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At work I heard a rumor of a new candidate applying for a few positions at the company. I learned that this new person is someone I attended University; with lets call him Tom. While we did not become friends we did have several classes together and completed several group projects as a team. Tom is smart and worked hard but his personal life seemed to completely revolve around smoking pot (which is legal in the state I live in). Now the company does do a drug test upon hiring and doesn't allow employees to smoke weed for any reason.

My first question is should I put a good word in for him with my boss? My second question is should I tell them about Tom's questionable conduct during our time in college together?

  • To clarify a few points: I left University a little more then a year ago so this is very recent. I am now 100% sure it is Tom interviewing for the job. There where a few times that Tom's "hobbies" did effect our group work. examples being him showing up high or leaving early to smoke with his friends. – Jon Aug 30 '18 at 22:10
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I would strongly discourage from doing either. First of all: Are you sure it is "Tom"?

Even if it really is him: Don't do either of these two things. If Tom qualifies, your "good word" is needless, if he does not qualify for the position, then your "good word" is useless. Plus you don't know what light it might shed on you when you do such things. What if it is unwelcomed by your boss?

Do also, under no circumstances, talk to anybody about Tom's past. You would leave the impression of bad-mouthing or even slandering him (plus you run the risk of being sued for slander by Tom if he figures out that you told these stories about him). The company has a drug test in place for exactly this purpose: Making sure they don't hire anybody who is currently doing drugs. That test will reveal what the company needs to know.

My suggestions is clearly to keep your knowledge on Tom to yourself.

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    'If Tom qualifies, your "good word" is needless'. That's not the way interviews work. Often several candidates 'qualify', and the best of them is chosen. 'Best' can depend on a number of factors, including how hard they work, whether they fit with the company culturally etc. Input from someone who knows them personally is often valuable. – DJClayworth Aug 31 '18 at 15:21
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My first question is should I put a good word in for him with my boss?

Best bet is to say nothing - you're reacting to a rumour. If it does come up, keep it neutral - you shared a handful of classes, and that's all.

My second question is should I tell them about Tom's questionable conduct during our time in college together?

No. For one, as you say, it wasn't illegal for him to be doing whatever you think he was doing at college (and unless you personally witnessed him regularly smoking pot, you dont have much evidence either). Two - he may well have stopped doing it.

Would you also mention if you thought someone was getting repeatedly blitzed on booze at college years ago?

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Best to mind your own business, school and work are different things.

There is nothing positive for you in this and quite a few potential negatives. He may get the job anyway and find out and it's not something people forget. You never know where someone will be in a few years.

The company already has a drug test, if he fails he fails, you get nothing. But if he doesn't what does that make you look like?

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