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An ethical dilemma for a Friday night

(30 Posts)
Council Fri 24-Nov-17 17:46:29

About 6 years ago I had a part time office job in a school. They had a caretaker who was accused of insisting on backhanders from contractors. Basically he was accused of insisting on cash payments to open the school at weekends when work was being done (which he was also paid overtime for). Two different contractors made the same complaint against him.

There was an formal disciplinary meeting with the LA HR advisor and Chair of Governors present but as the contractors would not make a written statement, the advice from HR was that there was insufficient evidence to bring a case so it was officially found that there was no case to answer.

I know all this because I was the minute taker in the meeting, although in the event the minutes were destroyed on HR advice.

So he didn't do it and there is no record of him ever being accused of it. However, the chair of governors was furious that they weren't able to take it further and the school was sufficiently convinced that it was true that they reimbursed both the contractors. There were other suspicions before and after but nothing was ever done/proved.

Today, my career has developed somewhat and I now find myself Operations Manager for a consortium of schools. We're recruiting a site manager, I will be on the interview panel and be the line manager for the successful candidate.

You can guess that this man has applied. It's a strong application and he's bright enough and confident enough that I fully expect him to give a decent interview.

In fact if it wasn't for this previous "mistake" he'd be a strong candidate. He was good at his job and pleasant enough to work with.

School site managers/caretakers do seem to fit a mould (I've now worked with 8). They're either lazy and useless or everso slightly crooked ime. e.g. will always claim slightly more hours than due and never buy their own toilet rolls! Obviously not all but recruiting a good straight one is not easy.

So, would you interview this man? If not what would you tell the other panel members, baring in mind the events that bother me never happened?

TheVanguardSix Fri 24-Nov-17 17:49:12

I'd interview him.

AgentProvocateur Fri 24-Nov-17 17:59:04

Yes, I’d tell the panel members. I’d rather not interview him, but if I had to, or face a challenge, I would. But he wouldn’t get the job.

MyBrilliantDisguise Fri 24-Nov-17 18:03:28

You've given a hell of a lot of information here, particularly about your own job. You need to be careful this doesn't end up in the press.

Other than that, I'd interview him, warn the panel and wouldn't give him the job.

OlennasWimple Fri 24-Nov-17 18:06:03

I'd interview him if he meets the criteria and is one of the top, say, three applicants.

I would hope very much he wasn't the top candidate after the interviews

BTW the advice to destroy evidence of the investigation sounds completely wrong to me

Council Fri 24-Nov-17 18:08:22

I think so too Olennas but it wasn't my issue at the time.

SingingSeuss Fri 24-Nov-17 18:09:50

Interview him and put in a hypothetical question about what he'd do if offered backhanders grin Then if you have to give him the job and it happens again he has lied at interview.

RNBrie Fri 24-Nov-17 18:13:11

This is really straightforward in my mind. You raise the fact you know him and outline your history and knowledge. You say you don't think it would be fair to interview him as you'd be biased and you let the panel decide.

Council Fri 24-Nov-17 18:14:05

I thought of that RNBrie but then I have to manage someone who I know/believe to be crooked

Council Fri 24-Nov-17 18:15:33

I also think it;s likely the others would say it doesn't matter that I know him. When recruiting in schools it's not uncommon that at least one of the panel will have worked with the candidate before.

WorraLiberty Fri 24-Nov-17 18:16:36

RNBrie has the answer.

At any interview I've ever been present at (as chair of govs), there's been a requirement to declare if and how you know the candidate.

Declare it and let the rest of the panel decide whether you should be present.

Council Fri 24-Nov-17 18:23:28

I'm not sure just declaring that I know him helps? If I'm on the panel I won't have the deciding vote and if I'm not I'll obviously have no influence at all. So he could be appointed and then I have to manage him.

RNBrie Fri 24-Nov-17 18:25:32

But you didn't hire the person you currently manage that you think is crooked? I guess not.

Declare this, tell the panel everything you know and step back. They can dictate what happens next.

Council Fri 24-Nov-17 18:27:35

So you think I should tell them what I know of his history?

WorraLiberty Fri 24-Nov-17 18:28:46

Yes of course you'll have to manage him because that's your job.

However, you'll need to declare that you know the person sitting opposite you at the interview and why.

It's just standard practice.

Council Fri 24-Nov-17 18:29:58

Yes of course I must tell them I know him but do I tell them everything I "know" about him?

WorraLiberty Fri 24-Nov-17 18:30:40

Yes and then let them decide.

Council Fri 24-Nov-17 18:32:08

Even though officially I don't know anything? I'm pretty sure if I do they won't interview him, which is probably for the best but it also doesn't feel right that he should be penalised for something he was officially cleared of.

GuntyMcGee Fri 24-Nov-17 18:34:47

The problem here OP is that although he was accused, there was never any disciplinary and the evidence of investigation has been destroyed. So it's unlikely that the others on the panel would take much notice - if he'd been sacked for it, it'd be different but as it stands it is only an accusation.

That said, I think you should say something just in case he gets the job, is a scumbag and it comes out that you knew his history of potential dodginess.
So tell them you know him and explain why you couldn't fairly evaluate his suitability for the role because of your history with him and how out of the interviews.

mellongoose Fri 24-Nov-17 18:36:53

Might he recognise you from the meeting where you were the minute taker?

MaudAndOtherPoems Fri 24-Nov-17 18:36:58

You need to take advice from the consortium's HR department (if it's big enough to have one) or the LA's HR adviser. You could be on shaky legal ground if you don't interview him or don't then appoint him on the basis of hearsay (which is what allegations that were never formally proven amount to). Of course, there might be other, sound reasons for not inviting him to interview, but if he knows he's a strong candidate he might challenge your decision and you need to be able to defend it.

purits Fri 24-Nov-17 18:39:10

School site managers/caretakers do seem to fit a mould (I've now worked with 8). They're either lazy and useless or everso slightly crooked

Your past history tells you that you know that this particular candidate is crooked but how do you know that the other candidate aren't similarly bent?
Can you have a theoretical discussion with your boss about the consortium's view on the integrity (or otherwise) of site managers. If it is as common a problem as you say then there must be a strategy on recruitment and management of them.

TheEmmaDilemma Fri 24-Nov-17 18:41:33

Honest, I think I would be 100% clear about the history.

Maybe even start with a basis of, I know this man, I have a previous history with him which is no longer officially recorded, but would make me biased.

That should give them enough to think or ask for more, without you saying too much up front?

NataliaOsipova Fri 24-Nov-17 21:22:56

Different perspective here. I don't think you do need to "tell all"; in these situations, it's what you don't say that often speaks volumes.

Interview him. Tell the panel - truthfully- that you have worked with him before. You will then be asked what you thought/would you recommend him. Your reply is that, given the circumstances, you feel unable to comment or to recommend him. Red flag raised with no risk to you or any comeback that you've said anything you shouldn't.

LizzieSiddal Fri 24-Nov-17 21:27:48

Yes you should tell the rest of the panel everything you know. They can decided whether or not it’s relevant.

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