One of my key missions in life is to create positive impact with others. Sadly, it doesn’t always work out this way.

Every so often I think back on the mistakes I’ve made communicating with others. Working in a highly dynamic and evolving industry is challenging – from a technology standpoint, if you don’t keep ahead of the curve, you’re left behind in the dust. From a business standpoint, processes are always changing to keep pace with new technology.

I’ve always loved technology. It’s amazing how much we can do with a computer, or now, with a mobile device. There’s software applications, websites, and mobile apps that can accomplish anything. But the greatest appeal for me is the lack of emotion – the pure black and white logic of working with technology. It either works, or it doesn’t.

My previous business partner (and good friend) always said “peopleware” is more important than software. He’s right. It’s more important to learn to work with people than to work with software. People are infinitely more complex and often times don’t view things in black and white.

Today I shared an excerpt from a prospective team member. It was 2008 and I was “Web Project Manager”. I managed the process of building a website. I wasn’t experienced with hiring. Despite that, I had good intentions and wanted to hire someone who would complement the skills of our current team.

This candidate was applying for a client support role and was referred by another team member. I hadn’t met the candidate in person yet. During one of our phone interviews he said something that didn’t match up with a previous call. This alarmed me and I decided not to move forward with him.

I let him know we decided to go a different direction with the position and we were not hiring him. After that call, he emailed me several times, posted below.

Obviously, I’m very happy I didn’t hire him. Beyond that, I’m sad he’s so troubled. We had a couple calls and exchanged a few emails-why share so much information?

I’ve learned a lot from this individual, specifically:

  1. Always go with your gut feeling. Beyond their resume, their references, even their interviews. If something feels off, don’t hire them.
  2. Be clear in your reasoning for not hiring them. For example, clarify that their skillset isn’t a good fit because they lack prerequisite experience.
  3. Thank them for their time. Perhaps even let them know you’ll keep their resume on file in case a suitable position becomes available.
  4. Have at least 3 interviews. I usually have more, but 3 will help catch incongruities, if there are any.
  5. Ask another team member to interview them and get their feedback. It’s helpful to compare notes and determine if you both came to the same conclusion.
  6. Ask them if they’re ok with a working interview – where they invest a few hours of time on a sample project prior to being hired.
  7. Constantly improve. Commit to enhancing your process and communication. Know that you can’t please everyone and you’re bound to rub a few people the wrong way no matter what you do.

Email #1 (his initial email)
Sent: Friday, February 08, 2008 12:01 PM
Subject: I haven’t heard from you.

I’d still like to know why I wasn’t accepted for the position. I was never given a reason, which I think I deserve after the trouble I went through. I’ve patiently waited for three days for you to reply to my e-mail, so get back to me please.

Email #2 (my reply)
Sent: Friday, February 08, 2008 12:49 PM
Subject: Re: I haven’t heard from you.

Hi *******,

As I said on the phone, we decided to go a different direction with the position.

Email #3 (his reply)
Sent: Friday, February 08, 2008 9:46 PM
Subject: I haven’t heard from you.

Yes, but WHY did you decide this? After three interviews and having me come in to fill out all of the necessary forms? You even said that I had the position. If you didn’t hire me because of my credit report, I have a legal right to know so. I think that with the effort I went through and all of the promises that I was given, you could at least respect me enough to be honest with me. What did I do wrong? I came in wearing expensive clothing from designers that I’ve never heard of that my mother could barely afford because she wanted me so badly to have the job and I wanted so badly to have a REAL job that wasn’t just retail. I’ve been out of work for a long time, I’ve been jerked around by a lot of people, and I was even scammed and screwed out of a lot of money, all because I’m trying to get by. Do you know what I’ve been through? I lost my job, with which I was barely getting by, and I had to move into my mother’s house with my spouse. Do you know how humiliating that is? I have all of that debt because I was trying to get by on my own, which you now clearly know I couldn’t do. I’ve been stuck in this situation for a long time, and I’ve been suffering every day for it because of a few stupid mistakes. I’m thousands of dollars in debt, and you’re not helping, especially by giving me a nondescript ‘politically correct’ excuse like, “We decided to go a different direction.”

So, could you at least have the common decency to tell me why you didn’t hire me after all of that? Could you at least treat me with that bit of respect? Thanks…

Email #4 (his final email)
Sent: Friday, February 22, 2008 12:00 AM

I’d just like to say on one final note that it’s really shitty of you to kick me to the curb after inconveniencing me like that. It’s also really shitty that you don’t have the common courtesy to tell me why you didn’t accept me for the position after practically promising it to me. You can’t even respect me enough to respond to my e-mail, you just have to ignore it and hope I go away. Well, this is the last you’ll hear of me, so lucky you.

I’d just like to say on one final note that you’re a terrible person, and I don’t wish well for you at all. I hope you get what’s coming to you, you stuck up piece of yuppy trash.