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My team is trying to hire a new member and has been interviewing some potential candidates. I came across the list of people interviewing and found out that a guy I knew is on that list.

I knew him from my previous workplace and he has been a person I know on a greeting basis as we have a few mutual friends.
One Friday after work, I took the bus back to home and noticed that he and his friends are in the bus too. No one noticed me and I sat 2-3 rows behind them. They seemed a bit drunk (Friday night) and I figured that they were going to crash at a mutual friend's place, who lives in the same apartment as mine. Soon, he and his group started objectifying a woman I knew from the office. The comments turned mean and sexual after a point. They got down at the bus-stop and I stayed in to get down at the next one as I didn't wanted him to see that I was in the same one.
I couldn't say anything to him at that moment on passing ill comments as I was in a new country and they were a drunk group, which scared me a bit.

Now, I said the above things in brief to my manager and he asked me to make a call on his process of hiring. I'm pretty sure he is skilled at what he does but that character is that what worries me. I'm pretty young and he is way more experienced than me.

Question: What should my answer be? Should I consider that incident in making a decision or put it aside as it could be a one night thing?

  • You speak Japanese? – Kilisi May 22 at 11:20
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Now, I said the above things in brief to my manager

Why did you do that? What is your desired outcome and what are you trying to achieve?

and he gave me the rights to make a decision on his process of hiring.

This would be very unusual and your manager shouldn't not do that. It is their decision and not yours. You may have misunderstood: your manager may have meant "do you think you could work with this person or would that be unacceptable to you".

There a few different lines of reply you can try, but that really depends on my first question: what do you want? Here are a few options

  1. I was only trying to provide information relevant to the hiring. I have no idea whether this was an exception or whether there is a pattern of this behavior. Perhaps this can be explored in the interview process by some targeted questioning

  2. I have no experience with hiring and I don't feel qualified to make hiring decisions for the company. I was only providing information to you that I thought would be relevant to the hiring decision. If you decide to hire this persons I would {be fine}, {be disappointed}, {leave immediately}, etc. (choose the appropriate answer)

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Disclaimer: I don't know Japanese culture.

You seem to have glossed over any possible mitigating circumstances.

  • Peer pressure may have caused this person to act in a way to fit in his group of friends rather than how they act by themselves.
  • This person was drunk. While that does not excuse their actions, drunk people are known to state or behave more embarrasingly than they would when sober.
  • This person could've bettered themselves between this event and his job application

I'm not in any way approving of this person's behavior, but I am trying to remind you that we're all humans capable of making mistakes and that shouldn't disqualify us from life in general.

I can't know any of these (or additional) mitigating circumstances for a fact. It's possible that this person is an all-round blatant and outspoken mysoginist, or they could be a misguided individual who slipped up while on a drunk night out with friends. Neither you nor me can know this for a fact.

It's understandable to not like a person who expresses themselves in a way you find regrettable. You are well within your rights to personally avoid them if that is what you want. However, I do consider your actions to be on the unprofessional side.

If everyone who has every made a moral faux-pas should be excluded from any job opportunity, a lot of people would be unemployable. We've all done or said something stupid in our lives - would you want to be haunted by any mistake you've made at some point during your life, or an opinion you once held regardless of whether you've changed your mind at a later stage?

And based on how you've approached this, you're marking them as unredeemable. At what point would you consider this person worthy of employment again?

Based on what you have seen, there is no reason to believe that this person cannot or will not behave professionally while employed by your company. Your experience is a personal one, and your response to it is subjective. Again, it's perfectly fine to let this guide your personal behavior towards this person, but it shouldn't affect your professional behavior.

What someone does in their private life is, by definition, private. You may not like it, but you shouldn't overstep your authority to start policing people's behavior based on what you personally do or don't like.

One of my manager holds many opinions that I vehemently disagree with (some f which I find downright repugnant). But it's just an opinion they voice, and it clashes with mine. Nothing more.
As a result, I don't discuss any of these topics with them at work parties and I don't socialize with them outside of work. Other than that, our professional relationship is fine. They treat me (and all employees) respectfully and I don't have any professional complaints about them.

That being said, should this manager's opinions and private behaviors start bleeding through their professional interactions with me (or my colleagues), then it would become a valid professonal complaint.

Similarly, if you have genuine grounds to believe that this person is unable to keep their behavior out of the workplace, then there is validity to not hiring them. But you have not mentioned anything of the sort.

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  • The problem is that, as a part of japanese culture, usually the companies make regular after-office meetings for their whole staff, which are known to be quite heavy on alcohol. That could make it a recurring behavior on those circumstances (and I've had some female friends that have told me exactly the same: some mysoginist behavior from a drunk man on those parties) – RoM Jul 30 at 2:59
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Adding someone to an established work team is not a trivial matter. I understand your concern.

This man is someone with whom you have a greeting acquaintance, mutual friends, and past work experience. You also know that he is much more experienced than you, though you don't qualify that experience as professional experience. It sounds to me as if you have more to judge him by than just the one incident on the bus.

Objectifying another person is a mark of arrogance. Do you feel this is an expression of the man's true feelings toward women in general, or was he just going along (foolishly) with the drunken stupidity of his friends that night? If you were asking, "Should I bring this up with my manager?" my advice would have been to let matters take their course. The man's character will reveal itself in time.

Now that you have opened the subject with your boss, you must close it by making a decision regarding your ability to work with this person.

Will you be able to set aside your recollection of the event on the bus and be truly generous and welcoming to this person if he is hired? When appraising a subjective experience that feels personal and emotional, it is good practice to reserve judgement. But when you think about working closely with this person as a new team member, do you feel uncomfortable? You must be honest about that, if so.

In either case, your answer to your manager must be clear and forthright, with no apology or quibbling. Compose yourself, and be certain. Good luck.

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Let’s look at this from a different perspective.

Is he the best fit candidate that you’ve interviewed? If he is, then you would have to think long on hard about on what to do. If he’s not, his behavior doesn’t even matter as your job is to hire the best person for the team.

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The best person to ask is your manager. If you manager wants you to make an assessment based upon that information too, then you should do so.

This is not an easy moral question to answer. Culture is a big part of the workplace.

Just remember that choosing to hire him is not an endorsement of the behaviour.

We cannot give you a clear answer, but maybe things that should be considered by you:

  • How long ago was this? Could they have matured?
  • Was the woman present on the bus?
  • Were they trying to keep their discussion private? Or were they deliberately sharing it with the whole bus?
  • Do you have any other examples of their behaviour that show their underlying character?

I am not asking for answers to the questions. These are things you should consider.

And just to give a bit of context, how I communicate with my friends is a lot different to how I communicate in the office. I'm sure some things I say are downright offensive to some people, but I do try to avoid saying it in the public where more than just my friends can hear it.

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    so mean and sexual comments about a woman (not girl) a person works with are fine as long as she doesn't hear them? – Kate Gregory May 22 at 12:38
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    @KateGregory Where do I say that? – Gregory Currie May 22 at 12:59
  • Why is it relevant whether the woman was on the bus or not? – Kate Gregory May 22 at 13:01
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    @KateGregory I think someone making lewd comments at someone so they can hear it, is a bit different to making lewd comments behind their back. It is very possible that circumstances are more nuanced that simply good behaviour and bad behaviour. There are degrees of both. – Gregory Currie May 22 at 13:05
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    Perhaps you should make it clear that some of these questions are not to establish whether the behavior was bad or not, but just how bad it was – Kate Gregory May 22 at 13:08

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