Career Q&A | By Marie G. McIntyre, McClatchy-Tribune Newspapers

Don't assume age was reason for losing interview

Q: I believe I have been discriminated against because of a plane ticket. After three phone interviews with an out-of-state company, I was invited to corporate headquarters to meet with the hiring manager. The human resources employee who made my flight arrangements asked for my date of birth, saying the airline needed it for security reasons.

The flight confirmation, which included my birth date, was sent to both me and the hiring manager. Shortly thereafter, I received an email saying the manager needed to cancel our interview. When I called to reschedule, I was told they were considering another candidate and would let me know if they still needed to talk with me.

Now I'm concerned that my age was the real reason for this rejection. Although I am in excellent health and have a very youthful appearance, that doesn't help unless I get an interview. Should I just forget about jobs that require a plane flight?

A: Before restricting yourself to ground transportation, take a moment to reconsider your assumptions. Although age could have been a factor in your interview cancellation, it is equally possible that management discovered a more qualified applicant or found a local candidate who would not incur relocation costs.

Nevertheless, if revealing your age troubles you, try asking if you can make future flight reservations yourself. Some companies will allow you to do so within their travel guidelines, though others will prefer to maintain control of the process. In that case, you have little choice but to share your birth date if the airline must have it for security reporting.

Given your youthful demeanor, you might also consider using a webcam to turn phone screenings into video interviews. That would enable you to make a positive visual impression at the beginning of the process. Again, some companies may not allow this, but there's no harm in asking.

As a general rule, however, try to avoid obsessing about the age issue. Since applicants receive so little feedback, they continually speculate about the reasons for lost opportunities. This is simply a waste of emotional energy, because you will never know what really happened.

Don't give difficult co-worker the power

Q: Ever since I came to work here a year ago, I have gotten nothing but attitude from the woman in the next cubicle. I keep trying to be nice to "Mandy," but she refuses to develop any kind of relationship with me. Sometimes she doesn't speak to me at all.

Mandy seems to resent the fact that I have a more responsible job than she does. After my position was upgraded, she didn't talk to me for several days. Whenever I tell her that she has made a mistake, she completely ignores me. I am constantly cleaning up her errors, which takes time away from my own work.

Our supervisor told us that we needed to work on our communication problem, but that didn't help at all. I believe he's getting tired of Mandy's behavior, although he doesn't seem to be doing anything about it. I have considered transferring to another department, but I don't see why I should be the one to leave.

This situation has me ready to explode, but I know that getting angry will only make me look bad. What should I do?

A: Since this unpleasant woman obviously doesn't want a relationship with you, I think you should just go about your work and leave her alone to sulk in silence. When you allow yourself to get bent out of shape over Mandy's frosty demeanor, you are giving her way too much power to affect your life.

Unless monitoring Mandy is part of your job, you should also stop pointing out her mistakes. By acting like her supervisor, you are overstepping your boundaries and increasing her resentment. More importantly, if you continue to fix her errors, management will never learn about her shortcomings.

While your boss may indeed be growing tired of Mandy's moodiness, you would be wise to note that he has attributed this "communication problem" to both of you. If you are unable to get a grip on your emotional reactions, he may soon tire of your attitude as well.

Don't assume age was reason for losing interview 04/21/12 [Last modified: Saturday, April 21, 2012 5:30am]

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