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Background story only because I think it might be relevant: I'm a 40 year old widower (for 2 years). I have not been with anyone since, nor have I been interested in anyone (me and my wife were very very close).

Today I happened to interview someone and for the first time, I felt an attraction. I've never had a crush but it certainly felt like that. I won't act on it in anyway, but I do worry that it might actually be clouding my perception (that perhaps she's a stronger engineer than she actually is). Since I'm the only technical person at our company (there's only 4 of us) I can't really hand her off to someone else. I don't want to reject her on the basis of any of this since it would not be fair to her but I don't know if I can trust my judgment. What should I do in this situation?

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    Have you considered offering her an independent online test (that is, if there are some relevant to her position/education)? See if your judgement agrees with the test results. – Igor G Oct 29 at 23:38
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    Do you have female colleagues who might join you during the interview? While they might be influenced the opposite way, they would definitely balance the situation at least partially. Remember that face-to-face interviews are always (at least partially) subjective. – virolino Oct 30 at 5:46
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    How do you see you relationship with her in such a small company, if she offered a job? That is the real question. The one that you are not asking here, and the one that only you can answer – Mawg says reinstate Monica Oct 30 at 7:41
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    @morbo On the other hand, it would be pretty horrific too if a candidate was rejected just because the hiring manager was attracted to them. – Bilkokuya Oct 30 at 14:20
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    @morbo in many places/fields, good opportunities are not easy to come by and can be fiercely competitive. I don't think we should assume the candidate can easily afford to pass the opportunity up. – Time4Tea Oct 30 at 15:18
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What should I do in this situation?

Trust your professional judgement. Since you have identified the risk, you can make professional judgements with it as just another factor. You're not a hormonal teenager anymore.

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    I also recommend doing at least one of the interviews by telephone, where you can remove the candidate's appearance from the equation. That may give you a better sense of her communication skills and level of knowledge. – Umbrella_Programmer Oct 30 at 20:27
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I don't know if I can trust my judgment. What should I do in this situation?

Involve others with better judgement.

If you are not the hiring manager, discuss this with whoever would actually do the hiring.

If you are the hiring manager, talk with HR or your boss and ask for their advice.

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    They’re a four person company. I doubt they have a dedicated HR person. – nick012000 Oct 29 at 23:08
4

I don't know if I can trust my judgment. What should I do in this situation?

As long as your judgment is limited purely to professional matters, you should be able to trust it. If this candidate is clearly the strongest person for the job, you have a clear idea of who the best person is. If you feel that it's possible you may be overestimating the skills of this candidate, and there are other candidates in a similar skill range, you can feel free to make your decision on other reasoning, as long as it continues to remain professional.

For example, based on this:

I do worry that it might actually be clouding my perception (that perhaps she's a stronger engineer than she actually is)

If you feel that any person is more likely to bring in skills that are not strictly engineering skills, e.g. a stronger leader of a hypothetical future team, or a possible expertise with sales or client-focused interaction, that could be a tipping point.

If there are positives and negatives regardless, and you genuinely have 2 or 3 equally skilled possible employees, you can in fact present your opinion as exactly that - inform your colleagues any of these appear to be equally good. Perhaps as a team, you will feel that one is more suitable, or flip a coin, but you will absolutely have treated this potential employee fairly, as well as noted to the rest of your colleagues that there is someone else who could be approached in the future if another person of that role/skillset would make a good addition. After all, it's even possible that whoever you give the offer to first may then decline for whatever reason of theirs.

1

If I were in your position, I would have a hard list of requirements regarding the kind of person you want in this role. These have to be objective things, either they have this or they don't.

You can have a secondary list of things that can include, among other things, subjective stuff in there like 'likeability', things that are a plus but not required, or things that the interviewee brings up somewhere that might be bonuses, but the idea is the items on the first list are inflexible.

If they pass the first-list hurdle, ask members of the team you plan to put the interviewee in with regards to the validity of any of the items in the second list. Phrase it as a hypothetical; don't tell them that you're interviewing someone with or without that skill.

Apply this across all candidates and use all of this data to come to your conclusion who the best candidate is.

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    I agree. The OP should do everything possible to remove the fact they find the candidate attractive from the hiring decision (as it shouldn't be relevant either way). – Time4Tea Oct 30 at 15:10
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If there’s someone else you’re interviewing with equivalent technical skills, hire them instead. That way you can protect the company and yourself from potential sexual harassment claims if you were to ever start acting on your attraction to her.

If you do decide to hire her, never close the door if you’re alone with her in a room, and never deliberately act on your attraction to her (unconsciously acting on your attraction to her is more difficult to prevent). Not only must you avoid any sexual harassment, you must avoid even the appearance of sexual harassment.

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    While “avoiding the appearance of sexual harassment” is always a good idea, declining a candidate merely based on your attraction to her is morally equivalent to hiring a candidate for that same reason, e.g. it’s improper behavior either way. – Joe Oct 29 at 22:52
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    If I was the hiring manager for her, I would need extra assurances that she is not entitled, vengeful, manipulative, or pushes/espouses political views, and not a political activist. Unfortunately being attractive is an unnecessary office distraction. So is politics that can not only divide the office, but the client base... All this being said, in the actual hiring chair is a tough spot, humans instinctively lean favorably towards attractive people, and one does fight their instincts/subconscious easily if at all possible. – Ranald Fong Oct 30 at 3:02
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    This is a terrible answer that's spiraling to worse as comments get added. The correct way to "protect the company and yourself from sexual harassment claims" is to treat your colleagues in a professional manner. – DariM Oct 30 at 5:27
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    @RanaldFong so what if she is an activist / feminist? So not would you discriminate a candidate based on looks, but also their personal beliefs? I fail to see why a candidates attractiveness is an issue, if your team are not professional enough to work with her then that's your teams fault, not hers. – MattR Oct 30 at 12:11
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    @RanaldFong I am assuming that you're aware that the approach you are advocating for would be illegal in most jurisdictions (making an employment decision based on someone's appearance, sexual attractiveness, or political activity.) – dwizum Oct 30 at 14:35

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