, the others will be too small or far away, but that’s still a lot!

                1. Ace in the Hole*

                  I suppose it’s all a matter of perspective! I grew up in earthquake zones, and I barely even notice our routine little ones. If they happen at night I sleep through it, and in the daytime I’ll miss them if I’m driving or at work (with heavy equipment nearby).

          2. Ace in the Hole*

            Context: I live in one of the most seismically active regions of the united states. I would say we regularly experience earthquakes… meaning on average we get 1-2 per year that last a few seconds and are strong enough to be noticeable if you’re sitting quietly indoors. You’ll miss them entirely if you’re driving a car, doing something active, near a busy street, or in a loud environment. If you didn’t know we get earthquakes you’d think it was just a particularly heavy truck going by. We have earthquakes strong enough to wake up a light sleeper, tip over precarious knick-knacks, and be felt by people doing noisy or active things on average once every 5-10 years or so. Earthquakes strong enough to potentially do damage are much less common… often enough that every adult has experienced at least one, but rare enough that they’re big news across the whole state.

            If this shriek-and-run dance is happening often enough to be a serious distraction, it’s pretty clear LW’s coworker is reacting to things other than earthquakes. I’m willing to bet she’s alarmed by anything that causes noticeable vibrations in the ground… large trucks or construction equipment, strong wind shaking a tall building, people moving heavy furniture on the floor below, etc. Because even in a place with LOTS of earthquakes they aren’t that frequent. We’re not looking at daily, weekly, or even monthly occurrence… at most, a few times per year.

            1. Calpurrnia*

              I’m also in an extremely seismically active area of the US; we recently had two >6.0 earthquakes on the same date exactly 1 year apart. The 6.4 last year cut power to my entire county for most of a day, cut off travel to and from a town by damaging a 100-year-old bridge, and brought along another 5.something aftershock a week or so later just to freak everyone out. (If anyone recognizes that description, we’re probably neighbors!)

              Anyway, around here we do definitely feel more than 1-2 per year; I’d guess around 5-6, but they’re almost all very minor, with magnitudes in the 4-4.5 range. Most of those feel more like a single “bump” than actual shaking vibrations. The house makes a little creaking sound kind of like someone slamming a door, but by the time you could even physically stand up from your chair, it’s already over. I’ve actually been surprised since I moved to this area (from a non-seismically-active place) how few earthquakes even resemble the ones from TV and movies with prolonged shaking! The 6.4 last year was the only one that we felt actually rock the ground for more than half a second, and it was in the middle of the night, so I rode it out in bed feeling like a boat on stormy seas.

              But yeah, even if they were in this area (very unlikely to begin with), it still sounds like coworker is reacting to things that are NOT earthquakes, just vaguely resemble them. (Or resemble what she thinks earthquakes are like? Which, in my experience, most earthquakes are *not* actually like, although I’ve also never been in a tall building during one so can’t say for certain.) Maybe she’s got some residual trauma from a past earthquake experience, I don’t know, but if this is happening even once per month then it’s *far* too often to realistically be an actual earthquake.

          3. Rebelx*

            But the number of places in the world that experience regular earthquakes is a lot bigger than maybe you realize. It’s not so “simple” as moving from, say, California to Colorado (which itself isn’t actually a simple task; moving states is logistically complicated and expensive). A person living in Japan or Chile, for example, would have to leave the entire country to get away from quakes. And even if we are talking about California, a person with a phobia might not *want* to move, like if it would mean being far from family. I live in a place with regular earthquakes, and most people are so used to it they barely react, even for a relatively strong shake that would be alarming for someone who isn’t used to it. However, there’s a not-insignificant number of the people here who have strong phobias, and it’s usually BECAUSE they live here and experienced a very big, traumatic earthquake several years ago. I’ve worked with people who have panic reactions any time there’s a shake, and I’ve never once thought the person needed to “get a hold of themselves”. Like, it’s very clear they were distressed and would very much rather NOT have that kind of reaction, but they can’t help it. For most people with phobias, it’s not something they can just “get over” through sheer force of will, and even if they are working on it, it takes time. So ultimately, the advice here that the coworker needs some kind of accommodation so that they aren’t regularly disrupting their coworkers is spot on. I’d also suggest having some compassion/empathy for the person with the phobia, because while the shrieking is annoying, having frequent panic about earthquakes is probably a lot worse for the coworker.

          4. OMG, Bees!*

            Much of the entire Pacific rim has active and frequent earthquakes. Japan and California are semi famous for them, although The Big One will likely be around Washington state. We get little quakes all the time, just usually you barely feel them or it feels like a large truck drove past

        2. Cedrus Libani*

          Having lived near San Francisco for ~2/3 of my life, I’ve found that the buildings don’t shake much during routine operations – they’re built for the big one, so they laugh off the little stuff. I might notice an earthquake once every couple of years. It’s not a huge deal. You’re taught what to do, but I’ve yet to need it. Excluding the proper earthquake that happened when I was a toddler, it’s a thump and that’s it. Maybe a thump and a rattle if Mr. Andreas is feeling feisty.

          I did have trouble with the building standards when I moved to the East Coast as a preteen. I was on the top floor of an elementary school, and elementary schools tend to march herds of students around, which in a building that isn’t up to earthquake code causes a noticeable swaying. Yes, the twitchy Californian kid went under the nearest table a few times before adapting to the new normal. But I didn’t shriek.

    4. Irish Teacher*

      And it has apparently been going on for years. My immediate assumption was that this coworker had recently moved from an area that didn’t have earthquakes and therefore they associated earthquakes with the ones that make international news because of high death rates and massive destruction.

      But definitely after years, it is long past time the person dealt with this issue. I know phobias and trauma are serious issues but if they are serious enough that you are disrupting your workmates on a regular basis and potentially putting yourself in danger by not following the safety procedures, then something needs to be done.

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        As someone with a phobia – its not on everyone else to manage it. Empathetic yes, put up with what I do? No. It is on me to make it not disruptive.

        This is like the guy who had a fear of birds, saw one and shoved his coworker breaking her arm. It was not okay just because he had a phobia about birds. Same here, whatever reason she has it is not okay to disrupt the entire office on a regular basis.

        1. Purpleshark*

          Thank you for saying this. As someone who can get anxious with loud sudden sounds, this would be a nightmare – I get a flight or fight response adrenaline rush. Not to mention that if I were involved and concentrating this action would have me well off course. I hope they find a way to manage this.

      2. Massive Dynamic*

        Yep, this person needs to be kindly told that they need to fix their behavior. How that happens is their own private business with their doctor/therapist, but it must stop. And I do get earthquake trauma as I was in a violent one almost a decade ago, and was affected by it, especially with the aftershocks.

    5. Dog momma*

      How has she managed to even live there? She must be a bundle of nerves just waiting for the next tremor. Its sad really. But you’re right, incredibly disruptive, puts everyone else on edge, etc.. When she leaves the bldg, does she come back to work? or just go home. If the latter, how in the world does she keep her job?

    6. Observer*

      may have some trauma around earthquakes, but she’s gotta find a way to get a handle on it, because shrieking frequently in the office just isn’t excusable.

      I do agree with this, for the most part. But I don’t think that “excusable” is the right framing. Tenable or acceptable is more useful. It’s value neutral, which can be easier to get across. But also, it’s more accurate. Because even if it were say, her getting physically ill (which would make her reaction “excusable”) it would *still* not be tenable.

      Something needs to change.

      1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

        I appreciate this nuance. Things can be unworkable without it being someone’s “fault.”

        1. MigraineMonth*

          Yes. Value-neutral also keeps good boundaries between the workplace and the employee. It doesn’t matter if the behavior is caused by trauma, phobias, or a terrible sense of humor; *the job* requires that the employee either stop the behavior or ask for an accommodation.

    7. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      This honestly reminds me of my dog who, whenever we start cooking on the stovetop, starts shaking uncontrollably and climbing into our laps (she’s almost 50lbs). Why? Because, sometimes (rarely, but sometimes), we set off the smoke alarm.

      It’s annoying as all hell, but also? She’s a dog.

      1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

        (Pressed enter too soon, then wasn’t able to come back quickly.)

        What I meant by this was, obviously there’s not a lot we can do to get our dog into a better frame of mind, other than time and training. (She’s been better lately! But then the alarm went off for the first time in a WHILE last night and we weren’t expecting it so … I think we undid a lot of that work.) In this case, requiring an employee to seek some sort of alternative option to work through this would be reasonable.

    8. PotsPansTeapots*

      I used to work in an extremely tall office building in an area without earthquakes. Still, tall buildings are designed to sway a bit in the wind.

      Every time a storm or even a blustery day came, the building creaked like the spookiest gd haunted house. I did not care for it and while I wasn’t as disruptive as the coworker in #4, I was noticeably less productive. Thankfully, it was just a temp job.

      Lesson learned: no more jobs in skyscrapers for me! I hope co-worker can figure out a solution that works.

    9. Gumby*

      I sympathize with being very attuned to shaking because I am sensitive to it as well. Being aware of every little shake is possibly not something Jane can change. But what she can change is how she reacts. The Northridge earthquake and all of its many, many aftershocks is what helped tamp down my reactions. I don’t think it’s out of line for Jane’s manager to require her to work on developing a different coping mechanism that is less disruptive.

      Barring that, there’s always putting her whole work station on an isolation platform. (Not a real suggestion. Would be prohibitively expensive. But wouldn’t it be nice…)

  2. Zombeyonce*

    #3: Former boss’ retirement party

    $40 and PTO to attend a retirement party?! I wouldn’t even do that for someone I liked unless they were my best friend both in and out of the office. Even then, I’d have to think about it. What kind of retirement party costs money to attend, beyond maybe chipping in for a gift? I’m glad I don’t work for people that think this is reasonable.

    LW, skip it and feel no guilt.

    1. coffee*

      Maybe the $40 is for a set menu lunch or something?

      Overall, making people take time off and pay money for his retirement party seems wholly in keeping with this guy being a jerk. Only positive is that “Oh I couldn’t get the time off/I didn’t have the PTO available for it” is such an easy excuse not to go.

      1. Beth**

        Even if it’s for a meal, surely the person retiring is the host and should pay for his guests. I would have to like someone better than I’ve liked almost any boss I’ve ever worked for to pay that kind of money.

        Perhaps unsurprisingly, I can’t actually imagine any of the good bosses I’ve had asking people to pay to honour them. They would put their hands in their own pocket.

        1. Jackalope*

          Yeah, I’ve had one boss that I would be willing to shell out that much for, but she had her retirement party at a restaurant close to the office and it didn’t have a set cost. I did buy my own dinner (which seemed reasonable to me since I was hungry), but it was perfectly okay to just get a soda or something and hang out.

        2. The Person from the Resume*

          I’d guess that the person retiring is the guest of honor and his meal is being paid for by the company/group/etc.

          It’s clear to me that this is a somewhat fancy retirement lunch and that’s the price of meal. Possibly the price of attendees’ meal plus a bit extra to cover the guest of honor’s meal and drink.

        3. Onomatopoeia Cornucopia*

          The person retiring would be the one having the party thrown for him by someone else, so he wouldn’t pay for anything. Whoever decided where the party was going to be should have picked something that didn’t require guests to pay!

          1. LifeBeforeCorona*

            Maybe whoever organized the party knows how unpopular the manager is. By charging $40 and making people take PTO he’s giving people the excuse that they’re too busy at work or can’t afford the entrance fee.

        4. JunoArtemis*

          As a teacher, asking people to pay $20-40 for the food plus a gift for the retiree is pretty standard. It would never be during work hours though. I’ve never had a principal retire while they were my boss, so perhaps that situation would be different. In education we pay for all sorts of things the private sector does not pay for so maybe we are just used to it.

    2. John Smith*

      My previous manager – the most unpopular we ever had (that’s a long list and takes some beating) – had his leaving party arranged during work time by senior management. Normally, everyone would show (literally getting paid to go to a party!) but on this occasion absolutely no-one from our team turned up or even bothered signing his leaving card. Management still don’t get how unpopular he was (or why) and tried (and failed) disciplining us for not turning up. The same will probably happen with our current manager (somehow just as bad as the last one) when she finally leaves. We won’t go even though we’re literally getting paid to do so, never mind having to pay!

      1. Observer*

        and tried (and failed) disciplining us for not turning up.

        What was the excuse for the (attempted) discipline. And how was it that they were unsuccessful? Sounds like a bit of a story here.

        1. John Smith*

          The reason they gave was failing to follow management instruction. It was laughable, especially as no instruction was given. They tried chucking in a load of “problem” behaviours they claim was from not going to the party, like not being colleagial or cooperative to keep the disciplinary going. Emails were used and taken utterly out of context and baroquean backwards logic applied to their argument. Even our HR – the attack dogs of our management – had a hard time stomaching it and the case was abandoned. Its purely down to our senior management who are never ever wrong and are not used to hearing the word “no” said to them. They like using the disciplinary process to shut down anything they disagree with and twisting situations beyond recognition to make allegations fit.

    3. Alinator*

      Yup, the clincher is indeed “needing to pay money and use a half day of PTO”. Don’t go.
      I find the thought process behind this baffling: if the person is retiring and the company has arranged the party, therefore you need to help pay for the party and take your own time off – what?!
      And other people are seriously going to go?

      1. Nebula*

        It could be that they work in government/the public sector. I’m in the UK, but I understand the deal is similar in the US: you can’t use public funds for things like parties, therefore we have to pay for that kind of thing ourselves. Though in my experience, we’ve been able to have them in work time – though from this website I gather that recording all time off as PTO is stricter in the US than here.

        1. Chili Heeler*

          In the US, it is common for retirement parties to happen during the day but not for it to require using PTO.

          1. doreen*

            I think that depends on where it is, which may also affect the length. At my government job ( where attendees organized and paid for any parties) I went to lots of retirement parties on-site during the work day. Parties during the workday kind of had to be on-site because although people can get away with wandering in and out of a conference room for an hour or two, going offsite for an hour or two would have required using PTO or staying late at the end of the day. The off-site ones were in the evening and therefore didn’t require PTO.

            LW should know if there will be any effects on their career – sure, the retiree can’t affect the LW. But it’s possible other people will notice the non-attendance – I stopped attending parties connected to my job in 2021 when gatherings were not allowed on-site and the people I managed were pissed. Because of COVID, I didn’t care – but pre-COVID, when I missed an off-site party, I would make sure everyone knew I had a prior commitment.

          2. Turquoisecow*

            Not in government but in my jobs I think they’d probably have a small gathering in the break room with cake or whatever, maybe a lunch if they were feeling generous. Not mandatory, free, and not requiring PTO.

            If it was a small team maybe they would have a dinner or lunch outside the office where either all but the guest of honor would pay their own way or maybe the guest of honor pays for everything, but also not mandatory and only with a small team where it wouldn’t be a huge deal to show up at a restaurant unannounced (as opposed to a huge group in a catering hall or something).

            I can’t imagine being required to attend and pay a specific amount. Usually in my office there would be an email sent around like “we are having this gathering, let me know if you want to come so I can make reservations/know how much food to order/etc.” no pressure if you don’t.

        2. bamcheeks*

          I think I’d generally expect someone who was retiring in the UK to have a brief cake + well-wishing ceremony in the staff kitchen at lunchtime, and for that to be general entry and have a 12-25 people depending on your popularity, length of service and type of role, and include people who are just showing their faces in a broader, “well, I don’t actively wish you harm and hey, cake!” way. Then you’d have a separate paid meal for your close colleagues and work friends– maybe 4-8 people who actually like spending time with you! Going for a paid meal with people with a large enough group to include people you managed two years ago and didn’t have a particularly warm relationship with would be *very* unusual.

          1. Beth**

            This must depend on where you are in the UK. I have been to some pretty large retirement parties here, including one for a senior person in the public sector that included a bbq and copious amounts alcohol.

            I have never been asked to pay to attend one. (But have done a small group afternoon tea for a particularly close colleague. )

        3. Zombeyonce*

          I can understand the PTO part in that case, but then this dude should be paying for his own party, not expecting guests to do so.

    4. Policy Wonk*

      This is pretty common in government- we can’t spend taxpayer funds for things like this. $40 would usually include venue, lunch, gift.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        But like others pointed out, it wouldn’t be held during work time in that case. And it would be completely optional.

      2. Zombeyonce*

        Then he should pay that money on his own, not expect guests to pay it to celebrate him. That’s just tacky.

        1. Zombeyonce*

          I see from other replies that this is apparently common practice to have to pay to attend someone’s retirement party in government jobs. I’m baffled by this practice, as all the retirement parties I ever attended have either been paid for by the company or the person. Generally, all but 1 or 2 of the attendees are people junior to the person retiring and make far less money. I would be willing to bring food to a potluck or chip in for some snacks, but $40 feels outrageous to me.

        2. Twix*

          You’re framing it as “This person is throwing a party to celebrate retirement and everyone else are his guests.” That’s understandable, but these are very commonly framed instead as “We (the retiree’s company/staff/coworkers) are collectively throwing a party to celebrate this person’s career and wish them well in retirement, and they are the guest of honor.” It’s like a birthday dinner or a bachelor party – in practice it’s for the benefit of a particular person who is involved in the planning, but norms around who should foot the bill vary quite a bit.

      3. Project Maniac-ger*

        Glad I’m not the only one to think it’s ridiculous to buy tickets to a retirement party. Pitching in to buy a cake, sure, but an actual ticketed event? No.

    5. Gritter*

      I can’t see not going having any negative effect on your career. Retirees rarely have any influence on an organisation once they are gone and are usually forgotten about rather quickly.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I think the OP is more concerned about the other management who might notice.

        This is where urgent deadlines, meetings that can’t be missed, appointments that can’t be moved, etc., come in handy.

    6. Guacamole Bob*

      This is a pretty standard way for retirement lunches to work in my government agency. The agency can’t spend taxpayer money on this kind of thing so all personal celebrations are employee-funded (baby showers, wedding gifts, milestones with the company, retirements, any flowers or meal gift cards for illnesses or deaths in the family).

      Usually it’s at least nominally organized by colleagues and not the retiree, but a nice lunch around that price point where people pay per person to attend isn’t unusual for long-time employees who are retiring in my office.

      1. Totally Minnie*

        But when something is organized by the office you usually don’t have to use PTO to attend, even if it’s off site. Where I work we might have to pay for our own food and transportation, but we’d be able to bill our time to the team-building code.

        1. doreen*

          That might be the case in the private sector – but not in any government agency that I know of. I might have been able to get away with going to an off-site party and not using PTO until I didn’t – people I know caught caught not being at work when they should have been in the most bizarre ways, which didn’t involve anyone reporting them.

          1. Totally Minnie*

            I’m in state government. For someone’s retirement lunch a few weeks ago, we were told that attendees would need to find their own way to the venue and pay for any food or drinks they ordered, but since it was an office sponsored event during the work day, people who attended could use the team-building time code. I didn’t go because I didn’t know the person, but it was all laid out in the invitation.

        2. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

          I don’t think this is right. Where I am, individuals organize the retirement parties and we have to use PTO (but feds get a lot of PTO). The agency organizes the holiday party but IIRC give us a few hours of admin leave to attend that.

      2. Adultiest Adult*

        Yeah, my friend is a state attorney and all of the retirement and holiday parties she describes are like this, with a cost per head of somewhere between $20-40 and an off-site venue, so I immediately assumed that OP and ex-boss must both be government employees for the party to be structured like this.

    7. Insert Clever Name Here*

      I had a similar boss at one point and it was indeed an experience to go (in the offices during work hours) and listen to people (who never worked directly for him) talk about how great he was. If I’d had to pay (he bragged that he saved the company money by never spending his allotted “team morale” money) and take PTO? Absolutely not.

      “Oh, I have an appointment I can’t move at that time! I sure learned a lot [about how not to exist as a person] from Ron, though.”

      Incidentally, the next day my coworkers and I all went out for a celebratory lunch. We were also a high performing team and guess what happened when we got a boss who was supportive and didn’t call us “dumb dumbs” for asking questions — we became and even *higher* performing team.

      1. Ashley*

        I have honestly scheduled conflicts the minute I heard dates for some events like this – though they tended to be on Saturday nights and required black tie. I knew I needed a ‘legitimate’ excuse not to attend. You shouldn’t need one, but sometimes it is easier to have something definitive you can say and follow-up with in the Monday chit chat. Even with that my awesome manager got push back from above for me to attending but it was pretty easy for both of us to just name my plans.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I would be on the phone in an instant to schedule some overdue appointment.

      GEE WIZ the Dr had to move the date of my colonoscopy and I’ll be out that day.

    9. Former academic*

      It was common for retirement parties at my public university to cost money to attend, because Taxpayer Money. (There was a small budget available to the department, but if you wanted a dinner that was well above the allotted amount.) So that aspect didn’t seem odd to me– but it was also totally normal for people not to attend for someone outside their team/sub-area.

    10. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      The Judges retirement parties around here have a fee. Which there is only 1 I plan to attend (its the judge who performed my wedding ceremony). They know not everyone will go and its fine.

      OP, I don’t know the politics of your office, but I imagine you won’t be the only one who, sadly, can’t attend for … reasons.

    11. hereforthecomments*

      I’m glad that I work in a department where we all chip in for pizza when someone retires. If we really like you, you may also get dessert!

    12. SnappyGirl*

      LOL – same. I wouldn’t take a half day’s vacation and pay $40 for someone I actually liked! That’s a HUGE ask in a workplace, especially when it’s a senior person retiring.

      Retirement parties at any company I’ve ever worked at were paid for 100% BY THE COMPANY.

  3. ENFP in Texas*

    #3 – “I have a work-related obligation that conflicts and I am not able to find a replacement, so I won’t be attending the party.” :)

    Seriously, though, don’t feel bad about not going. He’s not your boss anymore. And the fact that you’d have to pay *and* use your PTO for the privilege of attending? No. Maybe send a card.

    1. FFF*

      “…and I am unable to find a replacement” that made me giggle .

      Please feel no guilt about this, LW3, whether you use the script above or not.

    2. GammaGirl1908*

      You don’t even have to make this much of an excuse. “Unfortunately, I’m not available to attend. Best of luck to him in the future, though!”

      It’s nobody’s business that you’re not available because you’re busy hating the man’s guts.

      1. Cookie Monster*

        I think the comment was making a joke about finding a replacement, referring to the original letter.

    3. Why oh why*

      #2 – “There’s a change, and we no longer know when we’re going to reimburse you…” It sounds like the organization may be having major financial problems, and I’m not sure the LW will ever get reimbursed. If I were the LW, I would stop taking on any new assignments until I got reimbursed for the expenses I had already incurred.

      #3 – It sounds like Ron is throwing the retirement party himself, not that the company is doing it. And Ron continues to show why he was a terrible boss by throwing that party during company time and charging attendees! I think a lot of people will somehow have a scheduling conflict. That being said, if I were in that situation, I think I would ask around and see if people whose opinion matters were going (and if my old workfriends were going, so I could hang out with them and catch up rather than view it as a waste of time). If you go, I don’t think you have to praise Ron to his face; I think you can just say, “Happy Retirement! I hope you have a great one (so I never have to see your face again)!”

      1. The Person from the Resume*

        I’m not reading it as a money issue. I’m reading it as a manpower issue. But it’s clear the non-profit isn’t valueing the reimbursement as an important task.

        I read #2 as possibly the person who did that job before left and their replacement hasn’t been hired yet. Maybe it’s someone or various people’s extra duty. Or maybe the only junior person who can disburse funds left and now the head of the non-profi or the CFO can do so, and they are already very busy that who knows when they will get to it.

        1. Observer*

          I’m not reading it as a money issue. I’m reading it as a manpower issue. But it’s clear the non-profit isn’t valueing the reimbursement as an important task.

          I think it’s both. Because otherwise there would be a time line or at least a plan to get it under control and some commitment to transparency and communications. Instead people are being told that they will *not* be communicating and refuse to make any sort of reasonable commitment.

      2. Observer*

        It sounds like the organization may be having major financial problems, and I’m not sure the LW will ever get reimbursed. If I were the LW, I would stop taking on any new assignments until I got reimbursed for the expenses I had already incurred.

        Yes. That is exactly where my mind went.

    4. Voluptuousfire*

      I say the OP takes the day off and takes themselves to dinner and has a cocktail or whatever they choose and raise that glass to Ron, bidding him adieu in that he’s out of the workforce and won’t be able to torture anyone anymore and then celebrate their own success, determination and strength.

  4. annabek*

    I’ve been on the other side of the first letter, realizing after five or ten minutes that I absolutely did not want the job and said “I’m sorry, but I don’t want to waste any more of your time. this job is not what I’m looking for. thank you for seeing me” or some such

    1. MK*

      I think it’s easier to do gracefully for the candidate than the hiring manager. The reality is that the candidate’s time is likely already wasted, if it’s an in-person interview; there isn’t much benefit to them if it’s cut short. The interviewer on the other hand can just go back to work.

      1. Also-ADHD*

        I think virtual interviews are a little easier to cut short on both ends too, but the LW is clearly speaking about when the candidate has come out in person. Unless the person did something offensive (totally different as Alison noted) if you’re getting someone in person for a full interview and they’re an obvious bad fit, and this isn’t a fluke, you think it could happen again, it seems like the initial screening process maybe needs work.

    2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      I wouldn’t do this, but only because all interviews I’ve been to were with full expenses paid, so it would be too awkward and I’d just suck up the time waste.

      1. Jelly*

        Yes omg this. I’ve been on interviews that only after a few minutes in were a clear mismatch, but I saw them through because I didn’t want to jeopardize my travel reimbursement.

    3. Mike*

      I wanted to do this, but be especially rude about it on purpose. I didn’t, but I wanted to.

      It was during the late 2000’s recession; I desperately needed a job so I bought a commuter train I couldn’t afford, to commute to an interview in a nearby city. I got there and found out it was one of those commission-only sales jobs that get offered to everybody who walks in the door. I was so posted at being duped and spending travel money I couldn’t really afford to spend. I wanted to get up and walk out.

      1. The Taking of Official Notice*

        This happened to me! I spent about half my meager checking account in gas to get to one of these interviews. At least I learned my lesson and what red flags to watch out for early in my career.

      2. Sir Nose d'Voidoffunk*

        I know what you’re saying, but this reads like you bought the entire train, and I like that visual so I’m going to stick with it.

    4. SnappyGirl*

      Same here – I had one situation where I ended the interview short, saying, politely, “This opportunity isn’t the right fit for me and I don’t want to take up any more of your time or mine. Thank you for meeting with me.” It was fine and, honestly, I think the interviewer appreciated it!

      1. AnonORama*

        I’ve done that a couple times, once when there was a clear mismatch between my skill set and the job functions (they forgot a major tech requirement in their ad), and once when they named a salary that was ~40% lower than standard. Neither required travel, thankfully, and both interviewers thanked me for being respectful of their time! (Which is how I phrased it when I suggested not finishing the interview.) I still wonder if the second one ever hired anyone for the ridiculously low salary or if they had to raise it; the person doing the interview literally winced when she said the number!

    5. Annie*

      I was working as a temp in a job, basically the lowest paying job possible, making copies, helping out around the office, mail, etc., just to make ends meet until I found something permanent. The manager wanted to interview me for the job permanently, and I sat down with her and we talked for a minute before I basically declined the job, thanking her for her consideration but telling her I was looking for something different.

  5. Biglawex*

    I’m firmly on the cut it short side. But I may be biased as I once did a full day interview at a jail education program, along with a presentation and lunch, only to be told after six hours…that they’d already hired someone but didn’t want me to think I’d wasted my time…

    1. Indolent Libertine*

      So… they wasted your time so you wouldn’t feel like you’d wasted your time?! That’s mind-boggling.

      1. Biglawex*

        I was driving the interviewer an unfamiliar area and I had to work hard not to let my jaw fall on the car floor mat…

        I’d have loved to have gotten a phone call and saved my day for something else.

        Now that I think of it, I once got to an interview where I was told they’d hired someone else when I walked in the door. The PTO was already gone…

        These were all attorney jobs.

    2. GammaGirl1908*

      To me, the distinction is that these people knew **before you left the house** that they didn’t need to interview you. They should have called you before you left home to stop the presses.

      In the question, however, the interviewer learned something very early during the interview that let them know the candidate likely wasn’t a good match or wasn’t the one.

      I’ve had this happen, both in scholarship and job interviews. In each case, we had interviewed a couple of stellar people already, and the rest of the candidates. weren’t measuring up, and it was very obvious early in the interviews. We didn’t cancel the interviews in case someone indeed did come along and blow the previous people out of the water, but it didn’t happen.

      In those cases, I do think it’s worth finishing the interview, as more of an informational interview or a networking opportunity, and making sure that you don’t act disinterested or disengaged even though you know you are not selecting this person. That is especially true if it’s more of a feeling or a comparison to another candidate, and not a hard stop (like, the person absolutely has to speak French or know Fortran and this person does not. In that case, you use Alison’s script above about whether it makes sense to keep talking). That is because if you haven’t made an offer, you have no idea whether you indeed might need to circle back to this person. They also might turn out to be worth keeping on file for something that is upcoming. More importantly, you have no idea whether or when you might encounter this person again, and you want them to have a positive impression of you and your company. That’s worth a few extra minutes.

    3. Nebula*

      I think that’s a slightly different situation though. The LW is talking about starting an interview with a candidate and then thinking there’s no way they would hire that person. They haven’t already filled the role, they’ve just decided that they don’t think it will work for this candidate in particular. On that front, I think Alison’s advice is good to at least see the interview through in case your gut feeling is wrong. If someone has already been hired then yes, it’s much more polite to let the other candidates know and cancel the interview.

    4. Snow Globe*

      I think an all-day interview is a different story. Cutting an interview at 10 minutes vs continuing for half an hour isn’t really saving the candidate much time, and is likely to leave the candidate feeling pretty awful.

    5. I should really pick a name*

      So it sounds like they knew you weren’t getting the job BEFORE you showed up, so the answer would have been to tell you not to come in, not to cut the interview short.

    6. Happy meal with extra happy*

      This is such an extremely different scenario, though. Like, not even close to comparable.

    7. Observer*

      But I may be biased as I once did a full day interview at a jail education program, along with a presentation and lunch, only to be told after six hours…that they’d already hired someone but didn’t want me to think I’d wasted my time

      Yeah, I think you are biased. But I understand why!

      The reality is that they should have contacted you in advance. But if they *really truly* could not do that, *this* would be one of the rare cases where it would make sense to say up front something like “We’re SO sorry that we could not reach you in advance. But the position has been filled.”

      It is pretty different from what the OP describes. Although I do agree that I *would* do a *shorter* interview if I were sure that I was not going to hire that person.

    8. TransportationFail*

      this can really screw up folks who arranged for transportation at a certain time (often 30min after the expect end time in case things go over – something that happens a lot more often than ending early).

  6. Viette*

    LW#4: While I agree with Alison’s advice that the key would be to make it more aggravating to your [doormat] of a boss to not talk to Jane than to talk to Jane, said Doormat Boss may take umbrage in being forced to do their job and become extremely resistant.

    Certainly I’ve seen it where people who make their living just not dealing with any conflicts lash out in petty/vindictive fear when backed into a corner about it. It’s good to try a two-pronged approach with the boss plus Jane, but consider that your boss has probably spent their WHOLE LIFE pathologically not dealing with conflict, and they’re not about to develop any excellent and functional coping mechanisms about it now. They might knuckle down or they might just wig out.

    I suppose the advice I’m trying to give is: try out your boss, but if they dig in and refuse, it might not be worth your energy (or job security). Definitely try to work on the coworker simultaneously.

    1. Alanis*

      I’m pretty curious if anyone has ever seen pushing a spineless manager succeed in making them act. It wouldn’t have worked with any of the invertebrate managers I’ve dealt with.

      1. Chili Heeler*

        I have seen it work only when person was actively avoiding conflict (or much work at all) that they could have handled. They simply didn’t want to or they wanted time/energy to contribute the illegal side hustle they ran from their office.

      2. Grey Coder*

        I think we once got a spineless manager to “handle” something by making him raise it up the chain. Fortunately his boss was less inert.

    2. Totally Minnie*

      My first question was if this company has HR. Because if they do, that’s where I’d go. I’d frame it as “Jane gets very upset when she thinks we might be having an earthquake, and it can be quite disruptive to the rest of the office when it happens. We’ve talked to Boss about it, but he said there’s nothing he can do. But with the new construction getting ready to start, I’m worried that the disruptions are going to happen more frequently. Can you help me make a plan for what we can do if that happens?”

  7. MC*

    #2 if this volunteer program is really AmeriCorps, I recommend documenting anything your boss has said about mileage reimbursement. If they do not budge, and will not give you other duties that do not require mileage reimbursement, I would consider bringing it up to AmeriCorps. They are required to reimburse you for site visits and you should not have that additional financial burden. If you’re not in AmeriCorps, disregard!

    1. Snow Globe*

      The LW mentions “local nonprofit” so I don’t think that’s it.

      I would suggest that if a small nonprofit is having a hard time reimbursing volunteers, there is a very good chance that the organization is in financial distress and the LW should consider the possibility that they might never get reimbursed. Don’t continue volunteering if you can’t afford to lose the money.

      1. Silver Robin*

        AmeriCorps places folks in all sorts of organizations, so the fact that it is a local nonprofit does not exclude that possibility.

        But I read this as the stipends being for transportation specifically and otherwise unpaid, which would not be AmeriCorps.

      2. bamcheeks*

        I would completely agree with this. It is VERY REASONABLE to pause volunteering until you know when you will be reinbursed.

        Really, the organisation should be pausing its activities until it knows how and when the new structure will be in place. I note that there is no incentive for the organisation to do this in a timely fashion if their assumption is that it’s fine for volunteers to run up expenses indefinitely and they aren’t allowed to ask the company when this is going to be resolved.

        1. I Have RBF*

          I note that there is no incentive for the organisation to do this in a timely fashion if their assumption is that it’s fine for volunteers to run up expenses indefinitely and they aren’t allowed to ask the company when this is going to be resolved.

          Exactly. If volunteers aren’t even allowed to ask when they’ll get reimbursed, the org is essentially saying “Don’t expect reimbursement.”

          I would definitely pause/stop volunteering, and tell them why. If they’re not allowed to ask or discuss when they will be reimbursed, they should take that as the organization saying that they don’t need their services unless they are willing to eat all of the costs.

      3. Colette*

        Yeah, I agree. I’d say “I can’t afford to take on new volunteer opportunities until I’m paid for my outstanding expenses, so I will wait to sign up for new events until my expenses are paid.”

    2. Sloanicota*

      There’s two ways #2 could play out. If the org just doesn’t have the money (“right now”) then OP should stop volunteering for them, or only do local, walkable engagements because they can’t afford to pay for all these rideshares. If the org has just lost admin capacity and can’t process reimbursements quickly, it could be worth asking if they can set up a company account on the rideshare, which would be easier to pay off promptly when it’s tied to their credit card. However, if that was something they were willing to do, they probably should have offered it sooner (I don’t know if OP is the only one using rideshares or not).

      1. Observer*

        If the org has just lost admin capacity and can’t process reimbursements quickly,

        While that’s possible, it’s unlikely. The lack of transparency and commitment to really, REALLY try – and the ridiculous idea that people should not even *ask* about it says that there is more to it than just a change in a single staff person.

    3. Lucia Pacciola*

      I feel like any organization that can’t manage continuity of business during a restructure probably isn’t an organization worth working for. LW #2 needs to move on.

      1. I Have RBF*


        The organization has essentially indicated that it is now incompetent, and chooses to remain so.

  8. Alternative Person*

    #1 It’s definitely balancing act sometimes when it comes to the grey area of ‘they aren’t quite right’ but giving them a fair chance to recover or talk about their strengths in other areas is usually the fairest way to go. I’ve seen candidates near flame out in the first half but recover in the second, I’ve seen candidates be offered multiple chances to recover but not quite get there, I’ve seen candidates interview amazingly but struggle in the actual job.

    1. English Rose*

      Agreed – ‘they aren’t quite right’ can be subjective on the interviewer’s part and interviewees should be given an opportunity to show their strengths.
      Also, even if at first blush the person turns out not to have some essential qualification, I’d tend to explain that but offer to continue the discussion for ten minutes or so in case something more suitable turns up in the organisation in the near future.

    2. November Juliet*

      Also, is OP1 the sole interviever? In my industry, the fist interview (after phone screen) usually is done by 2 people, the second interview is done by panel. So this problem never came up. I have seen some candidates where it was clear from the beginning that they are a bad fit, but I was not sure if the second interviewer has the same opinion so I carried on. In most cases, it turned out that second interviewer also decided at the very beginning that we do not want to hire the candidate. However I am not sure how to stop the interview in this case. Turninv to the second interviewer and asking in front of candidate “do you think we should continue?” is terribly rude.

      1. Grey Coder*

        At Exjob we had a multi-stage interview with defined breaks where we would offer drinks, restroom breaks, etc. but also quickly confer away from the candidate about whether or not we would proceed. The first phase was long enough that candidates rejected at that point probably wouldn’t have known they got an early out.

        1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

          Really? You didn’t tell them in advance how long they’d be there, or send them a schedule of who they’d be talking to at what time? Weird.

        2. Bast*

          …I’m really curious how long these interviews were, and for what type of job. Multi-stage interviews long enough to require breaks seems like something I’d expect if I were interviewing for a c-suite position, but for entry or mid level I’d be baffled.

          1. cardigarden*

            Academia does full-day or sometimes two-day final round interviews depending on the position.

            1. Fierce Jindo*

              Yes, but I’ve never heard of one being cut short!

              Not even when a senior candidate made his utter contempt for and lack of interest in us abundantly clear… he obviously just wanted a retention offer at his current university, but he didn’t get it via us since never in a million years would we make him an offer after that interview.

          2. WantonSeedStitch*

            At my workplace, it’s common to have candidates even for lower-level positions interview with several different people over the course of half a day. Usually it’s the hiring manager, their manager, some peers, and sometimes someone from a client team or a collaborating team. For mid-level, we might add a couple more interviews. For ED-level, you might have a full day and then another interview or two.

            1. Bast*

              Is that common in your field? I’ve known candidates to give up on a position in my field if the interview process is too intense/long. I have a friend who recently applied for a job and did: an online application followed by an assessment of skills, a phone screen, an in person interview (which was fairly long) and then was called back to do yet another interview followed by a “test day” with someone else. This is quite unusual in my field and she dropped out because a) there are so many similar jobs where the interview process is not so demanding, and b) the demands on her PTO were a bit much. Taking multiple half days within a week or so of each other were a giant red flag and taxed her already minimal PTO. I guess if it’s normal in the field you work in it would not get this reaction, but I cannot see putting a receptionist and a CFO through the same level of interviews and screens.

          3. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

            It’s pretty standard in tech, where the interview needs to dive fairly deeply into the skills – whiteboarding coding, detailed talking through a problem to see how the candidate thinks, etc. Three hours is pretty standard.

            1. MigraineMonth*

              Yup. They often do “technical interviews” (which are skills tests) plus the more standard behavioral interview, so it takes a while. Rather than turning into 4+ rounds of interviews, many places condense it into a multi-hour interview.

              1. Bast*

                That makes sense. I would much rather have one long day than have to come back 4+ times, and I’m sure many people find it easier as well.

        3. Grey Coder*

          Software development job at a startup. Not big enough for a formal HR process so interviews were with the team and immediate managers. I don’t think it would have occurred to us to send anyone a detailed schedule!

          I do remember when I interviewed there, they were a bit vague about how long it would take, which was annoying. In reality it was 1-3 hours, we probably would have said “allow 4 hours” if anyone asked. Each stage was about an hour. Lots of problem solving/whiteboard coding in the interview, that amount of time is pretty normal in my experience.

          1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

            It’s really not cool to not give a time frame upfront. No one thinks they’re walking into 4 hours without a heads up!

            I had that situation once. It was an 11a meeting and I didn’t think to ask for an end time, figuring up to an hour was typical. My plan was to get lunch after. It turned out to be almost 3 hours and multiple people, and they never once offered me a break or even a glass of water! That was nuts.

            Now I know to ask for duration / end time.

            1. MigraineMonth*

              I once went to a “3-hour” interview and left about four and a half hours later. It was fair warning about the hiring manager’s tendency to ramble and ignore meeting end times, which absolutely continued once I got the job.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’m now thinking a group interview should prep for Alison’s scenario of bigoted comments and have an agreed-upon followup.

        “Teapots Unlimited has a strong commitment to diversity and equity. Tell us about your history working with people with different backgrounds than yours.”

        Switch out that second sentence if it’s completely egregious: “Statements such as the one you’ve just made would be grounds for termination so we will not be continuing this interview.”

      3. Ashley*

        If I was interviewing with someone repeatedly I would definitely develop a code at some point for the truly bad. It could be a phrase or story, or even one of those weird how many golf balls fit in a car questions. Basically telling my colleague I am done with this person. That only works though with someone you work with a lot and tend to generally be on the same page about candidates.

        1. Mairead*

          One place I used to work, it was known that if the HR guy put down his pen, the interview was beyond saving.

      4. KGD*

        Haha we used to have a system at my work where when you really didn’t think the person was a fit you switched to a red pen – and then if the other interviewer agreed, we’d both start skipping questions to move things along a bit quicker than usual. We always gave people at least 30 minutes though.

      5. MsM*

        I also usually do my interviewing with a partner, and we’ve never had a serious disagreement on who we do and don’t want to move forward with. But there are times when they pick up on a red flag early on while it takes me longer to get to the “oh, this isn’t going to work” realization, or vice versa, and being able to identify what those different triggers were is helpful as we’re screening resumes for the next round.

  9. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP2 (reimbursement as a volunteer) – why do I get the sense the org is running out of money, and hoping by stalling people long enough they’ll give up asking (but presumably continue with the volunteering, paying those expenses out of their own pocket, due to commitment to the org’s mission). Can’t pay invoices due to “restructuring” would come off as bs anywhere someone said that.

    So what should OP do? – if they have a line of communication to the ‘powers that be’, I would ask directly whether the org is in financial trouble and whether that reimbursement will ever be received. Yes, they said don’t keep asking about it. Probably because they don’t want to be bothered by people keep asking (not a legit reason imo).

    Are the accounts of this org public? If so, maybe worth taking a look…

  10. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP3 (retirement party) – Buying a ticket?! I’d like to know where the money is going … I mean, obviously throwing a party involves caterers etc who need to be paid, but generally the person throwing the party pays for it! (This is especially tone deaf in the case of a retirement party, because so many of the people attending will probably never have the financial resources to retire, etc. And then the retired person pops back up a few months later as a consultant….).

    Yeah, it’s the right choice not to go (and better if you can encourage others to bow out as well).

    Not exactly the same situation, but I keep having this type of conversation with my colleagues who want me to go with them to our Christmas party (most people do go and it is a genuine fun event rather than a platform for the CEO to drone on about whatever) – in my case it’s because we keep hearing about how the company is having a hard time financially, there’s a hiring freeze etc. In those circumstances I feel it’s in bad taste to blow money on a party having told people that money is scarce. Unfortunately the response I’m getting from people is “yeah….but party though”

    1. KateM*

      Usually, what a party costs the employer per person would not help much in hiring scene. Don’t become the person who carried heavy equipment by foot for two hours so as not to waste employer’s money on taxi.

      1. Myrin*

        I understood Captain to mean this as they’re not going on principle, not because they think the company will be able to save costs if fewer people attend.

      2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        Yeah, I appreciate that the cost of a party is probably small in comparison to salaries etc, but it’s more about the perception, ‘optics’, priorities than the actual financial impact, IMO. It doesn’t send a good message that we have had to cancel programmes of work due to ‘budget’ but still find space in the budget for a party. Especially when some of the cost cutting is already of the “stepping over dollars to pick up pennies” type.

        1. Platypus*

          And a work party is still…work. If it’s supposed to be a “gift” to employees then just give me a little gift card for my $40 per head charge.

        2. amoeba*

          Huh, interesting! I feel quite strongly the opposite way – a party is absolutely nothing for the company, we probably spend more on lab consumables every week. And yet somehow it’s always the first thing to go when finances are tight – which has a huge effect on employee morale. Similar: banning travel to conferences or other sites to meet colleagues in person, or even stuff like cookies for meetings.

          They just make people miserable with those measures and get almost nothing in return. Almost like something like employee happiness that doesn’t obviously, directly generate revenue doesn’t exist for them…

          1. Turquoisecow*

            Yeah if the company really is in bad financial trouble a small party shouldn’t be a drop in the bucket compared to its overall woes, assuming it’s not something outrageously extravagant like flying everyone to the Maldives to spend a week on a yacht.

            Also, while obviously some disagree (like the subset of commenters who don’t want to socialize with coworkers at all), many people view things like holiday or retirement parties as a morale booster. If the company always has a dinner at the holidays and then one year abruptly cuts it, that will be demoralizing to a fair number of people, and the company may wish to keep morale up, as unhappy employees means employees who aren’t doing their best work, or who are thinking of leaving.

            1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

              A party right after layoffs can be demoralizing, though. “We just laid off people you’ve been working with for years – time for cake!” Even if financially the cost of the party isn’t enough to make a difference, it’s bad optics.

      3. amoeba*

        I find that interesting, because for us, it’s always the other way around – the Christmas party, travel to conferences, and even stuff like cookies at meetings are the first things to go whenever the company is in trouble. And I hate it! It’s, like, such a tiny amount of money compared to the overall budget that I’m really sure it doesn’t make any kind of meaningful difference for the financial situation – but it wreaks havoc on morale. People are already stressed and overworked, please don’t take away any small perks that might make their work life a bit nicer and lead to actual socialisation within the team!

    2. doreen*

      but generally the person throwing the party pays for it!

      Yes, but in this particular situation, there usually isn’t a person throwing the party. There are no hosts, only organizers. People don’t get invited so much as they are informed of the date, time, place, who to contact for tickets. Think of a class reunion or a holiday party for members of a social organization. I have only on very rare occasions ( like once in 30 years) seen the “guest of honor” arrange their own party, so while it wouldn’t be absolutely unheard, of it would be very unusual for Ron to actually be throwing the party.

    3. LCH*

      i also didn’t understand what the ticket was for… i’ve been to retirement parties. usually held at the workplace. therefore no entry fees and also considered work time.

      1. Twix*

        That’s the standard for company-sponsored retirement parties, but it’s not unusual to host a private-but-open-invitation party off-site as well, especially if there’s going to be alcohol. In that case you’d usually rent out a restaurant or some other event venue and the ticket price covers the rental cost plus catering.

  11. Ebonworth*

    #5 – I always try to sell candidates on the company – it’s part of the process! For those who don’t get the job, I’d rather they be disappointed that they didn’t get to work at a great place than be disappointed that they were rejected from a bad place!

    Best case scenario, they come away with positive feelings about the company as a whole and might apply later to a position that’s better suited to them, or refer a friend.

    1. TechWorker*

      Yea same (to be honest if the candidate is bad and I know we’re not hiring them, but has a tonne of questions about the onboarding, at least they’re easy ones to answer, so i will always ask if the candidate has questions and answer them properly).
      But I don’t think you can read anything into it either way, you can have a truly fantastic interview and not take the top spot (or interview well but say something that’s a red flag for the interviewer – like we’ve had grad candidates say outright they want to come get trained up with us & then move to Google… you’re not coming back from that even if you’re fantastic otherwise)

      1. Ice Wueen*

        Oh, so intriguing this happens even in tech! I am in local government and I recently had several candidates right out of college basically tell me that they wanted to use us as a stepping stone to work for the Feds.

        1. TechWorker*

          At least they are both public sector haha! I think some candidates have no perception at all of how far in advance we are thinking – we’d like people to be successful & stay a long time. We also definitely pay for ‘potential’ rather than getting good value straight out of the gate :p so if someone leaves after 1-2 years that’s not a great investment for us.

    2. English Rose*

      Me too. You don’t want them to be disappointed if they’re not hired, but you do want them to know great things about the company and to tell their friends! It’s reputational awareness.

    3. Snow Globe*

      In most cases, if they are interviewing someone, they still consider the candidate viable, even if they haven’t made a decision yet. It’s always a good idea to sell the company in cases this does end up being the chosen candidate. You don’t wait until you’ve decided to make an offer before you start talking up the company.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Best case #3: Your company has a second position open up, and you are able to call back your #2 choice to offer the new position.

    5. Tom*

      Yeah, I do the same when I’m interviewing candidates, and for the same reasons. Also, people generally perform better when they’re getting positive feedback.

      I’m in tech, and do technical interviews. These are known to potentially be stressful for people, and it’s easy for an anxious candidate to interview worse than their actual skill level. So the first several minutes of my interviews are really just confidence-building for the candidate. First I introduce myself and give a brief description of my career history so that they know who they’re talking to, and so that they know what I’m looking for when I then ask “tell me a little about yourself”. That first question is meant to be very easy for the candidate to answer. The second question is a super easy technical question (a smart college freshman, and *any* college sophomore should be able to answer it). It’s main purpose is to give the candidate an instant “win”, so that as we start asking more meaningful questions, they start out on the right foot.

      All that is to say: I really want a candidate to be feeling good about themselves, their interview, and my company throughout the interview, because that’s the best way to see what they’re capable of.

      1. TeaCoziesRUs*

        You sound like a kind, amazing interviewer! Thank you for sharing your process – and realizing that anxiety can be a huge stumbling block on interviews.

        1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

          The top line on all of my interview prep notes came from AAM: Remember that the interviewer wants you to succeed! You are the solution to their problem.

    6. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

      Agree, I was coming here to say this exactly. It is always, always important that candidates leave with a good impression of the company. Interviewing is obviously oriented towards the goal of a hire, but it’s also relationship-building, which is why being courteous and communicative with all candidates is key (besides just common decency). We may have other openings in the future that past candidates could be a great fit for, and the “oh I interviewed there once, here was my impression” conversation is a real thing.

    7. Jaunty Banana Hat I*


      One thing I do try to keep in mind though, is to use conditional phrasing when talking about certain things. Instead of “this will be your office”, “this would be your office”. “If we hire” rather than “when we hire”, that sort of thing. It’s a small thing, but it can make a difference.

    8. Echo*

      My thoughts exactly! I work for a big company and we have a lot of different types of positions, so even if you don’t end up getting one of the roles I’m involved in hiring for, it’s always my hope that you’ll still keep us in mind for another job one day. I genuinely do think we do things like benefits and workplace culture well, and think my job is cool, and I want to convey that to candidates.

    9. Orange_Erin*

      I do too. The type of work I do is very specialized that the average candidate may not be fully familiar with so I always spend some time explaining exactly what we do, how we do it, the rewards/benefits of a career in this type of field, and opportunities for growth. I share all of that because I want to sell the role to the candidate but also so they are fully informed to make their decision. Things that I might see as positive (generally working independently with a lot of personal freedom) may not be positive to someone looking for a more structured role.

  12. Rosie*

    #2, volunteer reimbursement – be wary that your boss may say what they think you want to hear in order to keep you as a volunteer, e.g. “we’ll make sure we get it to you quickly” or something vague. If you continue volunteering with them I would proceed as if you won’t be reimbursed for a long time, if at all, unless proven otherwise.

    1. Annony*

      Yeah. If you don’t want to stop completely and wait for the financial issues to be resolved, take a giant step back and only sign up for what you can manage without reimbursement. As you get reimbursed, sign up for that number of additional appointments. Hopefully they figure it out quickly but they are sending strong signals that you may not actually see that money, so proceed accordingly.

      1. PhyllisB*

        I’m wondering if the organization is aware she’s having to pay for Lyft/Uber? If everyone else drives their own vehicles they may be thinking, “Oh well, they already pay for their car, so it’s no big deal if they don’t get paid soon.” But having to rely on other forms of transport is different.

    2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      I’d state I can’t afford to pay to volunteer and hence that regrefully I’m stopping all work that requires transport, until they notify me that prompt reimbursements have been resumed.
      I wouldn’t accept a mere promise that they expect this to happen, because they haven’t earned that trust.

      This org is either very entitled & cheeky, or is in such financial straits that it may collapse, so I’d check around for an alternative where you can volunteer.

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        Same. The comment about not asking about it really rubbed me the wrong way. The tone I’m imagining is that the manager thinks it’s unreasonable for the team to ask about this, rather than a pretty important thing. I might feel differently if the manager acknowledged that this sucks and that she’s pushing for a resolution ASAP.

        LW2, there is nothing wrong with telling them you can’t do any volunteering that requires incurring costs without prompt reimbursement. It’s a little harsher than Alison’s script, where you raise the issue and try to come up with a solution together.

        1. I Have RBF*

          The tone I’m imagining is that the manager thinks it’s unreasonable for the team to ask about this, rather than a pretty important thing.


          The entitlement of that manager in telling people not to even ask about getting their money back anytime soon is just astounding.

          If it were me, I’d definitely say “Call me when reimbursements will be forthcoming and reliable again. Until then, bye.”

    3. Observer*

      If you continue volunteering with them I would proceed as if you won’t be reimbursed for a long time, if at all, unless proven otherwise.

      Yes. And the key word here is *proven*. As in, they actually start turning those reimbursements around in a timely fashion.

  13. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    LW2 could consider saying, “I’m afraid I’m not in a position to be able to offer indefinite interest-free loans to $Organisation.” Call it by its name.

    1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      And I’m not convinced that the LW will actually be reimbursed for all of this at the end of the day. Which would make me even less inclined to spend a lot of money to volunteer.

    2. MikeM_inMD*

      In a former company, I was occasionally called on to do tech interviews for my somewhat specialized corner of software development. These were always back-to-back with a manager’s interview, with hour allotted for each. Only twice did I want to cut the interview short.

      In the first case, I realized the night before the interview, that it was someone, Alice, I had worked with in the past (I was a sub-contractor on one of her company’s projects for the government), where she was the worst worker on our team. It seemed that Alice could only be entrusted with the most basic tasks and her reports were always full of spelling and grammar errors. Even though I wanted to cut the interview to 0 minutes, I threw out my standard questions and used the time to ask probing questions to see if she had learned anything in the last four years. She hadn’t.

      In the second case, Ben, it was someone I didn’t know.. The interview was going along the usual path and I was pleased to see that Ben really knew his stuff, and probably better than I did. But in getting him to talk about his interactions with customers, he freely shared how he had no problem getting in the customer’s face when (in his opinion) the customer was wrong. I got Ben to share specific examples, and wound down the interview as quickly as I could. In my write-up I advised against hiring a potential loose cannon.

    1. Irish Teacher*

      I assume it is something like the Irish Cancer Society’s volunteer driver situation, where people volunteer to drive patients to and from chemotherapy appointments. They could be driving an hour or so each way, so I assume they are reimbursed for petrol, etc.

    2. Colette*

      It’s normal to be reimbursed for expenses, depending on the expense and the organization. I regularly volunteer and, although I am not paid for my time, I have been reimbursed for things like printer ink.

    3. rollyex*

      ” Is it normal to be paid for volunteer work?”

      They are not being paid. They having expenses reimbursed. Not the same.

  14. Alinator*

    Interviewing. I was in the situation many years back where I was working in a niche job – geologist on offshore oilrigs. Job came up to work onshore basically scientifically checking and proofing the geological maps produced, so lots of specialist knowledge needed (No, that map’s wrong, it’s limestone there, not shale).
    They got me into the interview, nice long chat, explained my experience, they described the job and how I’d be dealing with the big guys AMOCO, Shell, BP etc. However they kept dodging or not mentioning salary and we were 2-3 hours into the interview. This was the UK so I wasn’t used to that. So I’m doing examples to show them my knowledge but starting to get more and more suspicious until finally I said “If I’m going to move to Aberdeen, I need to know a salary and whether you help with moving costs”.
    Finally, they named a figure to which I blurted out “But that’s less than I’m on now” to which came the classic reply “But we wanted to give you something to aim for”, my reply was along the lines of so I have to work to achieve the salary I’m on now and until then I’d be paid less?
    Then they said something like “that’s why we didn’t want to tell you at the start as we’ve had people leave at that point”.
    Sadly, I didn’t flatten him with a chair which I do regret to this day but every answer after that was “maybe” or “don’t know” with obviou disinterest and disdain until they called a halt after about 15 minutes.
    I’m still not sure, 30 years later, what they thought would change if they delayed the salary announcement until the end….

    1. Observer*

      I’m still not sure, 30 years later, what they thought would change if they delayed the salary announcement until the end….

      I’m betting that they were hoping that at that point you would be so “invested” because of the time you had spent that you would not walk away.

  15. Grith*

    #2 – This is weirdly almost a good situation. You have the unusual privilege to be able to take a stance against this kind of BS – I would very simply say that you’re obliged to withdraw your services from the organisation until they can be clearer and promise reimbursment in a reasonable time. It seems very clear from the context of the letter that you would be better off doing no work and incurring no expenses for this time than continuing to incur expenses off your own back.

    And that’s part of the cost of doing business for them and needs to be seen as such. They don’t just get to decide to stop reimbursing you just because cashflow is uncertain, in the same way they don’t get to decide to just stop paying taxes or electricity bills for a bit!

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I have to wonder if they’re doing this because Uber costs more than flat mileage.

      1. metadata minion*

        But in that case they should just say “sorry, we can reimburse for gas but not for rideshares/taxis”.

      2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        They said it to everyone, not just OP. Its just OP is the only one with Uber costs.

      3. Observer*

        I have to wonder if they’re doing this because Uber costs more than flat mileage.

        What difference does it make? If you can’t afford certain expenses, you don’t incur them. If you can’t afford to incur the expenses of paying for ride-shares, you tell your volunteers that you can’t afford that and won’t be reimbursing for that going forward, with the understanding that your volunteer will almost certainly stop their work for you.

        But you do NOT get to stop reimbursing for expenses already accrued. And you do NOT get to *pretend* that you will reimburse while actually withholding reimbursement. Because we’ll “get paid when we get paid, and it may be a while” combined with “they don’t know when that will be” in actuality means “We are not committed to paying you. It’s always going to be at the bottom of the list and never move up.”

    2. not nice, don't care*

      I once did project work populating a plant database. The company started getting slow/weird about pay, and the only reason I got my final check was because I asked often and loudly. Had I waited, the company would have been shut down and I’d have been politely SOL.

    3. LCH*

      i would just tell them you support the organization, but can only contribute your time and aren’t able to contribute money. and to let you know when this situation has resolved.

  16. Irish Teacher*

    LW1, unless it’s something really egregious, like the candidate making racist jokes or something, I think I’d prefer a middle ground, like if the interview is meant to last half an hour and you know within five minutes that this person lacks certain qualifications/experience that the previous candidate had and a candidate without would never be chosen ahead of somebody who had those, I’d still be inclined to go say 20 minutes before you ask if they have any questions for you. I think it could be hurtful to end the interview suddenly, but I don’t think it’s problematic to draw it to a close a little more quickly than you usually would, so long as you don’t appear to be just “going through the motions” and rushing things.

    LW5, the reality is that most candidates for most jobs end up being rejected and the recruiter generally doesn’t know before the interview(s) which candidate they will hire, so the fact that they are encouraging before an interview doesn’t necessarily mean anything at all. Even if the interviewers only put in that kind of effort for the strongest candidates, well, if there are 100 applicants, that could be 10 or 15 candidates and 9-14 of those would still be rejected. Even of the top 5, 4 would be rejected. And I have heard of jobs that got over 1,000 applications. The top 50 of those would likely be extremely strong candidates. Heck, even a couple of hundred might be. And there is only one job.

    I’m not saying this to be discouraging but just to point out that rejections are common even when the recruiter is impressed by you. Being rejected doesn’t necessarily mean you weren’t a strong candidate, just that there was one person stronger than you.

    1. londonedit*

      With number 5, I always like to think of it as being like the 100m final in the Olympics. The only people who get to the 100m final in the Olympics are the absolute top, top athletes who are genuinely outstanding and superhuman in their field. Literally the top eight or ten runners in the world at that moment. And when the race happens, they’re usually all separated by a matter of hundredths of a second. Yet someone has to get the gold medal, and you never hear anything about the people who came 7th or 8th, even though those people are also superhuman runners who can run at a speed 99.999999999% of the population wouldn’t be able to run at.

    2. Thistle*

      LW1. I’d try and do at least 20 minutes as first impressions can sometimes be wrong unless its a really big red flag.

      even if they won’t work for the role you are I interviewing for, they might work for another position at a later point. we have a brilliant team member who interviewed for a different role and weren’t right, but they were the first person we thought of for a different role. they excel and were promoted in the second role in 3 months.

    3. Allonge*

      For LW1, I would also suggest going a bit faster – not rushing things, but not necessarily asking all the questions and not following up.

    4. Melody Powers*

      Yeah I think I would be okay with that middle ground. I recently had a very short interview that left me feeling pretty irritated about how I had wasted my time preparing and traveling and waiting in the lobby for at least four times longer than the interview ended up being. In hindsight, I don’t think my answer to one question was the best, but they had even rushed me through the initial “tell me about yourself” so I don’t know what was going on there. It was definitely something I talked about with other people and soured me on the business in general when I might otherwise have ended up using their services as a customer even if I didn’t get the job.

  17. Becky S*

    OP 1 – I once cut an interview short when the candidate coudn’t explain something he had on his resume. He admitted he put it on there because he thought it would look good.

    1. perstreperous*

      That is one of my two cut-shorts:

      – Discovered falsification in CV
      – Admitting gross misconduct which wasn’t discovered by the (previous) employer

      With the second, I had a candidate who stated, straight out from nowhere in particular, that they defrauded their previous employer. I was so amazed by this that I paused involuntarily then asked “could you repeat that?” They did, so I stopped the interview. (Nothing in references or comments from two people who had worked with the interviewee *in the previous company and project* had suggested anything out of the ordinary).

      I have never had “sexist, racist, homophobic … language”, but that would be reason no.3 here for cutting off an interview.

        1. perstreperous*

          I can’t remember. I only remember the interview including and following the “I defrauded my employer” response!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I’ll add a third — if they tell me they don’t actually want the job. :P

        I was interviewing a person for a medical coding position, and one of my first questions was something about what areas of coding do you find most appealing. Their answer was, almost verbatim, “Well, I’m really trying to get out of medical coding and move into a more IT role.” I said “Well…. uh, this is a medical coding position that you applied to, was that a mistake?” No, they applied on purpose. I said “Well, out of curiosity, if you don’t want to be in medical coding, why did you apply to a medical coding position?” Again, verbatim: “Because it was open.”

        1. perstreperous*

          I have often wondered whether my candidate decided during the interview that they didn’t want the job and hit on a completely absurd way to curtail the interview.

          (Cue the numerous AAM stories about employees who could not go up to the appropriate person and say “I resign”, so simply vanished).

      2. Panicked*

        I had one candidate who, when I asked why he left his previous employer, said “Well, I choked one of the other guys on the team, so I was fired. But I was really good up to that point.”

        He did not get a second interview.

      3. Simon*

        I’ve had “at last, a real person interviewing me” when I knew that the previous two interviewers were a Black man, and a woman.

        We did not hire this candidate; when I brought this up post-interview, the other interviewers in the loop then brought up things that they’d given the candidate the benefit of the doubt on, but that with the context of his comment to me became problematic.

      4. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        I have had “coming to the interview under the influence of some substance”. Don’t know whether it was alcohol, something illegal, or just too much cold medicine but they were clearly not operating normally, and didn’t say anything like “The doctor just adjusted my meds, can we reschedule” that would indicate it was due to something other than really poor judgment.

      5. Bast*

        We once interviewed someone who admitted to being fired from her previous job for starting a fist fight with another employee. Considering it was for a receptionist position where she would not only have had to deal with frustrating coworkers, but sometimes very annoying customers, it was an instant no.

    2. Totally Minnie*

      I think that’s one of the cases where it’s perfectly acceptable to end an interview immediately when you find out. “Honesty and integrity are core values here at Company Name, and falsifying a resume is not in line with those values, so we’ll need to end the interview here. I’ll walk you out.”

    3. Khatul Madame*

      I’ve had multiple interviews where it became clear that the candidate lied on their resume, so the rest of the interview time slot was wasted.
      In my experience (tech) this happens often enough, so it would have been useful to cover this scenario in the AAM response.

      1. Eff Walsingham*

        They used to have my father sit on interview panels for this exact reason. It was a university, and apparently they had a number of candidates who had a nice suit, a firm handshake, and an answer for everything computer related. Unfortunately, their answers were in the realm of the technobabble they used to write for Star Trek scripts. He was essentially there to call bullish!t. Otherwise he had no HR related responsibilities, and he never did “people” well, in spite of being a manager. (His seemed to be a department of mostly introverts, from all over the world, so there wasn’t a lot of small talk.)

        1. perstreperous*

          I had the opposite of that – a candidate whose only response to difficult questions was “I want to join “, even when I repeated the question in different ways.

          Along with the fraudster as above, and a candidate who arrived exactly a week early for their interview, then asked me to step outside when I showed that he had got the date wrong and couldn’t drop everything and interview him on the spot, that was one of my three most memorable interviews (out of, I think, the best part of two hundred).

  18. Hush42*

    at my company the final interview is what we call a long format interview and it’s scheduled for 3 hours. It’s done with the hiring manager and a more experienced member of leadership (depending on how long the hiring manager has been around). When I was a new manager I did one of these interviews accompanied by our COO. We were interviewing a young woman, about halfway through the COO stepped out for a quick break, water and the restroom were offered to the interviewee at this point too and she declined, while we were waiting for him to come back, the interviewee decided that in the course of the small talk we were making it would be appropriate to tell me that she wasn’t actually interested in leaving her current job. She told me she really only applied because her boyfriend made more than she did and he worked at the mall (said in a disparaging tone of voice). I was startled that she chose to share that information with me but gave her the same advice that I’d give anyone else in that situation- if you feel your underpaid but otherwise love your job, go talk to your boss about it with research in hand about marlet rate for the position but don’t tell him the reason you think you’re underpaid is that your boyfriend makes more in an entirely different position.
    needless to say, I wasn’t particularly interested in hiring her that day but we still did the portion of that interview called Company Sell because I still want people to walk away with a positive view of the company.

  19. Rebecca*

    I wish everyone would understand that you can skip any kind of work party you don’t want to go to for any reason you don’t want to go. (If Ron is an ass, this is doubly true.) If it makes things easier on folks to give an unassailable excuse, then fine; otherwise, “no” is a complete sentence.

    1. Heather*

      That’s a little overly simplistic though, considering there are places where not going to those kinds of things can really hold you back. If it’s a company where face time with higher ups matters a lot and showing up and demonstrating willingness and ability to make pleasant small talk is just part of the job it’s not as simple as saying “it’s a party so you don’t have to go”.

      1. Colette*

        Exactly. Sometimes you do need to show up – because the people you need good relationships will care if you’re there or not. You absolutely can skip a work party if you don’t want to go – but you don’t get to skip the consequences for not going, so it’s good to understand what those are.

        1. Allonge*

          I would say you likely can skip any one party even in these places, just not all.

          Nobody is present at all times; be strategic on what you attend and what you miss, (and what you do when you are there, but that is a different discussion).

          1. Colette*

            Relationships with your coworkers are important everywhere. And usually it’s fine to miss something if you have a good reason, but, for example, skipping a goodbye gathering for your beloved boss in the board room 10 feet from your desk sends a different message than skipping a goodbye gathering that requires time off or is out of business hours.

            You can do it, you just don’t get to decide what conclusions those around you draw from your choice.

      2. Butterfly Counter*


        I went to an office party yesterday that I absolutely didn’t want to go to. I had to drive 30 minute commute each way on my day off for an hour party that had food I couldn’t eat.

        But the positives for me going outweighed the ones for me not going. This was much simpler than in the post because I liked the person for whom the party was being thrown. Also, it showed my collegiality within my department. I also think my attendance went a little further to help cement good will among the different kinds of workers we employ that other departments or areas don’t have but we say we value.

        I didn’t want to go, but there was a lot of benefit to me and to my work environment because I did.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        Agree! That phrase is supposed to be for situations where people keep pushing you, it shouldn’t generally be the starting point. Especially if your primary concern is worrying about a “bad look.” There was no indication from OP that they had any specific reason to worry people would push them about this, they seem to just be asking preemptively.

      2. Twix*

        Agreed. “No is a complete sentence” is meant to be advice for dealing with a specific type of manipulation (or anxiety) where you’re made to feel like you can’t say no unless you can convince the other person your reason for saying no is good enough. It’s generally terrible advice for normal social interaction because whether you’re allowed to say no and whether there will be consequences for saying no are very different things.

  20. Dear liza dear liza*

    I feel LW1 in my bones. I’m in academia, known for its intense interviews. It’s the norm after first zoom/phone interviews to have a multi day interview, which often involves flying at least some finalists in. Most start with a dinner with the search committee the night before, and sometimes during dinner it becomes clear this will not work out. (Example: the candidate talked about past students in a really derogatory, dismissive way.) The next full day, from breakfast until end of day, looms large.

    I also had a friend who was picked up at the airport for her interview by a newer member of the department. They had a pleasant enough chat on the way to the hotel but just before she got out, he said, “Wait! I have to tell you, this place is a viper pit. Run. Run now.” Yikes!

    1. OrigCassandra*

      There are… rumors… that a department fairly closely allied with ours has trouble hiring because of various viper-pit characteristics.

      Okay by us. That means WE get to hire, because we are not a viper pit and people accept our offers!

  21. DJ Abbott*

    On #1, if a candidate said something racist or homophobic and was told that’s why the interview was ended, they would just hide it better next time. Maybe not let them know. Maybe even keep going for a few minutes so they won’t know, if you can stomach it.
    This could be unkind if they were raised to be this way and haven’t learned better yet. If it was anything else I would want to be kind and help them, but I still lean towards not letting them know.

    1. Heather*

      Demonstrating that behavior like that won’t be tolerated in the workplace seems like a more attainable goal than hoping the person will keep striking out and eventually make the connection themselves. And possibly leaves you open to “but I said (slur) in the interview with XYZ and they didn’t say anything”.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I agree.

        Sometimes consequences do make people rethink their words and actions. Of course not always — but it’s a start.

      2. ecnaseener*

        Agreed. You won’t change a person’s mind and heart in one brief interview regardless, but you can and should tell them very clearly that bigotry isn’t tolerated at your company. If that leads them to keep their bigotry to themselves in the future, sounds like an improvement to me. Getting out of the habit of spouting bigotry can even be the first step toward real change.

        1. DJ Abbott*

          When they keep it to themselves they can get hired, and move into management, and keep exercising their bigotry on the sly.
          There are groups of people who support each other in active bigotry but never say or admit what they’re doing- and there are always people around them who don’t know they’re bigots. IMO it’s good to let them announce what they are without correction. When everyone knows, the bigot can’t do as much damage.

          1. Budgie Buddy*

            Eh I’m in favor of bigots not being as bigoted even if it’s only because they’re annoyed at getting pushback. That means the people they target don’t have to deal with as much harassment plus the uncomfortable feeling that no one will stand up for them.

  22. SMH*

    LW 2 I would reach out to HR or someone above your boss and ask how they believe it’s sustainable to not reimburse volunteers? Hopefully they are aware and can offer more details. Request to be reimbursed immediately for anything outstanding and explain you can’t front them money.

    I would post online that they are no longer reimbursing volunteers regularly and they are expected to float the costs for weeks and/or months. If I learned of this my donations would go elsewhere as would my time.

    1. All Het Up About It*

      I have to admit I am both appalled and so very curious about this one.

      I agree with others that there is a good chance restructuring happened because of financial woes- BUT there are other possibilities. One of which is that for some reason, possibly malicious or possibly just laziness the Boss/Volunteer coordinator.

      In addition to Alison’s recommendations of possibly stopping volunteering until this is resolved, if possible I’d bring this up with someone else in the org. Talk to Finance, HR, or a Board Member if possible. Or if this individual isn’t the volunteer coordinator, but there is one, I’d go there as well.

  23. SUPER SMH*

    I once ended an interview when I guy walked in wearing torn, stained jeans and a tank top, sat down, put his feet on the table, and proceeded to ask if he could remind us what job he had applied for.

    I also had a fellow manager who ended an interview (that was going well otherwise!) when the person began asking about how long lunches were, how strict attendance requirements were, if someone monitored if someone had clocked in and was still onsite…

    1. Scarlet Ribbons in her Hair*

      I wouldn’t be surprised if I found out that those two applicants didn’t want to be hired, but were collecting unemployment and wanted to keep on doing so and were required to give the appearance that they were looking for a job.

      1. Platypus*

        Or apparently, it’s a thing to do stuff like this and put in on Tik Tok! Who knows how long ago this was, but I have recently seen some people have weird interactions and they are on purpose to get a rise out of people for views.

  24. Scarlet Ribbons in her Hair*

    “if there was some sort of miscommunication — like the job truly requires experience with X and somehow this person was invited to interview without it — I’d argue it’s often more considerate to be up-front about that: “I’m so sorry, I’m not sure how this wasn’t caught earlier, but we wouldn’t be able to hire you for this position without X.”

    I’m not so sure that it’s a sign of being more considerate. I went on a number of interviews where the interviewer suddenly exclaimed that I couldn’t be hired because I wasn’t familiar with X, and they needed someone who was familiar with X. I would say that their help wanted ad didn’t specify that they needed someone familiar with X. They would always answer, “Oh, I’m sure that it DID!” I would then say that since my resume didn’t say anything about my being familiar with X, I wondered why I was called to come in for an interview. They would then look at my resume again, acknowledge that it didn’t say anything about X, and then say that they weren’t the one who had called me to come in. Someone else had called me! And that person was never there that day, so they couldn’t be asked “Why did you call Scarlet?”

    I figured that they didn’t want to hire me because I was over forty years old and plus-sized, so because they couldn’t say that, they just pretended that familiarity with X was necessary, and since I wasn’t familiar with X, well, then, there was no way I could be hired. I don’t see anything considerate about that.

    By the way, I always checked the help wanted ads (I always saved them) after such an interview, and I never found an ad that stated that familiarity with X was required (or even helpful).

    1. Heather*

      While your interpretation is certainly plausible (if depressing!), things also do slip through the cracks in hiring, especially for people who don’t do it often. So it wouldn’t surprise me if requirements that seem obvious to the hiring manager didn’t make it to the ad, and that HR or whoever did the initial screening didn’t fully grasp the details of the position.

      1. TechWorker*

        Plus whilst I understand this must be really frustrating, especially if it happened more than once, the interviewer is just not going to be able to give you a response you are happy with. If mid interview a candidate demanded to know who filtered the CV and asked them to interview it would certainly not make me *more* likely to want to hire them.

        1. Scarlet Ribbons in her Hair*

          I never demanded to know who called me to come in for an interview, despite my unfamiliarity with X. After I wondered aloud why I had been called, the interviewer would say, “Well, I wasn’t the one who called you. Someone else did. And they’re not here today, so I can’t ask them why they called you.” This gave me the impression that oh gee, if only the caller had been in that day, the interviewer would have called them and said, “Pat, why did you call Scarlet to come in for an interview? She doesn’t know the firs thing about X, and you know how important X is for this job.” But the caller was NEVER in that day, so this never happened. I didn’t demand anything. I just let it go.

        2. Jackalope*

          On the other hand, if they already told you they won’t hire you, what do you have to lose in saying that?

      2. Scarlet Ribbons in her Hair*

        What I didn’t like was that when I said that familiarity with X wasn’t mentioned in the ad, the interviewer always insisted that it was. I didn’t argue with them. I merely kept quiet (for a minute) and smiled. Unfortunately, I think that because I didn’t argue with them, they concluded that they were correct and that I was lying about it not being mentioned in the ad. As I said, I kept quiet for a minute, until I asked why I was called, since my resume didn’t say anything about X. There were times I was tempted to pull out the ad and show it to them, saying, “Here’s the ad! Where does it say that familiarity with X is required?” But I never did. It wouldn’t have helped me get the job. So I think that they were convinced that I was lying to them (and they didn’t want to hire a liar!), especially when I wondered why I was called (in response to an ad I seemingly acknowledged as requiring familiarity with X).

        1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

          I don’t know if you’re aware that you’re contradicting yourself in all these conclusions you’re drawing. You are saying both that they know they never put X in the job ad and are using that to cover for discrimination, but *also* that they think you are a liar because they know that X was actually in the job ad when you said it was not. And if they already weren’t going to hire you because of deliberate discrimination, then “they don’t want to hire a liar” is impossible, again because they know you’re not lying.

          I hear you’re upset about this, and I imagine it would be confusing to hear this an interview. I think that’s getting in the way of you thinking about it clearly. You could have pulled out the job ad, but not in a “gotcha!” way. You could have said, “Oh, I have a copy with me. Did I misread something?” and then handed it to them. And then they might have apologized or made excuses or whatever. But you gaming out all their imaginary evil negative thoughts is not helping you get a job either.

          You could also take this entire thing as a neutral. Somebody messed up, it happens. It’s possible that the interviewer is embarrassed they left it out because they meant to put it in, or that they told the HR person to include it and believed it was. You saying that it wasn’t there might just make them think you missed it, not that they now think you’re a liar.

          1. Scarlet Ribbons in her Hair*

            “I don’t know if you’re aware that you’re contradicting yourself in all these conclusions you’re drawing. You are saying both that they know they never put X in the job ad and are using that to cover for discrimination, but *also* that they think you are a liar because they know that X was actually in the job ad when you said it was not.”

            You are absolutely right. I never looked at it like that.

            “You could have pulled out the job ad, but not in a “gotcha!” way. You could have said, “Oh, I have a copy with me. Did I misread something?” and then handed it to them.”

            Yes, I could have done that. I never did, because I didn’t think that pointing out that the interviewer was wrong about something would help me get a job.

            “You could also take this entire thing as a neutral. Somebody messed up, it happens.”

            But it happened so many times!

            “It’s possible that the interviewer is embarrassed they left it out because they meant to put it in, or that they told the HR person to include it and believed it was.”

            If they interviewed several people before they interviewed me, they should have found out that familiarity with X was not mentioned in the ad. I figure that at least one other person would have been called to come in for an interview who didn’t know the first thing about X.

      3. I am Emily's failing memory*

        Yeah, at my org the person who made the initial call and recommended the candidate move forward would always be someone in HR with whom I (as the hiring manager) have probably had less than 2 total cumulative hours of interaction. Typically they arrange a 1-hour meeting when the position is filed to be posted, where they try to get a sense of what I’m looking for in a candidate, and then maybe 5 minutes of conversation after each phone screen for a candidate they believe should move forward.

        I would certainly go back to that HR person after the interview to clarify that X is actually important, but I wouldn’t try to call them in to ask about it while the interview was still ongoing (and even when I did I probably wouldn’t ask them, “why?” as I already know why they made the error – our 1 hour conversation had evidently not surfaced that X was needed, and being a career HR person meant they didn’t take it for granted as a requirement the way someone in our field would have been more likely to do).

    2. Platypus*

      I have really good recruiters and even after I explain a lot about the role I’m looking for, because they don’t really fully understand the business, they can be confused about fully what that means. Sometimes the person asking to bring people in thinks that things look “good enough.” Trust me, it’s a tough market to hire in, I will often bring in people who aren’t perfect but that may show me something great just because well, we are kind of desperate.

      I would not assume it had anything to do with your age or weight. Seems like from your other responses they really thought that X was in the ad and didn’t believe you, so they didn’t make it up. Major miscommunication, but with several levels of people involved in hiring, that makes sense.

    3. bamcheeks*

      If you’ve had this happen multiple times, then yes, I think it probably is prejudice. :-/ But if it’s just once or twice, then one thing I’ll say is that it’s amazing how little effort many managers will put in to reading and checking their own job descriptions and job ads. I don’t know why– I think it’s partly that creating. writing and proof-reading accurate job descriptions is a real skill that many managers don’t have, but also that it’s something that often seems to end up being really low priority even though on the face of it *accurately communicating what the job is and what is required* seems pretty bleeding important. But “here’s the job description from the last time we hired this role three years ago *cursory glance* eh, seems fine” is pretty common, and so is, “Hi HR can you change these five things *HR changes 2 things* eh, seems fine”. And version control is often pretty shocking, and all sorts of things. Job descriptions get published externally AND often form part of your employment contract, but for some reason they often don’t attract any of the same level of scrutiny of other types of external publication OR other legal contracts.

      I’ve got a bit of this (goodnaturedly!) with my own manager. I saved the job description when I applied, and it clearly says “will be the named liaison for Llama Regulatory Agency”. After a couple of weeks, I asked my manager when he was going to change the named liaison for the LRA to my name. My manager said he didn’t think that was in my job description, but he’d check– when he checked, that wasn’t in the version he had. So somewhere along the way, the job description that went out when they were recruiting and the one my manager has have ended up with a fairly significant difference, and nobody knows which is the “real” one. In this case, it’s not that big a deal either way, but I think it’s an example of how job descriptions (which forms part of my contract in my country!) get randomly edited without much care. So, “the job ad was supposed to specify X but it didn’t” isn’t THAT big a surprise to me.

    4. MsSolo (UK)*

      My husband had an interview, for a job he’d done previously as maternity cover, where they decided mid-interview that a full driving license was required, knowing that he didn’t have one for medical reasons. It absolutely wasn’t a necessity (not in the job ad! it hadn’t been when he’d done it before! One of the other candidates didn’t drive either!) but they had three internal candidates for two roles and were so conflict averse they chose ableism over having to reject someone they’d see every day, knowing that he couldn’t easily challenge them because he saw them every day, on account of the same people currently managing him.

    5. starsaphire*

      I’ve experienced this too, especially at the start of my career while I was still looking at front-facing positions. I’ve had interviews that lasted three minutes or less – the interviewer would look me up and down and then say, “So tell me how much experience you have doing X,” and I would say, “Oh, I don’t have any – the ad said no experience required!” and I would get, “Well, we’re looking for someone to do X. Thanks for coming in.”

      This happened a lot in hospitality jobs especially – and a friend who used to work in hospitality management, and left because of stuff like this, absolutely confirmed my suspicions that it was a sizeist/looksist thing.

      BTW, it’s really not helpful to tell someone, “Oh, but maybe you’re wrong, and it was just a misunderstanding” when they were the one who was there being (literally) sized up by an interviewer or hiring manager, then given the cold shoulder and walked out.

    6. Twix*

      I think you’re looking at the inverse of what Alison actually said. As a candidate, I don’t think it would be unreasonable to question a company’s/interviewer’s motives. “We don’t want to hire you because , but I can’t just say that so I’m going to make up a qualification that you fail to meet as a reason to end the interview” is sadly totally plausible and is obviously not considerate or even okay. However, that’s a completely different situation than realizing, as the interviewer, that an candidate actually lacks a core qualification for the job. That’s what Alison was actually responding to, and in that case I’d say her advice that it’s considerate not to waste more of the person’s time is spot on regardless of whether the candidate take that at face value, seeing as the other option is stringing them along for a job you know they have 0 chance of getting.

    7. Roland*

      I’ve conducted an interview in the past where it became clear the candidate didn’t have a truly core requirement – it was a software engineering position and they weren’t comfortable with writing declarative code. It was mortifying to take a step back and ask if they were they for the right position, and bring it the recruiter when it turned out that they weren’t… But it was absolutely the right choice and having them struggle for another 30 minutes with me and 2-3 other interviews would have been really unfair to the candidate.

      1. Scarlet Ribbons in her Hair*

        That’s happened to me, too! Once a recruiter sent me to an interview, saying that the company had reviewed my resume and they were eager to meet me. During the interview, I was told that familiarity with X and Y were required for the job. I didn’t know anything about X and Y, and when I said so, I could see that they were annoyed that I had wasted their time. I said, “The recruiter said that you reviewed my resume. Didn’t you notice that I said nothing about X and Y?” They refused to answer me.

        Afterwards, I told the recruiter that I was rejected because I didn’t know anything about X and Y. She said, oh yeah, I forgot to tell you that familiarity with X and Y were required. I said that she had told me that they had reviewed my resume. I asked her if she had actually sent it to them. She did not answer me. So maybe the company never saw my resume. When the recruiter called me about another job, I didn’t call her back.

  25. Jade*

    Your volunteer organization does not intend to pay you at all for the foreseeable future and is having financial issues. Maybe look around.

  26. Anne of Green Gables*

    We do retirement parties on work time. Department pays for simple food and there is sometimes a potluck element (we haven’t had one since Covid, so that may change) and there is usually a “chip in if you want” kind of collection.

    There is one person in my department who, when they retire, I will chip in the same amount I always do, I will sign the group card, and on the day of the party my son will unexpectedly be sick or perhaps he will have a doctor’s appointment. I will keep the same polite facade I always do to maintain my professional reputation, and I will absolutely not go to their party (but may have my own “I don’t have to work with them anymore” celebration.)

    1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      My current leader is like this–any team building, team meals out, etc. happen during working hours. Period. And I’m so grateful for it

  27. I should really pick a name*

    If you can tell you won’t hire them within 5 minutes of the start of the interview, it’s worth checking if this is information that you could have gotten during a phone screen.

    Remember that if you end the interview early, it means you can go back to work right away. The interviewer on the other hand has possibly booked time off, travelled in, and has to travel back. If they’re told to leave after 5 minutes, they’ll probably feel like their entire day has been wasted.
    (Of course, with the exceptions for egregious behaviour such as racism/sexism)


    I would also be out of pocket $40 for a ticket, as well as a half day of PTO to attend.

    That seems like a solid reason not to go even if you liked them.

  28. Queue*

    I occasionally interview for roles that require specific technical knowledge, and can end up in a #1 situation (a handful of times over the past decade, it becomes obvious almost right away that the candidate doesn’t actually have the technical expertise you’d expect from someone with their educational background/written summary of research). I typically ask a few additional probing questions to make sure then immediately switch to #5 mode to fill out the remaining 30 minutes or whatever until I can mercifully end this thing.

    1. Another Michael*

      It’s funny how these semi-related answers bookended this morning’s post!

      I’ve often found myself spending a lot of time talking about my organization’s processes and benefits to candidates I know I won’t hire, particularly when answering their questions at the end of the interview. I see this as something I feel I should do to respect their question and their time – I’m not going to oversell it, but I do want to answer honestly.

  29. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

    #2: Why doesn’t the organization make an account that you can use for public transportation? Then the funds come directly out of their pocket not yours.

      1. WellRed*

        I find it also hard to believe they have the funds for multiple rideshares, either. I’m stuck at home with my car in the shop because I can’t justify too many rideshares. Not sure this volunteer job is the best fit for OP.

    1. xylocopa*

      That’s a pretty optimistic view of general availability and extent of public transportation, if they’re in the US, unfortunately.

  30. ToS*

    It’s entirely possible that the return from Covid has dialed this to the front for everyone else. We’ve had HR talk to people about loud sneezes (kept a bandana in his cube for coverage and sound dampening while figuring out if the vocal parts could soften, and they did) but with 20 people the manager should check in with the pretext of both upcoming frequency and sorting out potential options

  31. Tubi Kind*

    #4 sounds like a hostile work environment and victim-blaming culture. Rather than asking questions, getting curious, and showing concern about why a colleague is regularly shrieking and displaying “disruptive behaviors” they automatically get relegated as a disruptive outcast. It is entirely possible that external noises, and environmental phenoms are triggering this person and having them daily live through a trauma cycle. Yet, it sounds like everyone from the supervisor to their employees has not bothered to ask questions of the person or resolve the situation, e.g. purchasing noise-canceling headphones. Another measure that would help would be setting some boundaries, ground rules, and/or clear and concise policies about what is expected and what each employee can expect. Possibly some trauma-response training for the entire team could be beneficial–even if it is discovered that the behaviors are not connected to traumatic experiences.

    1. Colette*

      I disagree. It’s not on the coworkers to buy & wear noise-cancelling headphones because their coworker is shrieking. She is being disruptive. If she’s unable to work in that environment, she should take steps to resolve that (therapy, finding a job somewhere else, etc.)

      The boss needs to be clear about what behaviour is expected, but it’s not reasonable to expect people working in an office environment (who may themselves be dealing with trauma) to deal with shrieking on a regular basis.

      1. Yooooo ND*

        To be fair, I read Tubi Kind as saying that the shrieking coworker should wear NC headphones, since Tubi Kind mentions possible triggering by external noises and environmental phenomena.

        And … that’s a good place to start, tbh. Talk to the person who is experiencing this and see if there are mini accommodations that can be made that will make them more comfortable (and by extension, the rest of the office).

        1. Observer*

          Talk to the person who is experiencing this and see if there are mini accommodations that can be made that will make them more comfortable (and by extension, the rest of the office).

          Sure, but that’s not on the staff. In fact, they really CANNOT do this. The problem is that their shared manager is just *not doing their job*.

          I feel bad for the coworker, I really do. But it’s just not reasonable to put the onus on coworkers who don’t have a lot of power here.

      2. Andromeda*

        Yes, I think it’s worth flagging that “disruption” here isn’t just “oh X is so annoying, she’s always interrupting work”. Sudden loud shrieking and running out of the room, and the need to be on guard in case of said loud shrieking, sounds extremely anxiety-inducing for everyone else in the room too (particularly new people who aren’t familiar with this behaviour).

        I think the compassionate thing to do is for someone senior to the yelling coworker (not their peer) to get to the bottom of why it’s happening, make sure they understand how disruptive that particular behaviour is, and quietly negotiate any accommodations that they need to exist in that workplace harmoniously. Forcing everyone into training, or having their coworkers make assumptions like that about their health, sounds embarrassing and alienating for coworker on top of being a huge overreach

        1. Observer*

          I think the compassionate thing to do is for someone senior to the yelling coworker (not their peer) to get to the bottom of why it’s happening, make sure they understand how disruptive that particular behaviour is, and quietly negotiate any accommodations that they need to exist in that workplace harmoniously

          I totally agree with this – and it definitely needs to be someone higher up in the hierarchy, not a peer.

          Forcing everyone into training, ~~SNIP~~ on top of being a huge overreach

          Agreed. It’s just not reasonable to push people into training of any sort just because on person has an (idiosyncratic) issue.

      3. I Have RBF*

        Seriously. If Ms Shriek has some sort of trauma reaction to a possible earthquake, it still doesn’t justify her disrupting her coworkers every time the building jiggles.

        If this continues, she may need accommodations for her issues, but those accommodations should not be “Everyone in the office puts up with repeated shrieking and running around.” It would be kinder to all involved if she could work from home, or be put in an area away from other people.

        Just because she has a problem with earth/building movement doesn’t mean she gets to torment others with her shrieking.

    2. WellRed*

      Trauma response training!? Just, no. These aren’t medical professionals and you are assuming a lot here.

    3. I should really pick a name*

      A hostile work environment is a very specific thing (adding a link in another comment), and this isn’t it.
      So far, they aren’t actually aren’t actually doing anything about the behaviour. They’re just letting it go on.
      A hostile work situation would be if they were taking some kind of negative action against the staff member AND it was because of a protected characteristic. We don’t know enough to know if the shrieking and running is due to a protected characteristic or not.

      1. Vic WembanLlama*

        Hostile work environment in the legal sense yes, but that phrase also works without the legal meaning.

          1. Vic WembanLlama*

            “Dear AAM, I’m having some trouble fitting in at my new job. First, I came to the US from another country so I’m adjusting to that. Before I even got here, the expectations were through the roof so there’s a ton of pressure on me. And when the boss made us do icebreakers the first day of practice, i tried avoiding it but when you’re 7’4″ it’s hard to hide”.

        1. I should really pick a name*

          There are so many other terms that could be used if you’re not describing the legal meaning that when someone specifically says “hostile work environment” I think it’s worth making the distinction.

    4. Critical Rolls*

      This has been going on for a long time, and we don’t know how it was initially received. Regardless, *coworkers are not therapists.* It would be a wild overreach to assume someone is experiencing a trauma cycle. And — within reason — if trauma is causing someone to consistently display disruptive behavior at work, they have a responsibility to at least attempt to address it, whether by seeking accommodation or privately seeking treatment.

      The workplace you describe sounds to me like a heinous overstep in amateur diagnosis, invasion of privacy, and placing an unreasonable burden on coworkers regarding the mental health of their colleagues.

    5. Eliot Waugh*

      After years of this, it is probably difficult for the coworker to be anything but stressed and annoyed. Random shrieking isn’t pleasant and could also be anxiety inducing or even trauma response inducing for others.

      Accomodations others make for our difficulties have to be reasonable, just as an official accomodation would be.

      If you’re afraid of birds, I’ll avoid mentioning my birding adventures to you, but I won’t wear long sleeves at all times to cover my bird tattoos.

      If you’re scent sensitive, I won’t add any scented products when I come into the office (I don’t anyway), but I won’t change my entire home hair and skincare routine.

      If you have a trauma response to loud sounds, I won’t make loud sounds and will understand if you RARELY respond the way OPs coworker does…but I won’t continue to put up with frequent random shrieking forever.

    6. NaoNao*

      While I can appreciate your emotional generosity here, I’m inclined to believe Occam’s Razor: Jane gets positive reinforcement (in the form of attention and sympathy, or at the very least, stress relief) from tea-kettle shrieking. And that’s all there is to it.

      If you’ve seen any humorous social media memes/reels/tiktoks about how when the lights flicker or go out in a high school classroom, 16 year old girls shriek relentlessly because…they’re 16 year old drama llamas and haven’t developed mature emotional regulation tools, you know what I’m talking about. Some people have very little filter. It’s not trauma, it’s “I feel good or get good results when I do X, let’s do X at every possible opportunity.”

      1. Andromeda*

        Woah, hang on though — “X is an attention-seeking, immature little girl” is also a bit of a cruel response to the situation. She’s a grown adult, not a teenager.

        It’s possible to acknowledge her anxiety is real while also acknowledging that her anxiety responses are unproductive (to her as well as everyone else–they probably don’t make her feel any better, especially if she knows she’s being disruptive).

      2. Vic WembanLlama*

        To me Occam’s razor would be that Jane is having serious mental health issues, phobias, etc.. I think you’re being very uncharitable to someone who is struggling with something

      3. Joron Twiner*

        I think Occam’s Razor precludes 16 year old girls working in an office and acting like they’re performing on TikTok.

    7. BL*

      No. Just…no. It’s not on me to get trauma response training due to a co-worker’s issues, nor am I purchasing any sort of noise canceling apparatus.

    8. Fluffy Fish*

      Absolutely off base. And as someone with a serious chronic mental illness its honestly insulting – the last think I want/need is work treating me as other.

      Work is not a therapist office. The shrieker is an adult and is responsible for their own self. Their behavior is a problem and needs to stop. No one is saying yell at them or fire them.

      It needs to be addressed. The shrieker can then ask for any accommodations they need. It’s not their employer nor coworkers jobs to do so.

      1. Observer*

        The shrieker can then ask for any accommodations they need. It’s not their employer nor coworkers jobs to do so.

        Actually, the one exception is that is MAY be the employer’s job. Sometimes when there is fairly clear evidence that there might be an issue, the employer has an obligation to broach the issue. I think a fairly classic example is if you see someone in a wheel chair, and there are potential mobility issues at play with a job, it’s not only reasonable, it’s expected that the employer broach the subject and ask about it.

        1. Fluffy Fish*

          There is a huge difference between a wheelchair and lack of accessibility and assuming anything about someone’s mental health.

          Even physical accessibility doesn’t mean employers should open their mouths. There was a recent letter about someone who had mobility issues and how their employer, who meant well, had no business inserting themselves when they hadn’t been asked.

          1. Observer*

            There is a huge difference between a wheelchair and lack of accessibility and assuming anything about someone’s mental health.

            No one needs to make any assumptions, other than that the person is not a jerk trying to annoy everyone. Once you knock that out, it becomes clear that something *may* be the case and at that point the office can, and should, have a conversation.

            Not “We want to know if you have any mental health challenges.” That’s none of anyone’s business. But “This behavior is disruptive. Is there an accommodation that would help?”

            Even physical accessibility doesn’t mean employers should open their mouths.

            Legally incorrect. Now, there are some caveats. For one thing, there has to be a genuine potential issue. Like if the job is 100% WFH, then there is nothing for the employer to ask about. The other thing is that the employer should not impose an “accommodation” on someone without having a conversation and making sure that it actually makes sense to that person. So the idea is that you bring it up and have a conversation. And if the person insists that they do not want / need accommodation, you document that and go on your way.

    9. Observer*

      Yet, it sounds like everyone from the supervisor to their employees has not bothered to ask questions of the person or resolve the situation, e.g. purchasing noise-canceling headphones.

      Except that no one needs to “get curious” or even “ask questions”. And the only one who can “resolve” the situation is wither the employee – who should be asking for what she needs, or the supervisor who SHOULD be having a conversation with her and discussing what needs to happen to cut down the behavior.

      But the reality is that she *is* being disruptive, regardless of the reason; she apparently has not tried to do anything to ameliorate the problem – and it is absolutely *her* responsibility; and the manager, who is the only one with standing to push the issue is too “conflict averse” to do anything.

      You also don’t know that noise cancelling earphones would work. In fat, they probably would not help, unless you mean that all the staff are going to have to wear them – which is not really reasonable. Because she gets upset when when *feels* the shaking, and that’s not something headphones are going to help.

    10. Risha*

      I strongly disagree. I have severe anxiety/ptsd around loud, sudden noises. So do I have to be in a near panic attack in order to make sure this coworker is able to keep shrieking? Or should I be required to attend this “trauma response training” when my own trauma response keeps getting triggered by this behavior. Which, btw is on me to manage. I would never expect coworkers to put up with my reactions to any triggers.
      We are all professional adults and need to be able to control 0urselves, or reach out to someone (on our own time) for help in managing it. It’s not on me to “get curious, asking questions, showing concern”. I’m here to work, not to provide mental support to a coworker, or provide any emotional labor. I am triggered by loud sudden noises and her traumas aren’t more important than mine (or anyone else’s). Imagine how many other people are also triggered by loud sudden noises. Should everyone just have to deal with it, or get noise cancelling headphones (who is paying for those?) just so she can shriek all over the office?
      The manager needs to step in and address it. Maybe her shrieking is actually affecting someone’s mental health, but they see the manager won’t do anything so they’re too afraid to bring it up. If I worked there, I would get my own accommodation to work from home or at least be moved until this shrieking colleague can reign it in. I feel bad for this person, I truly do, but she has to manage it without involving coworkers.

    11. Head sheep counter*

      Transferring the responsibility to manage (assuming no accommodations have been agreed to) oneself is a strange call.

      Having, myself, been a victim of several crimes… someone shrieking and running would really upset me and distract me from being able to focus on my job. Shrieking and running implies there is something urgently wrong.

      In a day and age where workplace violence includes colleagues harming other colleagues in headline worthy fashions… I can’t imagine what this company is thinking in allowing this behavior to continue. If the response you land on is trauma-response training… may I ask that you think that through one more time. Because… we are getting trauma-response training. How many places have active shooter training/drills? Its a lot. If you add to that colleague mental health unwellness training which I roundly would not be qualified nor would any of my colleagues be… then… you’ve transferred the responsibility for dealing with this problem to the wrong party.

  32. Warrant Officer Georgiana Breakspear-Goldfinch*

    I remember once I had an interview with someone who got through the phone screen, but in person was clearly not qualified for the job, and bonus, directed all his answers to the one man in the room, even when my female coworker and I (a cis woman), were asking the questions. Getting through the courtesy half-hour to make absolutely sure it wasn’t just that he was nervous was mildly agonizing, and thankfully we hadn’t been super specific about the usual schedule (technical interview, which was what he blew; soft skills/culture fit conversation with coworkers in a related team; chat with the department director), so we could just say “thanks for your time, we’ll be in touch” and walk him out. For the record, we did send a rejection, we did not ghost him. But good gravy, trying to do a technical interview with someone who is completely out of his depth is SO AWFUL. I’m sure he wasn’t having fun either.

  33. Observer*

    #3- Not “allowed” to ask when you’ll get paid.

    I agree with Allison’s advice completely. But I also want to point out that just because your boss said “Don’t ask”, it doesn’t mean that you actually cannot ask. For one thing, what can he do? Fire you? That’s going to cost them a LOT more than paying you on time.

    I’m also going to say that you should absolutely not lay out more money than you can afford to walk away from if it comes to that. Not “I can manage if they pay me in X weeks” but “It’s not going to be good if they don’t pay me, but I’ll still be able to pay my bills and eat”. Because what is happening here is *bad*.

    It is true that sometimes organizations fall behind on payments because they are understaffed and having a hard time getting through their bills. But *planning* to have these delays? Refusing to discuss it and even try to figure out timelines? No, that’s a *much* bigger problem. And I would absolutely not put it past these people to tell you that if you don’t continue to take engagements, they will put you on the bottom of the list to be payed which means that not only will it “take a while”, but “the list is never ending” and you won’t get paid.

    BTDT – we laud out some money and when we decided to turn the spigot off they told us that *IF* we continued to lay out the money they would try to get us paid back somehow, but if not they were going to prioritize other debts. Fortunately, we were in the position to walk away because there was no plan if place to deal with the issue. And it’s clear that the same thing is true here. They have no plan to deal with payments in a timely fashion or consistently, and they don’t have any plans to make those plans. Protect yourself.

  34. Bookworm*

    LW1: It depends–from your letter I assume you’re interviewing in person, so I assume the candidate would have had to dress up and travel to your office or some other location, etc. Please don’t forget it does take effort and money to travel, prep one’s appearance, etc. So if you know that person isn’t right that’s fine but asking them to come only to reject them like 5 minutes into the interview can be tough.

  35. Michelle Smith*

    LW1: I’m going to limit my thoughts to the unsuccessful candidates who are underqualified and not problematic in the ways you’ve already been given advice about in the official response. Remember that not every underqualified candidate is delusional. They may be fully aware that their candidacy is a stretch, but applied just in case and are taking the interview for the slim chance they’re the best fit or for the practice or for the hopes that when a future position becomes available, they’ll be in a better position to obtain it. They may not see it like you do, as wasted time.

    Try not to see it as wasted time for you either. Sure, you probably have a hundred other things on your plate like everyone else, but you never know how your conversation might be productive for other reasons. You might be hiring for a lower level position now or in the future that person is a better for, or someone in your network might be. I had an unsuccessful interview for a stretch position once. That hiring manager referred me to a different position someone in her network was hiring for (I didn’t get it, but I greatly appreciated the warm intro) AND in the current position I eventually got, she actually is the grants manager handling the funding for a couple of the projects I work on. So we ended up being colleagues after all, just in different organizations. If she had been rude and dismissive to me (which only speaking to me for 5 minutes would have felt like) just because I wasn’t the best candidate for her position, we might not have as positive and comfortable a working relationship today. So try to think about the ways in which meeting with these candidates can strengthen not only your company’s brand, but also your own personal network. The person you spend 30 minutes of your time with today may be your colleague in the future–always keep this in mind!

    1. Lily Potter*

      Love this response, Michelle. It’s a good reminder that the world can be a very small place when the “world” in question is your professional industry.

    2. PotsPansTeapots*

      Yup, if it helps, LW1, remember that when you’re hiring, you’re also marketing your organization to job seekers. Even if that person doesn’t wind up with a job or isn’t a good fit, they’ll still talk about their experience to others who you *want* at your organization.

    3. Kuleta*

      LW 1’s letter reminds me of an interview I had 30 years ago. I was trying to change fields, and was running into the classic no-experience Catch-22.

      For context, imagine I aspired to be a medical admin asst, and was currently an admin asst in a medical office. The latter was a generic office job not requiring industry knowledge.

      I interviewed at a small firm knowing the no-experience issue would come up. However, the firm wasn’t in the driver’s seat either. They used a WANG word processing system that had cost too much money for them not to use until it died. No experienced candidate would need to settle for their job.

      I always wondered who they ultimately were able to hire.

  36. learnedthehardway*

    OP#1 – The way I looked at it when I was an in-house recruitment manager was “How would it affect the company’s recruitment brand, if I cut this interview short?”

    If the individual is being offensive, then – even if they complain about being summarily rejected – presumably anyone who knows them and knows their attitudes will think, “Wow, Company X saw they were offensive and cut short their interview. That’s a good company!”

    If the candidate is completely unqualified – well, that should be caught at the screening interview, and you shouldn’t be interviewing them in person. It makes sense to let them know and to have a conversation with them about other opportunities in your company or ways they can get qualified. You kind of owe it to them, if you brought them in.

    If the individual wants something totally different than what the company has on offer, or there’s a clear mismatch of expectations (eg. your company is offering $X and they are looking for $X+30K more) – I would ask the candidate if they want to continue the interview or close it off. Be clear that the budget or travel or whatever the mismatch is is not changeable.

    For candidates who are reasonably qualified but not really hitting the bullseye or for people you don’t see a good “fit” with – do the full interview. They deserve that consideration, since they have invested the time, and that will prevent them from feeling like the company took one look at them and dismissed them out of hand. This ALSO gives you the chance to document why they are not right for the role. That has saved my butt more than once. Eg. had a candidate claim they were discriminated against illegally, but – having done and documented the full interview – I could demonstrate that while they were technically qualified for the role, their answers to interview questions about people leadership were a clear indication that they were not appropriate for the role. In comparison with other candidates who had nailed that question, it was clear that no discrimination had occurred. I would not have had that documentation if I had closed off the interview early.

  37. Just a Teacher*

    LW #5- I was flown out for a two day interview, given information about moving, and met with the board that said, “What can we do to get you to come on board?” and then STILL didn’t get the job!

  38. CheeryO*

    Aw, I can relate to #5. I had an interview where I felt that they really went the extra mile to sell themselves (including a tour of the office and introducing me to a couple potential future coworkers). I didn’t get the offer and was crushed. I did end up getting an offer in another department later, so I convinced myself that the VIP tour did mean that I was a top candidate.

    Being on the other side of the table now a few times as an interviewer, I can see that we try to sell everyone on the job. It’s in our best interest to make sure candidates come away thinking that it’s a great place to work, either for their own career aspirations or just for our reputation in general. I think there can be an extra level of effort for really great candidates, but not enough that I would ever tell someone to get their hopes up based on it. I hope it works out for the LW!

    1. I should really pick a name*

      Just to give a reference point, I’ve interviewed at places where they give every interviewee a tour of the office at the first interview.

    2. JustaTech*

      I have a former coworker who really, really, really wants me to come work at her new company. And I do! I just haven’t gotten anywhere with my applications.

      So the endless selling of how great her company is starts to grate and feel like “my company is soooooo awesome and you’re still working at that dump”. Which hurts.

  39. SoCal Kate*

    LW #3, if you are concerned about ramifications to your career by not attending the party, it seems like the perfect time to either schedule a doctor / dentist appointment that you can’t miss, or a good day to call out sick. Then when people bring it up you can cheerfully say that you couldn’t make it because you had a doctor appointment / were out sick.

  40. Grumpus*

    OP 1: I had an interviewer do this to me about 10 minutes into an interview. She had already kept me waiting and was pretty cold towards me. She was continually asking me questions as to what parts of the job I thought might be challenging. I mentioned travel and said I was a little nervous about it, as I hadn’t travelled for a role before. She immediately stood up and rushed me out of the building. It was so sudden and embarrassing that I cried after. If you are going to end an interview early, a kind tone in delivering the news is essential.

    1. Veryanon*

      I’ve never understood interviewers who keep candidates waiting for more than a few minutes before meeting with them. It’s really a rude thing to do. I’ve also never understood interviewers who are rude or adversarial in their tone or the questions they ask.

      1. Grumpus*

        Me neither! It’s a very weird energy to bring. I think looking back on the interview now, I wonder if she’d decided in advance that she wouldn’t hire me for some reason, so then she looked for the earliest excuse to end it.

  41. monogodo*

    RE: #1

    Years ago I worked for an industry-specific temp agency, and they sent me to a job interview out of my preferred geographic area. I was told by the agency that I would be operating a Digital Widget Maker that was a slightly more advanced model from what I was used to operating. When I got there, the interviewer said, “so, I’m told you have experience with the Analog Widget Adjuster.” I had never used that machine in my life, and wasn’t even aware that it existed. I told him as much, and explained what I had been told I’d be doing. He said they had no need for more Digital Widget Maker operators, and asked if I would take a look at the Analog Widget Adjuster to see if it was something I’d be interested in. I said yes, and we looked at it. I told him that if he couldn’t find anyone else, I’d be willing to do it short term, and explained my geographic limitations (wife and I shared one vehicle, and mass transit didn’t go to where that location was). We ended up deciding that I wasn’t going to be a good fit, and we each said we’d contact the agency to let them know the specifics as to why.

    I appreciated the interviewer not wasting my time (or his), and I’m sure he appreciated me being up front about my abilities.

    The agency never called me again to send me to another interview or temp job.

  42. BH*

    It’s not like the interviewee doesn’t know you soured on them. I know exactly when I’ve lost the job just by the tone in the interviewers voice. And then the whole thing is a downward spiral from there. Just put us all out of our misery.

  43. Over It*

    #1 are you doing phone screens before bringing people in for in-person interviews? If not, I would highly encourage it. A 20 min phone call can help identify significant skills mismatch or things like being too far apart on salary, remote work, etc. Not a 100% guarantee you won’t end up in a situation like you wrote in about, but it will certainly cut down on the frequency and be more respectful of both your and the candidate’s time.

    #5 It’s not unusual for interviewers to try to sell candidates on how great their workplace is. It doesn’t mean you’re their top candidate or an offer is imminent; they’ll do that to everyone they interview. Rejection never feels good and I’m sorry it stings, but the interviewer didn’t do anything wrong here. Hopefully knowing this is a normal behavior will help you reframe your mindset in future interviews. And it sounds like this job was a stretch for you anyway, but a rejection from one job is not burning a permanent bridge with the company! There is still a chance a job that is a better fit for you could open in the future, if you still want to work there.

  44. B*

    LW2, this is tangential, but calling someone your “boss” when they simply oversee your volunteer activities is giving that person an undue amount of authority. You’re not employed and he’s not your boss. You are giving the organization something valuable for free, and therefore you are the one with the power in this situation. That includes the power to set the terms on which you are willing to continue volunteering–which very reasonably should include prompt reimbursement for your expenses!!

    1. I Have RBF*


      I have managed volunteers. If the volunteer needs reimbursement or an advance for expenses, I’m responsible for getting it for them. If I can’t, the volunteer would absolutely within their rights to just not do the thing, and I would have no right to expect them to!

  45. Jiminy Cricket*

    LW1: I recall one interview that was going so poorly I was struggling not to tune out. I was definitely ready to just call it and put us all out of our misery. But I powered through to the “Do you have any questions for us” part and the interviewee just came alive. He had a number of thoughtful questions that showed real knowledge and interest. His personality finally came out. He made it onto our shortlist. Although we ultimately did hire someone else, he definitely put himself back in the running, and I’m glad I didn’t cut it short.

  46. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

    I actually had the reverse of LW#1. I cut off an interview where I was the applicant.

    I was working with a recruiter and had told him, “I do X, Y, and Z, but I don’t do W.”
    So he sent me on an interview, and, of course it’s to do W. At my first opportunity, I tell the interviewer, “I’m sorry. I’m afraid I need to cut this interview short, as I know nothing about W.” I apologized to him for the waste of his time (neither of our faults, it was the idiot recruiter), and asked him to keep me in mind for any future openings he might have had.

    Needless to say, I never worked with that recruiter again.

    1. Bast*

      I have had huge misunderstandings occur when the recruiter doesn’t truly understand the role they are trying to fill. ie: advertising something as a paralegal role when it is actually an attorney role, minimizing W task when W is a huge part of the job, somehow managing to try and send me to somewhere that had already decided I wasn’t a good fit (that they had sent me to!) and obscuring pay ranges and sending me to jobs that were way off, despite me telling them a hard minimum.

      1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

        Similarly, the phrase “JD preferred” covers a lot of ground–does this mean the job really doesn’t need a JD or does it mean that if someone has 10 years experience doing this exact role at another company, not having a JD does not mean they shouldn’t apply?

        Also — “CPA preferred”– are you meaning to get accountants who just haven’t completed all the steps needed to be a CPA (or whose certification has lapsed?) or do you mean “good with finance/math but not necessarily a degree in an accounting”?

  47. HonorBox*

    OP2 – Ask the question, especially if you’re willing to step back. It is unreasonable for an employer not to reimburse expenses in a reasonable, prescribed timeframe. It is even more unreasonable to have volunteers waiting for reimbursement of expenses for an undetermined time. The employer saying that not only will they not be able to tell you when you’ll be reimbursed but also that you can’t ask about it is ridiculous. Even if you were driving your own vehicle, being reimbursed regularly for fuel or mileage is a normal part of how business works.

    OP3 – Paying to attend a retirement party? No thanks. Even if your relationship with Ron was great, being forced to take a half day and pay for a ticket is really out of touch. I can’t believe you’re the only person who is going to be hesitant to attend, even if others had a better relationship with Ron.

    Also, just to note that holding up your transfer until YOU could find your replacement is bad business. While sometimes you might have to wait a bit to make a move, making that move contingent on other positions being filled and you finding your replacement is horrible management.

  48. Christmas Cactus*

    LW#2: this may have been mentioned elsewhere, but not paying wages promptly likely violates state and Federal Laws. Check out the U.S. Labor Dept and your state’s labor department websites to learn more

  49. I Have RBF*

    OP #2

    A person on a fixed income should not have to float lots of expenses to volunteer.

    If it were me, I would tell my boss “No, I’m going to discuss the reimbursements. If I do not get reimbursed in a timely manner, I can not take on any more engagements. I’m volunteering my time, not my fixed income.”

    The “Don’t ask about reimbursement, it won’t happen any time soon.” is the organization saying “Fuck you, we think we own you and your money.”

    Seriously, I would be livid. I’d probably also tell them “I won’t be doing anything requiring transport. Call me when reimbursements are back to being reliable.” Then I’d go find somewhere reasonable to volunteer.

    I’ve worked with a lot of volunteer orgs. None of them would have any volunteers ponying up cash if this was their attitude.

  50. Michelle Smith*

    LW3: Can you schedule a client meeting for the same time? Find a webinar, workshop, or other training relevant to your job that happens to conflict? Bonus if it requires a nominal payment you’d be out if you missed it. What about a doctor’s appointment for you or someone in your family that you really cannot miss (would require PTO but at least you could watch movies at home or something)?

    If you’re really worried about having a solid excuse besides “I don’t want to go, I want to do my job instead,” it’s time to get creative!

  51. SusieQQ*

    “Jane, could you please not keep shrieking like that? It’s incredibly disruptive.”

    I’m a little disappointed that Allison offered this script *before* mentioning that it may be uncontrollable. I think the first thing to do would be to figure out why she’s shrieking, and at the very least whether it’s something in her control or not.

    As someone who is easily startles and tends to give out involuntarily yelps occasionally, I would find this working extremely insensitive and would be offended at the assumption that it’s something I can control (I’m actually mortified when I let out a yelp.) Unless the LW has good reason to think that the person is voluntarily doing this, I would steer very far away from this wording.

    1. JustaTech*

      If it was just the yelping I would 100% agree with you. I’m also easily startled and can be pretty high pitched.
      But Jane is *running out of the room*. That’s beyond a startle response – and it’s also the *wrong* response to an earthquake.

      So yes, someone needs to talk to Jane about the running out of the room. Maybe if she can get that under control then either her coworkers will be more patient with the shrieking, or that response will damp down over time.

      1. SusieQQ*

        >That’s beyond a startle response

        Yeah, touche. And I 100% agree that someone needs to talk to her whether it’s voluntary or not, whether it’s just shrieking or shrieking and running from the room. It was the language I objected to, not the talking to. :)

    2. Observer*

      I’m a little disappointed that Allison offered this script *before* mentioning that it may be uncontrollable

      Nope. It doesn’t really matter to the rest of the staff. If it *really* is uncontrollable, she should say so and the the *must* start working with the boss / management / HR on some mitigation plan.

      It’s just not on the coworkers here to figure out the problem, nor to just resign themselves to this kind of ongoing disruption.

      I would find this working extremely insensitive and would be offended at the assumption that it’s something I can control (I’m actually mortified when I let out a yelp.)

      So? Jane needs to realize that what she is doing is absolutely not tenable. It doesn’t really matter if she can control it or not. *Something* has to change. Whether it’s asking for accommodations, therapy, learning to moderate her reactions, something else, or any mixture thereof she needs to change the current situation. That’s what Allison’s language gets at. Essentially a politer and shorter way of saying “You’re behavior is making it impossible for the rest of us to work, and you need to figure out what it’s going to take to change things.”

      1. SusieQQ*

        I would probably say to her “Hey Jane, I’ve noticed that when the building shakes you let out a surprised vocalization. It’s a bit startling and distracting to the other people in the office, so I want to hear more from you about why it happens.”

        Then I would see what Jane volunteers (presumably either “I didn’t realize it was distracting others, I’ll stop” or “I don’t want to distract people, but this is something I can’t control”) and I’d go from there.

        It’s pretty close to the same message that Allison suggested, just more empathetic and less assuming.

  52. DefinitiveAnn*

    Re: #1, I remember an interview many years ago where I walked in, handed them my resume, and within five minutes was told they didn’t need to continue. I still have no idea why. Did I look like his ex-wife? Was I mean to him in 7th grade? I followed up with HR and they came back with something vague that left me thinking it WAS something along those lines.

    1. Scarlet Ribbons in her Hair*

      Maybe it was (based on my experiences of looking for jobs and working at a company that was interviewing to fill open positions.

      Maybe you do look like his ex-wife.

      No, you weren’t mean to him in the seventh grade, but maybe you look like someone who was.

      Maybe when they looked at you, they decided that they didn’t want to hire someone of your perceived race.

      Maybe when they looked at you, they decided that they didn’t want to hire someone your size (if you happen to be plus-size). Maybe they didn’t like your piercings or tattoos (if you have them). Maybe they didn’t like your hair. A company once told me that they wouldn’t hire me because they didn’t like my jacket (which would have been in a closet all day long and wouldn’t have bothered anyone).

      Maybe when he read your resume, he saw that you went to a university that he applied to that didn’t accept him, and he couldn’t face the prospect of having to work with someone who went to that school.

      Maybe when he read your resume, he found a typo, and he hates typos.

      I’m sure there are lots more picky reasons that a company doesn’t want to hire someone that I haven’t thought of.

  53. em*

    OP 4, I think there’s been a fair bit of discussion re: disruption. However, as an emergency manager, I agree that this is in fact a dangerous response to an earthquake (the times that it actually is, aside from construction etc.)

    Clearly you know, and I adore you for referencing Drop Cover Hold On! For everyone else – running across the room puts you at significant risk of injury during an earthquake, either from falling / flying objects (the #1 risk during earthquakes) and from being knocked down to the floor by shaking. Actively dangerous behaviour cannot be allowed to continue at work, just like it wouldn’t be okay to keep opening boxes unsafely because you had a (perfectly legitimate) phobia of scissors. Basically: manager talk, ASAP, treated as any other serious safety issue.

  54. Applegail*

    LW1…. oof. This one hits me hard as a job hunter.

    I got laid off and have been job hunting for almost a year now. It’s tough out there. I’m good at my job, work well with others, and am doing the right things (networking, thoughtful, customized applications, etc.).

    I’m in my 40s and trying to decide whether I sell my home and move across the country and back in with my mom or raid my retirement accounts. Every single interview is a huge deal to me and I prepare the shit out of it. Literally, all I want is a chance.

    To you it’s 20 minutes to do other things. To candidates who might desperately need a job and have put time into preparing, getting ready, maybe traveling and spending money on that… it’s a whole lot more.

    Unless someone is, say, openly racist, sexist, homophobic, lied on their application, truly doesn’t have a key skillset, etc… You don’t have to hire someone, just please give them a fair chance and a proper interview.

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