is it presumptuous to ask for an office, giving feedback to a creepy rejected job candidate, and more

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

1. Is it presumptuous to ask for an office?

I manage 5 people. Currently, there are four other managers (only 2 actually have reports like me) and we all sit among everyone else in cubes. My boss has talked with me before about her desire to have people see me as someone with more authority — specifically someone who can be her right hand. I also find it difficult to get things done because I’m constantly distracted by people asking me questions and I always have to go to conference rooms anytime I need to gave a conversation with someone that others shouldn’t hear. I’ve been in this position for almost three years and would at least like to know if this is ever going to be a possibility. But I don’t want my boss to view my request as presumptuous.

It’s not presumptuous to ask for something to help you do your job better, and this qualifies. Explain that you have a need for privacy when having conversations others shouldn’t hear, like talking about performance issues, giving developmental feedback, or anything else that might be sensitive (like a conversation about accommodating a medical issue), and ask if it would be possible to have a more private space, ideally an office. If it’s not possible, then so be it, but it’s entirely reasonable to ask (and in general, it’s crazy to try to manage five people out in the open like that).

2. When a creepy candidate asks for feedback after being rejected

I’m a hiring manger at a small firm with no HR department. We reject candidates for a variety of reasons. Often it’s just a matter of them being not a great fit. Other times, it’s that they gave one or more of the interviewers the creeps. Totally not tangible and not even easy to explain, but if the decision isn’t unanimous, we don’t proceed. Invariably the “creepy” candidate are the ones who want feedback. I know enough to know that “you creep people out” isn’t a professional reply, so how do I respond?

This situation is tailor-made for a bland response like, “We had a number of well-qualified candidates, and ultimately selected a candidate whose experience was the best match with our needs.”

People aren’t entitled to feedback, and if you’d rather not have an awkward conversation, you’re under no obligation to provide a more specific answer.

3. Vendor wanted to videotape his training presentation at our office

We have a weird issue at my work and want to know if this is something common! We had a vendor come to do some introductory training for our small company (he is American, ours is a Canadian company, if it matters). He set up a camcorder to videotape his own day-long presentation, and when my boss asked why he was taping it, the vendor first got flustered and offended, and then said it was because “my company wants to make sure I really did do the training for you guys.” The subject was quickly dropped.

To us, that sounds very unusual–like his company doesn’t trust him. It’s not like ours is an exotic destination (trust me, nobody wants to visit this part of Ontario in March) that would make a good vacation. He has been doing this kind of training for several years. The only way I could see it making sense would be if they were afraid he’d disclose trade secrets–but even then, there’s no point in even telling us that kind of knowledge. Is this common practice for companies–to tape travel presentations to make sure they “actually happened?” Who would watch this? Why would they want to?

I’d think it would be more likely to be a quality control issue — that they want to see how his trainings are going, rather than that they want proof that it happened at all, particularly since (a) there are easier ways to get proof, like calling to ask about how satisfied you were afterwards, and (b) not trusting your own staff member to that extent is a sign of a much bigger problem. But it’s bizarre either way. And I’d be really annoyed if a vendor assumed he could videotape me or my staff without asking about it beforehand.

4. Can I tell an employer to delete the presentation file I used at my interview?

Following an interview, who retains copyright of a PowerPoint presentation — the employer or the candidate who prepared the file? When a candidate has submitted a presentation via email prior to the interview as requested, can the company be told to delete the file from their system or do they now have “ownership”? I just wondered as it’s not like a PDF file. The contents of the PP presentation could be copied and potentially used by others.

You don’t work for them, so you’d retain copyright. However, emailing them to tell them to delete the file is going to come across really oddly — it’ll make you look both paranoid and naive (naive because unless you did an extraordinary amount of work for this PowerPoint, it’s highly unlikely they’d want to steal it).

5. Should I mention my dad in a cover letter?

My dad knows I’m looking for a new position and he sometimes sends me job postings he receives through his network if he thinks I’ll like them. He sent me one yesterday that I love and I’m definitely going to apply. He said in his email to let him know if I applied, because he knows the organization well and could maybe vouch for me.

I was wondering now: do I mention I saw their job posting because my dad sent it to me? He is very well known and respected in the field he works in (and I’m applying for), so much that when I tell people working in the same field that he’s my dad, they’re always a bit in awe. But on the other hand, it feels a bit cheeky. I really don’t need my dad in this, I’m very well qualified for the job and could probably get an interview based on my resumé alone (I’m exactly what they describe they want/need in the posting). Although maybe it wouldn’t hurt? I really don’t know.

I definitely wouldn’t mention that your dad is the one who sent you the posting. In this context, it will sound like name-dropping. If anything, you could have him mention to his contacts there that you applied, which it sounds like will increase your chances of getting an interview. However, the flip side of that is that then you’ll be forever tagged as “Bob’s daughter” and people will possibly wonder whether that’s the reason you were hired (if you end up getting hired). So you just have to weigh all that and decide what makes the most sense to you.

(By the way, while I obviously don’t know anything about your qualifications, in general it’s good to be wary about assuming you’ll definitely get an interview, no matter how qualified you are. Companies pass over well-qualified candidates all the time, simply because they have far more than they can interview. So that’s worth factoring into your calculations too.)

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