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My most recent hire is from a different country. We invited him for a face to face interview before giving an offer. He is handing a notice to his currently employer and hasn't started working for us yet.

He comes off as overly familiar and somewhat an online stalker. So far he did the following:

  • Searched for my photos online. He didn't stop at just seeing how I look like. He went deeper to see how tall I am, ...etc. He managed to find photos of me that I cannot find myself.

  • Found my personal email address and added me on chat. For the record my email account cannot be found by search. He must have done some very intense detective work to find it.

  • Found my personal Skype account and added me.

  • Added me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, ...etc

  • He did similar things to the other interviewers as well: Personal emails, facebook, watching/reading anything to do with them online.

He was very friendly and eager but otherwise normal nothing else stood out when we met him face to face. He was very open about researching us online and finding as much as possible. He is very smart and an extremely good fit for the position. It took us a long time to find someone with the skills we need.

How best to deal with him as his direct manager?

Edit:

I talked to him according to @JoeStrazzere advice. He seemed to understand. I really feel that some answers took this too far. It was more of an overly friendly and familiar behavior than anything else. Strange, yes, but not a red flag in my opinion.

  • No I haven't, I'm really not sure how to approach this without negatively impacting our work relationship. – Thomas Sep 29 '13 at 17:47
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    Stalking would be having contact after you had already indicated it was unwarranted or inappropriate. The language in your post suggests you are jumping to conclusions (e.g. "my email account cannot be found by search" -- how would you know? Did you ask the candidate or are you just assuming?). Your company gave him an offer despite him doing this stuff prior to the interview, and openly admitting what he did in the interview. I am absolutely baffled as to what the actual issue you have is. – jmac Sep 29 '13 at 23:35
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    @Thomas these things you are going through are the reason many people make their social network profiles private/shared with friends only. – user10483 Sep 30 '13 at 16:33
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    @LegoStormtroopr he told about it. According to him he had to search really hard to find the photo. – Thomas Oct 3 '13 at 23:42
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    @Thomas Ok, in that case, thats kind of weird. – user9158 Oct 4 '13 at 0:01
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As a Manager, whenever you have an issue with an employee, you owe it to them to discuss it individually, and in private.

Over the years I've had personality clashes that I felt the individual didn't understand. I discussed how I felt they were coming across to me, and to others. And I discussed ways I thought they could change their behaviors and be more cognizant as to how they are coming across.

I think you should sit down with this new employee, and say something like "We are thrilled to have you with us, and we know you'll do a good job. But as your Manager, I think I owe it to you to talk with you about some issues that might hinder your relationship with others here."

Then, you can explain what he has done that makes you and others feel he is becoming overly-familiar. Chance are, he doesn't even realize how his behavior is being perceived by your team.

It bothers me a bit when you write "He was very friendly and eager but otherwise normal", as if being friendly and eager makes him abnormal. I suspect by that definition I, and most of my co-workers would be abnormal, because most of us are friendly, and most are eager, too.

Perhaps there is something about your company or your team that is more reserved/conservative than most companies? If so, all the more reason for you to step up and talk with your new employee to gently guide him to the cultural norms in your company. Don't wait - for his benefit and for the benefit of your team, do it now.

(While I strongly recommend that you have this one-on-one chat yourself, if for some reason you simply cannot, perhaps there is someone senior on your team would would be appropriate for this conversation. In my shop, when we bring a new person on board, I assign a mentor to help the new employee learn the systems, the people, etc. While having this sort of a chat wouldn't be expected of the mentor in my shop, perhaps in your company that would work well.)

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    +1 Just like to add that this should probably be done as soon as possible after some incident, so that you both remember exactly what happened and all the surrounding circumstances. – dcaswell Sep 29 '13 at 18:00
  • Thank you. I admit my choice of wording was poor. I actually meant that nothing stood out other than that. The work environment is not reserved by any means. I actually have a lot of coworkers on Facebook. It's just that for someone that hasn't even started to work, he is too familiar. – Thomas Sep 29 '13 at 18:03
  • @JoeStrazzere Should I talk to him now or wait until he actually start to see if his behavior continues? I prefer to do such a talk face to face and I cannot do that until he moves to our country. – Thomas Sep 29 '13 at 18:14
  • @JoeStrazzere He starts in a month. I'm not sure how much more he can do while away. I'm hoping the things he has done so far are the extent of what he can do for now. – Thomas Sep 29 '13 at 18:22
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Tricky. This could either be personality issue, a cultural issue, or both. You will have to talk to him but the best way to do this may depend on the root cause and will clearly depend on his/her and your own cultural norms. I would try to find someone in your company that is familiar with the employee's culture and get some input on

  1. Is this type of behavior normal, a bit off but still acceptable, or totally out of whack in his/her native culture?
  2. What is the best way to bring this up in terms of minimizing embarrassment and all around aggravation?

Depending on the answer to question one, you may approach this differently. If it's normal in his/her culture than you can easily spin this positively "hey, it's great that you are excited and enthusiastic for your new role but in this country you may want to take it a bit slower. For example wait for people to reach out to you or until you know them for a while before trying to friend them on Facebook."

If this behavior is creepy even in his/her home country you may have a problem on your hand here. In this case, I would clearly and specifically state expected rules and norms, state which specific current behaviors are not OK and take it from there. I'd do that matter of fact without judgment or emotion (regardless of cultural background) and then the ball is on his/her court. If the behavior continues, you will have to repeat this with increasing force.

  • You have a good point about the culture difference. I will ask about this. Thank you! – Thomas Sep 29 '13 at 18:17
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You said "He is very smart and an extremely good fit for the position. It took us a long time to find someone with the skills we need." There's a very old saying: When something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

I'm going to go way out on a ledge here and suggest that you, and the other interviewers, document very carefully everything that the individual has done, document very carefully everything that you know about the individual, and go have a very quiet, confidential talk with your firm's Head of Security. Do this BEFORE the guy starts work.

What you describe is very unusual behavior, backed up by very esoteric, very high-level skills. He may have been acting alone, or he may have had help.

It may be that I spent too many years in the defense industry, but something about this bothers me, and it isn't just the "potential stalker" issue.

  • The fact that the new employee is already effectively on thin ice before their first day of work based on actions exposed during the interview makes it seem that the hiring process for the OP's company is deeply flawed. – mhoran_psprep Oct 2 '13 at 12:48
  • Interesting answer...a little out there... but still valid. – jmorc Oct 2 '13 at 15:17
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this is a little wierd, but I'm not sure its a stalker. sounds like someone trying to buddy up to the manager. Give him the benefit of the doubt. When you talk to him do it in a non-threatening way. Tell him to please give you your space and that we are colleagues,but we don't know each other out of the office. He may not have any friends over here and may be trying to suck up.

I would make sure to have HR present for this to protect yourself, but try to be friendly about it. All that being said, if he doesn't 'get it' immediately, especially if you approach it in a friendly way, fire him. This shouldn't be that hard to get across.

Just don't assume he is a stalker. I can see someone from another country just trying to kiss up to the boss and make a good impression and not realizing that in the US he looks wierd.

1

I wouldn't take it too seriously. Sounds like a socially backward but technically savvy young man. Let him know that most people find this behavior too aggressive, and that he should primarily look for personal friends outside the workplace.

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