Two weeks ago, one of our candidates signed an offer to begin as a Director of Ops for one of our clients. John is to begin work next Monday.
BIGDEAL INC. has given us four positions to fill. We are working with an Exec VP (Not HR) to fill the positions. Talent Acquisition Specialist Suzie is coordinating the effort.
All references were verified. The background investigation was complete. We knew that the candidate was well qualified, well respected, and not a criminal. The offer was signed. It was a go.
I guess it's a go?
I am then notified that the Executive VP from BIGDEAL wanted to meet with me.
To prepare for the meeting, I met with the recruiter, Frank. He filled me in.
Frank was not nice
It turns out, that Frank had raised his voice at Suzie, the talent acquisition person. He had exchanged a few unkind words to her. He surmised that the call was to complain about his behavior. He basically told her to do her job. But, in his gruff little way. So, they probably wanted him off the account.
Understand that I have a 'work in progress' relationship with my staff, they are allowed to make mistakes, they are allowed to be human, and we all learn from it, and move on. It creates an honest atmosphere that is a little weird for business, but it works. I knew every thing that he said. I took notes.
Under normal circumstances, I would meet with the client, apologize, take the recruiter off the account, and move on.
This time was different.
Earlier in the day, Suzie had called Frank to inform him that our candidate had not resigned from his past job; instead he was fired.
Frank, who verified the references himself, bristled. 'Not true.'
Oh but Suzie knew better. She called a friend who works for the company. Her friend thought that John was fired. Frank asked if she had verified that with HR or had she called John's references? She had not. Frank wanted to know who gave her the information. Suzie could not disclose the 'inside source'.
So, unkindly, Frank told her to do her job, not call friends for gossip. Plus, a few more things.
Suzie wasn't happy. So, she picked up the phone and called John, the candidate. She informed him that additional references were required. She also mentioned that Frank had yelled at her and wasn't very nice to her. She then asked him why he was untruthful about being fired. John told her. He explained the circumstances. At this point, she had her answer, but that didn't stop Suzie. She had work to do. The crusade had begun.
Suzie's next call was to the VP. Suzie related to the VP the information that she had uncovered in her search for the truth. She ratted out Frank for his behavior, and accused Frank of not disclosing information about the candidate.
What I thought:
Understandably, the VP was meeting with me to discuss, and I assumed that the placement was a dead issue.
This time was different.
Suzie and VP were on the line. The meeting started with a litany of complaints against Frank:
He didn't disclose information
Suzie didn't like his attitude.
I apologized for Frank's behavior.
Back to what I thought was important:
What did they want to do about the candidate?
"Hire him. He is a great candidate."
And, we want you to fill the rest of the positions. Suzie won't work with Frank, so we need someone else.
'Suzie, I asked, "What did you find out when you confronted John about being 'fired'?"
"He couldn't tell me. He signed a confidentiality agreement."
Confidentiality agreements are signed, not to protect the employee, but to protect the employer. Something happened at his last job. I don't know what. He is not allowed to tell us. But, I know that a few execs left. That's all I know. He won't disclose the details.
I'm not sure about filling the remainder of the positions. We can't work with Suzie. If Suzie handles these hires, we have to bow out.
What Suzie didn't see while she was throwing her four ponged fit, was that she almost lost the candidate. This job has been opened for over six months. This is a good match. After the demand for additional references, and strange comments about his recruiter being mean, John is unsure about his decision to take this job. He told Frank that he wanted to continue to interview.
We are sitting at the adults table, and can't afford to add drama where there is none. We don't make decisions based on gossip or third party information. We are not thin skinned. We can't work with Suzie.
This behavior, the method of "checking to see if we know anyone who knows anyone" is childish stuff that doesn't belong in a professional setting.
Third party 'checking' is done every day. Rarely does it reach the level of acceptable behavior in human resources. Normally it is a whisper, a nod or a chat in the hall. It's disgusting, but secretive.
Suzie wasn't that smart. The VP knew nothing. He didn't know that she acted on third party information, he didn't know that she didn't call the references. He didn't know about the confidentiality agreement. Normally, nobody knows.
But this time was different.