It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. I got drunk and flipped out at a company dinner
Friday night, we had my company’s annual dinner, which includes all management. My husband works for the same company and we are both at the same level. I drank entirely too much, and didn’t eat at all (food was terrible). I was fine during dinner, having fun and laughing, nothing out of control. After dinner, some coworkers decided to go to the bar, so my husband and I agreed to go also. Before heading to the bar, I told my husband I needed to use the restroom.
From this point on, everything is a blur. I came out of the restroom looking for my husband, and thought he had ditched me. I looked and looked for him and finally found him at the bar, with two guys from work, one of them who I REALLY don’t like. I went ballistic. I lost it. My husband tells me I flipped out on him and apparently also said a few things (very mean things) to the two guys. I don’t remember most of this or why I was so angry. My husband got me out of there eventually.
I’m currently dealing with a lot of personal things, so maybe not finding my husband was a huge trigger for me. I think I felt abandoned. I’m filled with shame and embarrassment. I really feel like I should send an email to the two guys and apologize for my behavior, but my husband says I shouldn’t. We work for a big company, I don’t work directly with them, but I do see them every now and then. I don’t want to get in trouble either. I don’t know what to do.
It’s hard to imagine that you shouldn’t apologize if you flipped out and said mean things to these guys, so I’m curious to know what your husband’s reasoning is for that. Does he just want to not deal with this any further and worries that apologizing will drag it out? If it’s just that, I’d overrule him and apologize — it’s your name and reputation that’s on the line here.
If possible, I wouldn’t use email. Email can feel like a cowardly way out in this kind of situation, so I would talk to them face to face. (And actually, same for anyone else who may have witnessed it, not just these two guys.)
2. Talking about a weaknesses in a job interview
I am graduating from college soon and am nervously anticipating interview questions. Specifically, the dreaded “what’s your greatest weakness?”
I know what my greatest weakness is. I can be very judgmental of people and it takes me a while to get over a bad impression. Since I want to answer this question honestly, my practice answer is, “My greatest weakness is my tendency to over-judge people. I realize how harmful this mindset can be, and I try and challenge my perceptions and overcompensate by trying to be as empathetic and understanding of others as possible.”
Do you think it would be shooting myself in the foot to admit this weakness during an interview, or do you think my explanation of my improvement plan can help?
I wouldn’t use that weakness. It makes you sound potentially like you’re going to be difficult to work with or that you’ll have trouble in your relationships with coworkers.
I know I say you should be honest about your weaknesses, but when you’re just kind of going fishing for one to use, I’d pick something different. If you worked during college, where did you feel like you had the most room for improvement? What kind of feedback did you get from managers? That might point out in the right direction, but if it doesn’t, pick something that’s more about work skills than interpersonal skills.
Frankly, though, I think this question is going out of style and you’re a lot less likely to encounter it than you used to be, and that’s especially true when you’re interviewing as a new grad since people know that you’re unlikely to have a good sense of your work-related weaknesses yet. It’s still good to prepare for it because some interviewers do still ask it, but good ones will cut new grads a lot of slack for not being able to accurately assess their own skills.
3. How do we get out of a company softball league?
A colleague of mine recently organized a co-ed softball team that our company has chosen to sponsor. This co-ed league requires a team of five women and five men to play each game. If there are not enough women, the team is forced to forfeit. I work in a male-dominated industry and there are very few women who work at our company. After asking about everyone he could, the organizer was able to gather four hesitant female coworkers who said, “yes, I would be interested in playing softball.” The other player is the girlfriend of organizer and is not an employee at our company. The team organizer had very few details about the games and schedule when he sent the interest email.
About a week after the original email went out, the organizer sent out a second email that said he had signed up our teams and thanked us for all committing to playing. I did make the organizer aware of my hesitation with playing in the first place, but I did “commit” verbally after the original interest email went out. I have spoken with two female coworkers who feel that they did not actually ever say they were “committed” to playing and now feel trapped.
It has now been almost a month, and we just received the softball schedule. Many of us leave work at 5:30 p.m., and we were told the games would be no later than 6:30 p.m. Six of the 10 games don’t even start until 7:30 or 8:30 p.m. Our company is at the halfway point between where I live and the field where we’ll play. From my house, it is about 45-50 minutes to the field. From work, it is still about a 25-minute drive for everyone. When I originally said I’d be interested, I really hadn’t realized I would be committing all day, every Monday, until July to this softball league. I have other after work commitments I really enjoy and must rearrange to make these games, which has made me lose all interest in actually playing.
I would love to be able to say I cannot make the games that are later than 6:30 p.m., but that may mean that they don’t have enough women to play at all. At least two other female team mates would also like to back out, but because it is a company-sponsored team we feel that it would reflect poorly on us and put the organizer in an awkward position. Is there anything I can do here to save my colleagues and I or do we have to suck it up and play?
You absolutely don’t need suck it up and play, nor should you. He’s asking for a pretty big commitment, and he didn’t even give you all the relevant information at first; in fact, he gave you wrong info. It’s perfectly reasonable to say, “Sorry, when I said I’d be interested, I based that on your initial email saying that no game would be later than 6:30. This schedule won’t work for me, so I need to withdraw.”
And even if the scheduling mix-up hadn’t happened, it would still be reasonable for any of you to say, “I’ve given this more thought and realized it’s a bigger time commitment than I can make,” or for your coworkers to say, “Hey, wait, I said I’d potentially be interested, but I didn’t commit — please don’t count me as a definite yes.”
You don’t need to worry about it reflecting poorly on your company; the organizer is the one who messed this up, and while it’s nice to help people out of jams when you can, losing all your Monday evenings for months on end is far beyond the call of duty.
4. Can I redo my application for a job I applied for recently?
I saw a great job posting that I felt qualified for. It recommended applying within a month of the posting going up, but had zero indication of when that actually was. Not wanting the opportunity to pass me by, I decided to apply as quickly as I could.
It’s now been over a month since I applied, and certainly over a month since the posting went up (whenever the heck that was). So obviously, time was not as big an issue as I thought. I don’t think my application was bad at all, but after a month of dwelling on it (it really is a dream job for me), I do think I could have gone an entirely different direction on my cover letter — one that would have more specifically tied my experiences to their needs. Not to mention, I’ve accomplished some things in the past few weeks that would boost my qualifications. I’m trying to be positive and say that this is all stuff I can use to wow them in an interview, if I get there.
But still, a question lingers … if there’s been an opening for months and you feel like you can make a notably better application, is it acceptable to re-submit for a job you’ve already applied to? Obviously the quality of an application is different when I have two days to think about it, versus two months. But it still seems like something that comes off as naive and unprofessional. If a friend were asking me for advice, I’d say to just keep their fingers crossed and trust their initial application. But what’s the hiring manager perspective on this?
Yeah, don’t do it. You’re expected to basically put your best foot forward when you apply, and it’s annoying to be asked to read a second application for the same person because they want to take another stab at it. I totally understand the impulse, but resist it!
5. New hire has weird boundaries
I had an employee start today, and he’s already showing signs of being “inappropriately” uncomfortable. It’s little things: picking things up off other other people’s desks, leaning against doorframes, walking into another department’s office to “explore” while on his 10-minute break.
I don’t want to sound uptight, but it feels something akin to someone visiting your house for the first time and opening your fridge without asking. It’s like, “hey, boundaries.”
How to I politely nip this in bud to let him know I expect him have a more professional/respectful demeanor? (He’s also not new to working. He’s 27 and has been in the workforce for eight years, including two years as a manager in a corporate department.)
Start with this: “Hey, it seems like we might have somewhat more formal boundaries than you may be used to from past jobs. Picking up things off other people’s desks or going exploring in other departments without a reason for being there will come across strangely here. Since it seems like it might be a different culture than what you’re used to, it might help to be deliberate about watching how others on our team do things here, and I’m happy to answer any questions you have too. I know it can be tough to adjust to a new culture.”
If it continues after that, you’ll have to decide how big of a deal it is. If it’s not just the stuff you named but bigger things too (interrupting in meetings, being relaxed to the point of unprofessionalism in his work, etc.), it may be that he’s just not the right match for your office (although it’s still worth naming that stuff explicitly for him and seeing if some feedback gets you anywhere).
I got drunk and flipped out at a company dinner, talking about a weaknesses in a job interview, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.