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My wife's team has a pretty stressful job. It's a small team (3 people + 1 supervisor). One team member was very vocal about things that were bad, scheduling, overtime, on-call, etc. and quit and took another job internal to the company. On her way out, she was very vocal about the problems on the team in particular calling out the team supervisor as a bad "manager" to the next-level manager.

Well, of course, the grass wasn't greener. My wife's team role is expanding and has 2 openings on the growing team, and this team member wants to come back. The problem is that nothing has changed in regards to the job. All of the things that made this person leave in the first place are still there, and arguably some aspects are even more stressful.

When considering the candidates for the open positions, this person is a slam dunk in being able to do the tasks. It would be a huge time saver not to have to train up a new person. Despite the fact that everyone likes this person on a personal level, I think the consensus is that the team doesn't want to reintroduce the drama this person brought previously. Can the team give this candidate a completely different interview focusing on things like "hey, the job hasn't changed, why do you want to come back?, how will you handle it different/better this time?", etc.

Are there any potential pitfalls to turning this candidate down for being a bad "fit" for the team any more? My wife was even wondering about the look of the situation for her boss since she was called out when this other person left months ago.

edit: A big part of the issue is the supervisor (not my wife) who is the "yes man" type. Despite being called out, this person would likely be ok with letting this person back just to avoid having to say no.

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  • Is this programming ?
    – Fattie
    May 10 at 18:01
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    This is not a programming team
    – MikeA
    May 10 at 18:05
  • My wife is not the supervisor
    – MikeA
    May 10 at 18:05
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    If your wife is not the supervisor, what exactly is the actionable part of this question? How will an answer help you?
    – mxyzplk
    May 10 at 23:43
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    It's like getting back together with an ex. It might work, but most of the time it's not a good idea; even if you may already coordinated who brings out the trash, who does the dishes or where to put the towels. May 11 at 2:40
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Can the team give this candidate a completely different interview focusing on things like "hey, the job hasn't changed, why do you want to come back?, how will you handle it different/better this time?", etc.

That's really a question for your internal HR team and their policies around internal transfers - but it seems like a good idea to me.

Are there any potential pitfalls to turning this candidate down for being a bad "fit" for the team any more?

Basically, no. Turning down every internal candidate that ever applies to your team would probably get your team a reputation as difficult in the long run, but turning down one specific person who had already left the team under not great circumstances should have basically zero comeback.

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    There is such a thing as "bad cultural fit", which is precisely what is happening here in this one case.
    – mishan
    May 11 at 10:59
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If that person was not happy before, and if the situation didn't change, they won't be any happier now. So "training a new person" will anyway probably be something to be done sooner or later. And by experience I think people coming back like that usually have even less patience: if it took this person 3 years to get "pissed" with the work earlier, it will probably be much faster this time because there won't even be a "honeymoon".

A negative person, even when efficient in day-to-day work, can easily bring the whole team's morale (and productivity) down. In many occasion the benefits of not having to train a new person will be dismissed by this person's attitude. You also send the wrong message that an employee can badmouth the team and/or the manager, then come back, as long as they're productive, which is I guess not a message you want to send.

Hence, I wouldn't take such a person back, unless there's really no better way to fill the position (this is assuming that you need someone soon and all the candidates are not up to par). And if I had no choice, I wouldn't even waste any time interviewing them: you know them already and they only left a few months ago, there's very few chance this person had a complete mindset shift in such a short period.

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  • I agree with you wholeheartedly. The worst part is that this former team member thinks it should be a "done deal" to get back on the team, and the marshmallow supervisor has done nothing to quell that expectation.
    – MikeA
    May 11 at 13:50
  • This looks pretty much like arrogance and would actually work the other way around for me: the simple fact this person seems to think they're so irreplaceable that coming back is just a formality is an indication that their attitude is not going to change, if not be even worse.
    – Laurent S.
    May 12 at 6:34

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