my interview was canceled 10 minutes before it was supposed to start, what to do with company swag, and more

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

1. My interview was canceled 10 minutes before it was supposed to start

Is it a bad sign if my interview was cancelled 10 minutes before the appointment? I was just ready to get out of my car to walk into the building when I got the call. He said, “Are you already there?” I said yes. He said, “I’m sorry to do this, but I am at another location today. Can you reschedule for another day?”

Maybe, but it’s not conclusive. It absolutely could indicate disorganization or inconsideration, but it could also be a one-time fluke. I’d take it as a heads-up that there might be issues with this employer (or this manager) and make it your job to confirm or refute that during the rest of the process.

And if he seems mortified and goes out of his way to reschedule at a time that’s convenient for you, those are points in his favor. If he seemed cavalier and not especially concerned about inconveniencing you, those are strikes against him.

2. Contacted by a company I interviewed with multiple times last year

I’m in a weird situation. A year ago, I emailed you to request some help on a job interview. The employer asked to meet my boyfriend and take us out to dinner to mingle and see what the fit was. Well, I didn’t get the job. They told me they prefered the other candidate.

Yesterday, I received an out-of-the-blue phone call from these people, asking me if I was still interested and saying that a position had become available. I went home to discuss it with my boyfriend, and he said I should at least see where it goes, so I called this morning and set a date for tomorrow to meet with them over lunch. Well, I got online and started looking around to see if they posted the job and they had. They did it this morning. I have already had 3 interviews with this company last year, one lasting almost 2 hours. I had assumed that the meeting tomorrow was to offer me something. Now I’m not so sure. I find it difficult to believe that they would actually make me compete against other candidates again, a year later. I’m hoping they’re just covering their bases. I don’t know though. I wanted to get your take on it.

I would not assume that they’re planning to offer you a job at the lunch. It’s possible, but it’s more likely to be either a real interview or a more casual conversation to reconnect, refresh their memory about you, and explain the role they’re hiring for. Don’t be offended by that — offering someone a job is a very, very big deal, and it’s reasonable that they wouldn’t to offer you a position without having talked in a year and that they want to consider you against other candidates as well. Their job is to hire the best person for the role; it’s not personal. (Plus, you know from their request for a dinner interview with your boyfriend that they take fit very, very seriously.)

That said, it’s also possible that they will offer you a job tomorrow, and the ad is there in case that doesn’t work out. It makes sense to assume it’s the first option I mention, but to be prepared for either.

3. What to do with company swag when you’re leaving your job

Over the course of my time at my current job, I have received several clothing items on which our company’s logo is prominently embroidered. My last day is quickly approaching (thanks for your advice on the transition) and I am left wondering what to do with all of the clothes they have given me. The person in charge of ordering company apparel has no taste, so most of the clothes still have tags or have only been worn once. Should I take them in on my last day and leave them in my desk? Offer them to coworkers? Is it a bad idea to donate to charity since all of the items have our logo?

I wouldn’t just leave them in your desk — that sort of sends the message “now that I’m leaving this place, I want no memories of my time here — these mementos repulse me.”

As for offering them to coworkers … is it likely they’d want them? I mean, sure, if they’re highly sought-after, go ahead and see if anyone wants them. But if they’re typical company shirts, totes, etc., I’d give them to Good Will or another charity if you don’t want them anymore.

4. I caught an employee taking a soda that was meant for customers

My small business offers customers soft drinks while they wait to be helped. I have made it clear these are only for customers, yet I have caught an employee taking a can from the fridge. She’s been on my team for over a year and is proficient at her work. How do I handle this?

Is there any reason not to just let it go? It’s fine to have a policy that the sodas are for customers only, but you can have your own private addendum to that of “but the occasional soda by an employee is no big deal” that you don’t publicize to your staff … because you don’t want to be in the position of scolding otherwise good employees for having a Coke when they were thirsty one day. Sure, if you see someone abusing the policy regularly, speak up. But a single occurrence? You’ll get more good will for just letting it go. (Obviously, if  you have other concerns about the employee, you should address those. But a single soda on its own shouldn’t have to be a big deal.)

5. I feel slapped in the face by my Christmas bonus

In July, 2009, I started working for a very small company. It was me, one other person, and the boss. That Christmas, I received a card with $200. In 2010 I received $300, and in 2011, $400. Gradually the business grew and there were many more employees. In 2012, I received $200. I was disappointed but attributed it to the growth of the company and a Christmas budgeting issue. Now we have 17 total employees, business is better than ever, and this year I received $100. We have one person who started 2 months ago and I feel fairly certain that he would not get less than $100.

I would like to mention that I have always been a part-time employee, the company offers no benefits, I’m a woman, a senior citizen (the oldest employee), and one of my jobs is one that no one else working there can do. Even though the cards always say how much she appreciates me, etc., I feel as though this is a slap in the face and can’t understand why I should have fallen to the bottom of the barrel after almost 5 years. I know others are getting larger gifts or at least the same as last year. Am I wrong to feel this way? How do I handle this or am I not supposed to look a gift horse in the mouth?

It’s not unusual that bonuses might get smaller as the company took on more employees; they now have more people to provide bonuses to, after all. It’s also not unusual that a part-time employee might get a smaller bonus that a full-time employee. Neither of these things are a slap in the face. Plus, given the amounts, these sound more like holiday gifts than bonuses, and in that case it’s really not appropriate to complain that your gift wasn’t enough.

If you’re unhappy with your compensation in general and feel that it’s out of line with the market rate for the work you do, you can absolutely put together a case for why your work deserves a raise. But that’s where I’d focus, not on how much money was included with your holiday card.

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