To try and stop this guy getting a job

(73 Posts)
bickie Tue 05-Mar-13 21:31:29

I admit - this has nothing to do with parenting or children (but I have some!) but I need a quick straw poll. I have just started fabulous new job and someone from my old place is now interviewing here for a very senior position - but for different department. He is lovely guy, but I was never very impressed with his work performance. In fact I was part of the reason he didn't keep his old job as i was pretty frank to our boss (as were others) on his limitations. He knows I had issues with his delivery - but we kept a good personal relationship. I know he is desperate for the job, he has called me and asked me to put in a good word for him. I panicked on the phone and said of course i will (shit) Am I being unreasonable in telling him I will and then saying he is crap - or should I just suck it up and try working with him again?

racingheart Tue 05-Mar-13 22:40:30

You can keep your promise to him and put in a good word by telling them (if asked) that he is a really lovely man and that you know he really wants the job. It's up to you if you also then say that his performance at work is below par.

If a senior person puts you on the spot and asks your opinion outright, it could be really bad for you if you lie and say he's good at things you know he's weak at. But that doesn't mean you can't balance genuine criticism with the good stuff you've mentioned on here.

MagicHouse Tue 05-Mar-13 22:45:54

I don't think you should feel bad about what you said - you were put on the spot by a friend (in a non-work situation), and I can imagine it would be quite difficult to have told him straight that you would be unable to give him a good reference in that circumstance.
As for the actual interview, you could say he is a great guy, and you personally like hime, but that based on what you saw before you would need to see some sort of support in place for him if you were to work together, in order for you to achieve your targets.

Anomaly Tue 05-Mar-13 22:48:03

I think you're being overly nice. He shouldn't have asked you to put a good word in for him. Agreeing to do so was a perfectly natural response from you. I don't think there are many people who would be blunt enough to say no because I think you're crap. If they had then the other person would have been perfectly entitled to have a AIBU thread about an ex-colleague being more sensitive about their request to put a good word in. It may have been better if you'd said something about not being involved but its done now.

Working with people who are crap at their job is awful. If you're asked you're opinion I'd be honest.

Jinsei Tue 05-Mar-13 22:50:19

I hate companies that recruit in this underhand way. If you're part of the selection process, you should be asked to comment on all candidates or none, in my view. If they want a referee from his former employment, then they should ask for one. Factoring in off-the-record comments from random ex-colleagues who just happen to be around....poor form if you ask me.

Then again, I'd also expect someone in a senior management position to be able to decline diplomatically when asked to "put in a good word" for someone, especially if I thought they were rubbish. Perhaps I'm used to working in much more transparent organisational cultures!

Jinsei Tue 05-Mar-13 22:52:51

And completely agree with quesadila too.

bickie Tue 05-Mar-13 22:53:11

I think I was in such shock that he had popped up at this new place that I panicked when he rang to tell me and ask me to put in a good word. There is no way I won't be asked for my opinion so I think I will just have to man up, tell the truth and then let him then know the positives and negatives of what I have said. It is up to him to then get through the interview process.

bickie Tue 05-Mar-13 22:55:03

Jinsei - if only you knew. I work in a very exciting, fast paced but completely cowboy industry!

niceguy2 Tue 05-Mar-13 22:58:05

I don't see what's so difficult.

You should have told the guy that you have no influence on the selection process but what's done is done.

Anyway, if you are in a senior position then something like this should be bread & butter management stuff.

If/when asked just say that you know the guy, like him on a personal level but professionally you often had different ideas and opinions.

AmberLeaf Tue 05-Mar-13 23:00:35

I suppose it is hard to say without knowing what you do, but is he totally incapable?

How long did you work together?

Might he have learnt from his mistakes?

bickie Tue 05-Mar-13 23:02:02

He knows I will have an influence on the selection process. And he knows the nod from me or not will have a big influence - which is why he has asked me to have a word. So it isn't bread and butter - it is someone's career.

bickie Tue 05-Mar-13 23:09:15

Amber - I work in media - we worked together for 3 years. He didn't make mistakes - or is he completely incapable - he was just promoted past his ability. It is so hard to explain without knowing the culture of my world. It is not transparent - nor are there selection reviews - or anything like that - it is dominated by alpha men and I get into these knots because I end up mothering lame ducks.

Jinsei Tue 05-Mar-13 23:18:46

God, I couldn't work in an environment like that, OP, but I guess you just get used to it!

I think the only decent thing to do would be to contact your ex-colleague before you're asked about him, and let him know exactly what you'll say if approached - you just need to be honest so that he knows where he stands. Not an easy message to deliver, but at least your integrity will be intact!

TheSecondComing Tue 05-Mar-13 23:19:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

bickie Tue 05-Mar-13 23:41:02

Jinsei - my sister is in HR and has palpitations when she hears about some of the stuff that goes on. It is getting better ... sort of! When I started in it 15 years ago was much worse. But your advice is good. And that is exactly what I am going to do. I gave him feedback at the last place - so it won't come as a complete surprise. I think he was hoping he could just get me over the line on supporting him as we do get on well as friends.

Jinsei Tue 05-Mar-13 23:46:40

grin at your sister's palpitations! I hate to think what it was like 15 years ago!

Good luck with the conversation with your ex-colleague. Hope he takes it well, but even if he doesn't, you're still doing the right thing!

Teapot13 Wed 06-Mar-13 00:10:46

I would try not to worry too much. He put you on the spot, and you said you'd put in a good word. This didn't mean you'll lie to help him get a job. A good word can be about how he's personable, a team player, whatever. Frankly, I would damn with faint praise. This is not the same as being nice to his face and then "slagging him off" behind his back. There is no need to do that. I also see no need to contact him and say, "By the way, I said I would put in a good word, but I really only feel able to put in a lukewarm word." Do you really think it will help him in any way to know you didn't give him the best possible recommendation?

As much as you like this guy, remember that the other candidates probably need the work as much as he does and it would be unfair to everyone to exaggerate his qualifications.

Wishiwasanheiress Wed 06-Mar-13 08:46:48

I would tread exceptionally carefully as it would be u that looks unhinged tbh. It could very easily look like u 'gunned' for him before and that u are 'unreasonably' slandering him now. Just because u and others told ur previous hr something, don't assume this was overly large in his dismissal. More likely it just lent additional weigh to some sort of case/evidence they hadt.

To my mind you would be better declining to comment and suggesting the hr person instead at te previous firm for a reference. That u feel uncomfortable giving an opinion. Nobody has to. U could bluff and say u knew him better personally than work as he was senior, another department/project to u. This firm won't really know and would likely accept it without much comment.

Good luck

Wishiwasanheiress Wed 06-Mar-13 08:47:32

Sorry for typos

UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Wed 06-Mar-13 09:00:14

I am so glad I don't work when I see such two faced behaviour like this, and others who think it fine to drop the poor guy in it.

Sorry I have to disagree. People pussy-footing around other people's poor performance at work is the reason why things go wrong. If it was a nursing, caring, teaching or social work position no one would be saying to the OP that she should keep quiet.

What about the talented, driven people who are looking at this job as a great opportunity but could be kept out by someone who would do a worse job than him?

bangwhizz Wed 06-Mar-13 09:14:37

'I think you're being overly nice.'

what? Have you read the OP she got him sacked from his last job!! Iam not sure why you are now having a fit of the conscience!!

UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Wed 06-Mar-13 09:45:51

No, she didn't get him sacked. He got himself sacked because he was underperforming hmm

TheFallenNinja Wed 06-Mar-13 09:48:11

YABU. sounds incredibly unprofessional and a bit of a bastards trick.

angeltulips Wed 06-Mar-13 09:58:00

A lot of naïveté on this thread around how senior hiring is done. The reality is there's a lot of informal chat around a senior hire - and rightly so.

OP - I don't think you should decline to give your view - it could be important to avoid a mishire. If you're uncomfortable saying outright that you think he's crap, you could o the route of suggesting that the interview panel specifically probe his experience on delivery a little bit more. So rather than just saying no, suggest to them that they should satisfy themselves through experiential interviewing that this guy can actually deliver.

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