complaints about a new hire before she’s started, employer sent my rejection to my father, and more

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

1. We got a complaint call about a new hire before she started

We hired a new executive director, who starts in a week. Did multiple reference checks (including a former direct report and a former supervisor), criminal background check, employment and education verifications, licensure verification, and some casual googling (by an internal HR professional, not an external service). We also have been getting unsolicited “this is an amazing hire/human” calls from various people in the industry around the country. We don’t ask on our application whether there are any pending or potential outstanding liabilities, and have not yet directly addressed this with our new hire.

Yesterday, our comms manager (whose info was on the press release about the hire, which went out six weeks ago) received a call from a woman who identified herself as a former employee of the new ED’s current organization. She said she was filing a lawsuit against that organization for wrongful termination, her program area was not prioritized by the ED, and a couple of irrelevant personal gripes, “just to make us aware.” Our comms manager asked her to put it in writing and send it to our HR (she has not done this yet). A quick google of this woman turns up multiple lawsuits she has filed — not saying any are not legitimate, just that there are several (for varying things, none of which appear to be similar to her current claims).

I feel like our organization has met both our legal obligation and followed reasonable industry best practices for prehire screening. That being said, what would you do in this case?

It’s less an issue of legal obligations and more about guarding against a new organizational leader who could bring serious issues along with them.

But I’m not terribly concerned in this case. It’s hard to say for sure without knowing all the specifics, but when two of the three things mentioned are that the ED didn’t prioritize her program area and some irrelevant personal gripes, there’s probably nothing here you have to pursue. Caveat: I’d be more concerned if the wrongful termination claim is based on truly alarming facts, like if the ED personally led a damaging retaliation campaign after a good-faith complaint of discrimination. But assuming it’s nothing like that, and with the rest of the context provided, this doesn’t sound especially damning, assuming you had a thorough interview process along with the post-interview due diligence you described.

2. Employer sent my rejection to my father, not me

I went into the same industry as my father works in. Recently I applied and interviewed for a position where the manager happened to know my father. There were no chances of me ever encountering my dad while working this position, and in fact even the manager rarely interacted with him. It was really just down to a happenstance of networking. We have an uncommon shared last name and a family resemblance, so while I never made any reference to the family relation in my application or interview, it wouldn’t be difficult to make the connection between us.

The manager ultimately chose not to hire me. Rather than tell me that, though, they reached out to my father to explain that I was a wonderful candidate, someone else with more years of experience interviewed, etc. It was humiliating and infantilizing, and my father wasn’t very impressed either. It’s not like I was a teenager looking for a summer job at my dad’s shop, I’m an adult who simply followed the same career path as him.

How do I avoid being demoralized from this, and at what point does networking become living under my father’s shadow? I’m absolutely mortified, and it was one of the few jobs in the industry that even interviewed me. I’m beginning to question my own qualifications. Was I only considered as a candidate because of my last name? What do I even do about this whole thing?

Is this part of a pattern where you’re continually referred to as “Portius Warbleworth’s daughter” and people see you as an extension of your dad and don’t recognize you for your own skills and achievements, or was this just one weird hiring manager? I’m guessing it was one weird hiring manager since you don’t mention it being part of a pattern … and if that’s the case, you’re giving them much too much power in your brain. There are outlier hiring managers who will do all sorts of weird things, but they’re not representative of what you can expect to find while interviewing.

For what it’s worth, my guess is that the interviewer didn’t decide, “I will relay the rejection through her father, as he is the proper conduit for all matters concerning her professional life” but rather this an employer that doesn’t send rejections at all (which is super common) so you weren’t going to receive one regardless. But then the interviewer wanted to mention it to your dad, the same way they might contact someone who had referred a candidate to let them know the person was great but they ultimately didn’t hire them. That’s still not okay; this is your work life, not your dad’s, and he didn’t refer you — but I suspect it explains what happened.

3. Recruiter asked me to rank my enthusiasm for the job on a scale of 1-10

I’m interviewing for a new job and, for the first time in my career, I’m working with a third party recruiter. After a first round interview last week, I had a phone call debrief with the recruiter, and they asked me: “On a scale of 1-to-10, with 10 being ‘I would accept an offer for this job right now, the organization sounds great’ and 1 being ‘I’m not interested in this position, I’d like to be taken out of the running,’ where would you rank things after that interview?”

I like the recruiter—and I really like the organization!—but I didn’t like the question. I replied that what I’d learned about the organization so far seemed great, and that the interview I’d just participated in was encouraging. But, I said that I didn’t have enough information to accept a job after just one interview. I made it clear that I wanted to move on to the next stage of the interview process, but that I wasn’t looking to rush into a new position without hearing more.

The tail end of the debrief wasn’t awkward, per se, but there was definitely some silence after my answer. I don’t think the recruiter was happy with my response.

Did I misstep here? Is it worth contacting the recruiter (or the company itself) to further clarify that I’m interested in this position? (Beyond what I said to the recruiter and in my thank-you note after the call?) Maybe I’m just overthinking things. Thoughts?

Your answer was fine and you didn’t misstep. Some recruiters try to ensure that candidates are Really! Enthusiastic! at every step, because they don’t want a situation to get to the end of the hiring process and have the candidate turn down an offer. They’re assuring their client (the employer) that you’re interested as the process moves along, and they feel it will reflect badly on them if they put you through the whole process and then you turn it down — or they at least want the opportunity to make sure any concerns you have addressed early on. (Alternately your recruiter is just used to people playing along and giving a number and didn’t like that you declined to partake of their scale. Either way, your answer was fine.)

4. Am I supposed to leave work when I run out of things to do?

I have been working in blue-collar jobs for the past decade (construction, warehousing, etc). My early work experience was mainly in customer service, including front desk/secretary work. As I am transitioning away from manual jobs to more office work, I am having a hard time with the pace that comes with sitting in front of a computer. How much work am I supposed to get done in a day?

I am frequently under-tasked, and since my positions are for small companies and at an arm’s length, it can be hard to get clear answers and/or more work assigned in a short time frame. So I end up leaving early for the day rather than sit around and twiddle my thumbs. I am always scrupulous about only charging for the hours worked. However, that means contracts that are meant to be 24 hours a month are often only bringing in 18 hours of pay. Some of my friends who have more experience in this environment say I am being too honest and that it is up to my employer to make sure they provide enough instruction / tasks to fill my shift. I am so used to being in roles where if you are not actively (physically) working, you aren’t being paid. (Note: none of these roles are public-facing — if I leave one hour early and miss a late in the day email, nobody is affected.)

Your friends are right. It’s not about being “too honest,” but the expectation of most office jobs is that you’ll stay for your whole shift, even if there’s a bunch of downtime. You’re not expected to leave (and decrease your pay) when you run out of tasks, unless that’s something your manager specifically instructs. Part of what you’re being paid for is your availability to take on work if it does materialize. Sometimes it will, sometimes it won’t — but they’ve hired you to be there for a specific set of hours, and you don’t need to leave early when you run out of things to do.

If you want to be conscientious about it, you should ask your manager if there are long-term projects you can work on when things get slow. Or you could see things that need to be done and propose your own projects. But even if you don’t do those things, there’s nothing unscrupulous about staying until the end of your scheduled day.

5. Network access and equipment return after a layoff

My questions are about my responsibilities around network access and equipment return. I’m a remote worker with a company-issued laptop, and was told to expect an email from IT about how to return the laptop; so far, a week has passed and I haven’t heard from IT. What’s a normal timeline for this kind of thing?

I was also told my network access would be revoked at 5 pm on the day I was laid off … but a week has passed and I still have access! (I know this because I have MS Teams on my phone and am still getting chat messages; I have not accessed the company’s cloud storage, VPN, or email servers, or even turned on my work computer.) About 48 hours after my access should have been terminated, when returning my signed severance paperwork, I told the HR person that I still had access and shouldn’t. Do I have an obligation to keep mentioning it, or should I just offload Teams from my phone and forget it?

You don’t have any obligation to keep reminding them to secure their systems. Remove Teams from your phone and forget about it.

With the laptop return, you should have heard by now but sometimes it does take longer (especially if IT was affected by layoffs too). Give it two to three weeks before you get concerned; email again at that point and say you need instructions for returning the laptop ASAP as you’re not comfortable being responsible for it indefinitely.

{ 338 comments… read them below }

  1. If IT's not too much trouble*

    5. If things aren’t imploding at your company, and you have a contact for IT, they might like to know about it. We (generally) can’t do anything without HR ticket, but it’s helpful to know if HR *have* dropped the ball on a potentially major security risk.

    There’s no obligation to do so. But I’d like to know, personally. :)

    1. Work in IT*

      Yeah, this is where I land. Are you sure anyone has notified IT your access needs to be revoked? You’ll be surprised by the amount of times we get tickets about things not being done because no one told us they needed to be done.

      1. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

        +++ – I do a lot of work in an area where we get a report from HR about employment changes when they notify IT and I am stunned sometimes that it is months, even years before they get around to notifying IT.

        1. IT Terms*

          We started doing quarterly audits of accounts that haven’t been logged into for 3 months. We (the company) got hit because there were several active accounts when someone left the company but HR or the manager never told anyone. We also had the opposite too. The really crappy times are when someone finds out about their termination because we deactivated their account due to a termination ticket. I’m glad my boss will send a scathing email to the department heads and HR if that happens because it’s not our job to inform employees they no longer work for the company. The only exception to that is HR saying “we are bringing them into the conference room now block access ASAP.”

    2. OP5*

      If I knew any real people in IT I would have done this! But I don’t—big company, interactions with IT are via a ticketing system.

      But you make a good point! My revised guess is that HR did not mark their ticket as high priority so it took a bit longer to resolve.

      Interestingly I did eventually get the equipment return paperwork … from HR

      1. Hera the Mad-eyed Cat*

        I left my old job the day of our first lockdown, March 2020. HR and old boss then got in an ego trip about who wasn’t too posh to arrange a courier. Long story short, I still have it. They both know I do, but here we are!

    3. Just another person*

      Make sure you log out of Teams before you remove the app if you have an iPhone. I “removed” the app from my phone and kept getting the messages anyway! I had to go back into Teams though the App Store to sign out of it to make the messages stop.

      1. AMH*

        Apple changed things so that you can remove an app from showing on your home screen while still having it in your library (it asks you when you go to remove but it isn’t always clear what that means); in future if you delete from the library it should fully delete.

    4. irritable vowel*

      I work in organizational IT and it’s so much more frequently the case that we have to chase people down who have left and who have been contacted multiple times about returning their computer, with no response. Honestly, in some cases more than a year goes by. So, your IT is likely operating on a much longer time horizon than you may be envisioning.

    5. perstreperous*

      The efficiency of IT in this situation is greatly exaggerated. My “favourite” was someone who left a former employer, came back four years later and logged on with the same account and password. (Which were supposed to have been disabled the day they left).

      I would put the laptop aside and forget about it until the recall request eventually appears.

      1. Observer*

        My “favourite” was someone who left a former employer, came back four years later and logged on with the same account and password

        What could have happened is that the account was disabled, and then re-enabled. We’ve done that more than once.

        It would still be a different password, because I’ve always reset the password to gibberish before disabling accounts. And in any case, now our systems require a reset every 90 days, so the old password would no longer work.

        1. perstreperous*

          Let’s just say that someone reported this and there was a huge investigation. (The nature of the industry meant that it was a Big Thing – the account should have been deleted, not disabled, immediately the leaver left).

          An issue with this policy is that people with common names are now getting increasingly artificial usernames …

      2. JustaTech*

        I’ve had the opposite problem, where IT proactively revoked several people’s access on their last day but first thing in the morning, while they were still finishing up a few last documents. Because of the way the system worked those documents were then trapped in limbo for *months* because they were “checked out” to a non-existent user and it took some weird work-arounds to free them back up.

        1. perstreperous*

          Outlook meetings set up by users who no longer exist are a great example of this – recipients cannot decline or delete them because they come back from the dead and server-side work has to be done to (definitively) delete them.

          (Hence one of our off boarding tasks is “delete all meetings you own in Outlook”).

      3. If IT's not too much trouble*

        I mean, efficiency generally depends on the company. There are some good companies with good IT, crap companies with crap IT, and then variations of the two that REALLY get things slow.

        My department is very much “we want to know so this is not a potential risk” and will block accounts as soon as we have word from HR. If all we get is hearsay but no ticket, we’ll meet halfway by signing the accounts out so at least we have *something*.

        In your anecdote, *most* places will just disable the account (not necessarily reset the password) and revoke accesses. If the employee ever returns, the account just gets re-enabled and they likely have the same password. Account retention will differ from company to company, but a general average is a 5-10 year retention for accounts before they’re deleted for varying reasons, technical or otherwise.

    6. Observer*

      We (generally) can’t do anything without HR ticket, but it’s helpful to know if HR *have* dropped the ball on a potentially major security risk

      Very much this. You don’t have an obligation, but if your former HR are professionally and personally decent they will be very grateful to you.

      1. 2 Cents*

        Or, it’s such a huge institution, they won’t notice or care. OP has no obligation to do their job. Remove Teams, store the computer in a closet, and go about your life.

    7. Chris*

      My spouse worked as an exec for Twitter when Elon took over, and lost their job shortly after. In spite of my spouse making multiple requests, it took over a year for them to arrange the return of their laptop.

  2. nnn*

    Another thing #4 can do is specifically ask your manager “What would you like me to do if I ever run out of work? Should I reach out to someone? Or wait patiently? Or is there something else you’d like me to work on?”

    Then do whatever they tell you, confident in the fact that you are following their procedures and preferences.

    If you like the idea of leaving early, you could add “I’ve had jobs in the past where we can leave for the day once all our work is done. Is this the kind of workplace that does that?” If you’d rather get paid for the full day, you can just not raise that idea.

    1. Msd*

      I don’t think the LW should offer to go home early. That is a very odd precedent to set They are supposed to be paid x number of hours not to paid for x number of tasks. They should ask if there is anything they can help with but not offer to sit “patiently” waiting for work.

      1. DJ Abbott*

        Seconding this. If they mention going home early at all, it will sound like they don’t want to be there. If OP’S managers are like the ones I’ve had, they *will* jump to that conclusion.

        1. Miette*

          A valid point. OP, it’s better to look like you want to stay (through the end of your shift) than like you’re looking to leave.

          Ask if there’s more work you could be doing, as suggested, and offer to take on more if it’s relevant…and you want to (there’s nothing wrong with just doing what you’re hired to do).

          1. AnotherOne*

            yeah, I had this exact issue at several early career jobs and always found there were an array of projects that needed to be done.

            at one job, i had a ton of extra time the first 6 months i was there (i was hired into a new position and training me was a whole thing so it resulted in a lot of down time on my part.) i ended up being the person who handled cleaning up and maintaining the company wide contact book. it was literally just sitting at a computer and googling to locate people’s current job. (a skill I use in my current job a decade later.) but it meant i always had a task when it was quiet because that task was never ending.

            1. Reluctant Mezzo*

              Sounds like someone I knew at ExJob who got to maintain the vendor database and make sure nobody double-added a vendor we already had. Oh, and clean out all the actual duplicates and make sure the primary vendor had the proper codes for different addresses. (they offered me that job and I ran like the wind).

        2. SpaceySteph*

          Agree! As someone who has always been salaried, my initial interpretation would be they want to get full pay for partial work which if the manager has a similar take it would not reflect well on the OP.

        1. Antilles*

          Unless the co-workers happen to have the exact same role as OP, I don’t see the “fairness” argument as particularly relevant. Different jobs have different requirements and different needs: the IT staff is allowed to dress more casually because they spend a lot of time crawling under desks, the salesman can run errands during the day if he’s already out running between meetings, etc. And yes, OP might be able to leave early when others can’t.

          I do think OP should just find a way to keep busy and shift the mindset to “I’m staying for the contract hours” because part of the deal with office jobs is that there are times where you’re effectively paid for availability; even if there’s no immediate task on your plate, the company is paying for the right to have you available to jump on that late-afternoon email rather than having it sit till tomorrow morning (even if it’s not time-critical). But I don’t think “unfair to others” is part of the case.

        2. Observer*

          And its not fair to co workers who are there for the day.

          Not at all, unless they are all in the same role.

          It’s highly unhelpful in most environments to insist that all people, regardless of role and need, be treated “the same”.

      2. Beebis*

        The closest thing I’ve had to this at a job was a call center that would send out an email when we were overstaffed to see if anyone wanted to go home and use PTO for the rest of their shift. This would be a very weird ask in every office I’ve worked in and the reason why is exactly what Alison described

      3. Willow Sunstar*

        Right, and there are companies who would chastise the employee, if not officially write up someone, for leaving before the end of a shift without taking PTO. I would absolutely get sternly talked to, at least.

    2. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I’ve worked jobs where they really didn’t have enough for me to do and I sat in the office wasting time on the internet (I actually used to complain about sitting around twiddling my thumbs, the same phrasing OP used) while waiting for the tasks that would take me maybe an hour to do. It’s really frustrating to be in a job like that, but it’s also important to stick around so they see that you’re available for tasks if any come up. And you can be proactive too, OP; do what AAM says and ask if they have other things they would like you to do if you run out of tasks for the day, ask if it’s ok if you propose longer term projects and work on them, and if there are any professional development opportunities related to the job that sound interesting to you, ask if it’d be ok if you work on them during your downtime. And while you are probably too new at your position (hard to tell from your letter) to be asking about a promotion, it’s definitely worth looking around at what the people just above you in the hierarchy do and seeing if you can learn at least a little bit about it. Not saying you’ll get a promotion if you do, but if you are interested in staying in your field, it’s worth at least getting a small glimpse of what else you would need to know to advance your career.

      In my last job, in which I had SO MUCH downtime, I wish I’d taken advantage more of the online learning for the database platform we used, but it wasn’t until I got my ADHD diagnosis last year and started on meds for it that I was able to really buckle down and concentrate on it. Don’t be me, OP! :-) And best of luck!

      1. Smithy*

        Depending on the job transition, being “up to date” or educated on your work area is often considered relevant to your job. And part of the perception problem with leaving early can be that not only are you not available for other tasks, but you’re also not growing in the field.

        While there might be more structured learning opportunities, relevant blogs/articles/research to read, it can also be more broad things that keep you industry relevant. Depending on the industry, reading local/regional/global news would be relevant. Most industries have some kind of media or journal that covers trends, developments, or even just sector wide press releases.

        Depending on your employer or sector, clear top down instructions around how to pursue professional development won’t exist. Or will only be quite vague. Therefore using that kind of down time to remain current in the areas of your industry where you just want to be more well-rounded would be considered a worthwhile way to spend your clocked in hours. Now 100% this can just be people not doing much on social media or whatever, but I think if you’re struggling to transition into how to use that time more productively – these would all be considered relevant ways of being at work.

        1. Quill*

          Last time I had a job with a lot of downtime but was on call to finish tasks, I ended up learning a lot of technical excel stuff. This was useful later in the job (once the number of tasks / availability of people to approve them ramped up I could get some of my analysis done in half the time) and honestly pretty useful in future jobs, at least in the hiring phase. Turns out “I made a new excel file to better organize our department metrics, halving the time needed to generate our monthly report” is really juicy for hiring managers.

          (I’d have to look up how to do a large number of the things again, but turns out hiring managers are more often looking for “I did a large excel based project without making it a bigger headache than before” than the standard “I went to college, of course I know how to use excel, we used it for at least two classes.”)

          1. TheZMage*

            I owe my entire work success to the internship where I didn’t have enough to do and made a Minesweeper game in Excel to play.

      2. OP-4*

        I’m definitely you! Unmedicated ADHD? Probably. If only I had the willpower to watch a webinar when I didn’t have a specific problem I was trying to solve.

    3. Roeslein*

      Assuming the OP is not an intern (for whom this may need to be spelled out), going out and asking where they can help and pitching in as needed is something that would be expected of a new hire in my field. People are generally expected to be proactive about making themselves useful and someone not doing this would be odd.

      1. OP-4*

        Question asker here. I guess I should have been clearer – I have extremely part-time work in an office with no coworkers. Me and my boss share the one desk and alternate hours. When I am working she is off – so I can’t really get more work assigned day-of. I’ve proactively taken on a bunch of web design work, reorganized the cables under the desk, and have asked for more projects, but she isn’t proactive about giving me things unless there is an immediate deadline (in which case I’ll even put in “extra” ie: make-up hours to get everything done). I don’t think she even notices when I leave early as she doesn’t handle payroll. I guess I just can’t stand the idea of “busy work”, I’ll do what needs to get done when it needs to get done, and I’ve never had a problem with picking up missing skills on-the-go. I got a rave review on my 6-month mark and have zero complaints from my boss.

    4. postscript*

      I had a job with a lot of downtime and a regular schedule. I kept my eyes open for ‘time sink’ projects for when I wasn’t busy/ Inventory, organizing, making sure all the network portals were labeled correctly and we weren’t paying for unused portals, etc. Read news relevant to your field. Some jobs give you access to online training, that’s a good use for downtime as well.

  3. Read War and Peace*

    Oh LW 4 yes you are being way too honest. Ideally you’ll always have a few “when it gets slow” projects, but otherwise you put down the total hours of your contract.

    1. ThatOtherClare*

      This gets easier as time goes on. In the beginning at any job you’re twiddling your thumbs, but soon you encounter dozens of little tasks where you think: “This would be easier with a pivot table” or “This file is out of date” or “Someone should really write instructions for that”. Doing/fixing those things is how you make yourself valuable during your down time.

      1. Some Words*

        And volunteer to be cross trained in other areas. That’s what our department does. Things are slow in my industry (mortgage) right now and the manager’s well aware that we don’t always have enough work to keep us busy for 8 hours. But if we have layoffs the company still needs a core staff of knowlegable people when things pick up again. It’s worth it for the company to pay us to twiddle our thumbs from time to time. Just don’t walk around announcing you don’t have any work to do. Let your supervisor know you’re available and willing to pitch in with tasks outside your job description. Keep yourself quietly occupied when there’s truly no work.

        I’ve never worked in an office where it would be acceptable to clock out once your primary tasks are finished for the day.

        1. Pterodactyls are under-cited in the psychological literature*

          Just for an alternate perspective, everywhere I worked as an allied health provider, there were productivity standards (80% of time had to be billable) and if you finished your patients before the end of the day you absolutely were expected to clock out, though until the end of your usual hours they could page you to come back if another order came in. Plenty of weeks I didn’t get a full 40 hours. (Then when caseload exploded I would get sternly talked to about how overtime was not acceptable and I needed to manage my hours better. They really should have made me salaried, the fluctuation in caseload was a known yearly phenomenon.) Doesn’t sound like the OP has that kind of job but they’re out there.

          1. Observer*

            Doesn’t sound like the OP has that kind of job but they’re out there.

            Sure, those jobs exist. But I suspect that the OP would know if they were in that kind of position.

            I’d even be willing to bet that the back office folks at your employers (eg fiscal, general admin, etc.) did not have that kind of set up. They were probably expected to stick around regardless of whether they have something to do THIS minute.

    2. Jackalope*

      Well, and as Alison said, part of what your employer is doing is paying you to be available for work if and when it comes up. For certain jobs it makes sense to have “extra” staff around for when something unpredictable needs to be done, someone leaves early, etc.

      1. KateM*

        Yep, even if nobody is affected, employer is still paying OP to be ready to reply that late in the day email as it comes instead of the next day.

        1. Bumblebee*

          As a manager, if I came looking for a staff member because I needed them to do something, and found out they’d gone home because they were out of tasks, I’d be really ticked off. Later on I’d reflect on how to better disperse the workload and be a better supervisor, but in the moment I’d just be annoyed at having to delay whatever it was or do it myself, which wouldn’t reflect well on the staff member!

      2. Sloanicota*

        Yep. Even in the blue collar world, if you’re “engaged to wait,” they’re supposed to pay you. The fact that some companies squirm out of this in various ways doesn’t change the fact that if you’re sitting on-site ready to get a call-out, you can’t take another job, so you’re working. In the white collar world, they just do it in bigger blocks and pay you to be “engaged to wait” 40 hours a week or so, which is the average amount of time they expect someone in the role to be available to answer emails / respond to phone calls / advance their projects (but this last one only happens once you have a bit more experience at seniority).

      3. NotAnotherManager!*

        Yep. If I could predict everything coming down the pipes with full precision and had control over scheduling and deadlines, I could probably staff down two people. But I work with externally-dictated deadlines and sometimes just need someone around and available to pitch in on a rush project or to add a set of hands to a project that took a last minute turn into double the work. We’re clear with people that being available during scheduled is part of their job, and we need to pay them for it. It’s not piecework, it’s hourly.

        We do, though, try to make sure people have things to do in their down time, understanding the nature of our business. There are some skills people generally need to build, so we have a number of options for training and practice as well as some long-running projects without a fixed deadline but that can be used as infill between bursts of work.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I think framing it as “When I finish this, if nothing new has popped up, I’ll go back to Chapter 7 of Excel Subtleties and then watch that video on computer networking” is good for keeping in the work mindset.

    3. MtnLaurel*

      I’m seconding this. This was the hardest adjustment for me. It might help to keep a list of things that can be done but aren’t pressing, then pull out that list when it’s slower.

    4. Person from the Resume*

      I’m not really clear on what kind of work the LW is doing part time and if she has set hours in a day or just X hours in a month.

      If is set hours in day and she is supposed to be in the office until 4pm, but left early because she was out of work and missed picking up a task assigned at 3pm, I’d might be frustrated as the boss.

      It’s a bit harder when she’s supposed to get 24 hours within a month and near the end of the month there’s 8 hours left and no work to do. But like others said, there may be tasks that aren’t urgent but make future work easier, quicker that she can do.

    5. Sasha*

      It’s not even about being “too honest” – there’s a risk OP will be seen as a skiver if they are leaving a couple of hours early every day. It would be frowned on in my job – we are paid to work a set number of hours, not to complete a set amount of work.

      Obviously some salaried or piecework employment is different, but for an hourly job you are expected to be present for all of your hours, in my experience.

    6. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      Well, she can and should put down the hours on the contract but not leave early. She needs to hang around to be available if needed.

    7. Two Fish*

      It’s not an issue of being honest or not. Staying for the whole shift isn’t dishonest at all, it’s what OP was almost certainly hired to do.

  4. Work in IT*

    LW4, I too sometimes have a lot of downtime – which is a good thing because it means no one is having IT issues. A bit like how ideally firefighters sit around playing cards all day because that means nothing is on fire, but less dramatic.

    I tend to use that downtime to look around and see what needs to be done – or you can write these things down as you come across them and use them as downtime projects. For example I recently cleaned out our cupboards and everyone agrees the office feels a lot more comfortable now, or I’ll be documenting processes that were not documented before (or whose documentation is out of date).

    1. Not Australian*

      Shredding is another good time filler. Most offices still – even in a so-called paperless office – have far too much old paperwork sitting around, and an hour a day getting rid of that stuff will gradually make the place feel much more spacious!

        1. Quill*

          Caveat to OP: check first, because some document controls regimes will need someone to sign off on document destruction.

          (generally doesn’t apply to your own handwritten notes or printer test pages but if it ever needed a signature? Document control will be ON YOU like a swarm of starving mosquitoes in many industries if you shred at will.)

    2. Jennifer C.*

      I completely agree. Organize the storage closet, alphabetize the coffee pods, teach yourself some advanced PowerPoint skills, update the company directory…. just do whatever you find entertaining. Someone important might notice one of those tasks & be impressed, and that’s never a bad thing.

    3. bamcheeks*

      I agree with this. Plus, it’s very normal for the “getting up to speed” part of an office job to take a lot longer than it does in warehousing, retail or hospitality. It’s quite normal to have extra time at the end of the day for the first few weeks, but as you get more responsibility over your own workload and extend your knowledge, you gradually find that actually you have got a small backlog that needs finishing, or you can see that job would be easier if the files were organised like this, or whatever. If you don’t have anything like that yet, it might just be because you’re still settling in.

      Also, LW, if it doesn’t sit right with your conscience, think if it this way: if I call a plumber, they usually charge me a couple of hours work, a half day, or a full day. A half day might take 2-3 hours, a full day might only take 4-5. But that’s a day when they couldn’t take another job, so I don’t expect them to knock three hours off. Even by tradesperson terms, it’s totally legit for you to get paid a full day even if it was 4-6 hours what you think of as “real work”, and 2-4 hours of finding jobs that need doing and getting on with them, or looking up YouTube videos on Excel or whatever. That’s almost certainly how your employer calculated your hours, and that’s ok!

      1. Lexi Vipond*

        Also things that people have been doing for themselves while there was no one in your post that they take a while to pass back, or that they’d be glad to handover but not until you know the basics – it does tend to grow.

      2. ThatOtherClare*

        That last paragraph is very true! It’s analogous to a dentist charging a cancellation fee, or a dog boarding kennel not returning the deposit for a cancellation less than 48 hours out from the booking date. They’ve lost the ability to earn money by filling that slot with someone else. In this case, employees loose the ability to earn money by working for someone else during their down time.

    4. IT Terms*

      Same. There is so much downtime with IT but when a system goes offline it’s like a well oiled machine. We will drop all the goofing around and get to work. The tier one guys will inform the callers that there is an outage, I will collect as much information for the engineering team responsible and handle the escalation. My boss gets into any calls that are needed. After all that we find the guy who said it was a slow day and flogged them for it. (Joking on that part)

  5. Jackalope*

    #4 reminds me of one of my first jobs post-college. It involved regular duties every morning for about 2 hours, and then the rest of the day being on call. A couple of days a week we had an assignment come up that required several people, so it made sense to have a group of us there every day since many of those assignments were unpredictable. But it took some getting used to that we had several days where there were too many of us and we’d just sit around chilling. I prefer to be busy so I often volunteered for stuff as it came up but it would have been easy to have multiple days each week with nothing to do after those first two hours.

  6. korangeen*

    I would be so pissed if an employer called my dad to follow up on my job interview. Reminds me of the time I was visiting my parents and I took my car to the dealership my dad usually uses for an oil change, and as the service manager was giving me the results of the multipoint inspection, he called my dad right in front of my face to ask a question about the car’s service history, and of course my dad was like “I don’t know, you’d have to ask her, it’s her car.”

    1. allathian*

      That would be so annoying, but your dad’s answer was great as well as honest, as I assume he had no reason to know your car’s service history. Why the service manager thought he did…

      When I was dating my ex I had to get something fixed in my car. My ex came along in his car to drive me home. We’d been dating for a while but we didn’t live together and he had no reason to know anything about my car’s service history, and yet the mechanic kept talking to him instead of me. So annoying, and my ex had to tell the mechanic at least twice to talk to me rather than him. When I went to pick up my car the next day, my ex stayed in his car until he saw me drive off, and then he went home.

      I’m glad my husband enjoys car maintenance as a hobby so I haven’t had to talk to any mechanics in years. My sister gets her car fixed at an independent place that’s owned by a woman who employs both women and men, but any mechanic who doesn’t treat all of their customers with respect regardless of gender won’t be there for long. My sister says it’s worth driving an extra 30 minutes each way to avoid being patronized as a woman who drives a car that she also owns.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Wow, I want to get my car fixed there, that sounds awesome! Although my mechanic is super nice and he treats me like a person so I guess I don’t need to switch mechanics at the moment. But grrrrrr…any car place that treated me like that definitely wouldn’t get repeat business from me; there’s a lot of competition in mechanics, you’d think they would know better by now.

        OP’s interviewer probably saw this as a great networking opportunity: “Oh, I’ve been hoping to meet industry guru Portius Warbleworth for ages now, I bet he’ll be super impressed if I tell him I interviewed his daughter and thought she was great!” And of course we regular AAM readers know that that is entirely misguided thinking on that interviewer’s part. Nice to know Portius was the opposite of impressed with that interviewer, because that is of course what he should be. OP, I hope you listen to AAM’s advice that your interviewer is just a terrible interviewer, because that is absolutely correct.

      2. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Insurance agent to my husband who was seated next to his desk: Good! That’s where we put the person who makes the money.
        Me: Would you like to talk to the person who owns the car?
        IA: Oh, it’s in both your names?
        Me: No. It’s my car.

        And it went downhill from there, unbelievably enough. You will not be surprised that we didn’t buy insurance from him.

        1. Eat My Squirrel*

          Omg. If that had happened to me, as soon as the agent said that’s where we put the person who makes the money, I would have stood up and motioned for my husband to switch seats with me, swapped, then sat down and fixed the agent with a death glare. I have a 6-figure salary. My husband works part time.

          1. Zelda*

            “Stood up and motioned for my husband to come with me as we leave the office” would also be a valid and beautiful choice.

        2. Le Sigh*

          Ugh. The worst. My dad knows a lot about cars so has gone with me several times (I’m paying for the car, and I know a decent amount, but always nice to have a trusted car person with you). Anyway — I’ve said to him more than once that if a salesperson talks to him instead of me, we walk. My dad has the attitude of, “a deal is a deal, why do you care?” And I’ve told him he doesn’t have to understand, but I care and I’m the one buying, so we’ll walk, thanks.

          Love my dad, but … yeah.

      3. pally*

        Your sister is right! I’ve been going to a small auto repair shop for over 30 years now, for just that reason: respect. They listen. They take me seriously. Sure, it’s out of my way. I don’t mind one bit!

        Years ago, I helped a coworker (female) with dropping her car off at a nearby dealership for service. She was cash strapped at the time and just needed the clutch replaced. I listened as the service writer went round and round with her about how he would give her 10% off this service or 25% off for two services. And charge her cost for the clutch for three added services. I could barely follow what he was saying (and I know a fair amount about vehicle maintenance).

        She got so flummoxed she just kept repeating, “Please, just replace the clutch. That’s all I need right now. I can’t pay for more than that.” He would not heed her request.

        Service writer escalated into the “the car really needs these additional services – you do want to drive a safe vehicle, don’t you?”.

        At this, she said, “my husband will call you in an hour. Good-bye!”

        I brought her back to work. She was near tears. She called her husband.

        About 15 minutes later, husband calls her back. He tells her, “You are getting a new clutch. And that’s all. You can pick up the car right after work today.”

        I brought her back to the dealership at the end of our workday. Later, she told me no one gave her any issue with anything when she picked up her car.

        PS: Car ran fine without all the added stuff the service writer recommended.

        1. Anon for This*

          My husband used to work for a dealership as a mechanic, and he confirms that the servicewriters are going to try to upsell you on things that you don’t necessarily need. They’re getting paid a percentage of the job, so they have incentive to upsell you. (That $100/hour labor charge or whatever it is these days? About a fifth of that is actually going to the mechanic; the service writer gets a cut, as do several other folks who aren’t the mechanic, and a lot of it is going up to corporate.)

          1. Full Banana Ensemble*

            Yep. Unless your car is under warranty and whatever you need is covered, don’t go to the dealership (and even then, be wary). Their purpose is not to fix your car, it’s to sell you things. If your car gets fixed in the process, that’s just a side effect.

          2. 2024*

            Years back I had a strange experience with one service writer at the dealership. Bought my car from them, would not drive it off the lot till they replaced the drive chain, and also asked for a valet key, NOT a full key fob. Idiot kept putting me off for three weeks, I kept driving their loaner car for three weeks no charge, and when I finally went to get my own car, insisted that I had requested a full key fob for about 300, which I was extremely clear about wanting only a valet key. He got very mad because he “was tired of people trying to get one over on him”. The whole thing was just weird.

            I guess he got his revenge though, because the drive chain didn’t actually get replaced. A few thousand miles later, it broke. 2k damage.

      4. Susannah*

        Yeah, I’ve been through same. when I was younger and buying my first car, my then-boyfriend and I went to dealers, and they kept addressing him even though we *both* reminded them repeatedly that I was the one buying the car. Sigh.

        1. PhyllisB*

          That’s why I don’t allow my husband to go with me when I’m car shopping. Also he finds it demeaning to negotiate. I’m not an assertive person by any means, but I have no problem dealing when it comes to a car purchase.

        2. N*

          This kind of happened to me when my Dad went with me, but how he solved it was everytime the auto dealer or mechanic would face him while talking, my Dad would look at me rather than at the person talking indicating that the person talking should be addressing me and not him.
          His solution actually worked pretty well.

      5. Pita Chips*

        I’m glad your sister found a place. It sounds fabulous.

        I found my most recent mechanic by going to the CarTalk website and looking at reviews. The one I found specifically called out that they treated women fairly.

      6. Quill*

        Ugh, the sexism that comes up in dealing with cars.
        I will bring my dad with me to look for a car because I am obviously female and formerly young, and it’s a good way to avoid getting scammed or getting upsold too much, but I really wish that wasn’t something that I had to keep in mind! As for an oil change, you have to do that every 6ish months, you would think that most mechanics would figure that no matter how ignorant you possibly are regarding cars in general, you have a vague idea about the oil change!

    2. JP*

      My mom was an adjuster for the insurance company that I get my insurance from. I was late on an auto payment (I thought I had paid online, but I clicked on the wrong item and prepaid my renters’ insurance instead of auto or something like that). My insurance agent, instead of reaching out to me, went to my mom and told her that I was overdue so that my mom could let me know.

      My mom was not part of that department, she did not work on my accounts. I was livid. I nearly changed insurance companies.

      1. Space Coyote*

        WOW. I worked (very briefly–high-volume call centers and Space Coyotes do not mix) as a claims adjuster at USAA, and that would have been an immediate firing offense. Improperly accessing–much less sharing–any information obtained under your employee login/account was Not Done.

      2. I take tea*

        Something similar happened to my ex as a student. They came from a small “everyone knows everyone” kind of town and when they accidentally went overdraft the bank told their mother to put some money into her child’s account. Her adult child living in another town two hours away. They were livid.

    3. Jackalope*

      Years ago I was going to buy my first set of new tires for my first car. My dad offered to come with me since he’d had more experience with that (having obviously been owning cars since before I was born). The first place we went I was extremely unimpressed. Dad asked me afterwards what I thought and I told him that even though we’d told the salesman that it was for MY car, he’d spent all of his time talking to and making eye contact with my dad, barely glancing at me when I asked questions and then answering my questions to my dad, etc. He hadn’t noticed, but understood my feedback. We tried a second place where they actually talked to me more, understood that it was for my car not his, addressed directly whoever had asked the questions, etc. I was proud of my dad that while he might not have noticed the sexism the first time, he noticed the better treatment of me the second time and understood why it mattered to me. And as an aside, it’s more than a decade later and I still get everything tire-related from that second store and have referred multiple friends there, and they continue to be courteous, helpful, and respectful, as well as doing good work on tires.

    4. Dek*

      daaaaaang, our mechanic’s never done this, and he’s friends with my Dad from way back and old school af. I don’t think it would ever even occur to him to do this.

    5. Chirpy*

      Yeah, the dealership where I used to get my car serviced never figured out that my car didn’t belong to my dad. I told them to fix that every time I went in and they never did.

      Also, the phone company keeps automatically making my dad the primary contact, when he knows nothing about it – my mom opened and runs (and pays!) the account but they keep revoking her admin access.

    6. Winstonian*

      When I was looking to buy my first car (used) I was in my 20’s and went to a local dealer. They let me have the car overnight as a test drive and when I took it back I had already decided it wasn’t for me. They actually made me call my uncle to get him to tell them that I didn’t want it before they would accept my no. I would have gladly gone to jail for smacking the shit out of that guy if I had stayed in that room for another minute.

      1. Chirpy*

        So they were willing to take your money, and trust you with an unpaid car overnight, but not your no? That’s extra awful.

          1. Chirpy*

            Definitely. I’ve never heard of a car dealer letting you keep a car overnight. I’ve been to dealerships that didn’t even let you test drive without an employee.

    7. The OG Sleepless*

      And this is part of the reason, when I bought my last car, I told my husband I didn’t want him there. His entire involvement was to meet me in the parking lot and get in it to make sure he had enough leg and head room. I didn’t want him to come inside the dealership with me at all.

      1. JustaTech*

        Amusingly, both of our cars are in my name only (dumb bank stuff) so each time we bought the car the sales person would start to talk to my husband (fine, it’s his car too) then remember that I’m the only one on the paperwork and turn to me, and then drift back the my husband, then snap back to me.
        They were trying so hard, and yet. (When we were shopping if the sales folks completely ignored me we left, straight up.)

        When I sold my last car I sold it to a friend, so we met at our credit union to do the paperwork. She and I sat down with the loan guy and he didn’t even *look* at our husbands (who wandered off to play with their phones) – he was fully aware of who the customers were and who was just there to drive the other car.

    8. Velawciraptor*

      OOOOOH, I had one of these experiences. In high school, I had an old Pontiac that was burning through an alternator a month. On alternator #3, I told them to check the battery, since there was clearly something going on causing the alternators to burn out so fast. I got a condescending “of course we’ve been checking the battery sweetheart. It’s fine.”

      When we went to pick up my car after alternator #4, they told my dad “Mr. Sir, we went ahead and changed the battery in case the problem with the alternators has been they’ve been working overtime to charge a nearly dead battery.” To my credit, I did not jump the counter and start strangling people. But I did tell my dad when we walked out, “I don’t care how you get your car taken care of, but we’re never bringing my car back here again.” He agreed.

    9. Kit*

      I mean, the service manager at the dealership who handles most of the family cars consults my dad about service history… by remembering if he took a look at the issue, because my dad is the service manager. That’s the only reason a dad-consult is okay, in my books!

  7. I already forgot my name*

    #4 I’m in an industry that is constantly changing so I often spend down time reading industry newsletters and learning new things. Sometimes, I’ll try to simplify an annoying task through automation (on one occasion that became an SOP for many other teams as well)..

    1. Jess*

      I was going to suggest something similar. Can you work on professional development? Find some industry blogs to read, work through any internal learning platform or materials your company might have, see if you can get access to something like LinkedIn Learning (eg my local library system gives me access). Think broadly about upskilling anything from your software skills to communication or process/timekeeping skills.

      (But definitely AFTER a conversation with your manager!)

    2. Pita Chips*

      Yes, this is a good idea. Check with your manager first, though. There may be other work you could take on or a colleague you can assist. Your manager will appreciate you stepping up.

  8. Brain the Brian*

    Frankly, LW1, the complaints you describe would make me *more* likely to hire this candidate. Someone who “didn’t prioritize a program area” could also be described as someone who is able to make tough decisions.

    1. MK*

      I wouldn’t go that far, it could also be someone who neglects part of their work for potentially problematic reasons. What does make this communication not credible to me is that a person contacted a person’s employer with random complaints. I think a reasonable, responsible person might contact an employer to warn them about the danger of discrimination, abuse, potential criminal acts, etc, in a prospective hire, not them not prioritizing what the person thinks they should. The only thing that would give me pause is the basis for the wrongful termination, maybe OP could look into that.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          To be honest the multiple employment lawsuits is a bit weird to me. Either this former coworker of the incoming boss is the worlds most unlucky employee who is constantly getting jobs run by evil bees – or there is something going on with this person themselves that causes them to be fired and then file suit multiple times.

          Worth looking to see which it is (for about five mins or so worth of effort – that sounded like a really indepth check process, and the person who filed the complaint hasn’t bothered to put said complaint in writing).

          1. Johanna Cabal*

            The multiple lawsuits jumped out at me. There’s definitely a story there.

            I say this because the cases I’m aware of in my circle involving an employee suing their employer were not taken lightly by the plaintiff. It’s not an easy process and involves significant money, time, and emotional investment. You’re also tying yourself to the toxic situation and most people just want to move on from what happened. And this is even when a lawsuit is warranted due to egregious behavior by the employer.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              You’re also tying yourself to the toxic situation.
              One lawsuit I could see someone deciding it was worth it to them to put in the energy to scorch the Earth. If everyone who hires you inspires such an effort and lawsuit…. that seems like a you thing.

              The woman hurt by bird phobia guy opted to quit and move on (at last update), and people understood that that can just be best for your mental health–you don’t want to stand down there in the toxic sludge wrestling any more.

              1. Johanna Cabal*

                And marriages and families can suffer too. My parents were burned by a bad contractor (fortunately they weren’t out too much money just some initial fees). While they had a strong case according to some lawyers they consulted, they ultimately decided against it. Later as an adult, I learned it was because their marriage was at a rough point and they both agreed a lawsuit would take a way from other more important things they needed to focus on.

          2. Falling Diphthong*

            There was a commenter here once who claimed that they were going to file a lawsuit because–get this–they had applied for a job and not gotten it. Clearly only a dark conspiracy could explain this outcome, and by filing a lawsuit the company was going to be forced to open all its records, which would show that OP had been the best for the job all along, and then OP might get a settlement, and at least would have the satisfaction of the firm’s public admission of OP’s greatness.

            1. Brain the Brian*

              We had someone threaten to do that once. She instead started her own company doing similar work, which has — as I understand it — failed quite miserably. Not surprising, honestly, given that its owner is a crazed lunatic.

          3. Lilo*

            When I was a clerk we had a few “frequent flyers” and they tended to have some serious issues. They’d also commonly harass court staff.

            I would 100% ignore this person.

          4. Not The World's Unluckiest*

            I don’t think you would have to be “the world’s most unlucky,” really.

            Like, I have a close friend who is trans. During the time when he was living as his true self but didn’t look obviously like his true gender, he experienced gender-based harassment or worse everywhere he worked, because transphobia is real, and it’s common where we live. At some employers it was mostly unpleasant remarks; at other employers, it was physical violence, being fired for opening HR cases, and other obviously illegal activity. He didn’t sue any of them because he’s tired and poor, not because he didn’t have multiple very strong cases. Trans people are about 1-2% of the population, and most of them have to have some kind of job while they transition.

            Like, I’ve successfully sued an employer for wrongful termination, and he had at least three cases that were stronger than mine.

            1. Brain the Brian*

              Sensitive issues like LGBTQ+ discrimination are one of the few examples I can think of to warrant multiple employment suits. But this really, really does not sound like that sort of situation. This plaintiff claims that simple business decisions about what kind of work the company should be doing are lawsuit-worthy. Those who cry wolf…

              1. Not The World's Unluckiest*

                Yeah, LW’s situation sounds like someone who was mad and struggled to stay on topic. But the commenter I replied to seemed to be under the impression that only a limited number of bad things can happen to a reasonably fine person, and that is not the case, especially when said reasonably fine person is part of a marginalized group.

            2. Boof*

              Yes, I agree groups that are often systemically discriminated against, and want to fight the good fight may have cause for multiple employment lawsuits. I will also say that what is described in this letter does not sound like the same thing. Someone who routinely sues for a “wrongful termination” on grounds other than protected classes (or maybe industries notorious for illegal working conditions ) is more likely to be the problem since that’s not something that should happen on a legally culpable level regularly outside of special circumstances not in evidence.

            3. Leenie*

              The nature of her complaints, taken with the number of suits, really does speak to a habitual plaintiff with issues though. If she called complaining of discrimination, it might be worth looking into a little more. But between the feedback the LW has gotten on the new hire, and the nature and number of complaints that the caller has filed, it really seems like a frivolous claim. Your friend’s situation is different and, unfortunately, completely believable and valid.

              1. Lilo*

                The reality is in the court system pretty much all the multi-suit plaintiffs are just habitual filers. People with legitimate grievances often don’t file because of the logistical issues. I have 100% run into genuine discrimination suits, but I’ve never run into someone with 5+ filed suits who didn’t have something else going on.

        2. Emmy Noether*

          My read of the letter was that the suits are NOT over the same issue (“for varying things, none of which appear to be similar to her current claims”).

          This is a person who sues much more easily than most people (most people are really, really averse to suing, even if they have a good case). Which does mean the suit carries less weight.

          1. Bert*

            yes it does, do you know the odds of being in multiple work situations that cause you to need to take am employer to court?

            1. Emmy Noether*

              It’s not clear to me if the other suits were about work situations at all, or if some or all of them are about this person’s private life (like suing their neighbors or whatever). Of course, most people don’t get into multiple situations requiring suits in their life in general…

              I do guess that once one has filed one suit, the barrier to entry for subsequent suits gets much lower. You already have a lawyer, already know what to expect, so it’s less scary. (That is, unless the experience has left you definitely never wanting to go through it ever again).

              1. Richard Hershberger*

                Already have a lawyer: not necessarily. Lawyers tend to be specialized. Given that these lawsuits are “for varying things,” it is likely that they used different lawyers. A check of the online docket would clear this up easily enough. In any case, there are people who regard litigation as a hobby. It is an expensive recreation, as they tend not to be good clients or have good cases, which means that their lawyer charges them up front. But if you want to spend twenty thousand dollars is a pissing match with your neighbor, you can find a lawyer willing to take your money.

                1. bamcheeks*

                  I have a close relative on about his third lawsuit and all of them are reasonable on their individual merits, but I very much do worry that he’s turning into this person.

                2. Generic Name*

                  People can file lawsuits without a lawyer as well. I know someone who continually filed stuff with no lawyer. Each filing was hundreds of pages. Dude should have just written in a journal or started a blog, but he filed with the court instead.

                3. Lilo*

                  They probably didn’t use a lawyer at all. Most of the frequent filers I have run into working for a judge did not.

        1. I should really pick a name*

          With the context that it’s anonymous feedback, I agree that the LW should if it, but I don’t think we’re really in a position to know if it’s needless complaining or not.

          1. Leenie*

            It must not be anonymous, since they were able to look up the caller’s other suits. I still think the LW should ignore it, given the full context.

    2. Richard Hershberger*

      The irrelevant gripes remind me of Amazon reviews where someone gives a book a bad review and explains it is because the delivery guy left the box in the rain. This does not suggest that this is a thoughtful person.

    3. Slow Gin Lizz*

      AAM’s answer to this reminded me of all the letters she’s gotten from people saying “I see that my old and terrible boss was hired by xx company, should I tell them he’s terrible?” And the answer is usually, “Unless your boss did illegal things, you should probably stay quiet since you’re an unknown to that company.” Here’s a letter from the other side: “Someone told us our new CEO is terrible, should I trust her?” And of course the answer is, “Probably not, but it’s good you looked into it some.”

      I definitely want a follow-up on this letter in a few months so we can see how that new CEO is. I also desperately want (but do not recommend!) OP to ask the new CEO about the former employee who called, but if the CEO is a smart person she won’t say anything because a) lawsuit and b) not really OP’s business, so I guess there’s really no point in OP asking, is there? (But if the subject happened to come up organically in conversation, that would be really really interesting….)

      1. Lily Rowan*

        I think the board chair could ask — it’s reasonable to follow up on a complaint! But I wouldn’t suggest anyone below the board chair do it!

    4. Sloanicota*

      I certainly wouldn’t even consider it even a black mark against this new hire. We know the CEO fired this person, so it’s literally a bitter ex-employee; they didn’t report anything illegal or even actionable. At most, I’d run the name by the new CEO and she what she has to say about it, but … the higher up you go, the more likely it is that someone, somewhere is unhappy with you.

      1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        We don’t even know that! We know that the person was fired, that’s all.

      2. IT Terms*

        I see “wrongful termination” used for so many things that are not wrongful terminations. At will firings is not wrongful termination (in the US)

        Being fired because you used a slur against alpacas is not wrongful termination no matter how much you cite the first amendment.

        Getting unemployment also isn’t proof of wrongful termination either.

        Unless there is other evidence that the new hire is a problem I would chalk it up to a bitter employee who needs to let it go. You are never going to please everyone.

    5. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      > Someone who “didn’t prioritize a program area” could also be described as someone who is able to make tough decisions.

      Well, only if it was the right call! Otherwise it’s no good having someone willing to make tough and unpopular decisions if they’re a misstep for the org. I wonder if OP agrees with the complainer that the program was wrongly de-prioritised.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        I’d be surprised if OP had the insight into the other organization to determine their priorities from the outside. Unless it’s an organization with a lot of public disclosure, that level of organizational decision-making is typically not visible to people outside of it or sometimes even at the lower levels within it.

      2. MassMatt*

        It’s beyond it being a judgment call, the person alerting them about the new hire says they filed a lawsuit about it. Even if the priority was completely wrong, is every mistake in business fodder for lawsuits?

        That this and various personal issues were brought up as a reason to not hire strikes me as reasons to place little credibility on what this person has to say.

        1. Brain the Brian*

          Yes, the plaintiff is basically telegraphing — seemingly without knowing — that they have no idea how business works. Not much credibility.

    6. RabbitRabbit*

      I’m frankly also concerned about the multiple, unsolicited “wow what a great hire” calls they’re getting. Why would people do that? Between that and the multiple lawsuits, it really feels like this might be a bad move for them.

      1. Happy meal with extra happy*

        Did you read the “multiple lawsuits” as being against the new hire? Because that’s not how I read it as all. Also, as an attorney, “multiple lawsuits” is a red flag for me against the complainer. Finally, it’s not like multiple people are calling about a new entry level role hire – the ED is a key part of an organization, and I don’t find it weird at all that there would be talk about it.

      2. Gemstones*

        I was wondering about that. But LW did say that they did send out a press release announcing her hire, and given that it’s a fairly high-profile role, it doesn’t seem SO weird people would reach out.

        1. Starbuck*

          Yes, this would be normal in my field for mutual contacts to reach out especially in response to a public announcement. I wouldn’t read much into that.

      3. Seashell*

        The calls could be happening in the course of a conversation about something else and then the person added in, “Oh, I heard you hired so-and-so. I used to work with her and she’s really great!”

      4. Sloanicota*

        Oh, sometimes (with the calls), that just happens. I wouldn’t hold it against someone (!). We hired a beloved former leader of a program that was canceled for budget a few moths prior, and we got a lot of calls about how excited people were about us hiring her. It would have been weird for us to use that as a reason *not* to move forward.

        1. Gemstones*

          Yeah, I was confused by the below wording…it sounded like the LW thought the congratulatory calls were a liability issue…but why? Wouldn’t they be a good thing?

          “We also have been getting unsolicited “this is an amazing hire/human” calls from various people in the industry around the country. We don’t ask on our application whether there are any pending or potential outstanding liabilities, and have not yet directly addressed this with our new hire.”

          1. linger*

            If it were only the former employer that sang the praises of NewCEO, there could be some small chance of some Machiavellian strategy of offloading a problem boss by encouraging them to apply elsewhere with fulsome references, and in that case DisgruntledFormerEmployee might have some credibility.
            But when praise is coming from multiple sources in the industry, that’s not a realistic interpretation. It’s much safer to conclude that NewCEO really is highly regarded, and that DisgruntledFormerEmployee is a serial complainer whose claims are neither relevant to OP1 nor credible.

          2. RabbitRabbit*

            That was my issue, that the LW pointed it out. I figured if it was a common thing to happen, it wouldn’t be raised here.

          3. Seashell*

            I think the mention of liabilities was in reference to the lawsuit mentioned in the negative call and that they didn’t ask the interviewees if they were being sued.

            In light of the other weirdness, they might think the unsolicited calls were encouraged by the new hire to even out the other negativity?

          4. JustaTech*

            Oh, I thought it was the LW providing additional context of “everyone else who has reached out to us has been very positive about the new ED” – as in, they have a *lot* of information from outside sources on the new ED, and so far only one of them (the disgruntled ex-employee) has been negative.

            Personally that would be a reason to give the suing ex-employee’s complaint even less weight, but I don’t see any harm into looking into it briefly.

            1. I am Emily's failing memory*

              That was my read, too, it was a summary of the due diligence they had already done, to emphasize that their hiring process is not lackadaisical and does involve standard vetting practices, and then preemptively acknowledged that there’s perhaps more they could have done (asked about liability on the application originally, asked the hire directly about the call after they got it), but they’re writing in because just the fact that they *could* do those extra things doesn’t mean it would be a good idea, so they wanted a gut check that they had already done an adequate amount of vetting and it was OK to proceed forward without doing even more background-checking just on the basis of this complaint, given its specifics.

      5. Southern Ladybug*

        This wouldn’t be strange in my field – it’s smaller and everyone knows each other. I’ve made “that’s a great hire!” or, “you’re lucky you got them for that role!” comments to folks.

        1. Friday Person*

          Same in my field, particularly for a high profile role. Always nice to get the occasional chance to benevolently gossip about how great people are!

        2. Lilo*

          I also wonder if people are going out of their way to praise the new hire specifically because they know this disgruntled person is likely to do this and want to preempt her.

      6. NotAnotherManager!*

        High-level leadership roles in specific industries (and also niche industries) tend to be fairly small circles where people know each other. I worked for quite some time in a niche industry, and I would not have give a second thought to emailing a strong professional contact to say “great hire, Jane is an amazing llama stylist!”. We all go to to the same conferences, work with each other when our respective organizations are involved in the same things, and have team members that have worked for/with others of us. It’s an easy touchpoint for networking.

      7. AngryOctopus*

        Seems pretty normal to have a press release that went out and then to have people basically congratulating you on your new hire. That’s a good sign.
        The only bad signs are against this one person who, on the face of it, is a person who will sue at little provocation (hence multiple unrelated lawsuits) and thinks it’s appropriate to tell an employer that they personally don’t like how the new hire handled this person’s employment. That’s not against the new hire.

      8. Brain the Brian*

        I’m not concerned about that. We hired a new CEO last year and got a number of these calls from her then-current and former colleagues after the press release went out.

      9. Quill*

        Honestly I assumed that these were in reaction to the known plaintiff.

        If Jane Plaintiff has been telling the whole town that she’s suing Diantha Director for cutting her department’s budget and also for not wearing pink on wednesdays, I can see people in their industry going out of their way to tell the person the next town over who has been looking to hire Diantha that she’s great! Pleasure to work with! Because they know that Jane telling everyone and their dog what a horrible person Diantha is could make things difficult for Di down the line.

  9. MK*

    If the father in #2 is considered a desirable contact in their field, my guess would be that the letter to OP’s dad was an incredibly tacky attempt to network with him and had nothing to do with OP’s professional status. I get it feels infantilising, but to me it comes across as more pathetic of the recruiter than anything else.

    1. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

      Good point. If the candidate’s father was informed first of the rejection, then a letter to the powers that be in the company is definitely warranted.

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        What good would a letter from someone who wasn’t hired do? Oh hey, your person talked to my dad not me. Okay …..

        OP should just put this out of her head. This is clearly one screwy hiring manager. I agree with MK it was a clumsy attempt at networking. Which dad will remember in a not fond way so double fail on the HM’s part.

        1. MK*

          “Oh hey, your person talked to my dad not me. Okay …..”,,

          Unless the hiring manager’s supervisor is equally screwy, I wouldn’t be thinking “why on earth did this candidate tell me my employee contacted her parent about her application?”, I would be asking my employee to explain why on earth they contacted a candidate’s parent about them being rejected.

        2. Ess Ess*

          I would want to know if an employee was sharing hiring decisions with the PARENT of candidate. That’s a big confidentiality breach and lack of professionalism.

        3. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

          My point was the the hiring manager’s company needs to know that one off their employees is informing third parties of the candidate’s rejection before the candidate. My best example is me getting a call that my dog walker was rejected for a job at NASA. Even if I knew my dog walker wanted to be an astronaut, it’s unprofessional to inform me of their rejection.

      2. MassMatt*

        No, LW #2 should find out who the interviewer’s FATHER is and follow their established protocol and call to tell their dad that their behavior was unprofessional.

    2. Tea Rocket*

      This is what I thought as well—that the the father is a desirable contact/influential person in the field. If that’s the case, then I wonder if the hiring manager was also concerned that the LW not getting the job would have negative consequences for the organization or for the hiring manager personally. Either way, it’s weird behavior that reflects way more on the manager than it does on the LW.

      1. Office Lobster DJ*

        This. I would bet they were worried about upsetting a desirable contact and it was an attempt to smooth things over — clumsy and ultimately unsuccessful, but straightforward enough, with no hidden meaning for OP.

      2. el l*

        Yes, my read as well.

        And the part that’s just straight incompetence – manager didn’t tell OP the rejection. If the concern is dad getting mad, manager should tell both separately and at about the same time. Doing it the way they did…leads to inferences like what happened.

        But if manager is going to go there, it has to be a “Do it right or not at all” thing.

    3. Miette*

      My thoughts exactly. Either this or the hiring manager didn’t want to risk offending an important industry contact. Ironically, they likely wound up doing the opposite by treating OP disrespectfully.

      1. shrinking violet*

        And if I were the OP’s father, I’d have been asking that manager why on earth was he telling ME? I didn’t apply to work for you, and certainly wouldn’t after this.

        1. ScruffyInternHerder*

          That would be my dad’s question to the manager, likely stated while holding the phone or phone receiver so that he could stare at it side-eyed!

          This type of nonsense is partially why I opted to take my spouse’s last name, for the record. Not the sole reason, but a decent enough portion of it. I can state it was a solid decision as I am NOT known as “Scruff Dad’s Daughter”, which absolutely would occur in the man-dominated working world in which I am.

    4. Typing All The Time*

      Yes, I understand Allison’s response but if the roles were reversed I don’t think the recruiter would follow up with OP (daughter) instead of the dad as an applicant.

    5. Sparkles McFadden*

      This is what I thought as well. The manager figured he’d make a valuable connection by calling and saying how he wished he could give the daughter a job etc. etc. and the father would be wowed by his considerate phone call. I wish such painfully awkward attempts at networking were rare, but, sadly, they are not.

    6. Emily Byrd Starr*

      OP said that they “reached out” to her dad, not that they sent him a letter. So I’m thinking maybe it was a case where the person needed to talk to OP’s dad about something else, and added, “Oh, by the way, I saw that your daughter applied; unfortunately, we decided not to hire her.” That, combined with Allison’s suggestion that this is a business where they don’t typically send rejection letters, is a plausible explanation.

    7. FathersDaughter*

      Hi, I’m OP #2. You may be right about Dad being a desirable contact. I can’t go into too much detail about the specifics of roles I’m applying to because if I do, about three google searches would lead you to my dad’s name. It wasn’t something that occurred to me at the time because of course to me, that’s just my weird workaholic dad, and the Big Thing that happened to garner him some attention was way back when I was in high school. Before I got the AAM response, one of my friends pointed out that this was probably a case of “getting woman in STEM’ed”. I was pretty deep into the spiral regarding my qualifications when I first wrote the letter, but my friends, Alison’s advice to not let it get to me, and everyone in the comment section has been cheering me up. Also, my dad is appropriately disgusted by the hiring manager. He’s very soft-spoken, so I’m not certain how he responded in the moment (The HM broke the news in a MICROSOFT TEAMS CHAT!!), but he definitely thinks the HM is a coward now.

      Also, I’m finding leads for jobs now that are in the same industry, just a lot less likely to know my dad. Interestingly, some are actually likely to have encountered my sibling. Really, it’s all Dad’s fault for raising two clones to send into the job market. My sibling is a lot less likely to end a chat like that politely, though, so if it happens again (god forbid), I’ll have to check my mailbox for the recently-removed head of the recruiter that they’d inevitably send me.

      1. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

        The “recently-removed head” served on a silver platter. Good luck with your job search.

  10. Mariko*

    OP#2. As Alison says, I strongly doubt this was about trying to infantilize you. More like the manager panicked, “oh dear, I am rejecting my colleague’s child and now it will be super awkward, better address it proactively by saying their son was a great candidate but there was someone with more experience”. My guess is the manager didn’t even stop to consider how rude it is to inform your father and not you. Probably a good idea you are not going to work for this guy, if they hired you they might well have handled work feedback similarly. And no, I don’t think most managers are this clueless, unless you are in a really patriarchal industry. Curious if OP is male or female though, since that might have also affected the dynamic.

  11. Varthema*

    “I am always scrupulous about only charging for the hours worked.”

    This sounds to me like LW4 might be an independent contractor – typically we don’t talk about employees “charging” their employer for time. Would that change the answer to LW4’s question?

    1. Varthema*

      To clarify, I’ve done independent contractor work (computer work), and it was definitely not kosher to bill for time spent doing work that wasn’t part of the project I was hired to do. My job was fully remote though, so it didn’t come with the awkwardness of leaving a physical office.

    2. Brain the Brian*

      I am a full-time, salaried, exempt employee who still has to “charge” my hours to different clients / programs on my timesheet. This is common phrasing in lots of industries; I wouldn’t read too much into it.

      1. Miette*

        Same here–when I worked at a nonprofit, I needed to do a weekly timesheet and charge my time to specific grants as appropriate. My read is that OP is a part time worker and is either using phrasing they’re hearing in this workplace or using terminology they would have used in the past.

      2. Ess Ess*

        Agreed. I am a full-time employee and expected to work 40 hours, but I have to ‘charge’ my work to different categories on my time sheet.

      3. NotAnotherManager!*

        Same – this is very common in professional service firms (law firms/consulting/etc.), government contractors, nonprofits. Even my spouse, who works for the federal government, has to charge his worked hours to project codes within the organization.

        As productivity metrics have become a bigger thing, more companies are using project charge codes to get a better handle on what it actually takes to do specific things. Charging/billing time can be used both for billing clients/projects as well as forecasting needs and developing pricing models for future work.

    3. WellRed*

      To be fair, though, OP gets paid by the hour so if they leave, they aren’t getting paid.they do some like some sort if contractor or temp.

    4. Person from the Resume*

      This is a question that needs more clarity for a proper answer.

      If the LW was working a 40 hour week (or even set part time hours) as an employee then it is generally not appropriate the leave work when there’s nothing to do because new work may arrive the moment she walks out of the door.

      With phrases like “charging hours,” “contracted” but also “leaving for the day” like she was IN an office makes it hard to answer because I don’t know what she’s contracted to do. If she is contracted to be in the office and respond to new work while in the office, then the LW should stay even without work to make her full hours for the month.

      1. OP-4*

        I’m contracted to do 6 hours of admin work a week. I am a contracted employee, with the expectation that any hours I do not fill in a week (due to vacation, requirements of other employers) will be “made up” at another time (language from my contract). While I have decided (in negotiation with my boss) on a fixed in-person schedule for my time, I do have some flexibility of exact hours, which I take advantage of on occasion. My boss and I share an office and work opposite hours (she is also part-time), so “staying to make up my hours” means sitting alone trying to find busy work (something I find akin to listening to nails on a chalkboard), as I cannot ask for more work to be assigned until the next time my boss is in the office.

  12. Phryne*

    No 3, I don’t think your answer was wrong, but I think you were overthinking it. The recruiter probably wanted just a quick reference point on how happy you were about the whole process so far
    one – never mind no longer interested
    five – signs are mediocre, but I’ll give the next round a shot
    seven – good vibes, curious about learning more
    ten – all lights green and ready to go
    They were probably a bit taken aback by a whole lecture answer on a one-word answer question, as they obviously did not expect you to decide there and then after one round. And if the fact you were annoyed about that (rather innocent) question was visible to them, that might have given them some pause.

    1. Katie Impact*

      I don’t think I could ever honestly bring myself to answer “10”, because it’s always better to avoid making a final decision on taking a job until you actually have an offer in hand, and I could see a recruiter using that number to pressure me later if I tried to turn down the job because the offer (or workplace) was worse than expected in some way. I’d happily answer 9 and make that one point of wiggle room as big or small as it needed to be later on, though.

      1. Bast*

        I feel like this is a trap question, because for some people anything less than a 10 is the Wrong Answer. I think there’s very few places that would get an “OMG 10!11!! I would LoVe it here!” Over the Top, enthusiastic answer some seem to want. It just isn’t in my personality to gush that way, and even if I am really excited, if I’m being honest, most things are not wholly good or wholly bad for me, so nothing is going to elicit that outburst of excitement. Very few things do. If I were at this stage, I could see giving a 7 or 8, because while it seems good, I simply do not have enough information to make a completely informed decision. Unfortunately, that would likely get me disqualified while they hire someone who gushingly gives it a 10. There’s no winning with questions like these.

    2. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      Exactly. In this situation I’d have answered with a 7 or 8, and then probably clarified much like you did. “I’m definitely interested in moving on to the next round, but obviously I’m not going to accept an offer without knowing more”.

    3. Armchair Analyst*

      Yeah I think a 5 or 4 point scale would work fine here

      Sometimes I ask my kids how they’re feeling and the options are “thumb up, thumb down, thumb in the middle?”

      I think this question is more like that. 10 points or degrees is too much nuance for both parties.

      “Well you’ve learned a bit about the job and seen how we operate, we hope you’re still interested!”
      “Yes, definitely interested in continuing the conversation!” Vs. “you know, my main concerns are the annual budget for this department and also the employee benefits…”

    4. Sloanicota*

      Honestly, the more I read letters here, the more I don’t understand why anyone would use recruiters or what the point is. They seem to cause more confusion and just serve as a barrier between the candidate and the hiring manager – one with their own conflict of interest! It’s not something that happens much in my field, at least at my level, so the whole thing seems very odd. (To be fair, when someone told me you have to use an expensive “apartment broker” in NYC, I felt the same way. Maybe I’m just not a fan of middlemen).

      1. Seashell*

        The hiring company doesn’t want to be bothered doing the work to find people, so they outsource it to a recruiter. The potential employees then don’t have a choice in the matter if the recruiter is the one who knows about a job they want.

      2. The Meat Embezzler*

        How do you think people get hired at your organization? Does your company not have a human resources department?

        1. Jackalope*

          My employer hires directly. They advertise on the relevant online application site for our field, and then managers interview the applicants. No recruiter involved. Not every employer does it that way but it’s not unusual either. And my employer is pretty large.

        2. Sloanicota*

          I guess I didn’t realize my field was such an exception – the hiring manager writes a job description, HR posts it to job sites, they combined filter through applicants to get a short list of people to interview, then they interview and select one. There’s no third party involved.

      3. Spreadsheets and Books*

        No one likes brokers except for landlords. The bigger buildings managed by a corporate landlord are generally fee-free, but otherwise, there’s really no getting away from them. It’s really great paying someone 15% of annual rent to unlock a door.

        1. Sloanicota*

          I couldn’t believe this when someone told me about it. Honestly I feel like there should be a law against that … at least a more reasonable cap. I found all my apartments on Craigslist! (and I’m also in a big, expensive city, although not NYC. This was probably a decade ago though).

      4. sb51*

        My company generally uses our in-house HR recruiters, but there have been a few times where we were growing rapidly (and knew that wasn’t going to be sustained) where we contracted out some of the recruiting, because we only needed them for a few months.

      5. Roland*

        > just serve as a barrier between the candidate and the hiring manager

        Yeah, that’s the whole point. Making recruiters take work and time off of the hiring manager’s plate. Most hiring managers don’t want to trawl linkedin for likely candidates and do a bunch of phone screeens to determine who is a normal person or not and play phone tag with a bunch of people and gice updates to followups and …

        1. SchuylerSeestra*

          This. I’m an internal recruiter. We’re basically the project manager of the hiring process. Hiring Managers determine the responsibilities and requirements for the role, comp, location and role related interview questions etc…

          I manage the interview process, starting with reviewing candidates based on the expectations set by the hiring manager.

          1. Quill*

            I do prefer internal recruiters because it helps so much when interviewing for technical roles to have someone with a more specific working knowledge of what sort of lab / project I’m interviewing for. And lab directors (aka prospective bosses) are not always known for having a wonderful relationship with their email inboxes or schedules, since they are often in the actual lab.

    5. amoeba*

      Yup, I don’t really see the problem with the question, tbh. They probably just wanted to get a more or less clear reply whether the candidate is still interested in moving forward – they might have gotten a lot of beating around the bush in the past only to find out later that they weren’t?
      You can always add the explanation, as Hastily Blessed Fritos says – “oh, it seemed like a really good fit from the interview, so I’m going to say seven because of course I don’t have enough information for a 10 yet!”

      1. bamcheeks*

        Scaling questions can really throw people. It’s like the classic “on a scale of 1-10, how bad is your pain?” Some people immediately get that it’s supposed to be subjective and spontaneously create a personal scale in their head, but some people hate them because they feel like they’re being asked to guess what the questioner’s scale is. I use them sometime, but always preface them with, “this is really just to get a general idea of how you’re prioritising X versus Y, don’t overthink it, and if you hate this kind of question we’ll just move on!” and that usually helps people come up with a useful answer. I also do it in less pressured situations AFTER I feel like there’s a rapport with the client and they trust me, whereas an interview is by definition a high-stakes situation with an uneven power balance.

        I think it’s an innocently-intended question, but I also think it’s a very bad question for an interview because few candidates are going to answer honestly and a not-insignificant number will be totally thrown by it.

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          I think I’d be ok to rate my enthusiasm on a 5 point scale. ‘No’, ‘Probably No’, ‘Meh’, ‘Probably’, and ‘Definitely’ seem like reasonable categories to rank it by. And unless I was very unenthusiastic about the job, I’d just go with a 4, to communicate that I was interested but still reserving judgement. Pretty easy to pick.

          A ten point scale has, effectively, four different options for interested but still reserving judgement. 6, 7, 8, & 9.

          1. Ellis Bell*

            Yeah I always go for the middle numbers if a scale question seems pointless or arbitrary. Then they ask you to explain anyway.

          2. bamcheeks*

            I feel like giving anything less than a 4/5 and 8/10 would be potentially withdrawing my candidature, to be honest. If I was absolutely certain I wasn’t interested, I’d rather say that outright than do it by giving a low score. If I was anywhere from “probably no” upwards I’d stick with 8/10 just so I didn’t lose the opportunity to make decision because the recruiter decided I was insufficiently excited and ruled me out.

        2. ToHeckInAHandbasket*

          I once had an injured elbow diagnosed over the phone as a sprain because the nurse said on the scale 1 was no pain and 10 was “the worst pain you could imagine”. I have a pretty good imagination. The number I gave was too low. Weeks later I finally got them to do an x-ray to find the broken bone. All scales are subjective.

    6. Workerbee*

      The recruiter would still have been far better just asking the questions instead of also trying to reduce what should be a complex answer to a number.

      1. Phryne*

        Oh, not disagreeing with that, it is not a good question. I just don’t think it is as deep as the LW seems to have taken it.

      2. AngryOctopus*

        This exactly. Recruiter is making it kind of complicated with a 1-10 system. It’s good to check in to make sure the candidate is still interested in moving forward if the company is, but it’s A Lot to make you try to calibrate your own 1-10 scale to what the recruiter might want. Just say “I want to make sure you’re interested in moving forward to the next round if Company is” and you can say “yes I am” or “no thanks”.

    7. Catwhisperer*

      I wouldn’t call a 2-3 sentence explanation a lecture and think it would be a bit odd to respond with just a number. Presumably the recruiter would want to know if they could do anything to increase a good candidate’s enthusiasm, like providing more info, clarification on specific questions, etc. And going into detail shows that the candidate is being thoughtful about the position.

      1. Sloanicota*

        To be fair, I assume the recruiter doesn’t want to advance somebody who isn’t likely to take the job. The recruiter would probably be thrilled to hear that OP is so enthusiastic they’d take the offer just based on what they know right now (that would make OP an idiot, but the recruiter presumably doesn’t care about that, as it’s good for them). If OP says they’re kind of “meh,” that’s a five to most people, and the recruiter is probably thinking they want to know if anybody is five or below so they can usher them out of the process or at least be prepared with backup options. If they say 1, the recruiter will probably pull the plug right now (again, that may not be good for OP so it would be dumb of them to share this, but I get why the recruiter is asking). Most reasonable, circumspect people will probably say 6-9, and that’s fine. However, it is kind of weird to use a scale this big (0-5 works just as well, or heck, 1-2-3) and leads to this kind of overthinking.

        1. Catwhisperer*

          Agree, but the point I was making is that it’s weird to accuse LW of lecturing the recruiter because the explained their response.

          1. Phryne*

            Might be a translation error, English is not my first language. Reading your reply i think the word lecture might have a more negative connotation than I meant here. Maybe ‘wordy’ would have been better? Or without that be too negative too?

            1. Catwhisperer*

              Ah, gotcha! Apologies for jumping to conclusions on me end. I think lecture typically has a negative connotation unless you’re referring to a lecture being given by an academic or an expert in a particular field. In interpersonal conversations it’s used to imply that the person doing the talking is being pedantic/condescending towards the person listening.

              “Wordy” seems like it’s closer to what you mean because it has a more neutral connotation. You could also say it was too detailed or too lengthy of a response.

              Also, apologies in advance if this comment comes across as lecturing! I just love to geek out about language and the different ways meaning is conveyed.

              1. Phryne*

                No worries, I like to think there I am pretty good at English, but obviously I will never be perfect she between that and my Dutch communication style (we prefer ‘direct’ not ‘blunt’ ;) ) I will sometimes miss. What I was received to was LW saying there was a stunned silence after their answer, which in my mind was the recruiter just taking a moment to recover from the whole detailed explanation in answer to what they probably considered a simple question.
                As I said somewhere else, I don’t think it is a good question, just one that the recruiter did not put that much thought into.

    8. Pizza Rat*

      I think it’s a lazy question. Not everything can be rated, especially when there’s insufficient information to make a judgement call. I think better questions would be:

      –How do you feel about moving forward?
      –Do you have any concerns today that might keep you from accepting the job?
      –Are there any questions I can answer?
      –What additional information would be helpful to you?

    9. Antilles*

      The recruiter probably wanted just a quick reference point on how happy you were about the whole process so far.
      The thing is though, everybody’s scale is going to be slightly different. Personally, I would definitely give a number followed by an explanation, because I have no clue what *you* think a 5 or a 7 or a 10 means. The ‘quick reference point’ only means anything if we both have the same understanding of what we’re referencing.
      Are you the guy who thinks anything less than a 10 is a failure? Are you the guy who thinks a 10/10 is a perfect score so that should be reserved for the most perfect job ever? Are you the guy who thinks “C’s equal degrees”, so 7/10 represents a perfectly acceptable job that someone would happily take? Something else?
      If you’re just asking “rate your enthusiasm on a 1 to 10 scale”, I have no idea which of these is you. So if I have the opportunity to explain my answer, the only smart move on my side is to make sure I explain it.

      1. Sloanicota*

        But they explicitly said, “10 being ‘I would accept an offer for this job right now, the organization sounds great’ and 1 being ‘I’m not interested in this position, I’d like to be taken out of the running.’ ” So they did anchor the scale. I feel like most people could assume 5 is “I’m exactly on the fence between dropping out and being over the moon, eg, neutral, meaning 6-9 are all degrees of positivity and 2-4 are degrees of negativity.

        1. AngryOctopus*

          But if you think 5 is “I want the chance to ask about X, Y, and Z before I’d really know” and the recruiter thinks “5 means there’s a 50% chance of them dropping out”, these are very different. Wanting to know more before making a decision is not equivalent to ‘I may drop out’.

        2. Antilles*

          But are you the kind of person who would be thrown if I just say 7 and wonder if that’s a sign that I’m not super enthusiastic?
          I don’t know and if I have the chance to explain, the wise play is to take that chance to explain my number rather than leaving it up to the vagaries of your interpretation.

        3. Ellis Bell*

          He anchored two points and you anchored three. What about the rest?Is there a significant difference between 6 and 8 on either of your scales? You imply 6-9 all merely imply “positive” and someone upthread said anything below a 7 is a bit cool and disinterested. Numbers don’t really translate to feelings unless you use assumptions. However, if the scale really can be boiled down to three points of negative, positive or neutral; why not simply ask which word applies, or let OP use their own words?

    10. Cat Tree*

      Yeah, I would have just lied and said 9, even if I was at a 2. I wouldn’t ever say 10 because I’ve worked with enough recruiters who balk at negotiating that I wouldn’t want to imply I would automatically accept a garbage offer. But it’s too my benefit for them to think I’m extremely interested so I can keep moving forward. If the recruiter ends up thinking I was disingenuous, well, they shouldn’t have asked a weaselly manipulative question in the first place.

      1. Elsewise*

        Honestly, I think I wouldn’t even put a number on it! I’d just say “oh, I’m super excited and would love to work here, it seems like it would be a fantastic fit.” Is that a ten? Is that a seven? Is that a two and I’m a liar? That’s up to the recruiter to decide. You’re the one who put numbers to it, you get to figure it otu.

    11. 10 out of 10 would interview again*

      Yet another example of run-away ratings culture, but one on which anything other than 5-stars or a 10/10 is considered total failure, so they really do not want any sort of rating feedback at all. It would make just as much sense to keep it binary and say 0 for not interested and 1 for interested. I dislike all of those survey questions, because if someone does the job that I would expect them to do, that should be a 5/10…meets expectations. But if you give someone that rating irl, they will likely be fired from their org. Don’t ask for nuance if you don’t actually want it.
      But, LW#2 – I totally agree with your rating philosophy and your explanation!

  13. Re12el*

    my guess for #2 is that the dad is a good contact to have/bigshot/big name and the hiring manager wanted to make sure there won’t be any consequences for them for not hiring lw. so they went to weird ‘damage control’ mode.

  14. BellaStella*

    On checking-references
    I worked ten years ago for a man whom HR did NO due diligence on. He ruined two small orgs before and one after -as in bankrupted them. He was the CEO. I left after a year along with 7 others in the office of 18. He was fired for an egregious abuse of power six months after I left.

    1. The Greatest and the Best!!!*

      Several years ago our local higher education institution hired a president who ultimately ended up getting a no confidence vote from the faculty. Apparently he had great references – maybe because everyone at his former job was trying to move him along?

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Same happened around here – no idea what his references said but he was a big name outside of academia.

        And my senior year of HS, the district hired a new superintendent on very short notice (previous hire had a medical issue and pulled out weeks before starting). Apparently he had decent recommendations. It was a very small district with a small and unusually student-centered HS. He was a disaster and refused to meet with or speak with students. The week before graduation a few of us (all with leadership positions) wrote a letter to the editor of the local paper pretty much demanding his ouster. He tried to get the principal to keep us from graduating. It was a very dramatic end to our year (we graduated, we also won most of the awards and he had to watch us accept them).

        Six months later when I was upset about my grade in college calculus, my mother said “I was saving this for when you came home. It will cheer you up” and read me the banner headline from that week’s newspapers. He resigned – one step ahead of being arrested for embezzlement and misuse of district resources, which it turns out is why he was available on short notice. He was “allowed” to resign from his previous position after doing the same thing.

        1. Johanna Cabal*

          I hate it when companies just pass these types of “leaders” along.

          Speaking of high school principals and background checks, about 15 years back I remember a story about a group of high school students who worked on the school paper found that their new principal’s degrees came from a diploma mill. Maybe high school journalists need to conduct background checks on district hires?

      2. JustaTech*

        At one lab where I worked there was a guy who was really irritating to work with. Like, perfectly nice but not a good worker – slow, made a mess, used *tons* of reagents, didn’t design his experiments correctly, etc, etc.
        One day my boss was complaining about this guy to our lab manager, who (having had more than enough of both of them) said very pointedly “I told you he was like that when you hired him. If you had called a single one of his references other than his current boss they would have told you the same thing. This is what happens when you don’t check references.”

        Turns out that lab manager and That Guy had both worked at the same lab before they were hired to my lab, and the head of the previous lab had been desperate to offload That Guy, so said all kinds of nice things about him to my boss, who was setting up his first ever lab and was utterly naïve about hiring.

    2. OrangeCup*

      I once had a boss who was asked to leave her previous job by the board of directors for causing so much divisiveness among the staff (in the words of one of her former staff to one of my former colleagues who I asked to look into her when I was trying to figure out what exactly was wrong with her – she was a textbook example of a narcissist), and to hear her tell it, she left the job two years into a three year contract because she accomplished everything she set out to accomplish and there was nothing left to do and she’s still best friends with the board president. So either my former company did no reference checks or there was a whole lot of lying happening! In this OP’s case, it could be a disgruntled former colleague trying to harm the person.

    3. Dek*

      I remember a golf course I worked for hiring a new office manager who immediately gave off “nope” vibes. (Like, this is such a small thing, but the first thing that bugged me was he installed a fax machine…on a shelf that only he was tall enough to use easily). Me and some of the other low-level workers clocked an issue within days.

      After I left for college, I found out that the management eventually found out he was a con artist. Didn’t do much of a background check before.

    4. ashie*

      I’m based in the US. A few years ago one of our partner organizations hired a new ED – did a nationwide search, multiple interviews, called references, paid for background checks, the whole works. Everything went great, they made a press announcement about their exciting new person… and then people started googling. Turns out she had been arrested for embezzling from TWO previous nonprofits that she led… in Canada. No red flags ever popped up because why would you extend a background check to a whole nother country. Luckily they were able to rescind the offer before she got the keys to anything but it was an embarrassing situation all the way around.

    1. WellRed*

      Due the nature of the legal system, these things drag on (often for years) and it’s harder to learn whether she’s won, lost, settled, been dismissed…

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        It’s actually a lot easier than it used to be. The case may not have concluded (or it may have settled without any details being disclosed because it cost everyone less money), but nearly all courts now use e-filing, which tends to come with a public-facing docket sheet of the case status. Some provide actual documents, some do not.

        When I was a paralegal decades ago, we used to have to call courts for filings/have docket sheets faxed over and it took days to get copies of documents unless you could run over and make the copies yourself. Now, you spend five minutes online to see what case disposition was.

  15. Pastor Petty Labelle*

    #1 — you had lots of phone calls saying what a great hire this is. You got one phone call from a clearly disgruntled person who apparently is generally disgruntled. yet you are rethinking your hire. I think you can safely say you can ignore this person.

    1. Juicebox Hero*

      Yes, LW did a good job of not portraying the woman who complained as a crank, but I’m getting cranky vibes nonetheless. Lawsuits are expensive and time-consuming and I don’t know anyone who wants to be involved with one, let alone several. She hasn’t submitted her complaint in writing as requested. “Didn’t prioritize her project” is so vague as to be meaningless.

      You’ve checked the box by looking into the complaint. I’d go ahead with the hire.

      1. Lilo*

        I clerked so I’ve run into people who mass file lawsuits (one guy I ran into had been barred from filing lawsuits in four different states, he’d probably filed about 300 that I could find), the one I had in front of me, he was suing every major lawfirm in the city because they had all declined to represent him.

        The person who went on a campaign against me at work (I declined an improperly filed request, she went on a years long email campaign claiming I was part of a giant conspiracy) also had a history of multiple lawsuits.

        Based on the facts here, I would ignore this statement other than to potentially warn the new hire. I suspect this is part of a larger pattern of behavior against this new hire.

    2. Venus*

      Given that legal issues can be complicated, I don’t think OP1 is questioning if they made the right decision to hire, but rather wants confirmation that legally the hiring committee doesn’t need to do more. It’s a fair question in this specific situation.

  16. Catalyst*

    OP #1 – I have been the person who was being called about. A couple jobs ago I worked for an man who screamed at his employees and thought if you left the company you were a traitor. He called my new work place trying to speak to my boss because he ‘had information he might want to know’ but refused to leave his name and number. Luckily, reception screened out that call so it never got to my boss (he was told about it) and we all had a good laugh about it. Unfortunately, some people just want to stir up trouble, and will go to great lengths to do it. If you did your due diligence, that’s all you can do. I hope this new hire is as good as others have said.

    1. Bast*

      Yup, I’ve encountered people like this. They become so bitter and angry when someone puts in their notice that they will do ANYTHING to ruin the soon to be ex employee’s chances at a new job — including calling the new company and making things up, harassing the soon to be ex employee, etc.

    2. Lilo*

      My organization works with the public and I’ve been on the receiving end of a campaign as well. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if my person did something similar.

    3. Typing All The Time*

      Same here. I left my first company, largely due to being bullied by a female colleague and facing retaliation from her after three legitimately-proven compliants. (I had documentation and witnesses). The bullying colleague was let go before I was and ironically applied for my new job. Upon telling people where I was going to, someone said that it was the ex-colleague’s job. I think they tipped her off because when I started in my new role, my new boss and new colleagues were acting weird around me at first. My supervisor asked me how I knew this woman and I vaguely explained what happened. I was scared at first but I stayed on and worked there for a few years.
      In hindsight, I wished I gave my new employer the full detail and hired an attorney for a defamation lawsuit.

      1. Catalyst*

        Oh wow, that sounds terrible. I’m sorry that happened to you, but glad to hear that it worked out for you in the long run.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        Yes, when they write laws specifically to prevent people from damaging the livelihoods of others out of malice, it’s because it’s a thing that people do.

    4. February Twenty Eighth*

      Same! Old Big Boss called New Big Boss and badmouthed me after I was already hired. New Big Boss told me about the call, tested me with a super tight deadline for a project (that I met), and then never mentioned it again.

      I think people who have managed for a while are used to bad bosses being mad that employees leave.

  17. Dog momma*

    #4. wow if I worked in one particular job & left when I was done
    ..I’D be half days for almost all of it
    …I’d be fired

    are they paying you for hours hired for and you’re leaving early and still get a full paycheck??? I have to read again but..omg.

    1. WellRed*

      It specifically says they don’t get paid for those hours. I’m curious how the leaving early works in practice. Do they just … walk out?

      1. amoeba*

        I mean, if they have flex hours, it’s probably not an issue… I clock in and out but don’t have fixed hours, so no problem there. Except they’re not getting paid (and aren’t available for more work that would come up), of course…

    2. Bast*

      I mean… I get it if you come from an industry where making “cuts” are normal when things are done. You usually still need permission to leave, but I remember more than one slow night in the restaurant where the owner would say, “Once your tables cash out and the tables are cleaned off, you can leave” even if it was an hour or two before your shift was “supposed” to end. In those cases, it costs the company money to have people standing around doing nothing, so they don’t want to have people just loitering about. Transitioning to a job, particularly a salaried one, where you have to sit around and do nothing takes some adjusting. It’s a different lifestyle. If all you’ve known is leaving when your work is done, that is your norm. It’s easy to feel guilty for sitting around on the clock getting paid to “twiddle your thumbs.” I work in an industry now where I am expected to be here at certain hours, and while I am swamped on some days, it is super dead other days. After coming from an office where I could work 60 hours a week and still not be caught up, having a lull in my days still can make me feel guilty, because I am used to RUSH RUSH RUSH DUE THREE WEEKS AGO RUSH mentality.

    3. I should really pick a name*

      Perhaps if you realize during your response that you should read the letter again, it would be a good idea to do so before hitting Submit, because the answer to your question is in the letter..

    4. Ellis Bell*

      My job is like that too; I could never leave early even if there was nothing to do; I’d be in a world of trouble. However there are plenty of flex jobs where it’s encouraged to manage your own time as long as you make it up on a busier day, or log it correctly on a timesheet. I’m assuming it is perfectly okay for OP; this is why they put a note on the letter to say the job allows for this.

  18. Workerbee*

    #2 I am also leaning toward a mix of infantilizing and a grubby attempt at ingratiating. Ugh. Any chance your dad can make some waves against this, both for that interviewer and to ward off any similar idiotic behavior from others? (Since he’s perceived as holding the power, the change would be more effective sooner coming from him.)

    1. VP of Monitoring Employees' LinkedIn and Indeed Profiles*

      “Dear CEO (or other high-level person):

      My daughter interviewed for a job with your company and was rejected. That is not an issue, because employers reject applicants every day.

      However, the hiring manager communicated the rejection to ME instead of to her, even though she was the actual applicant. This violation of privacy reflects very poorly on your entire company.”

  19. Nathan*

    #3, I had a similar situation. The recruiter basically said “I know you need some time to think about it, but if you had to give an answer right now, what would it be?”. When I suggested that she might not understand what “needing some time to think about it” means, she rephrased it to let me know that they’re interviewing a lot of people and they’re not going to go to the trouble of writing up an offer (and possibly losing other viable candidates by doing so) if I’m not interested.

    I think that’s fair enough (though a terrible way to ask the question), and I responded that I thought the interviews went well and if there was an offer coming I would give it the consideration it deserves. That was sufficient for her. I ended up getting an offer, accepting, and still work there 5 years later.

    IDK if the recruiter in #3 is doing the same thing mine was, but maybe they’re just trying to figure out if you’re going to withdraw / ghost them so they know how much more effort to spend on your candidacy.

    1. JSPA*

      That’s where it helps to set parameters or redefine the question before answering.

      “there’s no such thing as a 9 or 10 before I see details on pay and benefits, but the vibe is a full 10 of 10, so the overall is at least an 8 and rising” should pass muster anywhere that’s not counting on cult-like devotion.

      1. Nathan*

        I think that’s a fantastic way to phrase it so you sound enthusiastic while still not giving up too much negotiating position on the offer!

  20. Ann Onymous*

    I hope the interviewer got confirmation from some other source that the LW’s dad was the LW’s dad before contacting him since LW says she didn’t mention the relationship. My family has an uncommon last name, but there’s another couple with that last name in the same town as my parents. It’s caused some awkward moments over the years when people made assumptions. The worst was someone telling me they’d talked to my grandma earlier that day… several months after my grandma died.

    1. Dek*

      Unusual last name here as well. My mom had quite a shock when she came to bring cupcakes for my birthday at school, only to be told that the ambulance was on the way. The one other family with our last name in the city also had a girl in my grade, and she’d fallen off the monkey bars and broken her arm.

      (Which, iirc led to her Leukemia diagnosis, so I guess it was a good thing it happened when it did. So then I’d get questions about that. And then a few years back she was hit by a plane. So I’d get questions about that. She’s doing well last I heard, so that’s all I can say when asked)

      1. Juicebox Hero*

        “Hit by a plane.”

        I’ve been hit by a Christmas tree (out on someone’s tree lawn for the city to pick up, and it was a crazy windy day), a boat (on a trailer, hitch came loose), and had a peanut butter jar fall out of a tree on to my head (damn squirrels), but never a plane. Finally, someone with wierder luck than me.

        1. JustaTech*

          Small plane where you board out on the runway rather than through a jet bridge? Or maybe a Piper Cub got loose of the chocks and rolled into her?
          I’m assuming not a commercial jet (unless she worked on the ground teams at an airport).

          Basically, not a plane *in flight*.

    2. Juicebox Hero*

      There are several people locally with a slighly different last name (ie Jukebox vs Juicebox) and I’ve had total strangers ask me about a “relative”. Then I get to shovel the awkwardness as I try to explain that I’m not related to that person and wouldn’t know them if I fell over them. They sometimes ask if I’m sure. Yes, I’ve reached my late 40s without knowing who my relatives are }:(

      My last name is Polish and people always want to stick an extraneous W in it, and I get to explain that it’s Heroski, not Herowski (or Herowsky). And sometimes argue about the spelling of my own bleeping last name. So much fun.

      1. Slartibartfast*

        I once worked closely with a woman for two years before finding out we were related, when we bumped into one another at a family reunion. Turns out our husbands were first cousins on the maternal side, so no shared last name.

        1. bamcheeks*

          This happened to two of my colleagues! They’d worked together for a couple of years and then ran into each other at an extended family thing. They actually weren’t just relatives-by-marriage but unknowingly third cousins or something.

    3. Nina*

      Given the fields various parts of my family work in, pulling this stunt based on surname alone would have at least a sporting chance of getting to a) my aunt, whose greatest disappointment in life is that my cousin, her daughter, didn’t follow her into this field or b) my uncle against whom I have a restraining order.

      My surname is unusual enough that everyone in my country who has it is related to me, I know how, and I’ve met either them or a member of their immediate family.

  21. Anxiety like whoa*

    To LW 5

    I was once laid off from an organization and they said they would send a prepaid box to send my laptop. It came, I did. Org never picked it up so it came back to me. I kept reaching out for about 14 months to try to return it. Ironically every time I was given a point of contact, their email would bounce back as they left the org.

    After 2 years, the laptop finally made it back to where it belonged. I was happy to get it out of my storage closet.

    1. linger*

      Wow. So the org
      (a) was laying off staff faster than they could process the layoffs, and/or
      (b) was specifically laying off the relevant admin staff, and/or
      (c) had staff turnover so rapid as to be both a symptom and cause of dysfunction.
      After 2 years, it’s amazing there was anything left to return the computer to.

  22. Dust Bunny*

    LW4: This will probably change as you get to know the job better and can be given a bigger variety of tasks, but, yes, stay the whole shift. Ask what else you can do if you run out of work.

  23. Blarg*

    #4: Are you a contractor/consultant? You mention a contract and that you are doing work for (plural) small companies at arm’s length. If you are, say, doing contracted accounting work for several small firms who are each paying you and you submit invoices as opposed to time sheets, I’d think the answer is very different. In that case, I’d expect you to head out when your work was wrapped up. But if you are consistently getting your work done in less time than your contract estimated it would take, it might be worth upping your rates so that your efficiency doesn’t harm your bottom line.

  24. VP of Monitoring Employees' LinkedIn and Indeed Profiles*

    #2 (Employer sent my rejection to my father, not me)

    Your entire letter, including the title, is worthy of being posted as a Glassdoor review. A company that communicates a job rejection to anyone other than the applicant is a company to be avoided at all costs.

  25. Green CTO*

    LW #1:
    “We hired a new executive director, who starts in a week. … We don’t ask on our application whether there are any pending or potential outstanding liabilities, and have not yet directly addressed this with our new hire.”

    It seems like this particular disgruntled party is not a huge red flag for your new ED. But… has this experience caused you to rethink that aspect of your vetting process?

    I’d think for a hire at this level of influence and external profile, it would always be wise to take a look for liabilities (both ask the candidate to disclose and check around a bit beyond their references). Otherwise the next time around there might be *real* skeletons.

  26. BecauseHigherEd*

    LW 1 – Maybe I’m naïve because I’ve never had to personally hire a new Executive Director but…it seems a little unusual that you’ve been “getting unsolicited ‘this is an amazing hire/human’ calls from various people in the industry around the country.” Unless this is a huge, high-profile organization where that’s common knowledge that seems pretty unusual, no? Like maybe the new ED has been telling people they need to contact you all on their behalf?

    1. KateM*

      OP’s organization had a press release about the new hire – after that, it probably *was* common knowledge.

    2. bamcheeks*

      Hm, I imagined that more as, “I was talking to Fergus Acme at Llamas Inc about lobbying for the restrictions on international llama trade to be lifted, and they spontanously congratulated us on hiring Jane Greebleworth” rather than, “Fergus Acme called us out of the blue to tell us how great Jane Greebleworth is”. The former definitely wouldn’t be weird– if you’re at the level of hire where you do a press release, people absolutely discuss it and bring it up in otherwise unrelated conversations. But I agree that multiple unsolicited calls specifically to congratulate you on hiring Jane Greebleworth would be weird.

  27. Dinwar*

    #4: One thing that I’ve been able to do during “down time” is find ways to improve projects. Look at pretty much anything that’s under your control and ask yourself, for each line, “Is this necessary or useful?” and “How can I improve it?” Or, ask yourself “If I could improve one thing, what would it be?” then see if you can do that.

    I’ve done this any number of times, and made substantial improvements to how my team presents data, or collects it, or manages it. And if I can’t, at least I’ve taken a deep dive into the thing and have firmed up my own understanding of why we do things this way (which means I can explain it better).

  28. Observer*

    #1 – New ED

    I think Alison is right – you are framing this incorrectly. This is not about your formal obligations or “best practices”, but about protecting your organization. If she really is a problem you don’t want her no matter how well you did your due diligence. A bad hire is a bad hire.

    Having said that, it does not sound like this is something to worry about. What I would do is see if the suit being brought is public, so you can see what this person is claiming happened. Keep in mind that people do bring wrongful dismissal suits all the time for reasons that are fairly ridiculous. Like in this case, I would not be shocked if the issue were something like “Retaliation for complaining that ED didn’t prioritize my program enough.” Which is not something I would worry about. On the other hand, if she alleges that the dismissal was based on something illegal or truly unethical, even if legal, you would want to dig deeper.

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

    #2 I wonder what your dad said to them? If he is willing could he contact them and say that it is unusual to give a rejection to the parent of a candidate, especially without talking to the candidate first.

    1. ashie*

      OP should just pretend they never heard anything from their dad and reach out to the manager to innocently ask about the status of their application. I’d love to hear that phone call.

  30. Hiring Mgr*

    For #1, I’m not sure why the caller’s complaints made it up the chain in the first place. Not prioritizing a program sounds like an ordinary thing that could happen in the job and you already said the personal things were irrelevant, so what is there to even think about?

  31. Lacey*

    #4 I work an office job with significant downtime. Many days I have nothing to do for hours on end.

    Because of the nature of the work, there’s no way to work ahead.
    I just have to wait for when more work comes in.

    During the pandemic my hours were cut to part time. Which annoyed the CRAP out of my coworkers, because they were used to my being able to jump on projects as soon as they came in and now they had to wait till the next day.

    My employer often isn’t paying me to be productive for 8 hours a day. But they are paying me to be AVAILABLE 8 hours a day. And probably yours is too. So be available!

    1. GythaOgden*

      I’m the same. Some days I’m very busy but others I’m waiting around. As you say, sometimes the work is there but not things that are ongoing or take much time to complete. (Minutes, cards for fire log books, etc.)

      I’m just glad I don’t have to get out of the house, spend a lot of money on travel, all to sit at a desk in an empty office with nothing to do except for franking post for a quarter of an hour. It’s relaxed without being boring.

    2. Two Fish*

      Yes OP4 it’s in most jobs far worse to cut out early without explicit permission/an agreement to that effect, than to putter around a bit each day.

  32. learnedthehardway*

    OP#1 – your organization has done a very thorough job of official references, background checks and unofficial references. A one-off random call from someone who has a history of launching multiple lawsuits should not unduly concern you. I would document it with HR, together with the information about the person who contacted your organization (ie. the history of lawsuits) – it does make sense to make a note of the incident.

    Whether you should mention this to the new ED – I would have a conversation to inform her of this issue. Let the ED know that you are bringing it to her attention, and see what she says about it. Reassure her that this is not something the organization is going to act on and that her position is not in jeopardy. You are satisfied with her references, background check, etc. but wanted to ensure she is aware of this situation. If the person who called is going to launch a lawsuit, the new ED is going to find out, anyway (and you don’t owe the caller any confidentiality).

    I think your organization does owe confidentiality to the new ED – the communications manager and HR should be aware of the importance of confidentiality as part of their jobs, but it wouldn’t hurt to remind them of the importance of letting the ED start off with a clean slate.

    1. TacoBoutIt*

      I’m surprised nobody else mentioned talking to the ED about this! Honestly I might not bring it up right away, in case the claims are valid (though I don’t think they are). But 3-ish months in, if you haven’t seen anything to make you think the phone call was warranted, I’d mention it. The ED would probably like to know that someone clearly has a campaign against them, even if they won’t be job hunting again anytime soon.

      1. learnedthehardway*

        If nothing else, the incoming ED’s reaction will be informative. If she handles the situation professionally and discretely, that says something about her ability to handle issues. If she gets defensive or flies off the handle – that will raise some flags about her ability to handle issues, and also whether or not there’s anything to the caller’s claims.

        Incidentally, the LW should also bring this to the board members’ attention as an FYI, with the same explanation that nothing else points to an issue and the caller has a history of launching lawsuits. The board members may want to be the people to have the discussion with the ED, come to think of it – and that would probably be for the best, in case there IS something concerning. It would prevent any retaliation against the LW for raising the issue, if there were, in fact, a real concern.

  33. Person from the Resume*

    For LW#1, I am with Alison.

    Out of the blue calling to try to get a new hire in trouble is vindictive. Other prehire checks including reference checks were fine. I don’t think the LW needs to do anything else.

    I’m a tad bit concerned about the out of the blue “great hire” calls too, though. This strikes me as odd and potentially strategic campaign; although, less useful after being hired. Although if it was in the context of small talk with colleagues (“Heard you hired Joe. He’s great”) that is not really suspicious at all.

    1. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

      Since they sent a press release announcing the hire, I don’t think it’s odd. I know we get calls at our biz after big press notices of any kind. It’s an excuse for people to fresh up their networks. “OMG, you hired Jane? We worked together at Whatsis. She’s great.” Reminding everyone that you exist, you are connected, blah blah. Very common.

  34. TeapotNinja*

    LW4: A lot of folks who are undertasked use the extra time to train on something work related, hopefully something that interests you.

    And even more people just waste that extra time on the Internets.

  35. Observer*

    #4 – Not always enough work.

    I’m going to ask you to re-frame this. This is not about being honest, but about understanding what you are being paid for. You are being paid as much for your presence as for your work. Now, the reason you are being paid for your presence is so you should be able to work. But if there is genuinely not enough work, you still need to be there to provide the *capacity* that the organization needs.

    If you are concerned about honesty you should do one of three things:
    1. Flag for your supervisor that you are done the tasks that you have been given, and is there anything specific they want you to do

    2. Check with other staff that you work with and offer to help

    3. Find a project or two (with your supervisor’s approval, generally speaking) that you can work on when you have free time.

    If you’ve tried all three and there is still nothing to do, start learning everything you can about this employer and the field you are in. Your employer knows that you don’t have work, and they are not sending you home, so that means they want you there anyway. Don’t go home.

  36. BellyButton*

    I want to know how LW2’s dad responded. I hope he replied back asking “WTF are you telling me? This is highly inappropriate and has me questioning your professionalism.”

    A couple thoughts as to why he did it– some old school level “respect” *shudders* or He somehow thought this would be a way to further his relationship with LW’s dad, so misguided.

    LW, please don’t let this one experience get you down. This guy is so out in left field and completely inappropriate. I hope you are able to take this experience and realize it was a bullet dodged and that it becomes a ridiculous story you and your dad can tell people and laugh about.

  37. Jane*

    2.) I would report that hiring manager. OP said their father never came up in the interview to begin with. The hiring manager has no idea what OP’s relationship is with their father – awkward, abusive, no contact, etc. Plus, the hiring manager shared personal information about one adult to another adult who was never involved in the process – not as a contact or referal. Scary that they think this is ok.

    3) The silence after your answer was likely the recruiter typing in your answer. They usually have to document all this stuff. :)

  38. Chris*

    I worked in the same field as my father (he was a university professor in the field while I worked for local governments). For the most part this was positive, but it could get awkward at times. In once case I was interviewing with several people who had been his students. At the beginning of the interview they started talking about how much they liked learning from him, which was…fine. However, it went on long enough that I wanted to get the interview back on track and ended up saying, “I’m glad you liked my Dad as a professor, but you’re interviewing me for this job, not him.”

    I ended up getting an offer that I turned down for unrelated reasons.

    1. Irish Teacher.*

      That reminds me of something that was on the news in Ireland many years ago during an election. This woman was running in the constituency her father used to represent and one of those interviewed replied as to who he would vote for with “I’m going to vote for that man’s daughter” and when asked why, replied, “well, he did a lot of good for the area.” It was like they hadn’t even considered her policies or her own track record.

      Not exactly the same as the LW’s situation but it does highlight just how much some people equate people with their parents.

  39. JS*

    LW1- are the multiple lawsuits-
    all related to the company in some way and all tied back to the new ED
    all related to the organization but various things that have nothing to do with the ED
    various lawsuits about anything under the sun unrelated to the organization

    She reads like someone who is mad at everything and may be very litigious when things don’t go her way.

  40. Totally Hypothetical*

    Just out of curiosity, asking for a friend, should you be worried about anything if after leaving a job you just never get any follow up for returning a laptop and so still have one (or 2) 3 years later with no idea of what to do with it (them)?

    1. perstreperous*

      In the UK at least, employee records are obliged, by law, to be purged after 7 years. So, if they haven’t managed to ask for the laptop back by then, they won’t.

      1. BubbleTea*

        Can you give a reference for this requirement? I’m potentially about to hire employees for the first time ever and haven’t heard of this law before. I know GDPR requires that information isn’t kept beyond its necessary lifetime but I’ve not seen a specific duration before.

  41. Karma is My Boyfriend and so is Travis Kelce*

    LW4 reminds me of my first post-college job, working for the federal government. I was far from busy, so any task that came up, I had the time to address it immediately, and beat any deadline imposed, usually by days, if not weeks. So, I had a LOT of downtime (and this was well before social media took off). I was also becoming aware that others in the office worked a much, much slower pace, yet got things done. So, I slowly learned to drag out tasks, along with filling up my downtime (I was very well-versed on current events!). I used a computer-aided-drafting program at the time, and I had a friend who would send me shortcuts on how to do something, and I would joke that I needed to know the very, very long way to do that command, as I had a ton of time to fill.

    I think this is just the nature of office jobs. Sometimes, if I’m bored for too long, I wonder what it would be like to work in a job that, if there’s nothing to do, or the equipment is broken, you can just leave. The grass is always greener, I suppose…

  42. Cheesy*

    LW4, I feel like I’m in the same boat. I’ve gone from jobs where I was always busy to a job where I’m being paid to do certain tasks, one of which is just being available to answer the phone when it rings. I’ve tried to branch out and try to help out in other areas and I’ve actually gotten push-back because those things are duties of someone else, and the big bosses do NOT want the phone to be missed for anything beyond already being on a call. We’ve been given explicit permission to use the internet during downtime for non-work purpose as long as our work gets done and the phone gets answered.

    It’s been a few months and it can have some very boring days, but I do really enjoy where I work and what we are doing. Just had a steep adjustment.

  43. thatstevefan*

    On #5, I still have my laptop from my last job. I left right as we got acquired by a megacorp, and it seems to have slipped in between the cracks. I forgot about it for a couple months, at which point my former manager and IT contact had both left, and so I have nowhere to return it. I’ve tried investor relations and other public email addresses from that company, but no dice.

  44. I Have RBF*

    LW #4, part of what you are paid to do is “wait for work” – engaged to wait. So if you finish all of your assigned work by 3 pm, you still wait until 5 pm in case there are things that come up for you to do. Take the opportunity to read manuals or other documentation about your job, etc.

  45. Email, more like efail amiright*

    LW2, rejection sent to your father: is it possible that the hiring manager accidentally sent the rejection to your father? If it was an email, and he was typing your name in, could it be that the auto-fill form put in your dad’s email address instead of yours?

  46. Uncaffeinated German*

    OP1 – you’ll probably be okay BUT you need to pay very close attention to how the new ED responds to, and handles, any so called issues or problems with performance or conduct in any of his direct reports, or people who report to them. If there are always people being fired, put on PIPs or probation, experiencing supposed issues or problems with performance, or there’s otherwise high turnover…well, you need to look into it.

    1. Observer*

      you’ll probably be okay BUT you need to pay very close attention to how the new ED responds to, and handles, any so called issues or problems with performance or conduct in any of his direct reports, or people who report to them

      Disagree. The OP needs to look at the history first. Because based on what they already know it’s just as likely that the person who called them is the problem. Obviously, you want to kwwp your eyes open with a new hire. But it’s just not fair to put someone under the microscope or treat them with distrust because of one random and unverified complaint.

  47. rebelwithmouseyhair*

    OP3 I’d have said 9 1/2 regardless of what the truth was, leaving just a bit of wiggle room to be able to turn them down. Not because I’m a brazen liar but because I’ve always been very enthusiastic at the thought of being paid to do something interesting.
    You’re coming across as someone who likes to think things through thoroughly before giving their opinion, which is something I very often do, and there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s probably an accurate reflection of who you are. If the job requires thinking things through rather than thinking on your feet, then obviously that’s a huge plus.

  48. ED question submitter*

    ED hire question submitter here with an update – thanks so much for the reassurance that we’ve done our due diligence on the ED hire.

    Our Board president and I had a Zoom call with the new ED and let them know of the call we had received. The new ED was dismayed, but not surprised (and appreciative that we were having the conversation). The new ED explained the history of this woman’s tenure and behavior, and it ultimately sounds like unfortunately there are some very serious unaddressed health problems at play.

    Just to check a final box in case we need to defend ourselves, I called the president of the board of the other organization, and she confirmed everything our new ED said, including some other additional details: the org hired an outside law firm to investigate everything, which found no merit to the claims; when this caller was terminated, she asked for help from the union – and the union declined; she filed an EEOC complaint, which was dismissed.

    We’re hopeful that this woman goes away now and we never have to deal with her again, but if she doesn’t, we’re fully prepared to send a cease and desist, file defamation suits, or anything else that is applicable.

    Thanks again!

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