my interviewer kept laughing at me, my managers are giving me contradictory instructions, and more

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

1. My interviewer kept laughing at me

I had an interview today for a part-time writing tutor position at my local community college. I met all of the qualifications and I have previous tutoring experience, so I was very excited about this opportunity. The interviewer said he was impressed with my resume and he was pleased with my experience, but then the interview started to go sour.

He started things off with the “tell me about yourself,” so I told him about my recent graduation and my past experiences as a tutor. He looked at my application, grinned, and started chuckling! I laughed nervously, but I really had no idea what he found funny, so I just fell silent. I sat there for a minute or two, and I felt too taken aback to ask him if anything was wrong or if I should clarify anything I said. Finally, he looked back at me, still grinning, and said again, “Tell me about yourself.” I had no idea what to say, so I somewhat repeated my original statements, as well as discussing my other past job experiences that were relevant. He nodded and seemed to follow along this time, but his next question was for me to describe my past jobs…which I had already spent several minutes doing.

During the interview he said, “My supervisor is supposed to be sitting in this interview, too,” and looking out the door before asking me another question. He also kept apologizing for weather, which was strange because I had never really mentioned or complained about the weather. And after almost every question, he would shuffle through my application and laugh. I don’t even know his name; he didn’t introduce himself, he didn’t have business cards, and I felt too put off to ask.

I’m really not sure what to think. I mean, he was probably just a bad interviewer, but his laughs didn’t seem nervous or friendly at all; he really came off, to be frank, like a jerk. But I also don’t want to over-analyze because, otherwise, the tutoring center seems well-run and the other staff was nice. The interviewer said that he’ll be emailing me his decision tomorrow and that I would need to start right away, but this just feels so rushed and I’m just still perplexed about him laughing after all of my answers. I really don’t know what to do.

My guess is that he’s an inexperienced interviewer, maybe even a first-time interviewer, who had no idea what he was doing and was laughing from nerves. It’s still totally inappropriate, but the only other feasible explanation is some form of clinical insanity, and I think inexperienced, awkward interviewer is far more likely. And his comment that his manager was supposed to be participating would fit with that explanation too.

If you’re offered the job, I’d ask if you can meet with the person who would be your manager. During that conversation, you might also ask about the role of the first guy and see if you can glean anything that way.

2. My managers are giving me contradictory instructions

I’m a graphic designer working for a government agency. I report to both my direct boss, “Tiffany,” and the head of the organization, “Jared.” We’re a small office (maybe 20 people), and there’s been a huge amount of overhaul recently. The office is running much more smoothly than it has in the past due to Jared’s strong leadership and hiring more qualified applicants to several key roles, but 3/4 of the office hasn’t been here 12 months yet, myself included.

There have been multiple occasions where Tiffany and Jared have given me directly contradictory instructions. In the last incident, Tiffany told me to cc her if Jared gave me any additional direction on how to proceed with Project X. Jared did end up giving me extra feedback, and when I informed him that I’d be cc’ing Tiffany, Jared told me not to. (This wasn’t due to any maliciousness; Tiffany was on medical leave and I really believe that Jared though he was avoiding stressing her out.)

This puts me in an awkward spot. I can’t follow both of their instructions. I’m very junior in the company, and I was first hired on an intern while an undergraduate. They chose to keep me on after I graduated. This job is fantastic, and I’d really like to keep it. But I don’t want to have to fib to either Tiffany or Jared. Tiffany has told me that this is “just how Jared is,” but colluding with her to keep Jared out of the loop isn’t going to benefit me in the future! I’m going to have a direct conversation with Tiffany once she returns to medical leave, but I’m worried that she’s going to essentially tell me “don’t worry about it,” which doesn’t solve my problem. How do I handle this?

Explain to them both that you sometimes get slightly different guidance from each of them and that you’ll flag it when that happens so that they can decide how they’d like it handled. I wouldn’t assume that Jared will object to that; when he told you not to loop in Tiffany, she was on medical leave — and employers should leave people alone when they’re on medical leave.

Flagging contradictory instructions doesn’t have to be a big awkward thing. It can just be a simple email to them both saying, “I’m hearing slightly different perspectives from each of you, so wanted to alert both of you to do that so we can figure out which path to take.”

3. Should employers stick to application deadlines?

I was wondering what your suggestions are for application deadlines. If I set deadlines and advertise them, isn’t it just common courtesy to all involved that I keep to those deadlines? I had one person who I worked for who said, “No, we should take applications on a continual basis,” which would be fine, but I have to run all of my hires through a selection committee, who are all busy people and to keep adding more and more applications to the stack after the deadline seems disrespectful of their time. I will of course keep all of the applications that I receive for a year, in case any other openings become available and to ensure that we are ready in case anyone accuses us of unequal hiring practices.

Ultimately, your goal is to make the best hire you can, and you shouldn’t let an arbitrary application deadline get in the way of that. It’s fine to sketch out rough timelines for when you hope to finish each stage of the screening process, but if a fantastic candidate applies late in the process, it would be foolish to lock them out just because the deadline had passed. The bar certainly might get higher in the later stages — it might take more to get an interview after a certain point — but you want to make sure that you’re considering any truly excellent candidates who apply. You’re right that you don’t want to “keep adding more and more applications to the stack” of candidates for busy managers to interview, but that’s an argument for keeping the bar high throughout the process, so that your interviewers are only spending time on the best of the best.

4. My husband hit up my company for business

My husband recently became the director of sales for an LED lighting company. What I’m upset about is that he went behind my back and against my wishes by approaching my company about doing a lighting installation for them. I had told him to let me ask about it and to let me handle it, but he submitted a note on the website via our contact page.

I love my husband but he’s very inexperienced in the professional world. Plus I’ve been busting my butt for prospects of moving up within the company but I feel this very unprofessional behavior on the part of my husband will ruin things. How do I handle this? My boss hasn’t mentioned anything. The note would have gone to either my boss, the CEO, COO, or CFO or, worse, all four. Do I bring it up?

Honestly, I wouldn’t assume they’ll see it at all. A cold contact about lighting submitted through the company website’s contact form is unlikely to be forwarded to C-level executives. It’s actually far more likely that whoever handles that email account will ignore or delete it. Most companies aren’t particularly responsive to random email solicitations.

That’s assuming he didn’t mention your name, of course. Even then, though, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. If you’re asked about it, you can simply explain you didn’t know he was sending it.

5. Indicating a change in company ownership on a resume

I work for a CPA firm whose original owner sold the company last October. How do I incorporate the change in ownership on my resume without having to list both companies as separate employers? I want to keep it all as one so it doesn’t look like I quit one job and started another job all in the same month and year.

Like this:

Lannister Tyrell Accounting (formerly Stark Ltd.)

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