I'm currently serving notice period in my current company and will be joining a new company in some time (a little over a month). So naturally my current company is looking for a replacement, and I was asked to conduct a technical round before our director meets and finalizes a candidate. I have worked for the company for a couple of years now, and don't want my/any projects to fail. I really hope they succeed with as little overhead as possible. Hence, I would really like to get someone settled in my position before leaving.

Recently, I met a candidate who is highly supported by our HR and looked good on paper but didn't answer most of my questions well. Hence, I didn't find the person suitable for the job. Having said that, my last day at work is approaching and we haven't found a replacement for my position yet. So, my question is "Will me speaking badly about a 'highly desired' candidate be viewed as me being disloyal, damaging, etc in any way to the company?"

I have had no issues with any of my colleagues, managers, etc including the said HR and I'd like to keep it that way if possible.

Side notes: As far as I know, my technical round is final, but our director also has exposure to the technical aspects and may ask some questions of his own (which kind of adds to my worry, as if he found I passed an unsuitable candidate, I may lose his trust).

FYI, even though I framed the question like I'm currently in the situation, I was short on time and had to give my answer yesterday evening. I rejected the candidate, citing some of the 'shaky' responses they gave (which clearly didn't convince our HR who seems upset), but I would like to be prepared and act more cautiously in similar situations in the future. I don't know how else I could handle it better.

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    Keep in mind that downvotes must reflect the question itself, not OP's actions or beliefs. If you disagree with them, write an answer or take it to chat. – rath Nov 16 at 15:16
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    @rath Downvotes "must" not reflect anything other than the downvoter's wish to use it. – pipe Nov 16 at 15:57
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    @pipe Please read the hover label over the vote down button: This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful. It doesn't say This question says something I disagree with. The premise of many questions can be seen as problematic, regardless, this is the place they come to get help. – rath Nov 16 at 16:19
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    @rath That's the recommended way to use downvotes, yes. – pipe Nov 16 at 16:23
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    @WernerCD, I didn't focus on why I didn't find the candidate suitable as I thought it would take the question out of context. But if you need to know, The candidate couldn't elaborate well on most of the projects, s(he) worked on nor the technologies that were used in them (nor could show the working projects themselves cause they were taken down recently). Long story short all his responses were "I didn't study technology but I have used it". – Lifelong Scholar Nov 17 at 4:09
up vote 81 down vote accepted

"I was asked to conduct a technical round before our director meets and finalizes a candidate".

You were probably asked to do this because you have the best grasp of what the candidate will be doing and if he is able to perform that.

There are many candidates that look good in HR eyes but are terrible while doing their job.
I would say it's professional to share your concerns with the director so he may be aware and ask similar questions to dispel or confirm doubts.

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    The key is to keep it as objective as possible. If there are weak areas, definitely highlight them, but similarly if they have any strengths or areas where you feel they have potential, absolutely add those too. You don't want it to appear that you're being deliberately unhelpful or trying to shoot down your replacement, but they asked for your opinion for a reason and they ignore your expertise at their own risk. – delinear Nov 16 at 17:21
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    If OP was asked to do this when they were in their notice period, then someone respects/values OPs opinion on the issue and they deserve OPs best efforts – cdkMoose Nov 16 at 17:22
  • I know but the said HR is a friend to the director (they were colleagues even before this company was started), so he kind of has the director's ear. As for me and the director, he knows me professionally, he has seen and praised my works on multiple occasions and I believe we have mutual respect for each other. I was thinking if the same happened again and 'the company' starts seeing a pattern when there isn't, what should I do? But I think @delinear's advice to add positives will help. – Lifelong Scholar Nov 17 at 5:35
  • As this seems to be most favored answer, I'll accept it in a week so that there's ample time for others to register their answers. – Lifelong Scholar Nov 17 at 5:35

No, you did the right thing. The candidate wasn't good enough, so you said so. That's just simple honesty and professionalism, assuming that your judgement isn't being influenced by the fact you're leaving (and it very much sounds like it's not being influenced). You gave management the information they needed to make a decision. They're still at liberty to say "we'll hire this candidate anyway, even though our technical team has reservations about them".

In fact, I'd think worse of a leaving employee who just said "yes, they're great" to everybody they interviewed as their potential replacement because that's the "easy" thing to say.

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    To add to this as someone who has been on both ends of the technical interview process: Saying, "yes, they're great!" when the candidate is not capable of doing the job will reflect poorly on the interviewer in the future. It may signal that the interviewer is not a competent judge of skill and not a suitable team leader, and if they need to work with anyone from the company they're leaving in the future, that reputation may do a disservice. – Logan Bertram Nov 16 at 22:01

Don't think of it as speaking "badly" about the candidate.

You shouldn't be any more worried about giving negative feedback about a favored candidate as you would be about giving positive feedback about a unfavored candidate. You, HR, and your director are all involved in the hiring process for specific reasons, it's OK if you don't all agree.

The thing you need to worry about is giving accurate feedback. Make sure you understand what kind of feedback you're being asked to provide - in this case, it sounds clear that you're being asked to evaluate technical skills. So, do that.

Honestly, the fact that you're leaving soon, or that you're personally interested in these project succeeding, shouldn't play into it. You're still an employee of this company (for now), you've been given a task, and you can and should do your best to perform it.

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    OP's edit: "I rejected the candidate citing some of the 'shaky' responses from the candidate (which clearly didn't convince our HR who seems upset)", so it seems it was exactly this accurate feedback that was needed and that the OP did not have time to prepare in advance. Lesson learned. – CPHPython Nov 16 at 15:39
  • I have rejected and accepted candidates for the same but they went smoothly, I never got the kind of push back that I did this time, so I got to thinking of how it's perceived by the company when I reject someone who seems valuable (at least to HR, who frankly speaking has more sway than me over the company matters). – Lifelong Scholar Nov 17 at 6:01
  • If you are ever in a situation where giving honest responses about a candidate for the factors you were asked to evaluate leads to a serious and impactful conflict between you and some other party (such as HR), you have to ask yourself: Is this an employer that's worth working for? – dwizum Nov 19 at 13:26

While you are still working at the company, you should work to the same standard as you would if you weren't currently serving your notice period (though you are only human, and motivation will probably slip towards the end).

Hiring / recruitment is a key part of any job, and arguably the most important thing any company can do. You have been asked to be a part of the recruitment process, so you should do it to the best of your ability.

If you believe that the best thing for the company would be to reject the candidate - then you should recommend that the candidate is rejected. That isn't "speaking bad about your replacement", that is doing your job on behalf of the company. It is the professional and proper thing to do. Conversely, a positive recommendation would be putting the company at risk of a bad hire, which is not a good outcome.

(If it helps you worry less: if the only answer it was acceptable for you to give was "yes", they wouldn't have bothered asking you at all...)

I agree with other answers that say that you should provide a clear and thruthful feedback.

Only I suggest that you make sure you and your director and HR all agree on what kind of a person they want to hire. For example, if your director and HR are OK with hiring a capable junior, and you asked some advanced technical questions, then probably it is not correct to outright reject the candidate. In any case, you should clearly state your doubts, but don't say that the candidate is not good for the position until you clearly understand what others expect from that position.

In fact, I do not know how hiring process is organized in your company, but in some organisations you might have some kind of "veto right" to completely reject a candidate. In situations when you are not leaving, such a right is sensble, as you would work with a successfull candidate, and so you may have all rights to reject a candidate that did not suit your expectations.

But you are leaving, so the candidate will work with your director, not you. So I think that you should not use such "veto right" in this case. State your doubts clearly, but make it clear that it is director and HR who should make the final decision.

Not telling them truthfully that you wouldn’t hire this candidate, that would be disloyal, damaging, not doing your job.

How this can be seen wouldn’t matter to me. If they ask for my opinion and then don’t like it, that’s not my problem, that is someone else’s problem. But most likely your HR and hiring manager are reasonable people and will realise that they are getting good advise.

  • It matters to me, this was my first job out of college and I worked here for a couple of years already, I have built a good relation with all my colleagues and I'd like to maintain it. I also wanted to handle it as professionally as possible. – Lifelong Scholar Nov 17 at 5:48

Will me speaking badly about a 'highly desired' candidate be viewed as me being disloyal, damaging, etc in any way to the company?

It's possible speaking badly will be viewed this way. But you can't worry about that.

If you are asked to aid in the transition process by helping interview potential replacements, you owe the company your honest feedback.

Try to make sure you take a step back and pretend that is like any other interview. Since we tend to value ourselves highly, that can color our view of replacements such that nobody could measure up.

In your feedback, don't speak badly about candidates. Just matter-of-factly mention the positives, mention the negatives, and if asked give your overall conclusion. In my opinion, you should not be asked to "accept" or "reject" the candidate - that is for others to do.

Sticking to the facts should help minimize any potential negative views of you.

I have had candidates I recommended against hiring who ended up doing a great job, candidates I wanted to hire end up getting rejected, and candidates I recommended hiring who I ended up not enjoying working with. Your perspective is valuable, but it's difficult to judge a person from a single interview, which is why companies have multiple interviewers.

So give your honest opinion, but keep in mind other interviewers have a different perspective, and it won't be just your fault if the candidate isn't ultimately accepted. Also keep in mind your perspective is a little skewed right now because no one you hire will be able to do your job exactly as you did. The other interviewers know this and will take it into account.

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