I'm hiring for a contract position through an agency. We're a small investment company and I am one of the people this position will report to. The agency sent me the resume of a candidate that looked great on paper. However, after reading more closely I realized that I once had a couple of one night stands with the candidate. He was a nice enough guy, but had an alcohol problem and things did not end well (I had to ask him to stop contacting me after our second date.) This was 5+ years ago, so maybe he's changed. However, I am inclined to "pass" on him. What valid reason can I give, if any?

It's the very first resume the agency sent me, so in some ways it makes sense to wait until I see more resumes. That said, I don't think we'll have a huge pick of candidates in this job market.

  • Interesting thought. I could just pass without giving a reason. Other colleagues are aware of this contractor's resume, but I am in charge of the process and running it on my own. So maybe your suggestion is feasible. Oct 10, 2019 at 23:59
  • In a comment, I saw that you have mentioned that you will be one of his reports. My gut says, this might lead to problems beyond the recruitment, if he is brought on board. How much of assurance is there that the rotten flesh of the past won't surface and start to stink all over the place? Oct 11, 2019 at 1:44

4 Answers 4


If there are things about someone that I know from past encounters with that person that might interfere with them doing the job I would absolutely take those into account. That might include things like not respecting peoples boundaries or being verbally aggressive or a poor communicator or any of a million other reasons. I would not exclude someone because of the nature of those encounters though. That seems unaligned with the goals of recruitment.

Now if you have a reason like that, then I don't think it would be weird to state that you have met this person previously and your interaction then led you to think that they might have problems fulfilling this or that requirement.

If I was angry with or resentful of someone for personal reasons i might ask a colleague to help me with the hiring process for this specific candidate though. Not sure if that applies in your case or not.

  • 1
    I can feel comfortable with this. Essentially, I don't need to divulge details but can feel confident that it is appropriate to use past interactions as a gauge. It's honest. I don't harbor any resentment, I genuinely don't think this person would be right for the role. Thanks. Oct 11, 2019 at 1:23

I think people are making this way more complicated than it needs to be. If I had someone that, say, bullied me during highschool was applying for an opening on the same team as me, I would simply say:

"I've had personal interactions with them in the past - and they weren't of a positive nature. I don't believe the two of us would work well on the same team and I would highly recommend that we do not hire them."

... and leave it at that. You don't have to elaborate, or try to find an 'efficiency' based answer. You don't have to justify a prior experience that means you wouldn't work alongside them well. A good portion of a work environment is interpersonal relationships between coworkers, and if you know that the interpersonal dynamic between the two of you in the office is going to be bad - that's relevant information to anyone hiring.


It's not appropriate to screen them, but it is appropriate for you to recuse yourself from his hiring process.

  • 11
    I can understand that in a large organization, but this is a small, 20 person office, and I will be one of the people he reports to. Oct 11, 2019 at 0:11
  • 1
    Then at the very least you need to make it know that you have interacted with this person in the past. Otherwise it could be seen as an undisclosed conflict of interest. Oct 16, 2019 at 16:19

What you suggest is totally inappropriate and totally unprofessional. That said, you do what is best for you. If acting inappropriately and unprofessionally gives you a better outcome and you can live with it, go ahead, just don’t expect applause from anyone.

And make sure you are successful. Nothing worse than the guy being hired and finding out you tried to prevent them from getting the job.

  • 7
    First berating a stance as outright inappropriate and then changing to "do it if you can get away with it" is highly immoral and hypocritical. Such answers are never good advice.
    – Flater
    Oct 11, 2019 at 13:56
  • 2
    "Embezzling from the company is totally inappropriate and totally unprofessional. That said, you do what is best for you. If you think you won't be caught, go for it." Yeesh, this answer is pretty terrible.
    – Kevin
    Oct 11, 2019 at 20:29
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    It's also not at all inappropriate or unprofessional. Hiring someone who will report into you in a small office, who you have had a relationship with - whether it ended badly or not - would be inappropriate. As long as OP is honest - i.e. I knew this person 5 years ago and did not have a positive experience with them
    – Gamora
    Oct 14, 2019 at 12:14

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