hiring manager assaulted a police officer, coworker and I have the same name, and more — Ask a Manager

here are the 10 best questions to ask your job interviewer — Ask a Manager

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

1. Hiring manager assaulted a police officer

I’m interviewing for a role that I’m excited about, but caught something odd when googling the hiring manager’s name to find their LinkedIn profile. 15 years ago, when the hiring manager was in college, they were arrested for assault and battery on a police officer while presumably drunk.

I know people, especially college students, do regrettable things sometimes, and from all other indications it seems like this person is a well-respected professional. Still, I’m having trouble getting past this, and given that I’d be reporting directly to this person, should I consider withdrawing my candidacy?

I think it would be a wild overreaction, but you get to decide what bothers you and how bothered you are. If it helps, though, I can think of a lot of situations that could result in that charge that wouldn’t mean anything about the person’s character, particularly 15 years later. (For example, some police officers have been known to charge people with that if they even slightly resist an unfair arrest. Obviously we have zero idea whether anything like that happened here, and it could be on the exact opposite end of that spectrum, but that’s kind of the point — we have zero knowledge about any of it.)

2. Do I need to cancel my vacation because I need surgery?

At all my previous jobs, sick time was separate from vacation time. However, at my current job (where I’ve been for nine months), sick and vacation time are all the same.

I have two vacations planned for this year, which will use most of my time off (20 days).

The problem is that I just discovered I need surgery. Now what do I do? Do I need to cancel one or both of my vacations? Or do I need to attempt to work through my recovery? I can’t take unpaid time off, as this surgery is going to use my entire out-of-pocket maximum. Should needing surgery mean I can’t have any more days off?

Should it? No. Does it? In this situation, probably.

In theory when you’ve got combined sick and vacation time, you need to leave to set some of it aside for sick time. Rather than the company separating out the buckets for you, you’re supposed to do it yourself based on how much you think you’ll need for each. You can’t really look at it as “I get 20 days of vacation” or you won’t have time available for illness or other medical stuff. That doesn’t mean people don’t ever make vacation plans for all their days — they definitely do, especially if they’re people who don’t often get sick — but when you do that you’re gambling that you won’t end up needing any of those days for sick leave. (Of course, this means you won’t really know until the end of the year how many vacation days you’re left with, which is one of several problems with combined PTO.)

3. It’s hard to run meetings when my coworker has the same name I do

I am a manager of a small remote team. We have daily meetings to check in on our work as a team together, and often invite people from other teams to join us for the conversation. Recently, a person from another team, Jayne, has started joining many of our meetings. Jayne is great at her work and everything is going pretty well. She and I share a name, but mine is spelled “Jane.” The spelling difference means that in writing, it’s easy to tell who someone is talking about.

In our meetings, it’s hard for me to tell whether someone is talking about/to me or Jayne, particularly because all of our meetings are on Zoom so other clues like looking at someone aren’t there. It throws me off when someone says something like, “I agree with what Jane said about XYZ” or “Jane, can you tell us what you know about ABC” and it turns out they’re talking to Jayne and not me (or that I assumed they were talking to Jayne, and they’re actually talking to me). It’s not impossible for me to ultimately tell from context that they’re talking about/to Jayne instead of me after a few seconds most of the time, but it is still sometimes really hard to tell, and regardless it tends to really throw me off in meetings I’m leading. On another remote team, there’s a “Jason” and a “Jasen,” and the senior Jason goes by his first name and last initial, like “Jason X.” whenever people call him in or refer to him, and the newer Jasen, goes simply by his first name.

I brought up my own confusion about hearing Jane/Jayne to my team during a meeting when Jayne wasn’t in the room (I didn’t want her to feel awkward and it’s not her problem). I cited the Jason X./Jasen precedent from the other team which seems to work, and offered to go by “Jane X.” in our meetings with Jayne to reduce confusion. Folks on my team seemed open to it, but no one has done it even once in meetings since then, instead just continuing to say “Jane” and not clarifying in comments or anything. I work in a culture and on a team where folks are generally very respectful with their language and how they refer to people, so there’s precedent for people trying to help out someone when they ask for something like this.

It’s confusing and frustrating for me and I’m disheartened that no one on my team seems to make an effort to reduce confusion based on their behavior. It honestly makes it harder for me to run meetings with Jayne and I’m worried my frustration may inappropriately start to bleed through in those meetings. I’m also aware this is not a huge issue in the grand scheme of things, so I don’t want to turn it into something that makes my team uncomfortable if I bring it up again, like “we made the boss mad.”

At the start of every meeting for a while, just say, “A reminder to please say Jane X if you mean me since we have two Janes here.” You might even add, “It’s been causing confusion so for the next few meetings with both of us, I’m going to jump in and ask you to clarify if you forget.” And then if you need to, jump in with, “Which Jane?” (Do that judiciously — only if it’s actually causing confusion.)

You’re going to feel like you’re harping on it a bit — which you will be, but if it’s genuinely causing confusion, then there’s no way around it. Say it warmly, even with some amusement in your voice, and people shouldn’t feel chastised. A few rounds of that might be enough to get it to stick.

4. What to say if a concerned coworker suggests I use the EAP

I suffer from an anxiety disorder that over the last few years has mutated into social anxiety. I used to be my most confident and outgoing at work, but I now am alternately semi-credibly faking it and acting weirdly nervous and awkward for no apparent reason. I want to be better and I am in treatment, but these things take time. I am sure my coworkers have noticed. It has affected my performance on team-based activities. I am not on a PIP or anything, but it is a clear weakness for me.

I know one of the symptoms of social anxiety is believing people are paying way more attention to your awkwardness than they are …but I know for sure I am being noticed. I would not be surprised if someone pulled me aside to have the EAP talk.

If that were to happen, how would you recommend I handle the conversation? I have not disclosed my diagnosis at work because I didn’t want it to distract from the tasks at hand. On the one hand, letting it be known that I have a diagnosed condition and am in treatment might help my confused and concerned coworkers feel less confused and concerned. On the other, it might make me look unstable, cause me to be discounted, or give the impression I expect special treatment. I am also a little worried about a few well-meaning busybodies who have picked up on my mood and have previously tried to “adopt” me. It would be a bad idea for me to explain the events that caused me to develop this condition, as it gets into work-inappropriate and personal topics that my coworkers would probably not understand. But they would want me to tell them to try to make me feel better and would be confused if I did not. (My workplace is kind of cliquey.)

I would trust my boss to keep a diagnosis in confidence if he were the one to initiate the EAP talk, but if the approach came from a peer, I can’t assume my response wouldn’t immediately be more widely known.

You never need to disclose personal health information at work just because someone asks! If a colleague ever does pull you aside to suggest the EAP (or something similar), you can say, “Thanks for your concern, I appreciate it” or “Yeah, working on a health issue that affects me at work sometimes but I’m on it” or “I have a health issue I’m working on, but it’s nothing to worry about. I appreciate you looking out for me, though.” There’s no need to get into anything beyond the basic points of “thanks” and “I’m on it.”

interview with an employee at an employee assistance program (EAP)

5. Listing seasonal work on a resume

How do I update my resume if I’ve worked for a company that only hires seasonal workers? I have been called back every time for a few years now. Do I have to show I have a gap every year on my resume?

You can list it this way:

Oatmeal Stirrer, Breakfast Fans United — 2021-present (summers only)

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