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?

YABU. Fine to tell him you can't put in a word, fine to say you will and do. Very U to tell him you will then slag him off behind his back. You know that, though. I wouldn't lie to your place of work, it may backfire.

You're stuffed, in other words...

Nanny0gg Tue 05-Mar-13 21:37:35

Will you actually be asked your opinion?

HollyBerryBush Tue 05-Mar-13 21:38:26

I'm a great believer in what goes round comes round. Just remember that that every bad deed is paid back. Eventually.

What MrsTP said.

bickie Tue 05-Mar-13 21:39:58

Oh I know you're right. shit shit shit. I just panicked when he came out and directly asked me to put in a good word for him. The interviews he has had so far went pretty well - so it is going to be obvious when I step in and say he's no good. And he is a really really nice person.

whattodoo Tue 05-Mar-13 21:40:03

Agree with hollyberry

bickie Tue 05-Mar-13 21:40:50

Yes - I will be asked.

bickie Tue 05-Mar-13 21:41:37

Holly - do you think the bad deed is saying something about him - or not?

What Holly said.

Nanny0gg Tue 05-Mar-13 21:42:16

So keep out and let the people interviewing make their decision.

If he's desperate, do you want him not getting the job on your conscience? And are you sure he can't do this job?

Numberlock Tue 05-Mar-13 21:43:18

Why will you be asked?

Can't you just tell everyone you are very concerned and conscious of equal opportunities and don't want to corrupt and defile the independent interview process or some bullshit of that type and get out of it that way?

piprabbit Tue 05-Mar-13 21:44:50

Can you not just say that you don't feel able to comment on his work?

Gosh how two faced are you, you are part of the reason he lost his job yet you have a great personal relationship (I assume because he doesn't know you were part of the reason), then you say you will put in a good word so he gets this job but you plan on going and discrediting him to potential future employers.

At least be honest with him.

CloudsAndTrees Tue 05-Mar-13 21:46:34

If you are asked for your honest opinion, then give your honest opinion.

You would be doing a bad thing if you lie when asked your opinion, you can't be wrong for telling the truth in his this situation.

He shouldn't have asked you to put in a good word for him, especially as you say he knows you had a problem with him before. He's put you in a difficult position, and that in itself doesn't say much for his professionalism.

RapunzelAteMyHamster Tue 05-Mar-13 21:47:04

Wait until you're asked. Are you likely to be?

If you are, play down how much you worked with him if possible, and just fail to give a rousing endorsment, don't be overtly negative. If it's a very senior position, they'll be doing their own checks and if your account doesn't correspond with other things they hear you'll look bad. If you give him a great report, and then he's rubbish, it will reflect badly on you as well.

Unless you're married to him, or related to him in some other way and you haven't mentioned it, your first loyalty should be to yourself, then to helping your new company get the right person for the job. If it's not him, it's not him. It's not your fault he lost his previous role through bad performance.

slambang Tue 05-Mar-13 21:50:27

If you are asked which seems unlikely tell the truth.... and let what you don't say speak for yourself.

Boss: You worked with John. What's he like?

You: Well, he's a really nice guy, friendly, sociable ...

Boss: But how's his work?

You: Well, he's a really great guy...

Boss: And his work?

You: He's great fun, He always brought in cakes on his birthday...

You've put in a good word. They've got the message. Bob's your uncle. smile

bickie Tue 05-Mar-13 21:50:49

I know - I don't know why he has asked me to say something good about him - when I have told him about issues I had with his performance. But this is a great job - and he is very keen to get it. And I guess he thinks the issues are not big enough to stand in the way. As I say - he is senior (as am I).

emsyj Tue 05-Mar-13 21:51:25

If you will be asked, in your position I would:

(a) Say that he is a really really nice person and you like him very much (which you genuinely believe); and
(b) if pressed, say that you know him on a personal level and feel it is inappropriate to participate in decision making about his potential recruitment and refuse to be drawn further.

This will give the clear message that you don't exactly think he's shit hot but you won't actually have to say it. And you can tell him that you have told your colleagues that he's a great guy.

You should have been more careful in the first place and just told him that the decision wouldn't be anything to do with you and that you don't really know the relevant people so couldn't really help him, but it is easy to get swept up in the moment and make promises you can't (or shouldn't) keep.

parakeet Tue 05-Mar-13 21:53:42

It is not a bad deed to tell the truth to your employer about a prospective new colleague. It is, in fact, a good deed. You would be being disloyal to your company if you failed to do this.

OK, so when he asked you would you recommend him, technically you should have said: "No, I'll have to tell them you're shite." I don't blame you for not having the guts to do this. Few people would. Perhaps, instead you should have told a white lie, and said something like: "I doubt they'll ask me." But it wouldn't have made any difference to the eventual outcome - of you telling the truth to your employer, and (possibly) him therefore losing the job.

Finally, if he does lose the job, there's no way he can know it was down to what you said. I know loads of cases where people had positive feedback during interviews but didn't eventually get the job due to there being better candidates around.

RapunzelAteMyHamster Tue 05-Mar-13 21:54:17

Don't feel bad, honestly, however nice he is on a personal level, if he's interviewing for a job that he isn't capable of doing well, then he doesn't deserve to get it. It's not your responsibility to help him get into a situation which could reflect very badly on you.

Iamsparklyknickers Tue 05-Mar-13 21:56:12

If you're asked can you not just say that you know him personally and think it's a conflict of interest to comment in detail but know him to be honest and trustworthy (or generic phrases to that effect) and spin the opposite back to him - they were aware of your personal relationship so didn't ask much past whether he was a decent guy.

That approach means keeping your mouth shut further down the line though, you can't go rolling your eyes to managers saying "I knew this would happen.." if you perceive there to be problems.

The situation in general though YABU, unless you're directly hiring this man is your friend and you know he's desperate for the job. Keep as far out of it as possible. No putting a word in - good or bad.

maddening Tue 05-Mar-13 22:03:07

Don't step in and give any opinion on him.

If he gets the job on the basis of his interview and skills then it is between him and the employer.

Don't get involved at all.

As soon as you start putting privisos on to an opinion you are just digging a big hole for yourself and making people think there is more to it than what there is.

Can you not if/when asked just give a really non commital answer - he's personable, or some other positive and truthful opinion.

maddening Tue 05-Mar-13 22:07:13

Agree - if asked say he is a lovely person but you aren't in a position to comment on his work.

maddening Tue 05-Mar-13 22:08:09

How long ago did you work with him?

LadyPessaryPam Tue 05-Mar-13 22:08:53

slambang has the right idea I think.

Jinsei Tue 05-Mar-13 22:09:31

So are you part of the interview panel, are you one of his referees, or what? In what context will you be asked for your opinion? confused

OhDearieDearieMe Tue 05-Mar-13 22:14:18

How did you get to be senior if this kind of thing bamboozles you? And anyway, what Holly said.

Viviennemary Tue 05-Mar-13 22:18:03

I don't think you should give an opinion under the circumstances even if you are asked. You could say as he's a friend you don't feel it's appropriate to comment.

Hassled Tue 05-Mar-13 22:20:59

Agree that the only way you can come out of this is by saying nothing. Nothing good, and nothing bad. When asked, it was a while ago and you can't really remember. Or something non-specific and innocuous along the lines of what a genial, pleasant chap he is?

LadyPessaryPam Tue 05-Mar-13 22:21:11

I disagree with Holly, it can be very disheartening working with people who are no good at what they are supposed to be doing. I would try to stop it before it happened. It's not being horrible to the guy, it's protecting yourself and the existing team.

bickie Tue 05-Mar-13 22:21:21

Good advice - thank you. I particularly like focus on his personal skills and hope they get there themselves on his professional skills. And then if they ask me directly about what he was like at doing his job - I will be honest. And then will just have to be honest with him if he asks did I say anything negative.

LessMissAbs Tue 05-Mar-13 22:23:34

I think you should answer honestly if asked. I wouldn't go out of your way to say he is no good. But given it is a senior position and there are too many incompetent people keeping the good people out of senior jobs, I certainly would give an honest opinion if asked.

UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Tue 05-Mar-13 22:23:39

It is not a bad deed to tell the truth to your employer about a prospective new colleague. It is, in fact, a good deed. You would be being disloyal to your company if you failed to do this.

I kind of agree with this. If you are asked then you should give factual answers. If he joined and he was a failure after you gave a less than truthful answer would it reflect badly on you?

It's not your fault, he is the one who performed badly in the past and now it's going to bite him on the bum.

TheSecondComing Tue 05-Mar-13 22:24:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

midastouch Tue 05-Mar-13 22:26:13

I would keep out of it rather than say somethign bad about him (especially after you said you'd put a good word in for him)

bickie Tue 05-Mar-13 22:26:22

The context is difficult to explain, I lead one department and he led another but with very different function. So his skill set is different to mine. I will be asked about him because we have worked in a small senior management team together - and if he gets the job will be doing so again.

VenusRising Tue 05-Mar-13 22:30:01

Why don't you say, I've worked with X for Y number of years, and he's a nice guy, but his delivery isn't great.

I'd go for honesty. "If you're looking for a nice guy, but don't mind about delivery targets, then he's the one to hire."

You could say that "he's more a people person, and that his strengths lie in inter personal relationships, maybe not so much in delivery."

But if this job is nothing like his old job, well I don't see what you have to say is relevant. He may be perfect for the job he's applying for, and if its a different department, well, it might be good for you to have a friend in the company.

Corygal Tue 05-Mar-13 22:30:46

Stick with firm vagueness, and say it was too long ago for your recollections to be treated as gospel. They'll get the message - and they deserve him if they don't.

SaggyOldClothCatpuss Tue 05-Mar-13 22:30:56

I thought you weren't allowed to give someone a bad reference? If in doubt, just keep quiet.

aquashiv Tue 05-Mar-13 22:32:15

The person probing will be looking for speciffic competancies so be honest. There might be things that the new firm can work with/change or not.
I would not lie.

Corygal Tue 05-Mar-13 22:32:45

By the way, are you sure that the other candidates are better than he is? Because if you're not, you might be better off with the nice guy.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 05-Mar-13 22:33:58


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.
This is also behaviour from someone in a senior position. We wonder why the country is in such a state. grin

Catchingmockingbirds Tue 05-Mar-13 22:35:56

If you put in a good word for him and he turns out to be really crap then it looks bad on you, but you can't really bad mouth him after telling him you'd recommend him. If I was you I'd just say nothing.

quesadilla Tue 05-Mar-13 22:38:17

I've recently been on the receiving end if treatment like this from a former colleague/manager who basically blackened my name with a headhunter after having been nice to my face when I went to her to ask advice. It has left a very unpleasant taste in the mouth and I will never be able to forgive that person. If you have any integrity you will get in touch with him now and say you can't in all conscience give him a good word and say why. Being nice to his face and slagging him off to management is really shit.

bickie Tue 05-Mar-13 22:38:19

Reading your answers has made me realise - the fundamental issue is - as much as I like him - I really don't want to work with him again. It will be very difficult to deliver what I need to if I have him in that position.

bickie Tue 05-Mar-13 22:39:49

Quesadilla - you are right. That is what I need to do.

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.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now