April 18, 2012
Job seeker suspects age discrimination
Q: I believe I have been discriminated against because of a plane ticket. After three phone interviews with an out-of-state company, I was invited to corporate headquarters to meet with the hiring manager. The human resources employee who made my flight arrangements asked for my date of birth, saying the airline needed it for security reasons.
The flight confirmation, which included my birth date, was sent to both me and the hiring manager. Shortly thereafter, I received an email saying the manager needed to cancel our interview. When I called to reschedule, I was told they were considering another candidate and would let me know if they still needed to talk with me.
Now I'm concerned that my age was the real reason for this rejection. Although I am in excellent health and have a very youthful appearance, that doesn't help unless I get an interview. Should I just forget about jobs that require a plane flight?
A: Before restricting yourself to ground transportation, take a moment to reconsider your assumptions. Although age could have been a factor in your interview cancellation, it is equally possible that management discovered a more qualified applicant or found a local candidate who would not incur relocation costs.
Nevertheless, if revealing your age troubles you, try asking if you can make future flight reservations yourself. Some companies will allow you to do so within their travel guidelines, though others will prefer to maintain control of the process. In that case, you have little choice but to share your birth date if the airline must have it for security reporting.
Given your youthful demeanor, you might also consider using a webcam to turn phone screenings into video interviews. That would enable you to make a positive visual impression at the beginning of the process. Again, some companies may not allow this, but there's no harm in asking.
As a general rule, however, try to avoid obsessing about the age issue. Since applicants receive so little feedback, they continually speculate about the reasons for lost opportunities. This is simply a waste of emotional energy, because you will never know what really happened.
Q: I disagreed with your column about the managers who failed to deal with a mentally disturbed employee. In today's world, you can't just have someone hauled away for being "crazy." This woman is probably harmless, so I believe you were wrong to call her "deranged" and a possible danger to others.
A: Thank you for writing to express your concern. In my astonishment at management's decision to ignore an employee who was clearly out of touch with reality, I may have used some overly colorful language to describe the situation. I certainly did not intend to be insulting.
But the other employees did have a valid reason to be fearful. People who believe they are being persecuted have been known to harm others in an effort to protect themselves from imagined threats. By disregarding this possibility, management was neglecting the welfare of both the troubled employee and the rest of the staff.
Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach. Send in questions at www.yourofficecoach.com.
- career profile (176)
- cool jobs (89)
- education and training (70)
- entry level (73)
- etiquette (121)
- events (72)
- featured (526)
- finding your passion (103)
- health care (82)
- HR (70)
- interviewing (98)
- job fairs (69)
- management (119)
- market trends (94)
- networking (302)
- resumes (108)
- salary (95)
- social media (101)
- technology (131)
- work/life balance (100)