A reader writes:
I found out about two weeks ago, verbally, that I was the chosen candidate for a job. It took them two weeks to send me the offer letter, which was sent past 9 pm on Friday night in their time zone (Pacific time). I am located in Eastern time right now, so it was after midnight. The email actually said, “Please give me a call to talk about this tonight or tomorrow morning.” WHHHHAAAT?
My out-of-office responder was already on and said that I was away from email for Memorial Day weekend and would likely not respond to emails until my return on Wednesday.
On Monday, Memorial Day, their office was closed, yet I received an email from the person who would be my supervisor letting me know they were available that day to talk about the job offer.
While I understand that I am a high-value candidate and they’re eager to have me accept the offer, this is freaking me out. My personal and family time is extremely important to me, and I conveyed that repeatedly in the FIVE interviews they put me through to get this job. I asked repeatedly about work-life balance because my current workplace has zero boundaries (my current boss once told me that because I’m exempt, that means I’m supposed to be available and answer emails 24/7, which I squashed flat). It deeply worries me that they expect me to respond to them on weekends and on holidays.
I’m strongly opposed to any workplace creating an expectation that employees should be available at midnight or on weekends or holidays unless it’s actually written into their job description and is actually necessary. I have zero intention of responding to them until Wednesday. But this is upsetting and frustrating, to the point I may turn down the job as a result. I like these people, and I know them. I work in a small industry and I have kind of always idealized their organization and wanted to work there. But I deeply value my ability to separate my life from my job and have time to myself to decompress and throughout this process they have made me feel that if I choose to work there, I will never have free time again outside of work. If I don’t accept the job, I can expect some career fallout because of the tightness of the industry, but if I accept it, I’m afraid I’ll be miserable and end up quitting, so same result.
Side note: These incidents are not isolated. The recruiter has contacted me at absurd times 6-7 other times throughout the process.
Yeah, that’s concerning.
I’d feel differently if they had caveated it — like if they’d said, “I realize it’s a holiday weekend and you may not be available, but if there’s any chance you could connect before Tuesday, I’d be grateful because ____ (I’m heading out on Wednesday for a three-week leave and won’t be reachable by phone/you’re our strong first choice, but our second-choice candidate needs to respond to another offer by mid-week/our phones are all scheduled to self-destruct on Wednesday).” I’d feel even better about if it they apologized for the rush.
The fact that they didn’t acknowledge it was the weekend or that your auto-reply said you were away is worrisome.
And asking you to call them back “tonight or tomorrow morning” when it was past midnight your time is A Lot. (I’m guessing they might not have thought about the time difference. But even at 9 pm their time, that’s A Lot.)
I’m curious how they responded when you brought up your boundaries around your time when you were interviewing. Did they seem to hear you and give credible-sounding replies that convinced you they’d respect your boundaries? Or is the reason you were bringing it up repeatedly in those five interviews because you weren’t hearing responses that convinced you?
Either way, it’s a reasonable thing to ask about now, and even more so since you know them outside of the hiring process. When you call to discuss the offer, you could say, “I wanted to ask about the urgency around the offer over the holiday weekend. We talked in the interview process about how important it is to me to disconnect outside of work hours, and I want to be up-front that asking me to call about the offer so late on Friday night and then on the holiday on Monday has wondering if I’m the right match on that front.”
It’s too late for this now, but I’m torn on whether it would have been worth responding over the weekend with, “I’m away through Tuesday but will give you a call on Wednesday morning.” On one hand, your auto-reply already made that clear. On the other hand, if you might end up wanting the offer, it’s usually smarter to acknowledge you received it and give a timeline for replying back (especially since there was going to be a full workday in there, Tuesday, before you planned to respond). And it might have been interesting to see if they immediately backed off or stayed pushy.
In any case, how much due diligence have you done on this employer as far as culture and expectations around off-hours availability? Have you talked to people who work there (outside of your formal interviews) about those expectations and tried to get a candid read on it, especially since you know people there? If you haven’t done that yet, I’d prioritize doing it now, regardless of what they say about this past weekend.
In general, though, it’s usually pretty safe to assume that if you’re seeing things that alarm you from the hiring manager during the hiring process — not necessarily the recruiter, but the manager themselves — you’re not going to see less of that once you’re working for them. But have the conversation and see what they say.