Q: I desperately want to work for a particular company in my hometown. When I applied for a position recently, I had an interview with a screening committee, which seemed to go well. Everyone was friendly, and they had a lot of questions. A few days later, however, the hiring manager asked me to apply for a different job, which he thought would be a better fit.
Yesterday, I had the screening interview for that position, and now I'm feeling pessimistic. This meeting was shorter, and the group seemed less welcoming. I think my answers were fine, but noise from the air conditioning might have made them hard to hear.
I would like to tell the hiring manager that even though I may not have done as well in this interview, I am extremely interested in the job. Do you think I should call him?
A: Your strong desire for this position could easily cause you to create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Like most applicants, you feel out of control, so you scrutinize the hiring process for clues and look for ways to influence the outcome. Unfortunately, however, efforts to make things better can sometimes make them worse.
In reality, you don't have enough evidence to conclude that this interview went badly. Information gained in the first one would logically make the second shorter. The less chummy atmosphere may reflect a different group personality. And if noise had been a problem, you would have undoubtedly been asked to repeat your answers.
Since the hiring manager has already endorsed you for this position, the last thing you want to do is change his previously positive perceptions. If you contact him now, he may begin to sense your desperation. And if you disparage your own interview performance, he will undoubtedly conclude that you lack self-confidence.
So instead of making an ill-advised call, follow standard protocol and send an upbeat thank-you note to everyone involved. Reiterate your interest in the job, and do not say anything even remotely negative. After that, distract yourself with other activities until you receive the verdict.
Alert management to vacation misuse
Q: In our company, most people get away with taking much more vacation than they should. These employees have bosses who allow them to keep their own records, while the rest of us work for managers who monitor our use of leave. As a result, we get less time off than everyone else.
Although policy states that leave requests must be approved, most managers simply put their employees on the honor system. Unfortunately, a lot of these people aren't very honorable. One guy from another department took off an entire week to move and never recorded it. But when my co-worker moved, she had to use vacation time.
Our boss agrees that this situation is unfair. However, she doesn't want to break the rules, and she has no power to change the behavior of her peers. Human resources would normally be expected to enforce the leave policy, but our HR manager has his own employees on the honor system. What can be done about this?
A: Through either naivety or laziness, these misguided managers have mistakenly chosen to rely on trust in an area where oversight is required. Whenever something of value goes unsupervised, ethically challenged people will always be tempted to cheat. This applies to cash, vacation time, or a basket of candy left on the porch for Halloween.
Since this problem can only be resolved by top management, you will need to raise awareness at the executive level. Under normal circumstances, human resources would be your natural ally. But since that option is out, perhaps your boss can convince other compliant managers to become advocates for enforcing the policy.
While fairness is undeniably important, nothing grabs the attention of executives like focusing on financials. For that reason, policy supporters should clearly demonstrate how much all this free leave time is costing the company. Once management sees the price tag, the honor system may quickly become a thing of the past.