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Miss Manners by Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin

Are T-shirts For Job Interviews Normal Now?

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a lawyer in D.C., and I just completed a relatively prestigious yearlong fellowship/clerkship. I have had two job interviews thus far -- one for a government position and one for a nonprofit job -- and both times, I was surprised to find the interviewers wearing T-shirts, whereas I was wearing a suit.

Is it normal to wear T-shirts for interviews and meetings during the pandemic? It seems almost disrespectfully informal to me. Am I old-fashioned and behind the times?

GENTLE READER: Universal work-from-home is uncharted territory. Therefore, many sartorial “pioneers” believe that the old etiquette does not apply, and that they can conduct business meetings in their pajamas.

You will not be surprised to hear that Miss Manners disagrees. If you feel silly wearing a shirt and tie in your kitchen, remind yourself how silly the representative of a serious enterprise should feel conducting interviews in a T-shirt. And then keep doing what you are doing. Just because the person who has the power to award the job is wearing gym clothes does not mean that he will not feel disrespected if you do the same.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: A former supervisor introduced me to her friend, Entrepreneurial Emily, who was developing a product with my company in mind. Emily and I had a nice lunch, where I made it clear there was not an appetite or budget for her product for the foreseeable future. I also pointed her in the direction of resources to continue her product development.

Emily has continued to reach out to me every few months, and every time, I politely tell her there is simply no demand for her product in my company. She uses my personal email, as that was how we were introduced, so she permanently has my contact information.

I want to put a stop to any of Emily’s future solicitations, and do not want to hand her off to anyone else, as I feel my former supervisor did to me. How can I politely end this less-than-friends friendship?

GENTLE READER: You do not have to end any friendships, because the only friendship Miss Manners sees is between Emily and your former supervisor. Your relationship with Emily was a professional obligation. (And even your supervisor, who presumably likes Emily, would likely acknowledge that that obligation was discharged by the lunch.)

Your current relationship with Emily is roughly that between a mosquito and the person on whose arm it has landed, looking for another meal. The analogy is not perfect, as you do not have permission to squash Emily, who may otherwise be a perfectly lovely person. But it is time to cut her loose, which in this case means ceasing to answer any further communications.

(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)