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“my interviewer left another candidate’s scorecard out, why online job application systems are so awful, and more” plus 3 more Ask a Manager

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“my interviewer left another candidate’s scorecard out, why online job application systems are so awful, and more” plus 3 more Ask a Manager


my interviewer left another candidate’s scorecard out, why online job application systems are so awful, and more

Posted: 12 Jan 2017 09:03 PM PST

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

1. My interviewer left another candidate's scorecard out

I had my first job interview this morning. I was feeling confident and excited to show them what I could bring to the position. That is, until I walked in the room and there was the other candidate’s scorecard sitting right in the middle of the table. Of course, I looked, but I really wish I hadn’t. There’s only two people in the running for this job, myself and the other scorecard. The scorecard was all 10s and one 9.

I did my best in the interview and there was one question I struggled with, but overall I felt like I gave good answers. Leaving the interview, I couldn’t help but think that there’s no way I got all 10s. I pretty much convinced myself to prepare for the generic rejection email coming next week.

My question is, was it super unprofessional of them to leave that card out? Was it a mistake or purposeful, like their way of saying the other candidate is great, this is just a courtesy interview? I am feeling very down about the whole experience. I really wanted this job and I felt I would be a really good fit for it, but I don’t think I could have possibly gotten a perfect score, especially given this is my first ever professional interview.

People say you know whether you nailed or tanked an interview, but I think the scorecard is really skewing my read on it. I can’t help but feel like I failed when I’m going up against what seemed to be the perfect candidate.

It's very, very unlikely that it was done intentionally to send you a message. Employers don't generally do that sort of thing (and frankly it would be awfully cruel). If they’re going to reject you, they'll reject you; they reject people all the time, are typically pretty comfortable doing it, and aren’t usually looking for complicated ways to send signals about it ahead of time.

It's far more likely that it was just an oversight. You were in the room where they were conducting interviews, and someone left the last person's scorecard out.

For what it's worth, if you don't get this job, you know that it's at least in part because you were up against a really excellent candidate, rather than having to worry if you just blew the interview.

2. Why are online job application systems so horrible?

I am wondering if you can help explain why job applications are the way are. Besides the frustration of having to write a resume and fill out an employment history, I am finding I being asked to provide more and more information up front with fewer and fewer chances of ever getting a reply.

I am often asked to list the street address of every employer I have worked for and every school I have attended. Also the name, email, and phone number of every supervisor, even if they are not my references. Because I work in a field that relies heavily on short-term and freelance work, it can be a huge undertaking to do this for every gig. I feel 100% certain in saying that HR uses none of this.

In addition, often these applications are designed incredibly poorly. The ones that fill automatically from your resume almost always fill in wrong. Today, I got stuck in one which would not save until I filled out every box, including information I did not want to disclose. Others have drop-down menus which don’t include my degree, sometimes my state, etc. Still others have no back buttons and well, on and on.

This cruel process has left me not only baffled, but discouraged and mad. And yet, I am a hostage if I ever want to move on from current job.

Yeah, it's pretty ridiculous. I'm pretty sure the answer lies in incompetence, as it so often does. The people who design these systems don't think through what's really needed or what the user experience will be like, and the companies that buy these systems don't bother to properly configure them for what they really need or bother to test them out as a user. Or they set them up once and then never revisit them again. And because the clients for these systems are employers, not job candidates, no one is assessing them through the eyes of the candidates.

3. I was asked to work on a snow day

I'm in Portland right now and we are having a huge snow storm that is closing most government and civil offices. Today our company shut down and gave us a snow day. This evening, my immediate boss notified everyone that offices will be closed again tomorrow. At the same time, she notified me that the owner lives close to me and offered to take me into work tomorrow, while admitting that the owner didn't think it was safe for anyone to attempt to drive into work.

I just started my position a week ago and am not in a position to stir the pot. Also, the person I replaced left a good amount of work for me to catch up on. There are three other managers at the same level that don't have to work, but because of my convenient location in relation to the owners house, I have to work. It just doesn't seem fair! Is this illegal or just bad management?

It's not illegal; no law requires that everyone be given the same days off or even the same number of days off. It's also not terrible management to ask people who can work on a snow day to work; not every employer does that, but some do, and while you can quibble over whether or not they should, it's not inherently wrong. The point of a snow day isn't "holiday for everyone!" The point is "if you can't get into the office, you won't be penalized."

In your case, if you truly don't think it's safe, you could say: "I really appreciate the offer, but I'm nervous about the roads so I'll stay home and shovel."

4. My husband applied for a job with my company — can I check on his application for him?

I work for a company that is currently understaffed in employees with my job title. The understaffing is, of course, causing lots of stress and we are pretty desperate to find qualified employees. Given those circumstances, I referred my husband for one of the open positions, I checked with my manager first to verify if there were any company/department polices against it, as we do not have an employee handbook. His response was that there is no policy against it and my husband's application would be given equal chance with all other received resumes.

My husband and I have very nearly the same qualifications, educational, and work background. The open positions would be in a parallel group to me so we would not report to the same manager although our manager’s manager would be the same.

Now that the referral was sent in, I have wanted to be very hands-off in the process, but my husband would like me to follow up with the hiring manager and confirm that his application has been received. He would also like to know if he is not under consideration for the job.

In a recent hiring update given to the whole team, the hiring manager stated that she had received hundreds of applications but “none were good enough to give time to." I feel that unless my husband’s resume is dismissed because of our relationship, which I would understand, his resume (which is nearly the same as mine except 3 years of experience at a different company) should merit a call or assignment of a toy problem.

I am wondering if I should reach out to the hiring manager to confirm my husband’s application was received or to ask for feedback on how it fell short so I can provide better referrals in the future (I am trying to persuade some other people to apply for the position). My interest isn't just because I want my husband to get this job, it is because I want to fill one of these open positions and really believe I have referred someone who is well qualified. I just don't want to overreach and make both myself and my husband look unprofessional.

Nope, don't do it. It doesn't matter how  unbiased your intentions are or even if you just want to be able to provide better referrals in the future. Because he's your husband, it's going to look like you're inappropriately meddling in the process to seek an advantage for him, and it will reflect badly on both of you.

It's possible that the hiring manager doesn't want to hire spouses (a totally reasonable thing, since it can cause problems). Or she might be looking for a slightly different set of qualifications. Or she might not be impressed with something about his materials (legitimately or because she’s overly picky). Or it could even be an oversight on her part. But no matter which it is, you can’t follow up on his application for him without looking like you're applying inappropriate pressure.

The best thing to do is to explain to him that it won't help either of you to have it look like you're seeking special treatment for him, and instead have him handle it the same way he would if you didn't work there.

5. My new hire is missing too much work

I have a daunting question on how to deal with an employee that although very good in her job, she misses a day or two every couple of weeks.

Jane is a very talented teapot maker who is paid by the hour. She has been with us a little bit more than four months and gets along very well with the rest of the team. She has been failing to show up on more than one occasion every fortnight, citing family or medical reasons, just sending a text message one hour or two before her shift starts stating that she won’t show up. As her boss, I’ve been very patient and understanding, but her lack of professionalism places too much stress with the team as we need to reschedule our team’s activities in order to make up for her absence. I’ve talked to her regarding her absences, but it seems it goes in one ear, out the other. If she doesn’t come to work she doesn’t get paid, and it seems its not an issue with her.

Replacing Jane is not really an option as we have not found another teapot maker that can do her job quite as well, and the learning curve can be a bit long. Also this position needs a lot of trust, as she handles sensitive data. Any ideas on how to deal with this rogue employee, as my patience is running thin?

Have you told her clearly and directly that you need her to stop doing this, and spelled out what your expectations are for attendance? If you haven't, do that immediately. Do not sugarcoat; be clear and direct.

But if you've done that and it hasn't changed anything … well, if you're really not willing to replace her, then it looks like you're stuck with an employee who is chronically absent and doesn't tell you until the last minute.

But I'd push you to reconsider the idea that replacing her isn't an option. Surely if she quit or was buried under a rice avalanche, you'd find a way to move forward without her, right? She's not irreplaceable, and letting yourself believe that she is (after only four months!) is keeping you hostage to someone with a pretty serious downside. (The exception to this is if she's dealing with a temporary situation with an end in sight, she's credibly told you that she's working to change it, and you have time to wait until that happens.)

my interviewer left another candidate's scorecard out, why online job application systems are so awful, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

I overheard my boss say that I’m not going to work out at this job

Posted: 12 Jan 2017 10:59 AM PST

A reader writes:

I’ve been at my current job for less than a year, but so has my boss. In fact, we both started at the same time, having been hired by the same VP. Until now, I thought we had a good working relationship and that my boss was as open and honest with my team as she wanted us to be with her. I had never been reprimanded or given any negative feedback about my performance. Although, there had been one miscommunication which caused her to freak out, for which she later sincerely apologized.

So imagine my shock when my boss had her weekly one-on-one with her boss–the VP who hired us both–and unloaded about my whole team, including me. The walls are super thin, and any conversation at the level of a clear and audible phone call can be heard by all the cubes outside. And when it’s an excited conversation, it carries all the way to the other end of the office.

I’m right by her door, and I heard everything. There were complaints about little things that I wasn’t aware of, things that I wasn’t aware were getting to my boss, and criticisms of my judgement that had never been communicated to me. After 30 minutes of complaining about my team in general and me in particular, I clearly heard the VP say on the speaker phone that I “wasn’t going to work out” at this job.

I was floored. I had never been given a performance review, written up, or reprimanded, even during the time my boss freaked out panicking about a deadline.

It gets worse. Later that evening, while I was wrapping up a project, I said hi to the C-level executive to whom our VP reports as she walked into my boss’s office. I then heard my boss make the same complaints about me to the C-level exec. My boss had never communicated these issues to me, yet was now complaining about me two rungs up the org chart.

Three days later, two of my four-person team were let go. The remaining two of us were called in for reassurance, although later my boss asked me during our one-on-one whether I thought my teammate was a flight risk.

I’m at a loss as to what to do now. I haven’t mentioned what I overheard and two weeks later, I’m afraid the window to do that has closed. I have zero trust in my managers, and I feel like it’s a race to jump ship before I’m fired. How do I continue to perform while I constantly second-guess my managers?

Talk to your boss.

I could speculate on the possibilities here — including that your manager was letting off steam about your whole team but was most concerned about the two people she fired and she doesn't intend to fire anyone else — but it would just be speculation, and you need something more concrete than that.

And you can't un-hear what you heard, so I'd just lay it all out for her and let her know what you overheard.

You could say it this way: "I feel very awkward about bringing this up, but in the interest of transparency, I feel like I need to say that I overheard some of your conversation with Jane a couple of weeks ago about your concerns about the team in general and about my work in particular. I know that wasn't meant for me to hear, but the wall are so thin that I did, and now I can't un-hear it. I hadn't realized that you had concerns about my work, but now that I know, I'd really like your feedback on what I should be doing differently so that I can work on it.”

Depending on her response, you could also add, "Is your sense that these issues are resolvable?

A big caveat: If your manager is indeed planning to fire you, it's possible that this conversation could nudge her to do it more quickly than she otherwise would have (since now it's out on the table). So you'd want to balance that possibility against your desire to know what's going on and to have an open conversation about it.

I overheard my boss say that I’m not going to work out at this job was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

stop setting goals you don’t actually care about, time management is ruining our lives, and more

Posted: 12 Jan 2017 09:30 AM PST

Over at the Fast Track by QuickBase today, I take a look at several big work-related stories in the news right now: why and how to stop setting goals you don't actually care about, why time management is ruining our lives, and more. You can read it here.

stop setting goals you don't actually care about, time management is ruining our lives, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

ask the readers: my business partner’s wife corners people at events and won’t stop talking

Posted: 12 Jan 2017 07:59 AM PST

I’m throwing this one out to readers to weigh in on. Here’s the letter:

I’ve been in business with my business partner for a decade, and there has been a recurring theme that is the source of all kinds of problems for me, our employees, and even my spouse: his spouse.

My business partner’s wife takes over every social interaction or conversation. She talks incessantly about herself and every response is a redirect to talk herself. She literally doesn’t take a breath once she starts and will keep people captive for hours. People just have to build up the courage to walk away because she won’t stop talking and she never lets the other contribute to the conversation. It’s visibly awkward for everyone involved and it seems to be the elephant in the room at any company outing.

She is always at four events every year (three quarterly parties and a year-end annual party). The company is semi-distributed (we have two official offices and a few purely remote people) so these events are the times everyone in the company is physically together during the year, and generally spouses attend as well. We are a small company (fewer han two dozen people) in case that is useful contextual information.

My wife and I started to politely decline social get-togethers with them years ago because it was always a one-sided affair, but I’m unsure how to approach this situation with regard to work-related gatherings or even if I should. My wife doesn’t want me to ruffle feathers on this topic with my partner, but the alternative of leaving our employees to suffer their boss’s wife seems puts me in a position of knowingly making everyone loathe company events, which are supposed to be celebratory.

What advice would offer to myself or others who find themselves in this situation? Either from a peer/partner or from an employee/boss perspective?

Readers, what’s your advice?

ask the readers: my business partner’s wife corners people at events and won’t stop talking was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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