Ask Jack: Time Burglars, Interview Waiting, Job of the Week

Time thief

Loyal AOL Jobs reader Whitey asks...

What can I do to fend off time burglars? There are certain people in my office who either talk too much, or need to meet about everything, and then think all meetings must last at least an hour. I can't get anything done!

Note to self: Quit writing work-advice column, begin sci-fi screenplay called Time Burglars. Or maybe Time Burglars 3000? Hmm. But, I digress: Whitey, these sinister people are the arch-rivals of smart time management, and every office has them. Don't fret -- there are steps you can take. Do you have an extra chair in your workspace? Get rid of it. Turn it into kindling, brother! If people don't have a place to sit, they are less likely to stop-and-chat for extended periods. If you can't lose the chair, simply stack papers on it. Or, if allowed, wearing earphones can turn away the chatty types. Also, don't leave blank notepads, Post-Its, etc. on your desk -- if you're not there and they can't jot down a note, they may realize that whatever they wanted to discuss wasn't really that important in the first place.

Oh, but now somebody wants to meet with you? Meet in their office, not yours. Then you can always get up and leave. In general, meetings are efficiency killers. If coworkers are competent, then regular scheduled meetings are rarely necessary. Instead, try to only have meetings when needed, on very specific topics. Always, always have a meeting agenda. Practice this sentence: "Let's discuss that offline -- we're really trying to stick to the agenda today." Sinister people, arch-rivals, efficiency killers... this screenplay is practically writing itself!

Brenda says...

This is more a complaint than a question. I had a job interview last week, I showed up a little bit early, and I still had to wait nearly an hour after the scheduled time before this person would meet with me. It was so frustrating and threw off the whole rest of my day. I really wish bosses wouldn't do this!

Brenda, if you could just wait right there, make yourself comfortable, and I will respond to your comment as soon as I possibly can; it may take a little while, as I do have some more pressing things to tend to at the moment, but I promise to get to you eventually, or, if I can't, then we'll certainly reschedule for a time that is convenient for me but definitely not for you. Seriously, though, my heart goes out to you, Brenda. I wish this was an uncommon experience, but of course it's not.

If you were an hour late for the interview, they would never, ever consider hiring you, so why is it OK for them to do it? Yes, we understand, the hiring process gets in the way of a manager's other work responsibilities, but that's really not much of an excuse. If you make an appointment, stick to it. Hiring managers need to realize that job seekers are actual human beings with full lives, and that their time is very valuable too. In a more robust job market, when you can pick among multiple job offers, remember that the interview process can be a good reflection of what the actual work environment might be like, for better and for worse. In the meantime, bring something to read with you, or there's always that "Game of War" app they keep advertising on my phone.

Last week's Ask Jack questions

Do you have a work-related question for Jack? Write it in the comments below (better answers to this week's questions are also welcome!) or tweet it @AOLJobs with the hashtag #AskJack.

Jack's Job of the Week

Maybe you're that rare individual who has time completely under control. Then how about this job: Senior Watch Designer for Movado in Paramus, New Jersey! However, if you think a lead on creating quality timepieces is just second-hand news, do your own search on AOL Jobs. You'll find a cool job in no time!
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