Yes, You Can Turn Down A Job Interview

Work for more than bananas [Via philcampbell]

Work for more than bananas [Via philcampbell]

I know what you’re thinking. We’re still in a recession or something, right? Why on earth would you turn down a job interview? But the truth is, people are liars, and sometimes jobs are not what they seem. Maybe you thought you were applying for one type of position, and after a phone interview discovered it was something completely different. Maybe it’s something you like but too far away/crappy benefits/something else legitimate. Whatever the reason, sometimes you need to take yourself out of the running.

Firstly, you need to figure out whether you actually want to cancel, and there are different schools of thought. Ask A Manager says if you’re 100% sure you don’t want the job (and let’s assume this is after a phone interview or something where you know they’re interested and you’ve gotten more information than whatever the initial job posting says), you shouldn’t take the interview, as you’re taking an interview slot away from someone who may really want it, and wasting both your and the interviewer’s time. However, Forbes says you should still go, because it may be an opportunity for networking or just practicing your interview skills, or the job may surprise you. We can’t make that decision for you.

If you do decide to cancel, first, be prompt. As soon as you know it’s not right for you, say something. It’s just a lot nicer than calling an hour before your interview and saying “you know what? Sorry.” And if possible, do this over the phone, though honestly most correspondence is done over email these days. Finally, be honest about your reasons, though you don’t have to go into a lot of detail. Sometimes the reasons are concrete (you’re moving far away), and sometimes they’re not (you just don’t think it’s a good fit).

You can say so about either of these things. If it’s more on the side of “it’s just not what I’m looking for,” use your email/phone call as an opportunity to educate them as to why. Once, I interviewed for a job that would pay a lot, but it was “freelance” pay so I would have had to pay all the taxes, and there was no health insurance or paid vacation/sick time. I tried to negotiate on this to no avail. Once I decided that I wanted to cancel our schedule in-person interview, I emailed them, thanking them for the opportunity, but that “upon further review of the position and compensation” it wasn’t the right fit for me. Hopefully they were able to pick up on the fact that you’d need to pay someone a hell of a lot more than what they were offering if there was no health insurance.

Have you ever turned down an interview? Did you ever go to an interview only to find the office/person/job to be absolutely ridiculous? Tell us!

How to Deal with a Wedding Invitation Snub

This kitten is sad for you. [Via Flickr user Mourner]

Dear Uncommon Courtesy,

I recently found out that I was not invited to the wedding of someone I had considered a close friend for the past seven years. Knowing that wedding planning is very stressful and tricky, I’m hurt, but understand that there could be any number of reasons for being left off the list. Do you have any advice for avoiding friendship awkwardness in this situation?


Hoping to Keep Things Smooth

P.S. Just to add, I’m planning to send her a congratulatory card, but any additional advice would be appreciated!


Miss Manners strongly promotes the idea of having a less fancy wedding so as to include as many people as possible so as to avoid these kinds of situations. Official etiquette always dictates taking the high road and not expressing anger at a snub like this.


Victoria: So I totally get the hurt- I’ve been mildly disappointed in not being invited to super old friends’ weddings who I definitely wouldn’t expect to be invited to. And I’ve been really thrilled to be invited when it was an old friend I hadn’t seen in YEARS. I think, if it’s someone you see frequently, the best you can do is just smile and hope they don’t talk about it too much.

Jaya: Yeah, it’s rough realizing that you’re maybe not as close as you once were. But that’s also only one possibility, right? Like, maybe this person just has bitchy parents and a small venue?

Victoria: Yeah, there could be a million reasons why they couldn’t invite you. Although, it won’t be much consolation if they’re having 500 people. In that case, maybe re-evaluate how much effort you are putting into the relationship v. what you are getting back.

Jaya: Definitely. A Practical Wedding had some great posts on this, about how friendships are relationships like any other. And even though there’s no cultural narrative about how to end them, they need to be re-evaluated and ended sometimes, just like any other relationship. If she feels like this girl is a super close friend but she didn’t get invited, yeah, take a look at how the friendship has played out.

Victoria: What’s that old romantic relationship advice? Don’t make someone a priority when they are making you an option? I just Googled that.

Jaya: I love that we can just Google sage relationship advice.

Victoria: It sounded way more poetic written in my high school notebooks.

Jaya: But that totally goes for friendships too. And as for how to act, I think sending a congrats card is totally fine, and then maybe stand back and see if this friend steps up post-marriage.

Victoria: Yeah, exactly. The card is above and beyond and very sweet. I personally just like to comment on the photos on FB about how beautiful they look.

Jaya: I mean, I don’t know their relationship, but if this is someone you thought was your BEST friend–like someone you talked to every day, shared everything with, and watched this relationship grow–I think you’d be justified in asking about it?

Victoria: Yeah, that’s a very good point.

Jaya: Maybe not saying “Hey, why the hell wasn’t I invited!?,” but I think it’s a decent catalyst for a conversation about your friendships. Especially if there was no discernible falling out. For instance, if you didn’t invite me to your wedding, and your wedding was a normal-sized, friends-invited affair, I might ask.

Victoria: There’s always the very TINY chance your invite got lost.

Jaya: True, but you probably would have gotten a phone call about an RSVP.

Victoria: Yeah, you’d have to be very sure. Maybe if the bride was talking to you this whole time as if you were invited, you could ask about that.

Jaya: If you feel like your relationship was close enough, you can maybe ask about it. But “closeness” is so subjective, and you have to be prepared for the option that this person didn’t consider you as close.

Victoria: I think this also might be a good time to remind brides and grooms that their wedding is still a party and maybe you shouldn’t be sharing all the details with your coworkers/acquaintances if you don’t want to invite them.

Jaya: Yessssss. I’m trying to be pretty aware of that with planning my wedding, but it’s so hard sometimes.

Victoria: Part of that is that people do like to hear these details, even if they know they’re not invited.

Jaya: Totally. I try not to put anything on facebook, because there are definitely people I’m not as good friends with who maybe think we still are? I hide behind Facebook a lot

Victoria: We all do.

Thank Goodness We Don’t Have to Do That Anymore: Shivaree

This isn’t really a shivaree [Via Flickr user greenmelinda]

Shivaree (charivari) is a practice in which people serenade a newly wedded couple in a cacophonous manner by yelling and banging pots and pans outside their window in the middle of the night.

The traditional European custom of charivari (shivaree is the common American spelling) was a way to punish those who had married against the community’s wishes- older men marrying too young women, new widow/ers getting married too soon, etc.

As the custom migrated to America, it became more celebratory than punitive, though sometimes it was considered a minor hazing for those who had gone against the norm in their marriage. Often it was a bawdy celebration, designed to interrupt the consummation of the marriage. Like trick or treaters, the revelers wouldn’t leave until offered some kind of refreshment.

I first encountered the custom in one of the Little House on Rocky Ridge books- the sequel series to Little House on the Prairie about Laura Ingalls Wilder’s daughter Rose. In the book, one of their farmhands gets married and that night all the neighbors go to the newlywed’s house and bang on pots and pans until the couple comes out and gives them snacks.

Shivarees mostly took place in the early to mid 1800’s and mostly in small, rural communities. I have, however, found records of the practice continuing in Canada well into the 1970’s. By that point, the practice was used to make a new bride feel welcome to the neighborhood if she had come from far away. Sometimes it was used  as a “reception” if there hadn’t been one for the wedding.

The expectation that the couple have enough food for the revelers was part of the gendered expectation of a wife to have refreshments ready at a moment’s notice for all who might drop by- definitely a less festive aspect of the custom.

Sometimes the shivareers would play pranks on the couple instead of making noise- filling their drawers with rice for example.

There is some evidence that the custom has evolved into the practice of kidnapping the bride at the reception and making the groom pay to get her back. Though I think that this custom is completely different and comes from a different ethnic tradition entirely. The pranking custom is still common among some social groups, I believe (did anyone have pranks played on them on their wedding night or while they were on their honeymoon? Tell me in the comments!). You would think that tying cans and shoes to the “get away” car would be part of this, but that comes from a more superstitious tradition of scaring away evil spirits.

So tell me, who else has heard of a shivaree??

Do You Swear?

This is the kind of curse we mean, right?

This is the kind of curse we mean, right?

Swearing! We all do it, right? But maybe not in front of children? The practice of swearing or cursing in public is extremely varied, from when people do it to what people consider inappropriate, so we had a chat about what it means for us.

Jaya: How To Fucking Swear

Victoria: You can swear up a storm…I don’t swear.

Jaya: I will! Is not swearing something you choose to do, or does it just not naturally come up in your conversation?

Victoria: I don’t do it because I think it sounds forced and unnatural when I do it! But I don’t care at all if anyone else does it. I do swear sometimes when I, like, cut myself or break something, or do something else stupid. Oh and I do blaspheme a lot.

Jaya: This weekend when I was at a family party and there were a bunch of kids around, I said “god dammit” and someone (jokingly) said “oh not in front of the kids!” and I had no idea what he was talking about because it did not occur to me that what I said was a problem.

Victoria: Yeah, there are some circles in which blaspheming is worse than “vulgar” swearing.

Jaya: This also happened to me at college. I was waiting behind a girl on line and she was complaining about her professor saying “god dammit” in class, and how dare he blaspheme. And I was so confused.

Victoria: LOL. Well for your family, I’m sure it was the dammit that was the problem. I will say that, and damn, and crap.

Jaya: Even then! It does not register to me anymore as a curse. Maybe that’s a problem? Crap is so not a curse.

Victoria: Hahah I think it just means that you don’t really hang out with kids ever. I am sure you will adjust accordingly if you do have them or start hanging out with them more.

Jaya: Did your parents ever swear around you?

Victoria: Not when we were little! My mom started up again when we hit high school age.

Jaya: So did mine, my dad pretty much always did though. Not a lot, but he’d slip up way more than my mom.

Victoria: Yeah, I remember my dad telling me, when I went through a swearing phase in 5th grade, that he used to swear a lot when he was young but he didn’t really see the need to anymore. He doesn’t really swear that much- way less than my mom.

Jaya: I do find myself swearing less than when I was a teenager. But I also only started swearing when I was 13 or so, much later than most of my friends because I felt awkward doing it. So I think I started feeling comfortable with it, did it all the time, and then realized that a well punctuated curse word is far more effective than saying “fuck” in every sentence.

Victoria: Hahaha, see, awkward. I do start doing it more when I hang out with people who are doing it a lot.

Jaya: I’m not particularly squeamish about it though. I think like most conversational topics, you have to know your audience when you’re cursing, but there’s nothing inherently bad about it. I think at this point the sting has been taken out of most curses

Victoria: Right. I think you only have to watch it around kids and maybe in some office environments.

Jaya: I feel like if they are my kids (if I had kids), cursing would be like alcohol. I’d rather they get it from me than out on their own. Like, learn how to do it in the house.

Victoria: HAHAHAHAHAHA. You are the Betty Draper of swearing.

Jaya: And you just wrote my tombstone.

Salutations in an E-Mail

That’s Mr. Fancy Painted Alligator to you. [Via Flickr user planeta]

Dear Uncommon Courtesy,

I work at a job where I email a horde of people from different fields and professions: from professors to ambassadors to CEO’s to journalists, etc. I’ve got basic professional email language down, what gets me is the salutation. I know there’s a movement to get rid of the salutations and signature, but that doesn’t quite work for formal professional correspondence. Obviously you start off with the most honorific/formal, but then it changes based on their response/signature, right? I think rule of thumb says to reply back using how they sign off (Sarah, Professor Higgenbottom, Admiral McGee), but how do you handle it if they sign off with their full name? Do you revert to the more formal form again? Do you use the full name? (that sounds awkward). Do you refer to a former ambassador still as “Ambassador” or is it “Sir”? It’s a little thing that trips me up every so often.


Too Many Names

Official Etiquette:

“Dear Mr. / Madam Ambassador:” is the correct opening for a letter/email. We don’t see anything about a former ambassador, but we would guess they revert back to Mr/Ms. Professors should be addressed as Dr. if they hold a doctorate, though Professor is fine if you aren’t sure. We couldn’t find anything about when to drop formal titles, but following the lead of the professionally superior person is always a good rule of thumb.

Our Take:

Jaya: Alright, so, this is, like, a million questions.

Victoria: Like she says, the basic rule of thumb is that you follow their lead in however they sign off.  But I think what happens a lot is people automatically write their first and last name.

Jaya: Yeah, I do think it serves as a signature.

Victoria: But then, maybe in subsequent emails they will just be like -John or whatever. And that allows you to use their first name.

Jaya: So yesterday, I was emailing with a former volunteer here and I responded with just her first name, because in the last email she wrote “Dear Jaya” and not “Dear Ms. Saxena.”

Victoria: Right yeah, if they are calling you by your first name right away, you can probably do so too. Usually you are working together and not in a superior/inferior relationship anyway, so it seems strange, to me, to use Mr/Ms for too long. I’ve tried to drop it, personally, as it makes me feel very young. I think in my first couple of experiences with grown up work, I tried calling people Mr/Ms (in actual conversation) and figured out how weird that was very quickly.

Jaya: Yeah. I think if they have a title, continue to use their title. But if it’s a superior/normal person, hopefully they’ll respond with a first name

Victoria: Yeah, I definitely don’t think you should revert to a more formal title if you’ve already used an informal one.

Jaya: Totally not. But yeah, if someone signs Franklin Higglebottom, I think you can do “Mr. Higglebottom,” or “Franklin,” depending on how they’ve addressed you.

Victoria: Right. I definitely think you shouldn’t address someone by their full name. Saying Dear Mr. Franklin Higglebottom sounds like spam.

Jaya: What if…you don’t know if it’s a man or a woman? This happens to me all the time. I’m constantly Mr. Saxena.

Victoria: Awww. I think for many people, you would be able to look that up? Google their name- ambassadors should be pretty high profile and professors and such (for this PARTICULAR reader).

Jaya: Oh yeah I mean, those people you can Google. I meant like, random colleagues you’ve never met but who you need to email. Or if you’re applying to a job, something like that.

Victoria: In that case i might just use their first name. Once, I was applying for an internship and the person’s name was Stephan, but some how I read it as Stephanie, so that’s how I addressed him. I got the internship anyway.

Jaya: Hahahahaha. Did you apologize or acknowledge your mistake?

Victoria: Nope. I think people are generally pretty cool with this kind of thing

Jaya: Usually. Though I need to be less forgiving when people call me “Jay.” I wrote my name in the past email guys you should know it. “Jaya” is not a typo of “Jay.”

Victoria: Hahah yeah, that’s totally different. Sometimes I get addressed as Ms Pratt and sometimes Victoria in emails and I don’t really care. I do get a weird buzz when someone calls me Ms Pratt because I do not entirely feel like a grown up yet.

Jaya: Hahahaha, adulthood buzz.

Victoria: It’s like, ohhh they are emailing me and thus they don’t really KNOW that I am an imposter.

Jaya: They don’t really know that I’m actually a 7 year old with my mom’s iPhone, muahahahahaha.

Victoria: You have a remarkably good grasp of etiquette for a 7 year old.

Jaya: Hahahahaha. I think mainly, do your best to follow their lead, and be forgiving if someone messes up but is still obviously trying  I mean if they keep misspelling your name or saying “sup lady” when you’re the Queen, that’s a problem. But if someone calls you Victoria instead of Ms. Pratt it should really be fine.

Victoria: Totally. And, like, yeah, if you are emailing an ambassador or the president or something, err on the side of formal. But if it’s a random professor, if they get all upset about how you address them, then they are the jerk. I also think that you can drop all salutations within a couple of emails, especially if you are just writing a sentence or two.