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cursing in an interview “to be memorable,” slow job offer when I need to move, and more — Ask a Manager

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

1. Cursing in an interview “to be memorable”

I was recently watching a Twitch streamer who somewhat jokingly suggested that someone could stand out in an interview by “accidentally” dropping an F-bomb in an interview, then being immediately apologetic about it. His reasoning was that if they were thinking about candidates, the hiring person would definitely remember that one person that cursed during the interview. My thought is that the person that cursed in an interview would definitely be remembered, but it would be the hiring manager’s story forever about that one guy who said the F word and was immediately moved to the no pile. What would your reaction be to a candidate that cursed in an interview? Would their chances be ruined or would they be charmingly memorable?

That’s terrible advice! Employers either will or won’t care that someone dropped an F-bomb in an interview. If they care, it won’t be charmingly memorable; it will be a (potentially serious) strike against them. If they don’t care, it’s not a good enough story to make them memorable in the way this person is envisioning. (Personally I take extreme pleasure in profanity but would consider it odd judgment for someone to use it in an interview. It wouldn’t be an instant rejection but it would make me look more carefully at their judgment and professional polish, and in some roles the latter really matters.)

In general, the advice shows a lack of understanding about how interviewing works. Getting hired isn’t about being memorable for absolutely anything (if it were, you could just wear a bright yellow suit or sing all your answers or so forth and get all the jobs). To the extent that it’s about being memorable at all, it’s about being memorable for being incredibly skilled at the things the job requires.

being intentionally late to an interview as a strategy

2. Slow job offer process when I need to move across the country

I am job searching after finishing a grad program (so my first full-time job in the field, currently unemployed). I had a first interview a little over two months ago, a second interview in person five weeks ago, and then they all took a three-week break because various people on the search committee went on summer vacation, and another phone interview. They have told me they’re going to offer me the job but are having some sort of issue/slow-down with HR. This is all fine except I need to move cross country for this job and I have to leave my apartment Aug. 31. I know that isn’t their fault but I’ve let them know the date I need to move, and it’s not possible for me to find a new apartment, sign a new lease, hire movers, etc. until I have the offer.

Is there a polite and professional way to let them know I need this info ASAP? Or that even if they can’t send me the official offer to let me know what the amount of salary they’re going to offer is so I can plan this move that’s happening in less than two weeks?

This is tricky because you really, really shouldn’t start planning a move until you have an official job offer — at least not any parts that involve signing contracts or handing over money. Job offers fall through, even when you’ve been clearly told one is coming, and there’s always a risk this one won’t end up materializing. (It probably will! But you can’t count on it yet.) You don’t want to be in a position where you’ve put down money for a move that ends up not happening.

You can certainly try one more time with, “I need to move either way by August 31, and so I need to know whether to plan a move to (new state) or find housing here. I don’t want to sign a lease on a new apartment here if I’m about to come work for you.” But they really might not be able to move faster, and if that’s the case, trying to nail down salary won’t be enough to give you an official offer you can rely on. If that’s the case, your best bet might be housing that could be temporary if it needs to be (like a month-to-month lease if you can find one, or staying with friends/family short-term if it’s an option). I know that sucks — but don’t start a cross-country move without an official offer unless you’re willing to end up living there with no job.

3. Client couldn’t comfortably fit in restaurant booth

Recently I was meeting a client in-person for the first time for lunch. I arrived at the restaurant first and grabbed a booth because it seemed more comfortable and the location seemed more private.

When the client showed up and tried to get into the booth, it became apparent that it was really uncomfortable for him. He is a large person and the booth was the style where both the table and chairs were stuck in place and couldn’t be pushed back. He looked very squeezed and was sitting about half out of the booth trying to get in further, but wasn’t saying anything.

I said as matter of factly as possible, “Do you want to switch to one of those tables?” (the ones with movable chairs). He nodded, and then we moved and went forward with the meeting.

Did I handle this right? I’m worried I embarrassed him by saying something but it was clearly very uncomfortable for him. For the future, how should I think about being inclusive of different sizes? This was our first time meeting in-person. I knew from video meetings he was bigger but obviously hadn’t thought through how that might impact day-to-day accessibility.

You handled it fine! You saw there was a problem, made a practical suggestion for fixing it, and didn’t make a big deal out of it. In the future, it’s worth making sure any spot where you’re meeting someone for the first time has seating that will work for a variety of body types and abilities. This situation will probably make you a lot more likely to do that from now on (it will me — it wasn’t sufficiently on my radar until this letter either); that’s a good nudge for us all to have.

4. Do I really have to tell my boss every time I have a doctor’s appointment?

I have medical trauma and I have strong anxiety around discussing medical topics with others, including just mentioning that I have a doctor’s appointment. I’ve had stuff going on recently that requires me to have more appointments with frequent follow-ups, and I’m struggling with telling my boss that I need to use sick leave in advance (our org’s policy is that you can use sick leave for appointments if you notify your supervisor in advance). Also, there’s no way for me to request it through our HR/timesheet website, so I have to tell him in-person or over email. This makes me so anxious/uncomfortable that I once delayed telling him until it was too late, then lied and made up a reason to leave early for the appointment (and now I worry that he’ll find out I lied or question whether I’m lying in the future).

Is it normal to just say you have a doctor’s appointment, or is it oversharing to explain that I have follow-ups? Can I just say I need to use sick leave and not explicitly say why and hope he’ll assume? Is there another way to bypass telling my boss I have an appointment that I’m not thinking of?

Yep, it’s completely normal to just say, “I have a doctor’s appointment.” You don’t need to explain that it’s follow-ups or what type of doctor or anything other than “medical appointment.” Since you’re going to be having a lot of appointments, it can sometimes be useful to say something like, “I have an ongoing medical thing that I’m going to have a bunch of appointments for over the next few months — it’s nothing to worry about but I wanted to give you a heads-up.” That way if your boss sees a dozen appointments come through for you, he has that overall context to put it in. But you don’t need to say that if you don’t want to.

If you’re trying to avoid saying the words “doctor’s appointment” or “medical appointment” altogether … well, you might be able to say “I’ll need to use sick leave for an appointment on the 27th” or “I’ll need to use sick leave on the 27th” but some managers will then come back to clarify whether this is a doctor’s appointment or what. You might find it easier to use the “ongoing medical thing/bunch of appointments coming up” language once at the outset, and then switch to “will need sick leave for an appointment on the 27th” after that.

5. I’m sending post-interview thanks-you’s a week late

If I meant to email thank-you notes to a panel of interviewers but the work week got away from me, do I apologize in the note? It will be one week when they receive them.

Don’t apologize. There’s no requirement that you send post-interview follow-ups at all — it’s just a thing that can be helpful, so you didn’t do anything wrong by waiting a week. (They weren’t owed notes!) In fact, you might as well use the timing to your advantage and write something like, “I’ve spent the past week thinking over our conversation and as I’ve contemplated details like X and Y, I’m even more interested in the role.”


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