terse answer Thursday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s terse answer Thursday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Follow-up from the reader wondering about legal action if his transfer is denied

A few weeks ago, I posted a question about an internal transfer and if I had a legal basis to some degree demand my move. It was obvious from the many replies that I was dead wrong and I should count the reasons why… I understand. Now, here is my new question. I was informed of my interview time and date and I’m the very first interviewee of about 50. Would you think this order is an indication of good or bad news? Typically, I try to interview the applicant I’m most interested the very last time available to be able to give an offer on the spot with everyone else out of the way… What do you think? Also, I have more personal reasons why I want to move. Should I explain these or stick to the what my move can do for the company?

First I have my own question! 50 interviews is a ton. It’s an insane number of people to interview for a job. What on earth are they thinking?

In any case, I wouldn’t read anything at all into whether they talk to you first, last, or somewhere in between. Scheduling order rarely means anything; it’s generally random or based on who’s available when. (Also, please reconsider offering people jobs on the spot! You need time to think things over, talk to references, etc.)

While you shouldn’t make your personal reasons for wanting to move the focus on the interview, you should definitely mention them — because if you’re a great employee and they know you really want to move back, they may factor that in because they care about retaining you in the long term.

2. Coach receiving two salaries

I have argued with a few friends and my husband about this issue and it was a hot-button topic on talk radio here the other day. The head coach at the University of Wisconsin quit last week. The athletic director, Barry Alvarez, who was at one time both head coach and athletic director, agreed to coach the team for the Rose Bowl game.

Which is what I would expect — Alvarez is the manager and his subordinate quit, so he needs to make sure the subordinate’s job is done, even if it means he does it. What I did not expect is that Alvarez would be paid the coach’s salary in addition to his own AD salary. (It’s actually some of both salaries, but he comes out almost $120,000 ahead.)

Have I been in the wrong industries? I have never worked in a situation where the manager picked up the subordinate’s pay after the subordinate quit. Is this common? Or does this happen only when your regular salary is over a million dollars a year?

No, this is definitely not common outside of sports. The sports industry seems to play by its own rules when it comes to stuff like this.

3. What did this confusing interview mean?

I went to this interview about 3 days ago, and I can safely say it was one of the stranger interviews I have had. The company is well established, and doing quite well financially. But when I went to the interview, it seemed one of the interviewers had not even read my resume and looked totally bored. The other — who was the senior manager — seemed to have gone over my resume in detail. But most of the interview consisted of them telling me about the job, and the only questions they had were on how I felt about negative aspects of the job (I said I had no problems and substantiated my answers with examples from past jobs).

Here is the confusing part. The interviewers left the room and the senior manager came in after 5 minutes and told me he felt I did well in the interview and that he had no reason not to hire me. But he also said they had several other people to interview, and he emphasized that last point it seems. I began to say that it is understandable that they will hire the best person, but the manager stopped me from finishing. So what do I make of all this ? Did I fail to impress ? Also, should I be concerned that I didn’t hear back at all ? They did say I would have to come in at least two more times this week but I havent heard anything so far.

Don’t read anything into it. They told you that you did well, so you should take that at face value and assume you did well, and they told you that they’re still interviewing others, which you should also take at face value and expect that they’re interviewing others. The fact that you haven’t heard from them by the time they said you would isn’t terribly concerning — hiring nearly always takes longer than the people involved with it think it will take — but it gives you a reason to follow up with them and ask for a sense of their timeline for next steps.

4. Will this employer forget about me?

I have been doing a series of interviews with Company A (1 phone, 2 in-person). The latest interview was with the director of the department the position is under, but she isn’t the person I’d report to if hired. At the very beginning of the interview, she mentioned that there will be another round, and I’ll know if I’ve been shortlisted to move forward by Monday (interview was on Friday). It’s Tuesday now, I haven’t heard anything, should I be worried? I already sent the HR manager and the Director separate thank you emails on Saturday, so they’d get it on Monday. Should I send the HR manager a followup email?

Normally I wouldn’t worry unless it’s more than a week, but this time she specially said I’d hear back by Monday regardless. The HR manager has always been very punctual the past few times that she had to follow up with me. So this seems a little out of the ordinary. Also it’s less than a week away from Christmas, I’m afraid if I don’t act now, they might forget about me, and just hire someone else. Is that a reasonable assumption?

See the answer to #3 above. It’s very, very common in hiring for next steps to take longer than an employer tells you. But you can email a follow-up inquiring about their timeline for next steps.

However, no, they will not forget about you if they’re interested in you. People do not forget candidates who they’re seriously interested in hiring.

5. Short interviews

I was told that my interview will only be about 30 minutes or so. I’m wondering why this would be? I’m going for a managing editor of a state bar journal position, so I was thinking they might give me a copy editing test. I’ll be prepared for that, but I just thought, as a hiring manager, what you think this could mean.

It either means that it’s a first-round interview and there will be more in-depth conversations later, or it means that they’re not very good at hiring (since you should never hire someone after only a 30-minute conversation)!

6. Did I just throw a grenade?

While digging around on a few of my soon-to-be-former company’s servers over the years, I’ve found that there’s quite a lot of sensitive information publicly available and not password protected. This includes things like salary information, performance reviews, raise recommendations, disciplinary and termination letters, executives’ email archives, and financial information related to a recent acquisition. It’s mostly a bit buried, but also not terribly hard to stumble across if you’re not quite sure where the thing you are looking for is located. It seems to be mostly a failure of some individuals to understand that everything on a public server is public unless it’s password protected, not an IT failure.

I never told anyone about it because I didn’t want it coming back to me if the people who mishandled these things got in trouble for it. But I had my exit interview the other day, and I figured, well, why not say something now?

So my question is: how big of a grenade did I just throw? I’ll be out of there after next week, so I probably won’t get to see the fallout, but after all of the garbage they’ve put me through over the years, I wouldn’t mind knowing that a few heads might roll. The HR rep seemed pretty calm and noncommittal about it when I told her, but I guess that’s how they’re supposed to be.

Not that big of a grenade. They’re likely to just fix the problem. I would have just alerted them the first time you discovered it, not waited until you were leaving. It’s certainly a mistake, and an embarrassing one, but I doubt anyone is going to get fired over it.

7. Managing a low performer

I own and run a small company with 3 employees and I find I clash with one of them, my Administration person. She does a good job with some tasks but she’s not organised, makes quite a few errors and doesn’t like processes (by nature). Once when we talked about her scheduling tasks in her Calendar (because she forgets things) she commented that she didn’t like using Calendar because she felt that it would run her life, or it’s too regimented).

She cares about the business and her strengths are probably showing initiative and diving into new tasks. Because the business is small she also has to do quite a range of tasks (e.g. packing orders and making up samples for despatch) which she is happy to do. I’ve tried to teach her to be more prcoess orientated but I often feel there’s resistance and she’s not very good at communicating and when I tell her to document things in the manual (or do other things) ½ the time she doesn’t do it and I have to check. I find her very difficult to work with at times and it’s affecting my performance at work. Do you have any advice?

Um, manage her? Tell her what you need her to do differently and why, give her a timeline for fixing it, and hold her accountable to meeting your expectations. If she doesn’t, then you need to replace her with someone who can meet the bar you’ve laid out. You can’t really have an administration person who isn’t organized and doesn’t like processes. So be clear with her about what you need, and be prepared to replace her if she continues not to provide it.

This is your business. You can’t afford to have someone, let alone one-third of your staff, not performing their job well.

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