can I ask an interviewer if I would have my own office, my coworker is avoiding me, and more

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

1. Can I ask an interviewer if I would have my own office?

I am in the process of interviewing for a new job and am wondering if there is an appropriate way to ask if I will have my own office to work in. I have found having an office with a door (to me) is worth quite a bit as it greatly improves the quality of my work life. Will this sound crazy to say directly to a hiring manager? Is there an appropriate or tactful way to bring this up?

If there’s a natural opening for it at the end of the interview, you could ask to see the space you’d be working in. Otherwise, once you have an offer, it’s fine to say, “Can you tell me about where I’d be working? Would I be in a private office or a shared space?” If it’s a shared space, you might be able to try to negotiate something different, but that’s going to be subject to factors like whether space is even available and whether they can do it for people at your level without causing issues with others at your level who would then also want it (or people higher up than you who don’t have their own space).

2. My coworker is suddenly avoiding me

My coworker, who I used to always have lunch with, has seemingly been avoiding me out of the blue, and no longer takes his lunch break at the same time as me. He seems to be avoiding me the rest of the time, too. His behavior has definitely changed. I wouldn’t say he’s unfriendly or anything, just suddenly not there. We work in a very small office (about 10 people), so I know it’s not a matter of workload or scheduling. We all choose our lunch breaks, and nobody else’s routine has changed except his.

I know this question may sound a little immature, but what’s a graceful/professional (and non-desperate) way to ask him why he’s suddenly shifted his lunch break? If there was something I said or did, I’d like a chance to fix the situation, and if it wasn’t my fault, then (selfish as it may sound) I’d at least hope for an explanation. We’ve been good friends since I started working here, so I’m really confused by his change in behavior. Suddenly not having anyone around has left me feeling pretty lonely.

“Hey, Bob, we hardly talk anymore! Is everything okay?”

Or simply: “Hey, Bob, I’d love to have lunch and catch up. Are you free tomorrow or Thursday?”

3. Manager tagged me on Facebook to handle a customer complaint

I work in a management position for a multi-national company (department head, not director level) and yesterday the venue that I run was slated by a customer on a social media site for poor service. The customer tagged the venue that I run in their comments, and their thoughts were viewable by anyone who could see. Another member of management (from another department) saw the post and tagged both me and the customer (linking to the original complaint), asking me to deal with the situation.

Although I have concerns about the complaint and am more then happy to deal with it, I don’t feel comfortable with someone who works for the company letting customers know who I am by tagging me next to complaints/comments made by strangers (especially since I wasn’t working that day and the customer has never seen me before). Am I right in believing that this is an incorrect practice?

Assuming this was your personal Facebook account, yeah, that’s weird. I assume she did it the same way you’d use the cc field in an email, because she wanted to draw your attention to something she was asking you to handle. But given that Facebook is a personal social networking site, not a business one, it was an action that I’d think would make most people uncomfortable — not so much because the customer now knows who you are, but because it could have ended up on your personal Facebook page (depending on what your settings are), and that’s inappropriate.

That said, assuming this is a one-time occurrence and not a pattern, it’s not worth raising a stink over.

4. Responding to feedback after doing terribly in an interview

I did pretty terribly in an interview for an internship. The interviewer gave me negative, but true feedback. Perhaps this is a stupid question, but can I acknowledge how I awful I was in the follow-up email? She was completely right with the feedback she gave me. How do I go about this? Thanks for your time and help.

Don’t feel like you need to browbeat yourself in the reply. A gracious response, and one that won’t sound defensive, would be something like: “Thank you so much for taking the time to share this with me and for being candid. I’m taking this to heart, and I’m going to work on the issues you identified. I really appreciate this.”

5. Checking “don’t contact my employer” on a job application

I’m applying to other jobs while still working at my current job. My boss doesn’t know that I’m looking for other jobs, so on job applications I’ve been marking “not okay to contact” next to his name in the current employment section. Does this make hiring managers suspicious, or is it normal/understandable? I sometimes worry that hiring managers might think I’m trying to hide something or keep my boss from saying negative things about me, when really I just don’t want my boss finding out I’m trying to leave.

It’s very, very normal to ask that your current employer not be contacted. Employers understand that it’s because you don’t want to jeopardize your job by having it known that you’re searching. If, however, you check that option for a previous job, that can raise questions — since at that point it’s generally assumed that it’s because you don’t like what they’d say.

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