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job candidate talked non-stop, expecting an employee to pick up lunch for others, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Our strongest job candidate talked non-stop

In six months, I’m going on maternity leave, and then am transitioning to a completely different part-time position. My manager has asked me to sit in with her on interviews with candidates for my replacement. For reference, this is a job that typically takes 6-12 months of training to be self-sufficient.

The strongest candidate we’ve had so far has a great resume and actual industry experience, which is rare for us. But … she was so talkative in the interview it was staggering. An interview that typically takes 30 minutes took over an hour and a half. I know about her favorite taco places, the renovations she’s doing on her house, how she met her husband, and where she gets her eyebrows waxed. We could barely fit any questions in. She just talked until one of us interrupted her.

We hire exclusively through a temp agency (long story – I’ve been fighting against it for months), so we are unable to check references or do a lot of extensive digging. I’ve already checked LinkedIn for possible connections, and asked my network if anyone has worked with her – they haven’t. She was at her previous position for three years, leaving only because she relocated.

My manager (hesitantly, admittedly) wants to hire her mainly due to the experience, but I have pretty strong reservations. It may have just been nerves that made her so chatty, but it’s not my gut feeling. We have other candidates who were more professional but would require way more training, which I think is a better bet.

We’re typically a social, pleasant office – but honestly, if I came back from maternity leave and no one had killed her yet, I’d have to check to see if she was drugging their water. Any advice?

I wouldn’t hire her. If she spends that much time on home renovations and eyebrow waxing in a job interview with two people she’s just met, you can assume it’s going to be even worse once she’s more comfortable there. That’s pretty unworkable in most jobs where she’ll be dealing with or even sitting near other people.

There are lots of reasons you might have to reject a candidate with good experience — like rudeness, poor communication, lack of professionalism, disorganization, bad follow-through, bad judgment … the list goes on and on. If you were hiring solely based on experience and nothing else, you could just hire from resumes and wouldn’t need to do interviews.

If you don’t feel like any of the other candidates are right either, you’d be better off broadening your candidate pool and talking to additional people. Don’t hire someone who’s highly likely to worsen people’s quality of life in your office.

(That goes double when you can’t check references. Which, by the way, is a BS policy. Your temp agency works for you, and if you want to check references before hiring someone, you should tell them that’s non-negotiable.)

2. Is it unreasonable to expect an employee to offer to pick up lunch for others when he gets takeout?

I am the supervisor in a very small office. We mostly eat lunch in the break room, but we do all go out together once or twice a month.

One fellow goes for takeout and brings it back to the office a couple of times a week. About half the time, he’ll ask if anyone wants anything. I am the only one who ever takes him up on it, but more often than not I don’t. I always give him money ahead of time.

Is it unreasonable for me to expect him to check to see if anyone wants something anytime he goes out?

Yes, it would be unreasonable! This is his lunch break and he gets to spend it as he wants. If he occasionally asks if he can pick something up for others, that’s him doing people a favor — but he’s in no way obligated to do that, and it would be wrong for you to treat it that way. It can be be a pain to pick things up for others — it means he can’t change his mind at the last minute about where he’s going or eat outside while the other food he’s carrying gets cold, and it means he has to deal with remembering orders and collecting money and general hassle.

Thank him when he does offer, but don’t push for more.

3. What do I say to my just-laid-off boss?

My boss just got laid off. How do I send a parting email that isn’t saccharine or patronizing?

For a boss who you really liked and where you could say this genuinely: “I wanted to tell you how much I’ve enjoyed working with you and how much I’ve learned from you, especially X and Y. Wherever you go next will be lucky to have you. I’d love to stay in touch (I’m sending you a connection request on LinkedIn right now), and if there’s anything I can do to help you as you search for your next role or beyond, please let me know!”

For a boss who you’re more lukewarm about: “I was sorry to hear you’re leaving us, and I wanted to tell you how much I’ve appreciated working with you. I hope we can stay in touch. I’m sending you a LinkedIn connection now, and I hope we might have an opportunity to cross paths again!” (You can tone that down if you want, but those are the basics. Some amount of white lying is acceptable here for the sake of the relationship; if you really didn’t appreciate working with the person, the world won’t cave in if you say you did, even if it’s just for the sake of a future reference.)

4. I was fired without warning — which isn’t consistent with how my manager handled problems last time

So, I just got fired from my job. I’m devastated, this has never happened before. Just about two months ago, they brought up some performance issues and I’d been working to fix them. I felt like they’d been hounding me ever since and I never really got the chance to fix them. A couple days ago, I was fired, seemingly out of the blue, for performance reasons.

What upsets me most is that I had no idea they were feeling this way or that things were this bad … mostly because a couple years ago I was put on a brief performance improvement plan (a PIP) after messing up a project. We checked in every month, they stressed how much they wanted me to succeed. I did great, the PIP ended, everything was wonderful. So I expected that if my job were on the line, a PIP would have come first. This time, I felt like they were hounding me but not really trying to help — which I had brought up, that the way they were bringing things up wasn’t helpful, etc. Do you think companies should be consistent in the way these kinds of things should be applied? Obviously it doesn’t matter now, but I feel so blindsided.

Sometimes it makes sense to do a PIP and sometimes it doesn’t, so no, companies shouldn’t be bound to handle it exactly the same way every time.

In particular, sometimes if you’ve already been on one PIP, you’re not going to get another. The expectation after a PIP is that you’ll continue to sustain the improvements you made during it. If you don’t, your manager may not start the process all over again and instead, if serious issues recur, may move more quickly to just letting you go. Or your manager might have felt the problems last time were fixable but was less optimistic about the problems this time. This can be entirely reasonable and justified, or it can be unfair, depending on details that I don’t have from your letter.

It’s true, though, that your manager should have been clear with you at some point in the last two months that your job was on the line if you didn’t make the improvements she was asking for … but it’s also true that if you’ve been feeling hounded about your performance for two months, she probably didn’t think the firing was out of the blue or that you’d be blindsided by it. That doesn’t get her off the hook for not being clearer with you about it, though. She should have been. (Although if the issues were related to the ones from the PIP two years ago, it’s somewhat more understandable that she didn’t feel she needed to go through a formal warning again.)

5. How do I connect someone who’s hiring and someone who’s job searching?

I recently left a toxic environment and have a great new job that I love. Unfortunately, my brilliant former colleague, “Amy,” is still stuck there. She’s miserable and desperately wants to leave. A professional acquaintance at a different company who I’m fairly friendly with mentioned, before I left my last job, that she was hoping to expand her team.

Obviously, that’s not something I’m going to shoot for since I’m happy in my new position, but I’d love to see if I can get Amy a chance at working for this person, who I know pretty well and find to be wonderful to work with. Amy has already said she’d be interested in moving over there — so what’s the best way to do this? I’m on totally alien territory. Do I set them up to have lunch? Do lunch with the three of us? Or is this just a phone call or email? I feel that the best course of action would be to introduce them and back away slowly, but what’s the norm?

Get Amy to send you her resume. Then email your contact, say that you know someone who might be perfect for her team and a bit about why you think that, note that you’re attaching her resume, and ask if she’s interested in you connecting them. If your contact says yes, then send an email connecting the two of them. In that email, you’d say something like, “Amy and Jane, I’ve told you each a bit about each other. Jane is looking for people with a background in X for her expanding team, and Amy has a strong background in X and was of my most brilliant colleagues at Former Company. I’ll let the two of you take it from here.”

That’s it! That way you’re being up-front with your contact and respectful of her time, and letting her decide whether she wants the intro before you make it. Then, from there, you leave it to them.

You may also like:how to communicate with job candidates when a hiring process is dragging outI didn’t check references on a new hire and he’s struggling — should I check them now?my manager says that most people are too good to stay in my job for long

job candidate talked non-stop, expecting an employee to pick up lunch for others, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Read more: askamanager.org

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