my coworkers think I’m too enthusiastic, telling my competition that we’re up for the same job, and more

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

1. Should I ask for a job offer before flying out for an interview?

I have had two phone interviews that went extremely well, then a Skype interview that also went well. Their next step is to have me fly there to meet the team. I would prefer an offer prior to taking the time out to fly there. Should I go ahead and ask for the offer beforehand and tell them I could make the trip a house-hunting trip if I decide to take the offer?

Well, no, because they haven’t decided that they want to make you an offer; that’s part of the point of having you come out there to interview in person. “Meet the team” doesn’t mean “leisurely social occasion.” This is part of their interview process.

Saying that you won’t fly out without an offer is likely to have them just remove you from the hiring process. When you apply to out-of-town jobs, part of the package is that you might need to travel there for an interview; that’s just part of the deal.

2. Should I tell my competition that we’re up for the same job?

I have the inside track on a senior executive position, returning to a previous employer. A former colleague (from another company) emailed me because he interviewed with this company too. I honestly answered his basic questions about the community, management, and company but didn’t mention that I was in discussions with them about a job myself. They’re hiring for a few jobs, but it’s probably the same one.

Now he followed up to say his interview went well and ask more questions about quality of life in hopes he’ll be called back in. In the meantime, my second interview was scheduled, and I know they are only interviewing a couple other candidates again. The CEO’s stated intent is to put me and one other before the board in the final round.

I’m torn about what to do now. On one hand, this is business and I really want the job. I’m thankful knowing who I’m up against. I like and respect this person, but we’re not close. I’m confident I am the stronger candidate, but hesitant to disclose that I’m the competition, which could help them prepare for their next interview.

Is it bad karma to stay quiet? Is it ok to again answer honestly, but not disclose? Do I ignore the email? Or is the best thing to tell them and not answer any more questions? Knowing this person, if I answer honestly, I wouldn’t recommend relocating here because of their concerns. But I feel that honestly answering could be interpreted as trying to scare them off.

You should tell them that you’re also talking with the company about a job, which may or may not be the same role. Otherwise, if you get the job, it’s going to be really awkward with your former colleague, who will think that you withheld pretty pertinent information from her while she was asking you for advice on the job for herself. Or, if she gets the job and you don’t, it’s possible that she’ll find out that you were a finalist for it, and it’ll be just as weird that you didn’t mention it. Besides, it’s unlikely that simply knowing that you’re a candidate too will give her a leg up.

So yes, let her know. And don’t say that you wouldn’t recommend relocating here, even if you sincerely believe that’s the right answer for her. Just answer her questions honestly and straightforwardly and let her draw her own conclusions.

3. My colleagues don’t like how enthusiastic I am about our sales competitions and incentives

I work in a competitive sales environment where there are bonus opportunities and other performance driven incentives. I am quite competitive, and of course where there’s competition I like to win. I am no sore loser though, as I strongly believe it’s the taking part that counts and always give it my all without being ruthless. However my colleagues don’t seem to like my enthusiasm and I often get ridiculed by them for it, e.g. telling me to “calm down, it’s only a prize” (whatever it may be that day/week/month) when I get excited about an incentive. I also hate when they tell me to “get a life” when I express how much I love my job and how lucky I am to have found a job I actually like. Other times, I get the feeling that I am annoying them just by being me and doing my job well and enjoying it too. I am quite a positive person, and sometimes all my colleagues seem to do is moan and groan about the most trivial things about work.

I’m getting sick of it but don’t know what I can say or do to change things. It’s starting to get me down a little, as I know some of my colleagues talk about me behind my back because I actually caught a pair of them in the act and confronted them about it. Of course, they just brushed it off as “banter.” Sometimes I feel like I’m back at high school, with me as the geek and the rest of my colleagues as the “cool kids” who don’t seem to get that the point of our job is to be enthusiastic and competitive. I know that they are probably just jealous of my successes or maybe there are some of my coworkers who are as passionate as me but playing it cool. I also think sometimes maybe they are mega game playing and keeping their cards close to their chest because some of them do have just as good sales figures as me, if not better, yet they still grump and groan and don’t really show any enthusiasm for winning bonuses or incentives (until they do win of course!). I really need some advice on how to deal with this kind of office politics as it’s starting to make me dislike my workplace because even though I try to be nice and upbeat with my colleagues, they are continuously negative and I dont want to end up hating a job I love just because of the people.

Well, there’s certainly nothing wrong with being excited about competitions and incentives. That’s exactly the reaction your company hopes that you’ll have, after all. But it sounds like you might be sharing your excitement a bit too much with people who don’t see things the same way you do, and that you might be better off not attempting to share it quite as much with people who aren’t as into it as you are.

Think of it like anything else: If you were passionate about, say, Game of Thrones and talking about it all the time, your colleagues who were not so into Game of Thrones might get annoyed and want you to tone it down. In this case, you’re assuming that your excitement is focused on a shared interest — since you all work on the same team — but in fact, they don’t really share that interest, not in the same way that you do. I know that that sucks to hear, especially if you’ve been assuming that this is a group ready-made to share your perspective, but … they just don’t. You can still be excited, and maybe you can find other people there who get excited too … but you’re probably setting yourself up for disappointment if you’re looking to unenthusiastic colleagues to welcome displays of enthusiasm. (It could also be a culture fit issue, and you might take that into account the next time you’re looking for a job — there are workplaces where this kind of energy is a perfect fit.)

4. I missed a call from a hiring manager who didn’t leave a message

I had an interview last week that I feel went reasonably well. The hiring manager had said they had some more interviews scheduled and would make a decision in the next few weeks. Three working days after my interview, I saw that I had a missed call from the hiring manager, but they did not leave a voicemail message. I waited another day and did not hear from them again.

What does this mean and what should I do? Did I not get the job and they just didn’t want to leave me a voicemail saying so? Do I call them back? I feel it’s a little needy to call and say “I saw that you called but didn’t leave a message.”

I don’t know why they called and didn’t leave a message. It could be anything. Maybe they were having trouble reaching your references but then it got resolved. Maybe they had a question for you. Maybe they meant to call someone else. We can’t know.

But I can promise you that if they want to offer you the job or talk to you about anything else, they will call you and do that, and that’s all that really matters here.

However, when it’s close to the end of the “few weeks” that they said they’d need to make a decision, you can certainly check in with them and reiterate your interest.

5. Our checks are held a day after payday

I just started working for a locally owned medium-sized retail store in New York. I worked for the owner of the business before at another store that he owned but decided to close, so I’ve been moved to this current store. Anyway, I’ve been told by some of the employees (including a couple of managers) that payday is every Friday, but the general manager does not distribute the paychecks until Saturdays after 2 PM per instruction of the owner. The paychecks are dated for Fridays. Is this legal? I wanted to contact our local department of labor to ask them this question, but I feared repercussions coming back on me and losing my job if it wasn’t legal.

New York requires that you be paid at least twice a month. (There are some exceptions to this; for instance, railroad employees must be paid on or before each Thursday and must receive the wages earned up to the Tuesday of the week before. I don’t know why.) As long as you’re receiving your paycheck within the amount of time the law requires — twice a month, in your case — what your employer is doing is legal. They’re allowed to tell you that payday is Friday and date the checks on those days, but not distribute them until Saturday … as long as you’re receiving them at least twice a month.

Since you know they’re distributed Saturday, I’d just look at that as your payday and ignore what they say about Fridays.

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