But Your Application Said…

1053952_next_srb I had the opportunity to speak to a young manager (in his 30’s) this week regarding some issues he was facing with hiring a new assistant manager for their cell phone company branch store.

Although he was very involved in the interviewing process the upper management did have the final say in which candidate would be hired.

When he called me he told me that he had a total of four candidates, 3 of which were already working with the company.  Two were in other stores and one in his and one outside candidate.  The dilemma for him was that the candidate that seemed most suited for the position was the outside one and he needed to figure out how to tell the employees that had been working for the company for some time that they did not get the position.

The candidate he was most concerned with was the one that worked with him.  This person had been with the company for several years and thought that they would get this job.  He was trying for figure out how to tell him he did not and still keep him as an “happy” employee.

We talked about the reasons that this person did not get the position and the best way to “word” this discussion letting the candidate know what he needed to do in the future to obtain this position and how to let him know the other candidate was more qualified.

He felt pretty good after our conversation, but still was not looking forward to letting his co-worker know that he did not get the position.  I asked that he keep me posted as to how things went down.

The next day he called and I asked how it went and he said that he did not have the conversation yet.  The chosen candidate was informed by the corporate office that she had been picked and that her being hired was contingent on her background and drug check.

He said that he was going to have the talk with his employee and he got a call from the chosen candidate. When he talked to her she said that since she now had been offered the job contingent on her back ground check she needed to let him know of some changes on her application.  She proceeded to tell him that she no longer was employed where she listed on her application and that she also just got another job that she was currently working.

When he asked her why she didn’t tell them about these changes at the interview she simply stated that she didn’t feel that is was necessary unless she was offered a job.  She didn’t seem to think it was a big deal that she did not tell them at the interview of the changes, even when the interviewers asked her questions about her current job and she alluded to the fact that she was still employed at the place on her application, which she was not.

He thanked her for the information and proceeded to call corporate offices to talk to his supervisors.  When he told them what this candidate had done and that he was very concerned that he had been untruthful with them and now he had reservations about hiring her, his supervisor just told him that she was still the best candidate and that they were going to proceed with hiring her.

This manager was very upset because he thought if this person was willing to lie in an interview, then why would they think she would be honest once they hired her?  He could not believe that his company would just overlook this, error of unethical behavior.

He asked what I thought he should do because he didn’t want to get on the bad side of his supervisors, but he also wanted to let them know that he felt that hiring someone who was not honest from the beginning was not a good idea.

My advice was for him to think about the situation for a day or two and then write down exactly what he felt was wrong and why.  Then send the letter to his supervisor asking for a time that they could possibly discuss what the companies views were and why and also his own.

Although I sided with this young manager, I knew that he probably would not win in this situation and hopefully if they hire this woman, that he will be proved right in the end or very possibly that she just made a foolish mistake and that she really is a great person and will make a wonderful assistant to him.

What advice would you have given?


13 thoughts on “But Your Application Said…

  1. I agree with you, and would have definitely debated the logic behind maintaining an offer to someone who is a bit loose with the truth. It’s a red flag which also prompts me to wonder what the company’s threshold is? Lying about education? Scope of responsibilities? I think you advised him well. 🙂

    • Thank you for your comment. The young man sent me a copy of the letter he was sending to his supervisors this morning letting them know of his concerns again. He just call to tell me that after consideration his supervisors appreciated his morale judgement and are allowing him to continue the search for a suitable hire. He was very pleased.

      • Great case study Tina. Great advice you gave him. Great outcome. Bottom line – do the right thing. My experience has been if you aren’t dealing with players that have integrity, it’s time to hit the road. Glad to see your young man is working with supervisors that see the light.

    • Mimi, I was wondering the same thing. The young man sent me a copy of a letter he was sending to his supervisors this morning explaining his stand on why he didn’t want to hire this candidate. He later let me know that they appreciated his morale stand on the issue and decided to throw all of the candidates out that we’re interviewed and he could start over. He was pleased but he still needed to tell his staff person that he did not get the job and that they were going to continue the search. Thank you for your comment and have a great evening.

  2. I can’t comprehend an environment where the manager does not get to select their own employees. I can’t guarentee to cook a great meal if you don’t let me buy the groceries. Aside from that, I think you gave some good advice. My fear is that your friend is being overly critical of something because they feel an obligation to their employee that is also in the running. Which would be perfectly natural. If everything is exactly as you described, then I would ask my manager what attributes they beleive make this applicant more appealing than the other two. Yes the omission would cause me concern and I cannot think of a scenario where I would hire this applicant, but I do not have all the facts. I suspect there is a deeper seeded reason for the manager wanting to hire this applicant. Maybe your friend can learn what the manager is looking for and better prepare his employees for the next opportunity. I would ask for the rationale and then leave it at that. This is a fight that he cannot win and some battles simply are not worth fighting. If the applicant fails, then maybe his manager will trust him a little more on the next interview.

    • Thank you for your input. I actually talked to him about that. He sent me a letter that he was sending to his supervisors this morning. He addressed his concern well, about what studies say if someone is willing to lie to you on their application and interview the chances are it won’t stop there. He just called me and his supervisors appreciated his morale judgement, but they were dismissing all prior candidates and he could pursue a new search outside the company. So he still needed to address his employee on the matter. He was glad though that he was listened to. We are always learning 🙂

  3. Hello Tina,

    An interesting discussion. I think I’d be concerned if a candidate misled me when asked directly about their current employment. Indeed I would be interested to know why they changed jobs and still wanted to pursue another opportunity. Integrity and honesty are essential leadership attributes and I would expect that in the advertised role. Based on the fact provided I think the young manager was courageous and right to stick to his guns.

    I’d be interested to learn how he deals with the difficult discussion with unsuccessful internal candidates. From experience I’d say that you need to prepare for such meetings, keep to the facts (not opinions) and don’t deviate. Simply say what was good and what was not so good about their interview.

    As ever,

    • Hi Martin, I appreciate your comment. I heard from the young manager today as he wanted me to read a letter he wrote to his superiors regarding his stand on this candidates lack of honesty. He the called me later to let me know that his superiors told him that they felt that his morale judgement was good and that they were going to throw out all of the applicants and he could start over with the search. So he still needed to talk to his employee and tell him that he did not get the job. I was pleased that he took a stand for what was right and won. It would have been really hard for his supervisors to defend dishonesty when they expect it from their current employees. I asked that he let me know how it went with his staff person once he gave him the news. Ethics in the workplace just cannot be compromised.
      Talk soon,

  4. I would not hire the person. As I work closely with the CEO and have a strong say in hiring choices, I don’t share a similar situation though. If I said not to hire the person, my voice will carry a significant weight. I would probably do something similar to what you did if I disagreed strongly.

    • Hi “C” thank you for the comment. He wrote his supervisors a letter this morning stating his opinion again on the candidate. They are respecting his morale judgement and are having him start a new search for candidates. I am waiting to hear how his conversation went with is coworker that also did not get the position.

  5. Tina,

    Very interesting post and great discussion.

    This reminds me of something I heard Oprah say many years ago that I have found to be very true:

    “Believe people when they show you who they are the first time.”

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