108

I've never faced anything of this sort before.

I interviewed at this firm for a position, for which I was rejected, but after the interview the manager requested if he could hold on to my resume for another opening in a different department. He was of the view that my skillset would be better suited for this other position.

A month later, I was asked to interview for this newer position, and my future teammate was also a part of the interviewing team. Yesterday the manager called me to offer me the job, which I was happy to accept.

But today, this 'would be' teammate called me privately to tell me that he was against my hiring, that he though I lacked the experience/skillset, that he could not officially 'boycott' working with me, that he would have preferred it if the position was advertised and they had the option to interview candidates with more experience than me.

What should I do? I haven't signed the contract yet, and apparently the manager seems to be unaware of this employee's resentment towards me.

On the one hand I could go in with a positive attitude and try to work towards addressing any worries this teammate might have. On the other hand I find this behavior symptomatic of a toxic culture at this company.

EDIT: Thanks for your insights. I've been invited to sign the contract tomorrow. I'm not desperate for this job, and I would rule out signing the contract. However, I've decided I'll still go and meet the hiring manager to tell him what happened, and ask him to put himself in my situation - let's see how he reacts and if he's willing to come up with a solution.

I've noted down everything this 'potential' coworker said on the phone, but he was clever enough to call from a 'private number' so I won't be able to definitely prove it was him.

What soured the entire deal for me was the fact that this 'potential' coworker would be my only teammate. Regardless how good I am at my job, I would still need to rely on him to learn the ropes, and I have no intention of dealing with his unprofessionalism. I could probably deal with a coworker who gave me the cold shoulder at first, but the fact that this guy had the nerve to call me even before I was hired shows that this guy is on a warpath (maybe hidden resentments, family issues, passed over for promotion... who knows?). I mean, advertising this position again would cost the firm both time and money, not to mention the backlog of work. Apparently all this extra work has little importance for him compared to his own interests.

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    Do you know that this actually is the same person? There have been cases where other candidates have impersonated a company or company representative to make their competitors withdraw. – Phil Oct 23 at 14:17
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    Why wouldn`t you see it as attempt on his part to sabotage you in order to put HIS friend to the position? How bad do you want the job? How would it advance you? if it is a step up for your career, take it and start looking for new opportunity as soon as you get in :) – Strader Oct 23 at 16:03
  • @Phil that's some impersonation to fool someone who recently had a face to face conversation with the person you're impersonating. – iheanyi Oct 24 at 20:00
  • Not hard to impersonate someone they had a face-to-face conversation with if the follow-up conversation wasn't face to face. Do you think this guy showed up at OPs door to deliver this message? Use your brain. – DetectivePikachu Nov 5 at 18:55

10 Answers 10

194

Note down as much detail as you can recall about the private call, and report it to the manager and HR of the company.

Calling potential candidate privately is extremely unprofessional, not mentioning in your case it's actually pretty rude and rather naive. You should reconsider if you still want to be onboard with the company according to their response to your complaint.

If they decided to not act on the employee that called, just run, run as fast as you can, you dodged a bullet!

  • 4
    Another option might be to call the future colleague directly and have a proper talk. This talk would include something along the lines of "If we can't figure this out amongst ourselves, you leave me no choice but to resort to other means (management)." In some cases reporting directly to management can lead to even further resentment, don't you think? It could be worsening what is already a bad start... – user32882 Oct 24 at 10:16
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    @user32882 I wouldn't do that, same way as calling candidate privately, calling potential colleague privately is also not a professional move, especially considering the hostility that the said person shown. Rule of thumb is that you don't go out of your way when others gone out of their way, after all this is a problem for management and HR, they are getting paid for handling this kind of cases. I would just let them do their job, while OP can evaluate how they are doing their job and considering about if he wanted to work with such management/HR. – tweray Oct 24 at 12:25
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    yeah I agree with you. If this were after OP was hired and they had the chance to work together a bit then I'd say maybe start with a personal conversation. But this person is mad at OP even before they start?! Unbelievable – user32882 Oct 24 at 12:28
  • I’m not sure where this is based but this is not just unprofessional but illegal in Europe. CV information is considered confidential and private information and therefore it is illegal to use it for personal matters. – Jorge Córdoba Oct 24 at 13:56
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    You may want to phrase it something like "I have been contacted by a person stating to be X who wanted to discourage me from accepting the job." Unless you are absolutely 100% certain that X actually did the call. – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Oct 24 at 14:56
48

Couple of red flags here:

  • How did the "would be" teammate get your personal contact info (unless they had a dedicated copy of your resume which had your contact number)? Even if they had the info, how could they avail that for their "personal" use?
  • If they were against your appointment, why could they not voice that opinion before the interview (especially because they were part of the interview panel)?
  • Even if their opinion was overruled, why could they not behave in a professional way? They knew the risk of being confronted (by you), why did they still do something silly and offensive?
  • Are they actually acting on their own and not as proxies? (maybe the current interviewing manager has the same opinion, but could not simply refuse the suggestion of the other manager)?

Given all these, I'd not be much inclined to work with "them".

As suggested in other answers, bring this to notice of the organization through your recruiter and manager.

  • If there is any action taken against the employee for their behavior, you have room for thought whether you want to work there or not.
  • If they tend / seem to ignore the case, run fast.
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    "How did the "would be" teammate got your personal contact info?". Every time I've interviewed someone I've had their resume, which also has contact information. Nothing unusual here. – DJClayworth Oct 23 at 14:26
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    Still a valid question. A lot of recruiters will redact the candidate's personal contact details (they like all contact to go through them), and really there's no reason for this person to have been made aware of those details. It's especially troubling that they then used those personal details in such an unprofessional manner and highlights perhaps something the company needs to address in terms of employee privacy. – delinear Oct 23 at 15:20
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    @Möoz 3rd paragraph, "my future teammate was also a part of the interviewing team". The caller was part of the interview panel, who will be the OP's future teammate. The caller is not another interview candidate... – Nelson Oct 24 at 3:11
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    "I'd not be much inclined to work with "them"." - Not only is this good advice, but I would also go one step further, and specify the reason you are not inclined to work there. Specifically, point out, your personal contact information was used, in order to harass you (or at the very least make you feel unwelcomed). – Donald Oct 24 at 5:39
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    Depending on the country, this misuse of your contact details could open the company up to legal (criminal, not civil) implications. – Roger Lipscombe Oct 24 at 9:30
20

Don't be too quick to turn away the job because of this interaction. You were offered the job by the hiring manager. You received that call from a future coworker (assumed to be subordinate to that manager). If you let this guy scare you off, you're effectively letting him overrule his manager. The manager makes these sorts of decisions for a reason. Trust the manager's judgement over the random employee.

Also, pay close attention to what this employee said. He said he would have preferred if the position was advertised. That means the hiring manager found you impressive enough after the interview that he didn't bother advertising the position. He could have easily done so without you ever knowing, but he didn't. That speaks volumes for what the manager thinks of you. Again, trust the manager's judgement over the random employee.

Just because this guy was against hiring you doesn't necessarily mean that you're in for a bad work experience. I've had people hired onto my team that I helped interview and was vocal about not hiring (although not nearly so brazen as to call them directly). I gave them a fair shot, they impressed me, and I completely changed my opinion about them. First impressions aren't always permanent. In a couple of months, his opinion of you (and vice versa) may be completely different. Of course it's always possible that things won't improve, but generally speaking the number of people out there who will give you a fair shake is much larger than the number of truly toxic people.

As far as reporting this incident goes, I can see it both ways. On one hand, it's an awkward way to start your relationship with a new employer. On the other hand, if I was the manager I would definitely want to know if someone was interfering with the hiring process (which in some locales has strict legal requirements). Definitely document everything that you can, including call logs that show when this coworker called you and from what number. If you decide to report it to the manager, I'd suggest saying something like "After you offered me the position, someone from the company contacted me directly to discourage me from taking the job. I'm not trying to get anyone in trouble, it just seemed highly irregular and likely outside your standard practice so I thought you would want to know". If the manager seems interested or asks for details, you can give him names and the information that you recorded.

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    "If you let this guy scare you off, you're effectively letting him overrule his manager." No, you're not. You're effectively choosing not to intentionally put yourself in an obviously toxic situation. – Alex M Oct 24 at 0:14
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    @AlexM Nothing is obvious here, neither we nor OP know much about this person. Being against hiring someone does not at all imply that they'll treat that person poorly once they've been hired. It's more likely that this potential coworker simply has poor interpersonal skills and doesn't realize that what he did was inappropriate. I'm simply saying not to focus on one negative sign when there are so many more positive signs. – bta Oct 24 at 0:37
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    @bta while being against hiring someone does not imply that poor treatment will ensue, the fact this person crossed a line by calling the OP without any good reason, plus the fact that the person clearly said that they want to boycott working with OP, implies that this person will most likely put as much bad will in working with OP as humanly possible. – user3399 Oct 24 at 8:10
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    @user1 instead of taking a job to spite somenone, isn't it better to take a job to further your career ? You should'nt take that kind of decision just out of ressentment. who cares if this guy 'wins' if OP can avoid taking a job where things are probably going to be toxic, then he should. – user3399 Oct 24 at 9:58
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    As alluded in other comments, I think this answers conflates two different issues: Yes, it is normal and not generally a problem to work with people who voted against hiring you - hiring is usually a collective decision, and if someone participates, they must expect to be overruled sometimes. But it is not normal nor professional to personally contact someone who was hired against your recommendation to a) tell them about this and b) even worse - imply that you would like to boycott working with them. The second part is the issue here. – sleske Oct 24 at 10:08
4

I think it depends how badly you want the job. Your teammate should not have contacted you like that, and what was the point!? He should have talked to the manager, not you.

I would phone the manager and turn the job down, stating the reasons why you no longer wish to work there.

If you desperately need the job you could stay quiet however, this can lead to bitterness and resentment of the company especially as your teammate will probably be your senior.

If you need the job, but you're not desperate, then I would suggest reporting it and let the manager decide.

In my experience it's always best to show your colleagues that you aren't afraid to call them out when needed. You won't make best friends with them, but they will respect you.

2

You can’t prove it was him, but you believe it is? If so, then you should also believe you don’t want to work with him. Other answers say why.

In such a situation, I would respond. “Someone called me without caller ID and claimed to be ___. I believe it was him by the voice, but can’t prove it. He said he did not want to work with me, and therefore, I think trying to work with him would be bad for me and the company. So I cannot accept the position.”

1

I think it is quite possible that he is truthful and genuinely assumes he could not work with you. He may have called you personally because it seemed to him to be the most honest solution. Normally, he would need to make up some excuse for his superior, and make sure you can not sue the company. You would not find out what was going on, but get some generic empty nonsense.

The reason why he can not work with you was probably an excuse. And the real reason something personal, either too personal, or just hard to explain.

We can not know what it is, but I have no doubt it is possible. Humans are complex.

So, if he was genuine, you should avoid working with him.

Because he knows himself much better that we do, and could actually be right about it. In fact, he might even have empirical evidence about it, because he already had it go wrong before.

-4

Take notes of exactly what was said and when.

What I would not do is report it to the manager or HR.

While on the surface, reporting it might seem wise but in reality there are many people who would actually try to blame you. If the offending employee disputed it and denied the whole thing, who do you think they are going to believe? Hint: it won't be the new guy.

I would hold on to your record and even email it to yourself so you have it stored as well as timestamped. When it comes out (and it will) that the other employee doesn't like you, you can delicately explain why you think that is and that it's not new. It could also be used if he starts to sabotage you and it looks like it will affect your employment.

And whatever you do, do not tell HR. They aren't your friend and they will just tell the manager anyway and you'll again be possibly viewed as a troublemaker.

Don't report it (at least right away) because it's easier to not hire you than to try to deal with an employee who obviously is valued by your future employer. In the mean time, be the best you can be and pretend that nothing was ever said (until you can't do that anymore).

  • I kind of agree with the other commenters that this may lead to contributing to rather than lessening a sense of toxicity in the workplace. But reporting here is only offered as a last, and not a first resort. It seems somewhat debatable since the questioner seems to be not wishing to go ahead with this offer. – user44108 Oct 26 at 8:54
  • That's really the question. Does he want the job or not? Personally, I do like the suggestion that said RUN. That's probably what I would do. I wrote this answer (which I still stand by) on the assumption that he actually wanted the job. The reason is that if one doesn't want a job, they typically don't care enough to go asking others what to do. I stand by the knowledge (gained through personal experience and observation) that telling HR anything almost never ends well because their primary job is to protect the company and its management. – Chris E Oct 28 at 11:22
  • A recent edit to the question seems to imply that the OP doesn't want to take the job, but rather is going through the process to gain some sort of closure. – user44108 Oct 28 at 11:25
-4

Starting off any kind of relationship with lies, untruths, or withholding information can only lead to problems. If you take the job without being up front with your new boss then you can not expect them to fully trust you. Would you trust them if you knew they were not being forthright about everything?

If you don't tell your new boss about this co-workers actions and the boss doesn't know, the co-worker will have something they can hold over your head. They will also assume that you are intimidated by them and their behavior will probably get worse. If they are willing to make those statements to a stranger, imagine what they will try to pull when they know you better. Having kept it a secret at the beginning means you can not later disclose that info without it making you look bad. When it gets worse you will be alone to deal with it which in turn will give the coworker power over you.

If the boss does know about this, they may be waiting to see how you handle yourself and whether you put the companies interest first. Not going straight to your new boss will make you look like you are not a team player. It would also show the boss that they can't depend on you to be upfront knowing that this other person could be giving their company a bad name. If this person is so bold as to call you then you can be sure this is not the only thing they have done. Management may have suspicions but have been unable to confirm it. An honest and caring employee may be just what they are looking for. When you approach the boss there is no need to go in as the tattletale but as a concerned grown-up that wants to do a good job, get along with everyone, and needs a little help navigating a complex situation that they have never faced. This will likely bring some extra respect your way.

They are your boss so do not expect them to pat you on the back or give you much feedback about the situation. Keep your explanation short and to the point. Do not include any opinions or how you feel. Don't assume that it wasn't handled because the coworker is not let go. They can not take just your word to fire someone anymore than they could take the coworkers word over yours. You should not hear anything else about this nor does this mean the coworker will start being nice to you. What you should notice is that you are being treated decent by EVERYONE and not disrespected by ANYONE. A company with good morals will not discuss anything personal with you about what they do nor will they discuss anything personal about you with anyone else. This is the type company you want to work for. You don't want to work for a company that doesn't respect everyone's privacy and plays favorites which is what would be happening if they confided in you about the other person.

You must give this company and your new boss your complete respect and trust. That is the only way to start with a new company. You should assume that the situation was handled by the next work day after relating the facts to them. If it happens again, go straight to your boss. The co-worker may be testing you so don't fail. If it happens a third time you should take the notes that you have secretly been keeping, speak to no one, and go straight to an attorney's office of your choosing that specializes in work place problems.

The next time you face a situation that you are unsure of, ask yourself a few questions, and answer them honestly giving them much thought. How would I want to be treated if I were the other person? How would I expect to be treated if I had done that? Will keeping it a secret hurt me or anyone else in any way? What do I gain from doing it this way or that way? Do I feel deep down that I am making the right decision for all involved? Will my choice hurt an innocent person? Did this person do this on purpose to be mean or was it just bad judgement on their part? Do I sometimes make bad decisions? Have I truly tried to understand it from the other person's point of view? After coming to a conclusion that you feel good about, act on it. Don't change your mind just because someone else has a different opinion.

Remember you are the one walking in those shoes and come next week, those shoes will still be on your feet. In other words, you are the one that will be facing the consequences of your actions not the other people giving you advice. It is easy to say do this or that when you are not the one actually doing it.

Good luck, follow your heart but be mindful, and trust in yourself.

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    this post is rather hard to read, would you mind editing it into a better shape? – gnat Oct 24 at 11:16
-9

Take the job. When you start the job, you show this team mate your biggest, fakest smile. And then you do your best to show not only him but also your manager that you are better than him.

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    The first part of your answer, is not the way you want to start a working relationship with your colleagues. It looks very passive aggressive to me and I would not recommend doing that.Second part is ok to do. – kirbby Oct 23 at 13:41
-9

Sign the contract first and then contact the manager as others have suggested and ask to be bought out. Enjoy three months of paid vacation. Unless you get an exceptionally good response from the manager you don't want to work for this company.

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    Seems a little bit unethical to me. – Fildor Oct 24 at 7:43
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    Not only does this seem unethical, I don't even understand how this is supposed to work. What is this "buying out" mentioned? Why on earth would the company choose to give you three months of paid vacation? – sleske Oct 24 at 10:09
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    @sleske is right. In most countries, you'd have a "probation period", wherein they can set you free within way shorter notice and over here even without giving reasons. – Fildor Oct 24 at 11:52
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    What a load of nonsense. – Lightness Races with Monica Oct 24 at 12:07
  • And what happens if OP does this because of your advice but is living where the employer can fire you immediately with no penalty to itself? – Aaron Oct 24 at 21:05

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