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Ask Sue
A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem

Rude Interview Experience

Dear Sue: I recently had a sales job interview scheduled for 5:30 PM with a woman Iíll call Sandy.

I arrived at the company a few minutes early and announced myself to the receptionist. She didnít seem to be aware of the meeting, but told me to take a seat and wait. While waiting, I could see that the receptionist was trying to send an electronic message to Sandy regarding my presence.

At approximately 5:35, the person I assume was Sandy walked by me saying that it would be a few minutes. There was no formal introduction or explanation. Sandy went into another office to get an employee and walked by me again, headed to her office. There seemed to be a lot of tension in the air but I wrote it off to my being a little nervous.

At approximately 5:50, the employee who went into the meeting, walked by me again, visibly upset at how the meeting had turned out, went to her desk, shut down her computer and left the building.

As a salesperson, I am used to having to wait in the lobby for meetings. This is nothing new to me, but I am usually given a brief apology for the delay and an acknowledgement that the person will be with me as soon as they can.

At 6:00, with no other acknowledgment from anyone, I told the receptionist that I was leaving. I explained that it appeared that Sandy was not aware of our meeting and was pre-occupied with whatever was going on with this employee. I said that I would call the next day to reschedule our meeting. Needless to say, I was quite upset. Having to wait that long without even a handshake or introduction was downright rude to me. The least I feel I deserved was an acknowledgment of who I was and why I was there. A glass of water or directions to a restroom would have been "human."

I understand that Sandy might have expected her meeting with the employee to only last a few minutes and it went longer then anticipated. But she could have relayed a message to the receptionist that she was running longer than expected and that she knew I was waiting. I believe that waiting the 10 minutes after the employee left the meeting was sufficient time for Sandy to have recovered from the meeting and contact me. I sensed that she might have forgotten that I was even in the lobby waiting.

My opinion was that they didn't show enough respect to me as a potential employee (a company's most important asset) that this may be the attitude with which they treat their prospects and customers. And since I was applying for a sales position, this did not sit well with me. I would appreciate your thoughts on this situation. - Rick

Sue Says: If you are looking for validation, you have come to the right place. You did exactly what I would have done, and what most anyone in a similar situation would have done. I am sure that if given the chance, Sandy would have what she believes is a reasonable explanation, but she didnít have the courtesy of providing it to you. You are fortunate to have witnessed what you did; an interview isnít and shouldnít be one-sided. Perhaps Sandy felt no need to impress you; after all you are the one looking for work. But that is a mistake, because she failed to realize that you are interviewing and sizing up the company as well. While what you witnessed may have been an anomaly, it was enough to show you that it probably isnít the healthiest environment to work in and that Sandy wouldn't be the best person to work for.

Whether for an interview or any other meeting, when someone is running more than five-ten minutes late, an explanation and apology should be given. You should have been given an expected time frame in which Sandy would be free or the option to reschedule. Although no one showed respect for you, you showed respect for yourself and your time by leaving after waiting for over 30 minutes. Considering the amount of time you could have wasted only to determine the company wasnít for you, you are lucky you discovered what you did in only 30 minutes.

Dear Sue: I am trying to figure out why my coworkers feel so free to comment on my looks and moods. Yesterday a coworker I am friendly with came up to me and said, ďDidnít you sleep well last night? You look so tired today.Ē I wasnít really tired and thought I looked like I normally do. Another day someone asked me what was wrong and said I seemed upset. I donít comment on others unless it is a positive comment. I am not sure how to take these comments and not sure why I get them so often. Ė Feeling fine

Sue Says: I donít know you or the people commenting so can only guess at why you are receiving such comments. Sometimes people make such comments in an effort to make conversation and break the ice. I realize it isnít the most positive way to do so, but I wonder if in some way you shut down, and people simply are trying to connect with you.

Are you at all moody? Because if you are friendly and talkative one day, and real quiet the next, it may leave your coworkers wondering what is wrong, thus approaching you inquisitively. The next time you receive a comment you donít know how to take, take a quick inventory of yourself to try to determine the reason for the remark and then ask the person why it appears as though you are tired, mad, etc. Because you are receiving comments frequently and from more than one person, you want to become more aware of the way you are at work, and work at being consistent in your moods and actions.

Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She is author of the newly released 101 Tips for Graduates and How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at or visit her web site at

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