Q: My current employer recently lost a major contract to another bidder. Fortunately, the winning company plans to hire some of us to continue working on the project. Since my job is now in jeopardy, I am in the process of applying for one of these positions. However, I don’t know how honest I should be during the interview process.
At some point in the future, I will need to have a surgical procedure that comes with an expected recovery period of five months. I plan to put this surgery off as long as I can, but eventually it will have to be done. Since the surgery will require an extended absence, should I explain this to the interviewer?
A: If you inform a prospective employer that you may soon require several months of leave, the unfortunate reality is that you will probably not be hired. Of course, no one involved in the process is going to acknowledge this. They will simply find another reason to reject your application.
Should you happen to possess some rare and specialized skills, that might improve your odds. But with many applicants available, you would be at a serious disadvantage. Therefore, if you really want this job, you should not discuss your medical situation with anyone at either company.
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An experienced interviewer will know to avoid health questions, but a poorly trained one may not. So if you are asked about future absences, you can honestly reply that you have no such plans. That’s an accurate statement, because you have no idea when the surgery will be necessary. During interviews, being honest does not mean telling everything you know.
Q: One of my co-workers constantly sings religious songs while she’s working. “Lynn’s” desk is right next to mine, so I can hear her loud and clear. This drives me crazy, especially when I’m trying to concentrate.
When I politely asked Lynn to stop singing, she ignored my request. Then I sent her an email, which did no good. I went to our supervisor, but he said I should just get used to it. What else can I do?
A: If the songbird won’t stop voluntarily and your boss refuses to intervene, you will have to explore more creative solutions. Since Lynn sits nearby, you might try playing a radio just loudly enough for her to hear. Singing a melody while listening to another is almost impossible.
Perhaps headphones would help when you need to focus. Or maybe a colleague who is less bothered by noise would be willing to swap desks. If other co-workers are equally irritated, you might even consider organizing a group protest.
But if ending the songfest seems unlikely, you need to work on your own reaction. Instead of growing increasingly agitated, try to let Lynn’s singing fade into the background, along with the sound of printers, ringing phones and office conversations.
Keep in mind that if Lynn should become resentful and passive-aggressive, complaining will only cause her to sing louder and longer.
So if you can’t prevent her caroling, you would be wise to stop talking about it.
Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics.” Send in questions and get free coaching tips at http://www.yourofficecoach.com, or follow her on Twitter @officecoach.