Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr.

Q: Was it wrong of me to leave an interview after being made to wait for 2 hours? I was referred to the CEO of a small company by a former coworker who said they were hiring and that I might be the right fit for a recruiting opening they have. We scheduled time to meet at a specific time and specific date. Let’s say it was 1:00 on a Wednesday. I’m currently working, so I told my boss and receptionist that I was running out to do some errands in case anybody was looking for me.

I arrived to the interview on time and the receptionist seemed confused to see me. She said that the CEO mentioned I “might be coming in,” and I said that I had confirmed it with him the night before. She said that maybe he didn’t check his email and she called him and said, “Sally showed up.” Off-putting, but whatever. She said he had another meeting with 2 men who were standing 5 feet away from me (awkward), but she was going to put me in a conference room and have a director come talk to me. Director #1 comes in, had no idea he was to interview anybody, had never seen my resume and was really unprepared to do an interview. It was fine, we went with the flow. He said he was going to find out what was happening with the CEO.

Next, Director #2 comes in and he said that he just got an email that he needed to interview me five minutes ago. We hit it off wonderfully and had a great conversation – I was really excited about the company and how I could step in and really help them with their recruiting and retention. After we were done, the receptionist brought me an application, said the CEO was still in the meeting, and that my former coworker was coming down to say hello. Former coworker and I chatted for a little bit, I filled out the application, and then I just sat there. And sat there. And sat there. Thinking of how my time was being wasted and how rude it was that I was left alone for so long and that I had to get back to work.

I finally had enough, and at 3:00 I got up and left. I handed my application to the receptionist and told her I had been there for two hours and he still hadn’t come to see me and I needed to get back to work. She asked me to wait just five more minutes, but at that point, I was so mad that I knew I would not make a good impression and I had to get out of there. I got back to my office and sent both directors emails thanking them for their time, etc. Then I emailed my former coworker and told him what happened. He responded by apologizing on behalf of the CEO and saying that the meeting he was in was really good for the company and he couldn’t get out of it. He also said that the CEO met with him and one of the directors, and the director raved about me and that the CEO still wants to talk to me. I’m seeing red flags. However, I do need to make a move from my current role and maybe I should give them another chance.

So my question is, what do I do now? I don’t want to sound like a child, but I feel like the CEO should reach out to me first and apologize for not meeting me. I wouldn’t invite you to my house and spend two hours in another room without saying hello to you, and I feel this is kind of the same thing. But was it unprofessional of me to leave without meeting him and do I need to be the one to reach out and apologize for cutting out? I’d just like to add that my passion is working for a company that makes the candidate’s experience a great one and I know I can make this happen for them – they need the help with that. But I’m not desperate either.

A: What? Hell no, it wasn’t unprofessional of you to leave after waiting two hours for a pre-scheduled appointment, and you certainly don’t need to apologize for leaving. It would have been perfectly reasonable to leave after a quarter of that time (if not less) and to ask the receptionist to have the CEO reach out to you about rescheduling.

I’m not sure that I buy your former coworker’s explanation that this just happened because the CEO was in an important meeting that he couldn’t have gotten out of. That kind of thing does happen, but in an organized company, someone would have attempted to reach out to you and let you know what was going on — and if nothing else, they would have explained it to you when you arrived. In this case, the receptionist didn’t seem prepared to see you; this wasn’t a situation where the CEO had told her, “Please let my 2:00 appointment know I’m running late, apologize profusely on my behalf, and see if he can wait X minutes or if he’d prefer to reschedule.” This was a situation where they just didn’t take your time particularly seriously; they were cavalier with you, and that kind of thing is rarely a one-time happening.

Whether or not you should agree to continue talking with them really depends on how much you care about this kind of thing. I have a pretty low tolerance for disorganization and lack of consideration, and I’d assume I’d be seeing more of it if I worked there so it would be a deal-breaker for me. But if you don’t feel your skin itching just contemplating that, it’s possible that it’s not a deal-breaker for you. The key is just to believe what they’re showing you about themselves, and not talk yourself into believing that it’s not typical of them. Assume this is how they operate, and decide if you’re up for that or not.

If you are, then it sounds like you’ll need to be the one to reach out to them … which no, you shouldn’t have to do, but apparently it’s the case here.

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Q: I wasn’t paid for all my time working in a haunted house. I worked as an actor for a haunted house making minimum wage, thinking it would be a fun way to make a second income during my favorite time of year. Imagine my horror when I received my first paycheck three weeks in, and find out I’m only being paid when the lights are out and visitors are walking through the house. I was not paid for rehearsals, meetings, the time it took to get my makeup done each day (we were told to arrive an hour prior to showtime), or the time it took to clear the line after closing (which could be anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours after the end of my regular shift). I spoke to the owner and my manager, and they both advised me after the fact that all these activities were optional and therefore would not be paid.

I was never told they were optional previous to this time, and I think what they are doing is illegal because it puts me under minimum wage. Is this worth filing a wage dispute? I’ve since resigned and am awaiting my last paycheck.

A: You need to be paid for those activities because they’re a required part of the job, despite what your manager told you — since I’m assuming that you couldn’t simply decide to skip rehearsals and makeup or to leave at the end of your shift even if customers were still in line. And assuming that the meetings directly related to your work, you need to be paid for those too. I’d file a claim with your state department of labor.

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These questions are adapted from ones that originally appeared on Ask a Manager. Some have been edited for length.

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