employer wants to record my interview, can I delete all my unread LinkedIn messages, and more — Ask a Manager

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

1. Employer wants to record my interview

I applied for a stretch job with a nonprofit organization I admire. I was invited for a phone interview with what appears to be an external recruiter the company hired. When I booked an interview slot, the confirmation email contained the following language:

“Request for Permission to Record Interview Session: Would you be comfortable with us recording this interview? The recordings will remain confidential and will only be used by the interviewing team for internal decision-making purposes and to share with folks who cannot attend the interview(s) from our end upon request. Please reply to this email to respond to this inquiry.”

The idea of being recorded makes me nervous. The position is more of a leadership role, but it is not at the director level and being recorded does not appear to be a routine aspect of the job. Should I suck it up and agree to the recording even though it makes me uncomfortable?

If you want the job, probably. This has becoming increasingly common as virtual interviews have become more common; it’s a way to let other people have input into the hiring decision even if they’re not able to attend the interview. You typically you see it more with video interviews, though; it’s less common to see it with phone interviews, so that detail is interesting.

I know being recorded can make you feel more self-conscious when you’re interviewing, but ideally you’d just tune it out and pretend it’s not happening (and maybe it’ll help to know that sometimes no one even bothers watching those recordings; they think they’ll use them but then don’t).

You can certainly ask for more info if you’d like, like how the recording will be stored and disposed of, but it’s becoming a pretty common practice.

2. Boss referred to my miscarriage as me not doing my job

I had a partial molar pregnancy (essentially a dangerous type of miscarriage) of a wanted pregnancy several months ago. I had to have emergency surgery due to skyrocketing blood pressure, which occurred on a day I was supposed to drive seven hours to meet a potential partner. My boss knew about the miscarriage and went to the meeting for me (she lives an hour away from the meeting spot). She now has a good relationship with the partner.

I recently collaborated with the partner and I commented about how much I like them to my boss. My boss responded, “They were supposed to be your partner but you didn’t want to drive that far to meet them.” I can’t get that out of my head. (1) That was the most traumatic event I have ever had to go through. I almost died and lost my only pregnancy. (2) I never say no at work. I always go above and beyond. I would never refuse to meet a partner due to travel.

I don’t expect her to keep a calendar of my traumatic live events but why has she remembered the situation like I was not doing my job? What should I do? Go to HR or therapy?

Talk to your boss! Unless she is a terrible person who would dismiss a deeply upsetting and dangerous medical event as “didn’t want to take a long drive,” it’s highly likely she has just messed this up in her memory — like she remembers you couldn’t attend that meeting, but has forgotten that it was connected to the miscarriage in any way. Your boss doesn’t have the same emotional resonance with those events that you of course do, and could have simply forgotten the sequence of events.

You could say, “I was really taken aback when you said I didn’t meet Jane Smith just because I didn’t want to make the drive. I want to make sure you remember that the reason I didn’t attend that meeting because I was having a miscarriage that day and needed emergency surgery. It was a horrible time. I hope you know I wouldn’t refuse to meet a partner just due to travel.”

3. Working with my sister … and sharing a hotel room?

My older sister and I work at the same company in the same department, although on separate teams working on different products so there are no overlaps in our reporting structure and no competition (thankfully).

We were both given the opportunity to attend a conference in a few weeks and our company is sending a large group of people. When casually talking to the events manager who was handling hotel and flight bookings, I jokingly said, “Oh, [my sister] and I wouldn’t mind a slumber party!”

Apparently this was taken seriously and my sister and I are now sharing a hotel room at this conference when no other attendees have to share. We are also now being put in a position where we have to share a pass for the conference (which is against conference policy, mind you) meaning that there will be two of us with my name wandering around the exhibition hall and in sessions.

Is it unreasonable to call this out to the company to get in front of it in the future? It really isn’t a huge burden to share a room, but I don’t want to end up in a position where leaders view us as interchangeable (again, different teams and products). As much as I love my sister, it would also be nice to have my own space and time at the conference like everyone else.

I worry that this sets a precedent for any travel moving forward, including a company retreat that we have coming up in a few months. Any thoughts on how to phrase this without sounding like I’m back in my childhood home complaining about sharing toys?

I’m not surprised they took you seriously about the hotel room (it sounds like you offered and they didn’t realize you were joking, although ideally they would have confirmed it with you before making reservations) but the shared conference pass is really weird!

I would let the shared room go for now (since you did offer it) but raise it the next time travel plans are being made for something you both are going to: “Jane and I ended up in a shared room last time; we’d prefer our own rooms like everyone else.”

But it’s reasonable to raise the shared pass now: “Somehow Jane and I ended up with one shared pass between the two of us, which was really inconvenient. Do you know why that happened and how we can make sure it doesn’t happen in the future?”

4. Can I delete all my unread LinkedIn messages?

I want to go back and update my LinkedIn profile after neglecting it for around five years, but I know that I have quite a few messages that have piled up. The amount of contacts I have been neglecting has been causing me anxiety. Can I just delete them all? Is there a way to somehow communicate that I wasn’t active for years on LinkedIn (I’m worried that maybe I’ll miss something important?)

You can delete all the backlogged messages (or just leave them there, so that if you ever want to look at the history with a particular person, it’s there for you to check, but without feeling any obligation to look through all the messages from everyone). Loads of people ignore their LinkedIn messages or only glance at them once a year or so. Most people get a ton of messages from strangers on LinkedIn, and it’s common not to engage with them all. You don’t need to do any kind of “I’ve been inactive but now I’m back” announcement.

That said, you might take a quick glance through the senders to see if any names jump out as connections you especially want to preserve (like former managers who might be references, old coworkers you really liked, etc.) — but I’d bet you’ll find you don’t even recognize a lot of the names.

5. I don’t want any more hours!

About a year ago I made the leap to transition my side-gig into a fully fledged business. It’s going great! As I scaled up, hunting for new clients, I ended up taking on a part-time project manager role for a charitable project that I’m really proud of. While this role pays less than my usual rate, I figured it’s a steady source of income for a fixed term and it’s something I feel passionately about.

Well, as you might expect with a nonprofit, there is a crazy amount of work that needs to be done and just not enough hours to do it all (I’m on a very strict weekly limit). However, whenever I mention I’m close to hitting my threshold, my (great!) supervisor says she’ll argue for more hours for the role. The problem is, I don’t want more hours!

One of the reasons the job appealed was the limited hours, which could be slotted in around my main business. In the past, when I’ve responded to say “I don’t want more hours,” she has waved it off as modesty — and I’m getting great feedback constantly, along with recognition from everyone that they haven’t really allowed for enough hours. The tricky part is that there will come a time closer to a major event when I will need to get more hours — but right now I’d be more interested in ways to streamline things/reprioritize or redistribute. Can you advise how I can phrase this?

Rather than saying you don’t want more hours, tell her you cannot work more hours — it’s a small change, but it’s clearer. For example: “I think I haven’t been clear enough — right now, I can’t do more than X hours a week. Around the gala in July, I’d be able to work up to Y hours a week if you’d like me to, but the rest of the time I can’t work more than X. Given that, could we talk about how to prioritize everything on my plate?”

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