wee answer Wednesday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s wee answer Wednesday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Can I get this employer to cover my interview travel expenses?

I was recently contacted by a company that is the leader in an industry I have an intense passion in pursuing, after they found my LinkedIn. As far as I can tell, I have exactly the qualifications for the job they’re filling. The company is currently about 1,500 miles from me, though they’ll be moving 1,000 or so miles closer within the next year. Now, they recruited me, and I am currently employed and reasonably happy in my current situation, so I think I’m in a good position to request that if they want me to come out to interview, it should be on their dime. How do I ask for this? I’ve been digging out of debt and have very little available cash, though I could sell something or break into my emergency fund if I really really have to, to cover expenses, but I would prefer not to do this, if I can not-awkwardly get them to foot the bill.

Some companies pay for candidates’ travel expenses and some don’t, and some do for some positions (senior or hard-to-fill roles) but not others. If they approached you, they’re somewhat more likely to pay, but it’s still not guaranteed. (More on this here.)

If they ask you to come out to interview and they don’t mention travel expenses, I’d say, “How do you normally handle travel arrangements for candidates?” If they tell you that you’d need to travel on your own dime, you can certainly say, “I’d love to come meet with you, but would you consider covering the travel costs?” If they decline, then you’ll need to decide if it’s a deal-breaker for you.

2. Forgetting your interviewer’s name

I recently had a phone interview and wanted to write a thank you/follow-up email reiterating my interest in the job and highlighting some of the things we discussed, as per your recommendation. I am notoriously bad with names, and unfortunately I completely forgot the name of the person who performed the interview, as it was not the HR person I had been in contact with before this! The email address is one that from what I understand will not go directly to the HR person but to a variety of people on the staff, my interviewer included. Should I just not worry about it–something is better than nothing–or should I try and make an effort to find out my interviewer’s name?

Try to find out her name. Check the company website and LinkedIn to see if you can find the person with that role in the company. If you know her title, you can also call the company’s main number and ask for the name of the person in that position (without identifying yourself, because you don’t want it to be obviously that you forgot her name).

By the way, this is the third version of this question I’ve received in as many weeks — apparently a lot of you are forgetting to note your interviewers’ names. Consider jotting it down at the start of the interview, or asking for a card at the end.

3. HR told me my interviewers are hard to work with

I had an interview about 5 months ago for an admin position at a hospital. I met with HR, and she walked me to my interview, where I met with two women I would be working under and the head of the department. The interview went well, the two women that I would be working under said they I would split my tasks between them evenly, etc. We wrapped up the interview, they answered all of my questions, and right before I left they mentioned scheduling a second interview.

When I was walking back to the lobby with HR, she mentioned to me that the two women are incredibly difficult to work with, demanding, and get a lot of complaints from their admin. She mentioned something along the lines of, “It sounds like you can handle it but I wanted to warn you.” She completely caught me off guard, so I muttered something like, “Oh, I see, thank you for letting me know.” I never heard from then again, which is fine because that really soured me on the whole experience, but I’m wondering … Do you think HR was generally looking out for their candidates or do you think they use it as a way to “gauge” or “test” the candidates on handling information like that? Is there a better way I should have responded?

I’d take it at face value — they’re hard to work with, and so HR wants to ensure they get a candidate who is prepared for that. It’s unlikely that they were simply saying it to test your reaction if it wasn’t true (no one would want to say that about a colleague if it wasn’t true simply for the sake of gauging your reaction), but it’s certainly possible that she wanted to see if you’d blanche or take it in stride. (That said, it’s not really a conversation she should have had in passing — it’s worthy of a less cavalier mention.)

4. Why do so many internships require you to be a currently enrolled student?

I have a question about applying for internships as a post-grad student. For internships that require applicants to be enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program, how uncouth is it to apply if you are a post-college student who is not enrolled, but meets all the other qualifications? For example, if I have a background and previous experience(s) in the qualifications listed, is it worth it to still apply? How much is the “currently enrolled” status weighed/important?

Internships that required this usually do so because they believe it helps them comply with federal laws on unpaid work. If that’s their reasoning, you’re unlikely to get them to change their mind. Some organizations are more flexible, but it’s going to be hard to know which are and which aren’t. There’s no harm in inquiring, as long as you’re braced to hear a lot of “it’s a firm requirement” and as long as you’re not spending a huge amount of time on the applications.

5. Start date keeps getting pushed back

I got a job offer about a month ago. The recruiting manager insisted that I respond to the job offer within a week, which I did. At that time, I had a counteroffer from the company I was consulting with (I was an independent consultant and was put on standby as work was put on hold indefinitely due to client management changes), but they offered me a very low position and salary (I have more than 25 years experience). Though I was very insulted, I knew that the counteroffer was done to keep me from joining a competitor.

Naturally, I accepted the new offer from the competitor with a start date in 2 weeks. After all the paper work had been submitted, I got an immediate response from the recruiting manager that there was a big chance the start date will be rescheduled. It has now been more than three weeks past the original start date and no definite start date has been confirmed. The new company called me a week ago and indicated that they are still very interested in me, but the delay is due to client management changes. They also stated that they would understand if I accepted another offer because of the delay. Now, I am beginning to worry that i should have kept looking and should have accepted the low counteroffer. I appreciate any advice you can give me.

Yes, keep looking. Until you have a definite start date, you can’t count on this job coming through. (That doesn’t mean that it won’t — it very well may — just that you can’t count on it.)

That doesn’t mean that you should have accepted your company’s counteroffer though. That was an offer you were insulted by, and at a low salary and lower position than you want. Instead, keep job searching outside both these companies. If the original job comes through in the meantime, great — but if it doesn’t, you won’t have lost time.

6. Should I have sent this employer my references?

My question is related to a job I applied at almost 2 weeks ago. I am very interested in it, and I know for fact that there were no more than a couple dozen applicants (it’s a very specific and unique opportunity) and I have experience and my cover letter is great, but I didn’t get a call! I think it’s because they asked for resume, a cover letter, essay, and references, and I didn’t felt comfortable providing references (my most recent one is not that strong but necessary for this!). What do you think I should do? Is it okay to send them an email (I feel it would be too pushy to call) and ask if they’ve made a decision yet and tell them I ”forgot’ to send them references and do it then? Or do you have better advice?

Don’t say you forgot — that will make you look careless, which isn’t the impression you want to make on a potential employer. You could contact them and say that you didn’t include references originally because you typically don’t give them out until mutual interest has been established, but that you’re extremely interested in the position and if it’s a strict requirement, you’d be glad to send them. That may or may not work, but it’s unlikely to hurt. It’s possible, though, that they’ve already screened you out for not following their instructions the first time, or that they’ve screened you out for other reasons (such as other applicants simply being better fits).

7. Should I stay or go?

I am a little over one year away from completing my EdD in Higher Education Administration, and I currently work as an assistant director in an office that operates like a nonprofit within the university (read — not well-funded and no chance for advancement). The university is currently constructing a five-year strategic plan that seems like it would give our office more prominence, more support, and more responsibility.

Prior to this, I had planned on job searching after graduation since that would give me the opportunity to work in an institution that values what I do, as well as the possibility for a pay and title bump. However, part of me is sure that I have the “grass is greener syndrome.” If these changes do indeed happen, I would be content staying as long as could take on more responsibility and receive a pay/title bump. The other extenuating factor is that once I receive my EdD, I will have a more advanced degree than my boss and my boss’ boss, which furthers my desire for a promotion.

As you may know, things move at a glacial speed in higher education, but I’m wondering how (and when) to approach my boss to see if increased responsibilities and pay and title bump may be in my future, given the university’s new plans. I don’t want it to come across as an ultimatum, but in reality if the university doesn’t hold true to what they are saying they would like to do, I am going to look elsewhere for an institution that is passionate about what I am passionate about.

Start job searching somewhere else. You can certainly talk to your boss in the meantime to inquire about the likelihood of new opportunities for you there, but it sounds like those plans aren’t finalized yet, and so anything your boss could tell you would be speculation, not any sort of guarantee. So I’d do both in tandem — actively job search, but also get your boss in the loop on your desire to move up.

By the way, this may be different in academia, but in general it’s not wise to have an issue with having a more advanced degree than your managers. It’s very common for that to be the case, and it doesn’t make you more qualified than them — and that way of thinking can lead to all kinds of problems.

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