how to tell an employee there’s no room to move up

A reader writes:

I supervise my firm’s receptionist, who has been here for just over two years. In her most recent annual self-evaluation, under the section which asks about career goals and training opportunities, she wrote that she “curious as to where I can go from a receptionist position.”

This is the first time she has ever said anything like this, and in her initial interviews we got the impression that she was a career receptionist. Unfortunately there is not any kind of a career track for her, as it is a law firm and even the assistants need specific knowledge about the legal field. She is competent at reception, but not by any means a superstar who we would make special accommodations for.

How do I approach this conversation in her review? I want to be straightforward that there is no upward mobility from her position while still showing appreciation. I don’t want her to leave, but I want her to feel supported and like she is developing her skills. I could direct her to some online training courses that the firm offers and see if there are small ways I can give her more responsibility and administrative tasks if that’s what she is interested in.

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

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • Does a closed office door mean “do not disturb” or am I being too rigid?
  • Should I ask job candidates how lucky they feel?
  • Non-native-born job candidates and hiring for public speaking skills

{ 256 comments… read them below }

  1. butterfly mask*

    I work for a governmental entity and often we have people here for the duration of their career. My lowest level employee knows I will do whatever I can for her, and I do (I’ve reclassified her role to as high as I can go), but we’ve also had frank conversations about the fact that there is nowhere for her to go within my group unless someone else in my group leaves and if she gets to a place where she wants more I understand and will support her. I’ll be a great reference if she decides she wants to leave. I’ve also given her opportunities to work with other divisions under the umbrella department we work for so that she can see what other opportunities may be available within our department as a whole. I’ve told all my employees the same thing. Although my lowest level employee is the only one I could see eventually moving on. She’s young and hungryish. (Although this strategy has ensured she’s stayed with me 6 years now)

    1. Antilles*

      Yeah, in some cases, the answer very well might be that there’s just no room to grow. It actually reminded me of my dentist’s office.
      Over the decade-plus I’ve gone to this dentist, there have been at least 10 different receptionists because there’s just a firm ceiling on what they can do. There’s already an office manager and the other roles require training and certifications so there’s just not really any “moving up” possible; the business set-up just doesn’t really have any space for it.
      So effectively, it’s a cycle where they hire a receptionist, have them for a year or two, then they leaves with a great reference for somewhere with more opportunity, and the office hires another new receptionist.

    2. Jessica*

      That sounds like a very different situation from what the LW is talking about, though.

      “There just aren’t any open roles and there are unlikely to be any until someone leaves” is very different from what the letter seemed to be saying, which is “a receptionist can never be anything more than a receptionist.”

      1. Addison DeWitt*

        If she went to law school she could be more than a receptionist. I think that’s the realistic answer– the path up requires new skills and training.

    3. Lea*

      I don’t know
      Why this person doesn’t just say these other jobs require xyz qual and suggest if she wants those jobs she pursue that! People go to school for better jobs all the time

      I hear you on govt, most jobs have a gs level and if you want a higher one you have to move.

  2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

    I started out as receptionisht/file clerk in a law firm. Then moved up to doing more substantive stuff. She can learn the legal stuff to be a paralegal.

    1. Runner up*

      I’ve seen this, and have also seen receptionists take on project-management type responsibilities (maybe connected to legal work, maybe connected with, say, billing), and could imagine some doing office manager type work. Presumably the receptionist has to be available to answer calls and direct visitors, so some duties may not make sense, but others should be fine.

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        Office manager. Where do you think the person who oversees the back office stuff come from? Not from the legal ranks.

        1. Princess Sparklepony*

          I was thinking that Office Manager was the most logical transition from receptionist to something else.

      2. rayray*

        I think people with receptionist responsibilities could make fantastic project managers. If there’s any job that requires juggling multiple tasks at once, it’s a receptionist. Receptionists gain incredible skills, but can often be overlooked.

        1. Two if by sea*

          Ya there is no way that lawyers are going to take project management direction from a receptionist. Try again.

          1. rayray*

            You’re right. Receptionists are absolutely incapable of furthering their skills and learning. The person is doomed to reception work forever, they will never develop further skills.


            1. Lea*

              Right what an obnoxious reply! Receptionist is a common entry level job for admin type work and that’s what project management is

              1. rayray*

                Right??? Are project managers just born project managers? Do they get a college degree and just fall into a project management role right away? And if you ever worked any other job ever, you aren’t fit for it?

                1. Two if by sea*

                  The reality is that legal professionals — qualified lawyers — want to be the project manager for legal work. I’m a transactional lawyer. We manage deals. It’s not something we give to non-legal staff. Period.

                  I’m also unconvinced that project managers are glorified admins — you can get a professional certificate in the field — but that’s a separate discussion.

                2. Cactus*

                  Clearly. All project managers spring fully formed from the head of Zeus with their PMP certificates.

    2. Avery*

      Yep. Heck, if she really wants to move up, there are classes/courses she can take specifically to make that possible for her.

    3. Rachel*

      If it’s a large firm, there might be educational or certification requirements for paras.

      At any rate, we are to take the LW’s at their word.

      1. Dek*

        I think that’s why Petty said she can learn the legal stuff. Presumably by going to classes and getting the necessary certification. There are some companies that will help a lower-level employee with the cost of college to train them up to the professional level they need for a higher-level job (that’s how my friend got his Library Science degree). But even if that’s not a possibility in this case, OP could still potentially point their employee towards the appropriate education that would be required if she wanted to move up eventually.

        1. doreen*

          I think when people talk about “room to move up” at a particular employer , they are generally talking about moving up without attending outside classes and obtaining certifications. If I was this receptionist, I wouldn’t expect the answer to be “You can move up by going to law school and passing the bar” and attending classes and getting a paralegal certificate is different only in degree.

          1. Santiago*

            Sure, but different by the most extreme degree! It’s not uncommon for people to get paralegal licenses to move up in compliance and legal functions.

          2. bamcheeks*

            Heavens. I don’t think that’s true at all! Maybe this is a US/UK difference, but I think it’s completely normal for people in reception/clerical/other functional roles to use that as an opportunity to scope out professional roles that they might be interested in training for. Much better to go for paralegal certification when you know that you like working in a law office than do it because you like Suits!

            1. Doreen*

              Absolutely- I’ll try again. I would assume that someone working as a receptionist at a law firm knows that they can get outside training and certification and possibly become a paralegal and if they are asking about where they can go from a receptionist position , they are asking where they can go without getting outside training . Like moving from receptionist to billing, which I’ve seen in medical offices but there may not be anything like that at the LW office.

              1. Avery*

                I can say that my mother started in legal billing without any training on that beforehand. Depending on the office, though, that could well just be shifting around duties rather than a full-time job of its own–but maybe the receptionist would like that duty shifting, too!

          3. Kevin Sours*

            It’s not though. “Going to law school and passing the bar” is a requirement to be a practicing attorney. What the requirements are for a paralegal position are determined by the firm. Moreover there is a real difference in terms of practicality between a three year full time program (that can cost 6 figures) and something you can complete in six months of night school.

            There is also the aspect of “if I do this outside training will it actually improve my prospects here?”. I think it’s deeply unfair to assume that they are unwilling to consider outside training.

            1. Velociraptor Attack*

              I agree with you, when I think of asking about room to move up, I think about what exactly it would take to be considered for a higher position at that place, whether that’s taking on additional work, if a particular certification/degree is needed, etc.

          4. Burger Bob*

            Yes, this. “Moving up” is getting promoted within your same general career type. Not going out and getting the training/education required to apply for a totally different type of job at the same company. That’s changing career paths, not moving up.

      2. K*

        But there’s nothing stopping a receptionist from going out and meeting those requirements. She just has to do the work.

    4. Never Boring*

      Yep, paralegal here who did law firm receptionist and admin stints in college and related work after college in the area of law where I am a paralegal. Many people learn on the job, and in fact paralegal degree and certificate programs don’t cover my area of law at all.

      1. Jamtoday*

        If in the US, certs may be required depending on the state. Many states have specific requirements to use (and bill under) the paralegal title.

        1. Cmdrshprd*

          “Many states have specific requirements to use (and bill under) the paralegal title.”

          I don’t actually think that is the case.

          It may have increased recently but I don’t think it has changed that dramatically. I did research on this years ago. Most certifications are voluntary, run by professional associations and not required by states. Some states do offer state certification but again usually voluntary.

          There are a few states that require certain licenses/certifications to do certain work but it is only about 3, California, Washington, and Arizona.

          Depending on the firm they may have certain requirements like a paralegal degree/certificate from an ABA approved program but those are firm/employer specific requirements usually.

          See link below.

          1. JR 17*

            I know so many people who are now lawyers who were paralegals for two years between college and law school. None of them had any formal certification or education as a paralegal before starting the job – if they had anything, it was provided on the job by the law firm after they were hired.

          2. Avery*

            I can confirm this. If you’re looking for a paralegal job in general, obviously the schooling helps, but there’s no formal requirement to go through with it, and if this firm decided it wasn’t needed, well, it wouldn’t be the first.

        2. Kevin Sours*

          As far as I can tell no states have any license requirements for paralegals. There are some fuzzy requirements to define the role but it doesn’t preclude on the job training. Many states have voluntary certification and a couple restrict certain more advanced functions to people with certification but, on the whole there really aren’t any hard requirements to be a paralegal in the US.

      2. Two if by sea*

        There are basically two approaches to hiring paralegals. One is to hire fresh out of undergrad candidates who will be paralegals for two years or so before going to law school (or deciding to do something completely different). The other is to hire experienced career paralegals.

        I don’t know which approach this firm takes. I’m guessing it’s the latter but can’t be sure.

    5. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Yeah, OP could encourage the receptionist to train to be a paralegal if she wants to move up in the firm. It’s even possible that the firm would help with the costs of the training (IANAL so I don’t know how expenses like this work in law firms, but if the firm really likes the receptionist and wants to keep her, they might). But if the receptionist has no interest in that, then of course there’s really nothing OP can do.

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        I’m curious if there might be any potential for her to become an executive assistant for any of the lawyers.

        1. Avery*

          It really depends on the way the firm’s set up. Maybe they have EAs, maybe they don’t. Maybe they have a separate full-time billing person and the receptionist could move to doing that, maybe not. OP would know better than we would, and it’s not unreasonable for the receptionist to ask.

      2. Lea*

        There is no way a law firm of any size only had para legals, lawyers and one receptionist im sure the letter writer is overlooking some

    6. The Taking of Official Notice*

      Yeah, I don’t buy the reasoning that this is a type of law in which she can’t be trained. I’m in the most complex area of law, and I was trained on-the-job.

      1. Bast*

        As an attorney who used to be a paralegal, I have absolutely seen people work their way up from reception into either office manager positions, legal assistant, or paralegal positions. The term “paralegal” in of itself is fuzzy — in some firms I have worked at, the term “Legal Assistant” and “Paralegal” were used interchangeably, and in others, there was a distinct difference, with Paralegals billing for their time and getting paid more, while Legal Assistants did not bill for their time and typically got paid less, but still considerably more than reception.

        1. The Taking of Official Notice*

          Yeah, we use LA/para terminology interchangeably in my state. (However, I currently work in a branch of federal law which has no certification or educational requirements for paralegals.)

    7. Richard Hershberger*

      Even that might be jumping the gun. Does this firm not have legal secretaries? A good legal secretary is invaluable.

    8. AnotherOne*

      I worked at a law firm right out of college and it was common for someone to be the receptionist for 6 months to a year, and if they showed they were capable- they were trained to be a paralegal/admin.

    9. Clorinda*

      It sounds to me like even if she becomes a paralegal, she’ll need to move out rather than up. Get the certification, and then get a job somewhere else.

    10. Kevin Sours*

      Yeah. I’m wondering how much “she is competent at reception, but not by any means a superstar” is coloring OP’s thinking. Because paralegal and legal secretary work doesn’t — at least in most states — require any sort of certification. And even if the firm prefers people doing that work have formal training it’s the sort of thing you can get via a certificate program rather than a full up college degree (no more than a year even while working full time).

      It’s not clear that the receptionist is looking to take on outside education but that seems like something to broach if they would be willing to take her on in that capacity if she followed through with it.

    11. RNL*

      The Director of HR in the law firm I work in started as a mail clerk, and my mother in law started in reception and became the Director of Personnel in a large law firm. I suppose we have to take OP’s word for it but perhaps OP could interrogate their assumptions a bit. Great receptionists have a lot of transferrable office skills.

      1. Kevin Sours*

        Though from the letter it doesn’t sound like we’re talking about a “great receptionist”. I think that a perception of the employee as “okay” may be coloring LWs perception: fairly or not.

      2. Two if by sea*

        HR is not to powerful in most law firms. Lawyers prefer to interview and hire other lawyers, and they do not trust HR types to be an intermediary and get things right.

          1. Two if by sea*

            Well that settles it. You deffo know better than someone who was an attorney at two Biglaw firms and is now general counsel at a large corporation.

            1. Velociraptor Attack*

              Lea literally said “in their firm” – they were being really specific in response to your broad “lawyers don’t trust HR” as a counterpoint with a friend that clearly is trusted, simmer down.

  3. MsSolo (UK)*

    I think, for the receptionist, you also want to be clear if developing additional skills or taking on additional responsibilities will increase their pay. Who is doing these tasks currently and how are they compensated? Is it a wholly new task for the organisation? If the receptionist left would those tasks be part of the role by default? If the role is going to expand, the compensation needs to expand as well.

    I’d also look at scope for paying for, or partially paying for, qualifications that are relevant to the business. If the receptionist is eyeing up becoming an assistant, paying for a whole law degree is likely to be off the cards, but can you give her paid time off to study? If she wants to develop HR skills, can you sponsor her qualifications for that?

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      Exactly this. If your org is the type to do this, this seems like a great opportunity to offer professional development opportunities (including but not limited to at least partial tuition reimbursement if she wants to go to either law school or enter a paralegal program) to help her get to her next level.

      But failing that: why not ask her what she’s interested in? The answer might be surprising, and it’s worth asking before offering a bunch of other types of opportunities if she’s got her heart on something specific.

      1. Avery*

        As a paralegal myself, I’d like to add that while law school is an expensive, long-term, and potentially daunting step, paralegal school absolutely does not have to be like that. If she’s serious about moving up, she could start the way I did, taking one paralegal studies class at a local community college to see if it’s up her alley. If the firm could help with costs that’d be great, but even without that the introductory class would likely only be a few hundred bucks, not an undoable amount.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          I got my paralegal certification in a summer program. That was on top of an existing B.A. There might be more involved without that.

          1. Avery*

            Some of it probably depends on the particular program, too. Mine was about a year and a half of school to get the certificate, and that was with me having a B.A. already, too. On the flip side, my mother’s paralegal school was I think 10 weeks long, though admittedly that was some decades back as well. And even the cost of my fairly involved program is still only a slight fraction of the cost of law school–I was lucky enough to have the money saved up in advance, and it’s not unreasonable that a law firm receptionist could potentially do the same.

        2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          Even if they don’t formally pay for part of the course, they could help her out by letting her study at work, as long as she’s still doing any reception duties they need her to do.

        3. Two if by sea*

          Go to law school if in doubt. The most senior paralegal will always be the lowest fee earner on the totem pole.

          1. TeaCoziesRUs*

            Every post I’ve read of yours so far drips with condescension and ego. I don’t think you understand your audience very well here. We do our best to build folks up, to show flaws or gaps in reasoning without tearing others down or acting superior for no discernable reason. You do yourself a disservice by acting like a Hollywood casting director’s idea of “BigLaw lawyer,” as well as provide no actual value to OP or the commentariat.

            If you could give good, solid advice without the condescension, I’m sure that what you say would be very valuable, especially since you’ve been in incredibly large firms with what I can only imagine at hundreds of different job titles and responsibilities. Where have you seen people that started as receptionists excel outside of the paralegal track? Are there niches that your experience has exposed you to that might not be as well known in a smaller firm?

            My primary law experience is with an incredibly niche area serviced by less than a dozen people in the whole United States. I have no useful advice, other than this niche seems to need at least a few more excellent and compassionate lawyers. :)

  4. lyonite*

    I’m imagining the interviewer in #3 just going, “Do ya feel lucky, punk?” and sitting there quietly waiting for an answer.

    1. DramaQ*

      I swear #3 has to be a company my mom interviewed with decades ago. She got asked this very question and apparently gave the “wrong” answer because it was right after 9/11 I think so she said yeah she feels lucky to be alive and have all her family with her and stuff.

      I told her she should have said “I don’t know, do you feel lucky . ..punk?”

      Seriously who has such a high opinion of themselves and their company that I should be falling over myself grateful that they have deemed me worthy of an interview?

      Those kinds of questions are a giant red flag. So while yes it is stupid of them to ask the question it is useful information to me because it tells me what type of company I’d be working for.

      1. Goldenrod*

        It’s such a baffling weird question. What does luck have to do with anything??

        I guess someone with a gambling problem would be a strong hire, by their estimation.

        What if someone is dealing with a child who has a terminal illness? Would that person have to pretend to feel lucky, in order to be hired?

        If they are trying to figure out if someone has a positive attitude, they should just ask about that directly.

      2. Betty*

        Yeah, I would definitely interpret it as feeling grateful, not whether I’m favored by the gods/fates/muses/what have you, which is what the LW seems to mean???

      3. Lea*

        I would probably say no I don’t feel lucky because I’m not in the habit of winning at raffles what a dumb question

        And then I would say I believe in learning and working towards things not relying on luck

    2. Cyndi*

      I’m so baffled by that one. I can’t tell whether that LW is coming from the “playing mind games” school of interviewing or if they earnestly think it’s important to select candidates for how “lucky” they are.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        My flabber is well and truly gasted. What on Earth. (Or maybe I should ask, “What on Ringworld?”)

        Would it even make sense to hire someone exceptionally lucky, since presumably they’ll win the lottery and quit within the first 3 months?

        1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

          Well, hiring only lucky people will save on health insurance! Nobody will get in a car accident or get seriously I’ll if they’re lucky enough. /s

      2. ecnaseener*

        So very weird. If they really just want to hire lucky people, why can they not come up with a better tactic than asking if you think you’re lucky? Give them a carnival wheel to spin or something…

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          If your goal is to hire lucky people, it seems like rather than an interview process you should put all of the resumes that pass the initial screen into a large bin, then draw one out at random to determine your new hire. Simple process, requires less time for everyone involved, and directly testing the criteria you’ve identified as important, to the degree that you can test for such a thing. It’s like a skills test, but for this one weird office.

      3. House On The Rock*

        It really does seem that they want to hire only lucky people…or people who perceive themselves as lucky, because that’s somehow meaningful to them. Either way it’s a deeply weird approach to candidate selection!

      4. Hannah Lee*

        They seem to really be using “how lucky is this candidate?”, with the candidate’s own assessment/response as a proxy for that, as a criteria for who would be a good candidate:

        “The goal with question is that if the candidate doesn’t feel they will have good luck, why bring someone with bad luck onboard”

        That is just a bizarre thing to evaluate a candidate on.
        It’s somewhere on the MECE diagram of “Horrendous recruiting practices” though it’s hard to tell if it’s parked at “Assigning bananapants managers to develop hiring criteria” or “Including religious/spiritual/supernatural belief systems into the hiring criteria” or something else.

        Even if you assume that “luck” is a thing, and also assume it’s a fixed thing, that people are as lucky as they have been, as they are now, for ever and always, there’s no way to know whether the candidate has an accurate understanding of how lucky they are or whether they are sharing their honest assessment, and even if the person’s response was dead-on accurate, it’s a stupid question to base a hiring decision on. The company should be hiring people with the skills and experience to do the job, and have processes and personnel in place to enable people to do the job, be successful at it without luck or random chance.

    3. Pottery Yarn*

      On the flip side, the job seeker’s misfortune could be the employer’s windfall. The job seeker could be wildly overqualified and under-compensated for the role they’re interviewing for, which would be a huge win for the (problematic) employer.

    4. Richard Hershberger*

      There is a (probably apocryphal) story about Napoleon considering generals for a promotion. Upon being told a candidate’s qualifications, he asked “But is he lucky?” Gliding serenely over the absence of evidence for this story, there are various interpretations. The most straightforward is that Napoleon was superstitious. A more nuanced take is that he understood luck to be something that people made for themselves. That is to say, a truly good general puts himself into position to take advantage of lucky opportunities.

      I wonder if the interviewer doesn’t have some vague sense that this is what they are really trying to get at.

      1. Working*

        That was my take on the question as well.

        Napoleon wanted generals who *seemed* lucky because they planned meticulously and outthought their opponents.

        1. Two if by sea*

          This is exactly right. You should always, always answer this question by saying you are extremely lucky and believe in making your own luck.

      2. Fox*

        As an alternative interpretation, does he have a good record not because he’s actually a good leader but because he luckily happened to be in a few situations that made him look better than his skills.

      3. Ink*

        …I think it might make less sense like that. Presumably, someone who puts themselves in a position to be SEEN as lucky is putting in enough work and thought on the back end that they’re going to tell you they work hard and consider their options carefully. You’d need an outside observer to give an answer that’s useful in that sense

    5. Velawciraptor*

      THANK YOU! I would have such a hard time not answering such a question with something along the lines of “what, are you Clint Eastwood?”

      What sort of question is that?

    6. nona*

      This is so very strange.

      I have a friend who firmly believes that she has a fixed amount of luck in her life. She never buys lottery tickets or plays games of chance, as she wants to save her luck for family, friends, and health. So I’d chose her answer ‘Yes, I am lucky. But I don’t plan to waste that luck at work’

    7. Dittany*

      It’s such a bizarre thing to ask in an interview! Why would you even care about a completely unpredictable thing that the interviewee has zero control over?

      I could *maybe* see it as having some utility in the “tell me about a time you struggled with adversity” vein – i.e., asking about a time that a situation majorly went south through bad luck and how they dealt with it. But their perception of how lucky they are in general? WTF.

    8. Seashell*

      I can’t imagine what I would say in response to that. “I would feel lucky if you gave me this job”?

      1. But what to call me?*

        “Well I *was* feeling lucky to get this interview, but now I’m starting to wonder if the lucky part is that you’re showing this side of yourself now instead of waiting until I’d accepted the offer.”

    9. Lenora Rose*

      I’d be inclined to start in on Dr. Seuss (And I honestly thing that after such a question that’s about what the querent deserves):

      When I was quite young and quite small for my size,
      I met an old man in the desert of Bize
      And he sang me a song I will never forget
      At least, well, I haven’t forgotten it yet.

      He sat in a terribly prickly place,
      But he sang with a sunny sweet smile on his face,

      “When you think things are bad,
      When you feel sour and blue
      When you start to get mad
      You should do what I do!

      “Just tell yourself, “Duckie,
      You’re ever so lucky!
      Some people are much more
      Oh, ever so much more
      Oh muchly much much more
      unlucky than you!””

  5. Matt*

    Unless this is a small shop or sole practitioner law firm, there ought to be some positions (HR, financial, etc.) where having a legal background shouldn’t be required. That’s where I’d start.

      1. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

        I’m not in a legal firm, but I’m the Office Manager in a manufacturing plant and have taken on general HR and accounting duties. I’ve ended up learning most of it on the job. If it’s a small business with one or two people handling those roles, they’ll often train people who have basic skills to do these things. You can supplement with official training, but the idea is, you can pick up a lot on the job if it’s warranted.

        1. pope suburban*

          Also, the letter did not specify that the receptionist has no formal education. Lord knows I wasted my degree for more years than I’d like in roles like that, and now I’m an accounting specialist for a nonprofit due entirely to on-the-job training at a small business. The way people assume that you can’t possibly be competent and/or educated if you’re stuck at a front desk is something I really don’t miss. I agree with you, I think there’s a good chance this person could learn other jobs perfectly well, either with training or by taking courses on the side.

        2. bamcheeks*

          Yes, receptionist to office manager to Head of Facilities is a fairly common pathway, and I’ve also seen office managers go down the compliance route and become things like Director of Operations. Or become PAs or EAs. Or go into other business functions like finance or HR.

          Really though, receptionist can be pathway to all sorts of things. It can be a great way to see different aspects of a business and figure out whether any of them attract you enough to go and get further training. If this business is small enough that there are no business functions and everyone has legal qualifications, then it’s good to be honest about that. If you can offer her any opportunities to explore those other pathways, even if they’re not full jobs, great! If she’s not going to be satisfied with this job long term, let her go off and speak highly of you.

      2. But what to call me?*

        Or perhaps a looser definition of required, where the firm might be willing to train an exceptional employee on the job or trust a very proactive and responsible employee to figure it out without much handholding but would expect average employees to acquire the necessary education elsewhere in order to be competitive with whoever else they might be considering for the role.

  6. Lilo*

    I don’t think #2 is being too rigid. Everywhere I have worked a closed door is a clear “I’m in a meeting/call/can’t talk now” message. When I had a baby and would pump in my office I would also lock my door for extra security.

    1. Artemesia*

      But Alison is right ‘privacy’ is the wrong word to use explaining this. It suggests ‘that’s cuz I don’t want you catching me watching porn’ or worse. It just has an inappropriate feel for the office. ‘doing something that can’t be interrupted’ is the right focus. I like her wording ‘only if urgent’.

    2. el l*

      Yeah, such a “it depends on context” answer. In France for example, doors are typically closed, and can always be interrupted.

      So OP should just feel empowered to set her own rules. Nicely say to each person who knocks when it’s a small thing, “Hey, just for future reference and this is totally my thing – when my door is closed there’s usually a good reason for it. Just weigh that before knocking.”

    3. Spencer Hastings*

      Yeah. I know the response said that it depends on the office culture…but since the LW said that most people’s doors are open most of the time, it seems like the interrupters are the ones who are out of sync with the culture, not the LW. If closed doors *didn’t* mean “I’m not interruptable” in that office culture, wouldn’t everyone else’s doors be closed more often?

      1. Spencer Hastings*

        Forgot to add: if I were the LW, I’d just tape a piece of paper to the door that said something like “On a call — do not disturb” when necessary.

        1. daffodil*

          I’ve done this in both directions, with paper or a whiteboard. “on a call” or “working but interruptible — just knock!” Sometimes someone down the hall from me is having a loud conversation, but if it was quiet my door would be open.

        2. Goosey*

          Yup, I have a double-sided sign that either indicates I’m happy to be interrupted and folks should just knock or that I’m not available. It looks neat and professional and means I can close out the sounds of the conference room right next to my office without signalling that I’m unapproachable.

    4. It Might Be Me*

      My ADHD would often be in conflict with an open door. I had to keep my office closed most of the time. Everyone knew to knock first. If I was in a deep project I had a cute sign warning of danger if interrupting.

    5. Thomas*

      On the other hand, at my last job I closed my door because other teams were loudly having a meeting, or just gossiping, in the lobby. It was still perfectly OK for people to come in if they had work to discuss with me. So yeah, places differ.

  7. rollyex*

    I’d sort of like the luck question because then I could say, smugly, “Audentes fortuna iuvat.”

  8. CB212*

    I would assume the interviewer was making a Dirty Harry reference (“Ask yourself… do I feel lucky”) which is a BIZARRELY THREATENING QUESTION in a job interview, thankyouverymuch.

    1. CB212*

      (I thought I was just old, but now I see the original post had a lot of commenters who felt the same.)

  9. I Have RBF*

    ESL and Presentations: This is a tricky thing.

    Yes, more ESL people have problems presenting clearly than native speakers, but it isn’t universally true. Also, enough native speakers stink at it that I actually agree with testing for it. (Generally, I think you should not give tests for things that are not literally part of the job. It’s annoying.)

    Presenting and training are specialized skills. I’ve seen ESL people excel, and native speakers bomb.

    But if you require a presentation as part of your interview process (which you should, since it’s an essential part of the job), be sure to let the candidates know so they can prepare.

    1. AngryOctopus*

      This is the most important thing to keep in mind. You tell your candidates that X percentage of the job is public speaking and presentations, and you ask them to prepare a presentation for the interview (whatever structure makes sense for the job). That is what you can judge them on for the job.

    2. Ace in the Hole*

      100% agree. I’ve been in wonderful presentations/trainings by non-native speakers, and I’ve been in dreadful ones by native speakers. Like you said, these are specific skills.

    3. kiki*

      Yes, my boyfriend is a non-native speaker of English but a spectacular presenter (in both English and his native language). A company would be missing out if they ruled him out just because English wasn’t his first language. I think a demo presentation is the way to go.

    4. daffodil*

      absolutely. I have been teaching college speech courses for 18 years and I would honestly say I’ve seen more non-native speakers excel and more of my struggling students struggle for a reason other than language barrier. Of course, there’s selection bias here, people who struggle with languages don’t choose to study abroad, for instance, but all the more reason to judge the skill you want to see, not assume something is a proxy for it.

      1. Elsa*

        Yes, I came here to say this too. I’m someone who enjoys public speaking and does it well, and when I moved abroad I quickly discovered that my speaking skills were easily transferrable to my second language. When you’re looking for someone to make a presentation or deliver a speech, a non-native speaker who is a good presenter will always be better than a native speaker who is not a good presenter.

    5. AthenaC*

      Totally agree. I couldn’t tell from the letter whether the OP was noting the applicants’ background and assuming their level of fluency and presentation skills, or whether the OP had actually observed the applicants’ lack of fluency and presentation skills and is charitably noting that it’s not their fault.

      But also – presentation skills can be taught and practiced, both in a native language as well as a second, third, or fifteenth language. Perhaps an otherwise strong applicant would be open to practicing and improving in this specific area?

    6. Peter*

      And from a British perspective dealing with various EU nationals (and anecdata from the EU parliament where people would often plug in translators when British or Irish MEPs were talking in English, but not when say Germans were talking in English) it is often the case that the people listening would find it easier to understand the presentation from another non-native speaker.
      I think it’s to do with accents, speed and broadness of vocabulary (especially slang and passive voice).
      All of which means, test someone in interview against the type of people who will be part of the Q&A sessions.

  10. Maggie*

    Number 3 might be the most bonkers interview questions I’ve heard and eliminating people from a job pool based on their answer is absolutely wild. I’d be embarassed to even consider asking that in an interview. What’s next, your moon sign?

      1. Bilateralrope*

        The interviewer wants a number between 1 and 10. So I’d Google “roll 1d10” on my phone.

    1. Margaret Cavendish*

      I’m really struggling to understand this one! OP says “why bring someone with bad luck on board,” which suggests to me the question should be taken literally. But it’s SO broad. What kind of luck? Lucky in love, lucky in finding good parking spots, lucky in winning the lottery so you don’t have to work any more? Is one instance of colossally good luck the same as many small instances of good luck? How much bad luck would be enough to eliminate the person as a candidate?

      And really, what does luck have to do with anything anyway? If you have a person who always ends up in the longest line at the grocery store, how does that impact their job? Are you worried the luck will somehow rub off on the rest of the the office?

      1. THAT girl*

        My response would probably be “not lucky enough because I’m sitting here interviewing and that means I haven’t won the lottery yet!”

      2. Mrs. Pommeroy*

        The absolutely only possible direction I could see the LW coming from is asking this question as a means of figuring out canditates’ general outlook on life. And thinking that a person who describes themselves as lucky has a more positive view of things, sees problems as opportunities, is generally in a good mood, stuff like that.
        But that would still be a really far fetched, off-putting way of trying to figure that out.

      3. Bee*

        And are they asking about luck or privilege? I don’t consider myself hugely lucky (or unlucky, for that matter), in that I feel matters of chance land in my favor about as often as should be expected, but I DO think I was pretty lucky about the family I was born into and the opportunities that have been available to me in my life. I don’t think this person even realizes they’re screening for that kind of privilege, or for an absence of tragedy, or any number of things that really shouldn’t come up in a job interview.

        1. Margaret Cavendish*

          Oh yeah, I’m getting definite vibes of “born on third base, thinks he hit a triple” from this one…

      4. Irish Teacher.*

        Among other things, it assumes the candidate is a good judge of how lucky they are (and that their past luck is indicative of how lucky they would be in the future). How lucky a person feels themself to be is likely to be influenced by a lot of things, including who they compare themselves to and how optimistic they are in general.

        I consider myself to have been pretty lucky, but I don’t think this has had any impact on my work life, except maybe that I take less sick leave than if I was less lucky with regard to my health (and honestly, that is something that could change at any time).

    2. I'm just here for the cats!*

      Maybe we should have a vote for weirdest/ most outrageous interview question.

      1. Mad Harry Crewe*

        We used to do icebreakers at the beginning of team meetings (20-25 people) and my then-grandboss once brought a collection of insane interview questions he’d been asked. We went around the table and everybody got one and had to answer. It was great.

          1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

            Except for the “has to answer” part, given some of the awful questions that have been mentioned here. Bonding over awful interview questions, great! Forcing people to answer awful questions, very much not great!

            1. Mrs. Pommeroy*

              Oh yes, of course! I will also try and only use those that are bonkers but not insensitive/deeply personal/off-putting/… It’s about shared low-level positive emotions, not about making the participants as uncomfortable as the poor interviewees must have been!

            2. bamcheeks*

              Well, a lot of terrible interview questions are terrible because they’re high stakes. Lots of questions that would be terrible when the stakes are “my livelihood / career / prospects depend on this” would be simply hilarious if the context is “low stakes icebreaker with team I get on with”.

    3. Putting the Dys in Dysfunction*

      The interviewee became lucky at that very moment, because the interviewer just revealed what an ass they are, extremely valuable information to know.

    4. Goldenrod*

      What if you said, “I don’t believe in luck.” Would that be a wrong answer? Because it seems like a sensible answer to me.

      1. DannyG*

        Sir Alexander Fleming (Discoverer of Penicillin) opined that “Fortune favors the prepared mind.” I hope that I would have the presence of mind to quote him then expound on my training and experience.

      2. Shynosaur*

        This was all I could think! The whole time I was growing up, nobody could ever say the word “luck” without my mother chiding “there’s no such thing as luck”… So immediately her voice was in my head at that! I guess the interviewer would find that much too negative of energy…? But I wouldn’t want to work for someone who would take my nonbelief in luck as bad for them o_o

      3. Ms. Murchison*

        Considering that LW3 believes it’s a vital interview question, they’d probably either think that you’re foolish for not believing, or that you’re insulting them.

        1. Isabel Archer*

          Exactly. The “reasoning” behind the question (if the candidate doesn’t feel they will have good luck, why bring someone with bad luck onboard?) is so telling. This isn’t a rational consideration for hiring decisions, but they sure think it is.

  11. rollyex*

    Regarding #4 I’d urge the OP to check their assumptions. I have a non-native English speaker working for me who is better at English writing than 90% of the people in our organization. Not just in grammar and spelling, but in style and organization. Her use of language is not 100% standard for an American, but it’s really really good.

    In speaking/presenting she’s in the top 1/3. Very good. Very very clear. Much clearer than a lot of native speakers, though sometimes goes a little slow.

    In all this, you can tell she’s not a native speaker but the communications impact is strong.

    1. trust me I'm a PhD*

      I agree and would add onto this –– 

      Speaking w/ a North American dialect is not the only professional version of English. Other world Englishes –– English with a Nigerian accent, say, or with a Singaporean accent –– is equally professional, normal, and at home in the workplace.

      1. Pippa K*

        I could listen to Nigerian-accented English all day; it’s very pleasant to my ear.

        Once, in frustration with native-English-speaking undergraduates who write poorly but think they write well, I mentioned when handing back marked papers that the best written one was by a non-native-speaker exchange student. He didn’t say much in class, possibly shy about his strong accent, but his English was excellent, and some of his classmates were visibly surprised to realize this. We often have an unconscious bias that lumps accent and language ability and intelligence together.

        (Conversely, I speak another language at less-than-fluency, but my accent is actually really good, and specific as to place and class, so I’m sometimes assumed to be a native speaker if I don’t say much. And then the person I’m talking to realizes that I don’t know the word for…cucumber or scissors or something, and confusion ensues. :-)

        1. Ace in the Hole*

          Far better to understand the language but speak with an strong accent than the other way around!

          I apparently have a good ear for accents, but no particular genius for picking up vocabulary/grammar. So I *sound* fluent or native in quite a few languages even though I only know a few common phrases. It’s a bit embarrassing to explain that I only speak English after ordering a coffee in perfect Lithuanian or whatever.

          1. Exile from Academia*

            At least it’s a useful skill for me in music, because it makes me sound very convincing and natural doing repertoire that’s in languages I don’t speak, but it’s mortifying in real life.

      2. MigraineMonth*

        The listener’s ear is much more adaptable than we think, as well. A strong accent that seems incomprehensible may become perfectly clear after listening it to for just 5 minutes.

    2. AfT*

      Agree! My partner moved to an English-speaking country and started learning the language for the first time as an adult, and they are a phenomenal speaker and writer who works in a field where strategic communication/public speaking is key. ESL does not automatically mean poor English language skills.

      1. Tehanu*

        Exactly. English is my father’s second language and he speaks with a noticeable accent. He also did all his formal education (including a PhD) in English. His presentation skills in English are excellent, he’s funny, clear and engaging. In his native language, he is a terrible public speaker – stumbling over words, nervous. He has spent 50+ years honing English public speaking. Assuming ESL means poor skills is frankly wrong.

    3. MigraineMonth*

      In fact, an ESL presenter may present much more effectively to other ESL individuals. “Standard” American English is riddled with slang, idioms, sports metaphors, and other language flourishes that can be difficult to parse. In contrast, those who learn ESL tend towards clear and straightforward language.

      1. Tau*

        And people who learned a language the hard way can often “dumb down” their speech by going more slowly and switching to simpler vocabulary and less complex grammar in a way natives can’t, because they’ve never needed to speak at that pace and they don’t even know what simpler vocabulary and less complex grammar *is*. My workplace is about 95% ESL, and it’s really noticeable that some colleagues with weaker English seem to have more problems understanding me than anyone else on my team.

  12. Kali*

    Oh geez, the “luck” question is so fraught and vague, and I really hope that OP doesn’t ever ask that question. What the heck counts as “lucky”? I’ve known people with a lot of privilege (white, male, wealthy, etc) who have had terrible “luck” in their lives – sudden and horrific deaths in the family, incurable medical problems, repeated job loss due to economic factors outside their control, etc etc. It doesn’t even have to be that dramatic. I had a rough couple of months this year – if you asked me in the middle of May whether I felt “lucky”, I would really resent that question, and it would immediately put me into a dark place mentally. I am very fortunate in many ways on paper, but those months were so emotionally rough that I thought about running away to the circus or just never getting out of bed again.

    1. MigraineMonth*

      A few years ago I would have been tempted to respond something like, “Not sure, I haven’t gotten the biopsy results yet.”

      1. Kali*

        Ha. I feel like that would’ve shut them down. But then you wouldn’t be hired because you brought “bad energy” instead of “bad luck” to the company.

  13. S*

    “First, I take the stack of applications and throw half of them in the trash. I don’t want any unlucky people working for me.”

    1. Mad Harry Crewe*

      Thinking about Ringworld, where aliens have been secretly encouraging/guiding especially-lucky humans to have extra-lucky babies for several generations. When they actually try to recruit their extra-lucky human adults to the Ringworld expedition, the aliens run into an unexpected amount of difficulty – things come up at the last minute, or candidates are injured or called away. Of course, it’s because the Ringworld expedition is dangerous, and the candidates’ inherent luck is helping them avoid getting recruited.

      Given how this interview question reflects on the hiring manager, one is bound to ask – are the applicants in the trash the unlucky ones….. or the lucky?

      1. MigraineMonth*

        I also thought of Ringworld! It does sound like in this case the non-selected applicants may have been the lucky ones.

        Also, keep in mind that the applicant’s luck may not extend to you. Maybe they think they’re lucky because everyone around them gets hit by meteorites but they never do.

      2. allathian*

        I also thought of Ringworld. Maybe I should just change my nick to Teela Brown… Nah, I’m not feeling *that* lucky t0day.

    2. Thomas*

      You know, I genuinely think that if a company has an overwhelming number of applications for a position, this is a good way to handle it. Spending under a minute looking at every resume will mean making decisions based on unconscious biases and closing the job posting early misses out on candidates who are currently in very busy work; better to pick a random sample to assess fairly.

  14. Someone Else's Boss*

    Why bring someone on board who will bring bad luck? Fascinating. I’m really curious to learn more about that question asker’s take on the business world. Sure, we use the word luck to describe various things, so he (and perhaps I’m being sexist, but I am assuming it’s a man) sounds like he truly believes some people have good luck and some don’t, which is a really intangible concept for hiring. It’s true that intangible aspects of someone’s personality can be a factor in hiring, but the best hires I’ve made in my career were folks who had the qualifications and references to show me they both can, and do, shine at work. Wasting time on how someone answers an odd-ball interview question is just that – a waste.

  15. Daisy-dog*

    I am curious how sincere the receptionist was with her comment or if it was just a situation where she felt the need to put something in the space. Basically, *you* asked about her career goals first. I am well aware how these standardized self-evaluations and performance reviews work, of course. I think going into self-evaluation time, consider providing choices for roles that don’t have upward mobility without pursuing an advanced degree. One of the choices can be “nothing”. Or at least prime the employee for the question and advise that this can be saved for a discussion later.

    1. Someone Else's Boss*

      Excellent point. She could have been communicating, “Why are you asking me this question? I’m the receptionist and obviously can’t move up here.”

      1. I'm just here for the cats!*

        Or maybe she hasn’t had a pay increase and is looking for a diplomatic way to ask about that.

    2. Turquoisecow*

      Yeah that was my thought, if it’s not possible to move up from her role, why are you asking about it on her performance evaluation? If I was in her position I’d probably have written something like that as well: “curious to hear about possibilities,” doesn’t necessarily mean she wants to move up, she might just be wondering if such a thing is possible since the eval is asking about it.

      1. Daisy-dog*

        And also, these evals can feel “official”, so she may not want to come across as unambitious within her record. So expressing curiosity is a way to ask without being snarky.

  16. Hiring Mgr*

    #1 may have just been going off a standardized form, but if you’re asking her about career goals, it’s logical that she’d think there’s room for advancement.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      This, or she feels obligated to answer.

      I can’t move up in my job without an MLIS, which I am not inclined to get, and there is plenty of work for me to do at my level. Mercifully, our review forms stopped asking about advancement and new skills about ten years ago, because it was ridiculous to keep asking me that when what they really need is for me not to advance out of the role. I do learn new skills since the technology, etc., changes, but, mostly, I do what I do, and there isn’t a lot more I can do without getting out of my lane.

    2. L.H. Puttgrass*

      It does seem kind of cruel to ask about career goals and then reply to anything involving advancement with, “Oh, you can’t do that here.”

  17. Anon in Canada*

    If no law already exists that makes it illegal to discriminate on the basis of mother tongue, there should be. Asking what someone’s fluency level in a particular language (in this case, English) is perfectly fine; in this case, it’s an essential requirement of the job! But asking for someone’s mother tongue, or inferring their mother tongue based on their name or job location history and then using the information in your hiring decision, is wrong, wrong, wrong. It needs to be illegal just as it’s illegal to factor in ethnicity in a hiring decision.

    In my field, one of the major employers uses an ATS that makes “mother tongue” a mandatory question, and as someone who is ESL but is perfectly fluent in English, being asked that in a job application makes me mad as hell. (Not surprisingly, that company never interviewed me even though I’ve applied multiple times for positions I was qualified for.)

    1. Anon in Canada*

      I should specify, conducting a phone screen to determine someone’s fluency in English is a perfectly reasonable thing to do; for some jobs (including the one mentioned there) it’s an essential requirement of the job and a high degree of fluency may be required. I’m arguing that employers have no right to make a distinction between being “fluent because it’s your mother tongue” and having “fluency acquired in adulthood”.

      If a recruiter or hiring manager has concerns about someone’s English level based on the candidate’s job location history, and the candidate is otherwise qualified, then please, do a phone screen instead of rejecting the candidate based on purely inferred information.

    2. I'm just here for the cats!*

      So, I didn’t take the letter to be saying they are going to be asking if English was their first language or assuming that they are not native based on their name. I took the OP to mean that they have met with the candidates and some were very clearly ESL people.

      1. Anon in Canada*

        ESL doesn’t mean not fluent in English. And having an accent that “gives away” that you’re ESL doesn’t mean someone can’t be 100% fluent and grammatically perfect.

        If someone is fluent, factoring in the information (that they are ESL) into the hiring decision, in any way, shape or form, is wrong (and should be considered illegal discrimination if it isn’t already).

        The thing about the ATS asking for mother tongue is something that happened to be and is related to this topic. That’s why I mentioned it, not because it happened in the letter.

        1. bamcheeks*

          You can also be grammatically imperfect and still an excellent communicator. English speakers are extremely tolerant of a few mixed up prepositions or tenses, and those are very rarely the things that make a poor presenter poor at presenting. Speed, tone of voice, clarity of ideas and clear structure are much more important!

    3. Ace in the Hole*

      It’s against the law in the US. From the EEOC website:

      “An employer can only require an employee to speak fluent English if fluency in English is necessary to perform the job effectively. An “English-only rule”, which requires employees to speak only English on the job, is only allowed if it is needed to ensure the safe or efficient operation of the employer’s business and is put in place for nondiscriminatory reasons.

      An employer may not base an employment decision on an employee’s foreign accent, unless the accent seriously interferes with the employee’s job performance.”

      1. Anon in Canada*

        Good to know. Unfortunately, such laws are effectively toothless, because those violations are extremely difficult to impossible to prove. Also most illegal discrimination is committed unconsciously; someone seeing a resume where previous job locations are in a country or area where English isn’t spoken may not consciously think “nah, this person probably doesn’t speak good English”; it’s more likely that they’ll unconsciously latch on to what they’re more familiar with/feels more reassuring (resumes where the whole job location history is in English-speaking countries/areas).

        Making mother tongue a mandatory question in the ATS, though, is a blatant provable violation!

        1. Linden*

          Anon in Canada (I’m going to assume this does indeed mean you are in Canada), while I agree that these sorts of laws can be pretty toothless, and while language isn’t a protected characteristic in Canada, depending on the specific circumstances and your jurisdiction, discrimination based on mother tongue or having an accent may very well fall under discrimination based on place of origin, national origin, ethinic origin, race, etc. (Every provincial human rights code has slightly different categories, but afaik all contain at least one of these categories.) Not sure if that helps, but putting it out there.

          1. Anon in Canada*

            I am indeed in Canada. Good to know, but as we both know, toothless because employers don’t tell you why you were rejected. No one is going to tell you “you were rejected because you have an accent” or “you were rejected because your job location history was in X country/province”, and without such an admission, there’s no proof of the violation.

  18. Language Lover*

    For the receptionist, it also just might be that they weren’t sure how to answer the question but felt you would look for ambition even if ultimately they just want to keep doing what they’re doing. If growth opportunities come up? Great but she might not know what they could be.

    There are a few questions on the performance reviews my employees have to fill out before I fill out my portion that are hard to answer for the jobs they have. I don’t read too much into their responses to those questions until I actually meet with them. Then we go over why they chose the answer they did and how I can address their actual needs.

    1. Sally Rhubarb*

      Back when I thought I was going to be a career receptionist, I definitely put the generic “advance my career” answer because the phrasing of the question made it seem like my company was looking for over achievers.

      Turns out they completely ignored the question when it came time for my review. ¯⁠\⁠_⁠(⁠ツ⁠)⁠_⁠/⁠¯

  19. Percysowner*

    The luck question is so weird and hard to answer. What do they mean by “luck”? I’ve never won a lottery (admittedly I rarely play, but still) or any game of chance. I was born a white, cis female in a middle class family at a time when, like Elizabeth Warren, I was able to work a slightly over minimum wage job days, go to school nights and still save a little money for emergencies. That is pretty lucky in and of itself. I’ve had bad things happen in my life, but is that luck or just stuff happens? I would have no idea HOW to answer “Are you lucky?” because I have zero idea how luck is being defined.

  20. ZugTheMegasaurus*

    I agree that the closed door should be an obvious “don’t come in” signal, but if it were me, I think I’d just put a sign on the door saying “do not disturb” or “meeting in progress” or something like that.

    1. Rainy*

      I have a little hangtag for the outside of my door when I’m working on something and need to be left alone to concentrate on it. (I got it from a pal at another institution where they give them out as swag, and I love it.)

  21. Who Am I*

    I’ve worked in the legal field (as support staff) for nearly 30 years, in big firms and for sole practitioners. This is completely untrue. had no specialized legal knowledge when I first became a legal secretary and know plenty of others who started out the same way. A receptionist can learn legal secretarial work on the job and move up. A legal secretary can learn paralegal work and move up (unless they’re in a state that requires paralegal certification and even then, they might be able to learn the work itself on the job) It’s entirely possible for a receptionist to advance in the legal field but it’s also true that a lot of firms don’t like to promote support staff and/or don’t do internal hires. By all means be honest with your receptionist that there’s no room for growth at your firm – but also be honest with yourself that it’s not because what she needs to know is so rarified that she can’t learn it on the job.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      Refusing to promote support staff is insane (which is not at all the same as saying it isn’t done). If you know this person to be competent and reliable, why wouldn’t you want to give them a bigger role? A good legal secretary is vastly more valuable to the firm than a good receptionist. Why would you prefer to hire one off the street and hope for the best, rather than going with a known quantity?

    2. Bast*

      I have seen quite a few amazing staff lost –and their lost was felt deeply — by refusing to promote from within. While I (obviously) needed to pass the bar to become an attorney, I worked for many years as a paralegal. The paralegal degree/certificate was just a piece of paper — both as a paralegal supervisor and as an attorney I have seen receptionists that could run rings around some of the “I have a degree” paralegals. In some of the larger firms I have worked for, there was a difference between a Legal Assistant and Paralegal, and it was entirely possible to work your way up. In others, the terms were used interchangeably, but if someone really wanted to learn, it was entirely possible (and preferable) to learn on the job. Unless this is a really small firm where they want someone to hit the ground running because they have no time to train, a person really determined to learn can learn this job.

      Frankly, even as an attorney, I feel comfortable saying the VAST majority of what I have learned has been on the job, both as an attorney and a paralegal.

  22. Fluffy Fish*

    I think you really need to re-evaluate whether she can move up . It sounds like it would require additional education and skills but it’s possible. There’s lots of different administrative type jobs – that’s where she is, in the administrative job pool/path. Receptionist to lawyer would be a huge path deviation, but receptionist to paralegal isn’t. It’s very very normal for people to need to need additional skills or education to be eligible for different jobs at a company.

    And that’s what you would tell her. That doing xyz and taking this degree path or whatever it is, would make her eligible to become an assistant or paralegal or payroll or hr or whatever it is.

    It’s not a promise or a guarantee and you make that clear too – that obtaining the necessary skills doesn’t mean she will be promoted to anything – it means she would meet the qualifications to apply for a position should it become available.

    However if you really have zero jobs that she could apply for with further education/training then you say that.

    I’ll also gently point out that there’s very few people who dream of being a receptionist all their life. I say that to manage your expectations of how long people will stay in the role.

    Finally, to add a caveat to Alisons great advice – if you are going to offer more responsibility and tasks as you mentioned then you need to offer a pay raise to go with it.

  23. Rainy*

    That luck question is completely unhinged.

    You don’t want to bring bad luck on board? Yes, please say that to everyone you interview so the reasonable people can run away. That is…oof, the level of scapegoating that person engages in at work is likely off the charts. No thank you!

    1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      That’s where I come down. The candidates are lucky they are finding out how bonkers the place could be right up front and can opt out.

    2. Anon in Canada*

      This is the same kind of incompetent interviewer that ask questions like “if you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?” (This has actually come up in another post here). Or who makes hiring decisions based on zodiac sign.

    3. Not Totally Subclinical*

      The truly lucky person is the one who doesn’t get that job and isn’t subjected to that environment!

    4. ZugTheMegasaurus*

      Yeah, I’ve only ever heard it as a joke (like literally stand-up comedy), like, “The first thing I do is toss half the resumes in the trash – I don’t want to hire someone unlucky!” The idea that somebody out there is taking it seriously is…troubling.

  24. Richard*

    LW1: with regards to wanting to move up, it seems reasonable that she would ask that if you asked her about her career goals. You say she isn’t a superstar that you could make special accommodations for, but did you give her a plan of action and advice on how she can go from merely “competent” to a “superstar”?

    Also, you mention that even assistants need specific knowledge about the legal field. If that’s the case, then how can she obtain that knowledge if she does want to be an assistant, or maybe a paralegal? What resources can you provide her that can give her that knowledge, or if you don’t have them (whether they be through online classes and knowledge databases from your law firm,) can you direct her to where she can get those or maybe even provide financial assistance if she decides to pursue higher education?

    And if she does upskill and as a result gains more projects and responsibility, I hope you have the good sense to have that reflected through her compensation.

  25. I'm just here for the cats!*

    #1. Besides what Alison said I think the OP should ask the receptionist what she thinks growth looks like or what she wants to move up to. Maybe she’s changed her mind and is looking at maybe a paralegal position. Or maybe she just wants more money or something. Maybe there are other tasks that she is seeing that she would like to do but can’t because she is stuck as just the receptionist.
    #2 offices should have little signs that you can flip from do not disturb to please knock. That is what I have.
    #3 That is the weirdest question ever and I would be side eying a company that would ask me that. and the “why bring someone with bad luck onboard?” It seems like you really are putting a lot of hold into luck. Heck, if something has recently happened, like car troubles or lost a job they probably don’t feel lucky.
    #4 I don’t have anything else to add. Alison said it perfectly!

  26. BellyButton*

    #4, I use this very scenario in unconscious bias training. Assuming that someone who was not educated in the US, who has English as a second language, or someone with a “foreign” sounding name won’t be strong at presentations/sales is wrong. If that is a skill that is needed then every candidate should be asked to give a 15 minute presentation in their interview.

  27. BellyButton*

    Yes, please keep asking the “are you lucky” question- let the candidate know that someone is likely to base their promotion on their astrology sign or the phases of the moon. *rolls eyes*

    I don’t think I am lucky- I think I have been fortunate to have the life I have and I have worked very hard in my education and career to achieve the things I have.

    1. Richard*

      If I was asked that question, I would tell them that they could go to my next Dungeons and Dragons session and see how I roll my totally not cursed d20.

      1. Rainy*

        Note to self, take a pouch of dice to my next job interview.

        “How lucky are you?”

        Me, pulling out dice, “What are we talking? Ability check? Saving throw? Any modifiers? I’m expert-level in Excel, are we calling that an advantage, or more like a modifier?”

        Interviewer: *blank stare*

        Actually, a few sets of dice so you can pick the right one based on what you’re learning about the role seems like a good idea. For jobs I wouldn’t take anyway, I’d use my spiky steel dice. They all look like caltrops. Especially the d4.

  28. BellyButton*

    Receptionist- if you don’t offer employees some sort of development and career path you are likely to have replace them every 2 years. The monetary and time cost are huge. Why not discuss with her her areas of interest and see what kind of support you can offer her. If not, within the next 6 months she is going to become disengaged and do the bare minimum, then she is going to quit and you will be starting all over with someone new. Invest in your people.

  29. Jane Bingley*

    I used to hire for a role where it was extremely helpful when candidates were familiar with the language and culture of another part of the world, meaning we hired a lot of immigrants and people who spoke English as an additional language. At the same time, they had to be able to hold their own in regular sales conversations with English first/only-language speakers. We typically tested for these skills in two ways: first, we’d bring a staff member who already spoke the non-English language we needed into the interview to ask a couple of questions in the target language. Then after the interview, we’d have the person speak briefly for 3-5 minutes with an English first/only colleague over the phone. This gave our hiring team a helpful outside perspective.

    I would also note – this combination of skills is unusual, and we tried hard to compensate accordingly.

  30. T'Cael Zaanidor Kilyle*

    Maybe there’s no upward mobility now, but if even the assistant positions require specialized knowledge, couldn’t she GET that specialized knowledge? There must be schools with Associates’ Degree programs for paralegal work that the person could pursue in her off time. (Granted, LW would want to be very careful not to imply that there’s definitely a paralegal job waiting for her at the company if she does this, but if she wants to do legal work, becoming a paralegal would set her up for plenty of opportunities.)

    1. Avery*

      Can confirm that such schools exist. My local community college offers an associate’s degree in paralegal studies as well as a certificate program. This knowledge is obtainable.

  31. RJ*

    Never overlook the career receptionist, OP. I started out as a receptionist many, many moons ago and worked my way up to a project controller/finance manager through experience, networking and training. Outline what options are available to her via a development plan so that she can decide what path to take. I’ve met and worked with other receptionists in my years of experience and one that I started off with is now the CFO of a major architecture firm in NYC.

    1. EventPlannerGal*

      That’s something quite different to what most people mean by ‘career receptionist’ – you’re talking about ambitious people who start at the bottom and are determined to work their way up from there. IME a ‘career receptionist’ is someone who is satisfied with the role of receptionist and makes a career out of being really good at that job. I once worked with a lady who had done twenty years straight in that role at one company – started as a receptionist, stayed a receptionist, retired as a receptionist. She was EXCEPTIONALLY good at that particular job but had no desire to move up to office manager or anything else. Pretty much the opposite of what you’re talking about.

  32. quiet quitter*

    LW1, it might be a good opportunity to evaluate *why* there isn’t a growth path available for your receptionist in your organization. And it’s odd to mention that she “never brought it up before”; any person you hire wanting to grow in skills and earning potential isn’t at all surprising. I would be far more surprised to meet a “career receptionist”, as most people in my experience treat receptionist positions as stepping stones and a way of getting exposure to various professional fields.

    Also, it’s a *good thing* to have an employee want to grow within your organization. Companies and orgs who offer training and career growth opportunities are essentially seeding their own future and long term success.

    I have personally been told there were no growth opportunities at an organization I was a receptionist/admin for, and it was quite demoralizing. I immediately began job hunting and found a position in an org that had a robust system of training and mentorship for internal career advancement. And maybe she won’t do that, or maybe you wouldn’t mind replacing her with another receptionist (who might also stay for 2-years before asking the same question). But I do now see it as a yellow flag that companies treat lower level employees as almost an afterthought, that it doesn’t occur to anyone in charge that the people with likely the lowest pay band may not want that (or be able to sustain that against rising COL). Subsidizing tuition or offering some projects that expand her resume could go a long way in retaining her and future employees at her level.

  33. Richard*

    LW1, I also wanted to ask, with regards to your receptionist being “competent but not a superstar we can make special accommodations for,” have you ever communicated that to her on her performance reviews?

    I know I would be very annoyed if I talked with my employer about upward mobility and they told me I was only “competent” and not a “superstar,”, when in previous performance reviews they only say I’m doing great and to keep doing what I’m doing. I can’t improve if I don’t know that I need improvement and on what I can improve on!

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      Also what’s wrong with being competent? competent is GREAT. not every one can or needs to be a superstar.

      i honestly can’t wrap my head around saying “She’s only competent”

      if your attitude is you only reward or give opportunity to superstars you need to reevaluate your management.

      1. Rainy*

        The number of times I would have given a body part to have someone *competent* in a role instead of whatever I was saddled with…! Yes, please, competence is amazing, value and compensate it accordingly!

  34. PhilG*

    “You’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do you, punk?” That’s all I can think about! Makes me wonder if he wants to play a hand of poker to see if you get the job. Maybe throw darts at a wall of balloons for starting salary?

  35. learnedthehardway*

    OP#4 – being able to communicate clearly and effectively IS a valid job requirement – particularly for roles that are public-facing, client-facing, or where miscommunications could affect the viability of the business (eg. health and safety issues, processes being disrupted, etc. etc.).

    This goes beyond language requirements – even someone who is a fluent / native speaker of your language can be bad at communicating.

    When I’m evaluating communications skills, I look at whether the person presents well (ie. they are organized, articulate, to the point, actually answer the questions asked), as well as whether they are comprehensible (speaking skills, fluency in the language, if their accent is comprehensible), and whether they can understand me (ie. do I have to repeat questions multiple times, for example).

    This evaluation goes on my interview report. In some cases, it knocks out people who are native English speakers. Sometimes, someone who has 80% fluency but who is really well organized and articulate about how they answer passes. Basically, it takes the evaluation away from language per se, and into overall communications ability.

  36. learnedthehardway*

    OP#3 – someone needs better interview questions, and it isn’t the candidate.

    As a general rule, ask questions that are relevant to the role and the skills / experience needed to do the role.

    Also, consider whether your questions are so open ended that they are likely to be misinterpreted or answered in ways you really did not anticipate.

    And finally, don’t ask questions that make the candidate question you or your company’s common sense or sanity.

  37. Kella*

    For the employer asking about luck: Luck is not a measurable, concrete thing. If it were, you could give candidates a luck test to find out what their average level of luck was. But because luck is not consistently demonstrated and highly subjective, you are left to ask the candidate what their own sense of their luck is, which as Alison pointed out, is unlikely to get you any kind of accuracy, even if luck *were* consistently demonstrated.

    But then really, why do you think a lucky employee necessarily means a lucky employer? If an employee received an offer for their dream job at three times their current pay, that would be very lucky for them but totally unlucky for you. It’s weird how much power you are assigning the concept of luck AND that you assume a lucky employee would only ever use their luck to benefit your company, and not themselves.

    1. AFac*

      I wonder if the asker of the question on luck is of Asian descent. The reason is, in some Asian traditions, luck is absolutely a thing that can be measured. Some days are luckier for some people than other days, so you make sure you set your wedding day on an auspicious day for you and your partner. Some numbers are luckier than others, so make sure you have them in your telephone number. Some years are luckier than others. Some people are luckier with certain people–that’s how an arranged marriage is determined.

      I’m not going to say much more than this because my knowledge is limited, but my grandparents and their fellow immigrant friends absolutely believed in so many of these lucky/unlucky signs.

  38. EventPlannerGal*

    OP1: Count me as another who thinks that her answer sounds like a politely-worded “why are you even asking me this question?”. If she’s been there for two years and there really are no opportunities whatsoever for advancement, she probably knows that by now.

    Also, I was a receptionist for years and anecdotally, I think true ‘career receptionists’ are thin in the ground these days. The only person I’ve ever known who thought of herself as such was at the end of a 20-year stint at the same company and close to retirement. (A certain kind of person can get a lot of satisfaction from that role, but I always found it somehow unpredictable yet very very repetitive, like a sort of chaotic Groundhog Day.) It’s a role that people increasingly view as a foot in the door with a view to advancement rather than an end goal, so I hope the OP took the opportunity to think about creating opportunities for development there.

  39. Sharon*

    Definitely ask the receptionist what she meant by that comment. It is entirely possible she is happy with being a receptionist, doesn’t want to take on additional responsibilities, and was just commenting on the performance form itself – as in, “why are you asking me to make up some development goals when we both know darn well I’m just the receptionist?”

  40. zinzarin*

    With regards to Q1:

    “This is the first time she has ever said anything like this, and in her initial interviews we got the impression that she was a career receptionist.”

    I wonder if this isn’t a clue that she, too, isn’t really interested in growth in the way the self-evaluation was asking. She could very well be seeing that question on her self-evaluation year after year and finally decided she has to address it. The fact that she’s “*curious* as to where I can go from a receptionist position” may support this.

    She could very well see this is as you (the firm) annually asking her what her career goals are, and she finally responding “well, I don’t really have any; are there career goals from receptionist you think I should be pursuing?”

  41. Hi Hello*

    #4 – As a non-native speaker, this kinda offends me. I have lived in the US for over a decade, did my undergrad and masters here. In high school, I did international baccalaureate where all my classes were in English. I have a native speaker coworker who asks me to proof read his emails. Do I have an accent? Yes. But I also excel in public speaking, presentations, and just overall writing. I also know more languages than just my native one and English. OP, how many languages do you speak?

    1. Mmm.*

      Oh my goodness, that question is SO offensive. It also edges toward discrimination based on country of origin, even if the letter writer doesn’t realizing it.

      I taught public speaking and English as an additional language. It really ticks me off that people think language learners are less-than in any way. Like you said… how many languages does this person speak? Do they think their public speaking skills would disappear the moment they become fluent in another language? Sheesh.

  42. NotARealManager*

    Different people at my office use a closed door to mean different things and also some people change their mind on different days. My supervisors will leave their doors closed, but say (as a sort of standing order) “if you ever need us, just knock” but then when a situation like that comes up they’ll call from the other side of the door “in a meeting!” or “on the phone!”. Then I feel super rude. I’ve just defaulted to not knocking on closed doors unless they have a sign up that says “please knock”.

  43. AnonPi*

    We actually had a discussion on what position your door is in means to everyone in our office, lol Like, if there’s a little gap does that mean you are just letting people know you’re here but don’t want to be bothered? If it’s closed is it because you can’t be disturbed or it’s freezing in your office and you’re trying to keep the heat in? (which is the case for a *lot* of us as we seem to do nothing but excessively run AC year round). Or because of noise? Of course we found we all interpret it a different way.

    Putting a note on your door is the best solution if you don’t want to be disturbed – don’t leave it for interpretation. I have a mini dry erase pad that sticks to the door I can write on, and I also have two post its with a ‘be right back’ and ‘in meeting don’t disturb’ that I stick on there and reuse til they won’t stick anymore.

  44. Lily Potter*

    Admittedly, I didn’t read Allison’s reply on this one, but the question itself has me puzzled.

    Question: “How do I approach this conversation in her review? I want to be straightforward that there is no upward mobility from her position while still showing appreciation. ”

    Answer: “Valentina, you’d mentioned something previously about being curious about moving up and out of the receptionist position. You’re doing great work at reception and I value you a lot. I value you so much that I’m going to be honest with you: there IS no upward mobility from reception that I can think of given your education and background. We love having you at reception and we want you to stay with us for as long as it makes sense for you, but if moving to a different position is something you want, you’ll need to look outside this firm.”

    Is it any more complicated than that?

    1. Jessica*

      “there IS no upward mobility from reception that I can think of given your education and background.”

      Yikes. Someone’s current educational state might mean they can’t move up, but you can always get more education, but saying “there’s no upward mobility from reception given your background” is a discrimination lawsuit in the making.

    2. Dennis Johnson*

      I think OP needs to acknowledge that they are the ones who asked the receptionist about their career growth plans, which most people would interpret as beginning a discussion.

      To respond as you suggested would be pretty tone deaf without some kind of explanation.

      Also, why can’t she get the specific knowledge that the assistants have?

  45. Delta Delta*

    #3 – Asking candidates if they feel lucky is a terrible question. But I am also sort of terrible, so if I was asked that question there is a 100% chance I would respond by quoting the Primus song, “Is It Luck?” Although I suppose if the interviewer appreciated the reference I’d end up getting offered the job.

    It’s probably a good thing I work for myself.

  46. I have opinions...*

    But… there IS a path up. It just requires additional training and/or education. Do you think her incapable of completing that training?

    As to how to address her, just be honest. “There is no path up that specifically starts with reception. But here are some other roles that are a step up, and what it would take to get them. Are you interested in pursing any of these paths?”

  47. Mmm.*

    Why ask the question if you’re not even willing to try to help them toward the answer? Paralegal school isn’t that expensive when you consider that hiring new people is pricey as heck, especially since people in receptionist jobs don’t always stay for long.

    It’s unreasonable to assume goals won’t change in two years.

  48. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    It seems fairly clear to me that “I’m curious where I can progress to” is more of a rhetorical question / comment on the process. She is essentially saying “there’s nowhere to move up to; you know that, I know that and you know that I know that, so why are we going through with this career development stuff?”

  49. Alan*

    I had one secretary who used her spare time at work to do homework for night classes. She ended up going back for her degree and getting a totally different position. We had another one who started reading all the documents she encountered until she became an expert that people now go to for advice (and she gets paid a *lot* more too I’m sure).

  50. nnn*

    What fascinates me about #3 is that they seem to think that if a person has historically been lucky, they will continue to be lucky.

    I’ve always thought of luck as a non-renewable resource. I’ve been incredibly lucky historically, so I’m assuming the other shoe is going to drop any second.

  51. Jessica*

    #4: Yikes.

    Yikes, yikes, YIKES.

    “Foreign-born” as a negative for potential hires is already a red flag for at best (!) some unconscious racism, as is (in that context) wanting to hire candidates “similar to me.” The coded language isn’t fooling anyone: just say you want to hire another white person, yeesh.

    First off, not being born here (wherever “here” is for you) has literally nothing to do with anything relevant to whether someone’s a good candidate. Zilch. Doesn’t matter. Get that out of your head.

    Fluency in English, immigration status, etc. all might create hurdles, but the mere fact of where someone is *born* means nothing.

    As far as being an ESL speaker: if your job genuinely requires a ton of public speaking, maybe that’s a consideration. But the fact that you personally prioritize that skill, and that you feel you “shine” when doing it, doesn’t make it the most important part of the role.

    If someone’s fluent enough in English to communicate clearly about the technical knowledge needed for the role, your personal opinion on their charisma seems low on the list of hiring criteria.

    1. Leave hummus alone*

      Standing ovation for this answer! My name is not common in English and I’ve definitely seen the bias in hiring. People assume I don’t speak English well when I can speak and write better than some folks whose first (and only) language is English.

  52. Jessica*


    When I read the title, I assumed you meant that there were just no open positions and unlikely to be any.

    But it’s weird to assume a person could never do a legal secretary or paralegal job just because she’s currently a receptionist. Most legal secretaries and paralegals were once something else, even if that something else was just “student.”

    My first job out of college was as a legal secretary–yes, there’s some training one needs, and it helps to have an English degree, but it’s not like being an Olympic gymnast or something. There’s no cutoff age where if you haven’t done it by this point, you’ve missed your window.

    So it’s very odd to go to “there’s no upward mobility… I can give her more responsibility as a receptionist, the end.”

    I think you need to make it clear to her, if it isn’t already, that mobility from a receptionist position isn’t *automatic.* It’s not like if you do well as a receptionist, you automatically get promoted to assistant or paralegal.

    But that’s different from “there’s no upward mobility.” Upward mobility at a *lot* of companies requires switching roles, learning new skills, etc.

    I’m not sure why, if she’s interested in a career as a legal assistant, you wouldn’t recommend that she talk to people at your firm who already do that job so she can learn about what’s required and decide if it’s a career path she wants to pursue.

    Having access to people who do different jobs who might be able to give you a leg up if you want to move into their field is usually one of the unspoken job perks of working at a company.

    I got my job as a legal secretary in part because the law firm saw it as a plus that I wanted to work there for a few years, save some money, and get the lay of the land at a corporate firm before going to law school. The lawyers there were very supportive about giving me advice, telling me about their particular focus, letting me sit in on meetings for which they really didn’t *need* notes taken, and so on.

    Just because there’s not an automatic promotion/career path from a particular position doesn’t mean there can’t be mobility.

  53. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP3 (how lucky are you) – have you ever noticed that some people just seem to be “born under an unlucky star”? Things always seem to go wrong around them, happen to them (even if you ‘control’ for socioeconomic factors). I’m not superstitious at all but do fundamentally believe that there’s some underlying principle at work that makes some people naturally more unlucky. On the other hand do you know people with lots of stories about lucky escapes, being in the right place at the right time, etc. Actuaries are aware of this phenomenon (and probably find it frustrating).

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      I’m one of the historically unlucky. If there’s a 97% chance nothing will go wrong, I tend to be in the 3%. I’m fortunate enough to have never had this manifest in a life threatening manner, outside one fairly serious car accident (other driver ran a red light and hit me so hard she broke the axel of my car).

      However, because things tend to not go right for me, I’m very well prepared and have can plan B/C/D very quickly. I think of all the things that can go wrong, and I have a jump start on dealing with or mitigating them. It’s actually made me really good at my job because nothing is left to chance (because chance hates me).

  54. Dido*

    Why was she asked about her career goals and training opportunities if there are obviously none for her position? She was probably just confused by the question. Not sure how else she was supposed to respond to that.

  55. SB*

    What an odd question to ask (how lucky do you think you are) in an interview. I’m not really sure what relevant information you could hope to gather from this.

  56. MathBandit*

    The most concerning part to me about the “How lucky are you” interview question is that my first interpretation of that (especially in the context of a hiring process) would be asking about how privilege, and so for anyone else who takes the question that way (given that we know the OP wants to avoid hiring people who say a low number) it would be an additional barrier for any applicants who are already more likely to be marginalized or disadvantaged in a hiring process.

  57. DoorsAreForKnocking*

    in every company I’ve worked in that had offices with doors it was expected that, in general, doors be kept closed. Knocking a closed door is the expected behavior. If you don’t want to be disturbed but up a “do not disturb except in emergency” sign

  58. Former receptionist*

    I went from receptionist at a law firm at the beginning of my career to now being managing paralegal of an in-house legal department. Luckily I had better managers than OP that saw I was worth training to take on new jobs. And both firms I worked out purposely started people at receptionist before moving them up to legal assistant to see what kind of worker they were.

  59. poppy*

    Ahhhh as someone who has been in that position as an office manager, your receptionist deserves an actual strategy for her development. General “hey, Polly can help with XYZ project!” calls often tend to go unanswered, or end being such a disorganised experience the employee will not feel they’re getting real development – I’ve worked with people who responded to these sorts of asks by letting me take over a substantial tasks (like managing expense approvals) and some who think “development” is booking them a hotel room for a conference. Make a real plan, your employee deserves it!

  60. Grey Duck 74*

    Curious about where to go?
    Office Mgmt
    Executive Assistant
    Safety and Compliance
    Documents and Research
    Project teams
    Library and Archiving
    Any number of departments I have worked in have taken on the receptionist after they have expressed interest in more responsibility. I’m fairly certain a legal firm has a billing and accounting department.

Comments are closed.