The question is purely hypothetical, I am not in that situation just was wondering.

So which of the following possibilities is the most professional way to handle the situation, where you have to interview someone you perivously had a personal conflict with? (Supposing that they meet the professional requirements.)

  • Communicating to the company supervisors honestly, that you would not like to hire/work with this person due to a personal conflict. (Maybe not mentioning the details of the conflict.)
  • Finding some professional excuse not to hire them, or something like, he would not be a good fit for our team.
  • Put aside the personal conflict, and interview him as any other, concentrating only on the professional part.
  • 1
    The top-line guidance for any SE site is "Focus on questions about an actual problem you have faced." Not sure of this site's norms yet but that's a big flag for an invalid question. – mxyzplk - Justice for Monica Mar 9 '14 at 17:10
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    There is an option missing: Decline to interview, possibly disclosing the conflict/your potential bias, but otherwise let the process follow its course. – Relaxed Mar 9 '14 at 20:31
  • another option of "remove yourself completely" should also be in there, I have known bosses to let their managers take the interview because of personal conflict. – Marriott81 Mar 11 '14 at 11:51

If you are faced with a situation where you would need to interview someone you know - either someone you like or someone you dislike, it doesn't really matter - you will have a bias towards that person, either positive or negative. And that alone is unprofessional.

If a friend, relative, spouse, ..., of yours is to be considered for a position in your company - would you favor them in detriment of other professionals? That wouldn't be professional... it is okay to refer someone to your company, but you need to disclose that information. And you shouldn't be the one doing an interview.

The same applies for someone you dislike for personal reasons. You should disclose the fact that you know them, mention you do have a bias towards them for personal reasons. Should management ask for additional information, please, share the aspects you feel comfortable sharing, but keeping in mind you need to keep the hiring process fair to the candidate, to yourself and to your company - every story has two sides to it, and if you are the only one sharing your point of view - you may influence the hiring process in an unfair way.

For fairness and professionalism's sake you should mention to management you wouldn't feel comfortable doing the interview and excuse yourself from the process. Let them assign someone else to the interview if they still want to consider that person. It will be professional and a strong enough message on your ethics. It will at the same time make them pay close attention to everyone in the hiring process to make sure they are a good fit to company culture and won't bring more trouble than benefit for your company, keeping it fair and a healthy workplace for everyone.

  • You are absolutely correct. I have edited my answer. Please feel free to make additional comments! – AleAssis Mar 9 '14 at 21:10
  • Thanks for the edit -- looks good now! (Deleting my prior comment.) – Monica Cellio Mar 10 '14 at 0:24

Depends on whether you yourself would be working with that person, company policy, and whether the individual in question committed a larger offense.

(1) If the hiring of this person would have little or no impact on your day-to-day work and there is no larger ethical concern, the simplest and least ethically dubious course of action is to explain to HR and/or management that you cannot be an impartial interviewer based on your previous interactions and you would like to remove yourself from interviewing.

(2) If the person has committed a larger ethical offense or was not competent in a relevant role, these are important components of a good background check and are important to mention during the interview process.

(3) If your concerns are simply personal, you could instead mention that you would find it difficult to work with that individual. If this person is hired, a good boss will ensure that you and they interact as little as possible.


If I ever was in that situation, I would go for option 1. Yes, no one gets along with everyone at their workplace, it's normal.

But if there are previous issues there, then your work relationship won't even have a starting chance. It will be bad from the very beginning.

If you just go for option 3, then you will be reminded every day of your previous conflict just by seeing the other person. Sooner or later, those feelings will burst out and it will not be pretty to watch. This of course depends on how severe that conflict was.

Just ask for someone else to interview that person and inform the HR department of your previous issues. They will know what measures to take, if any.


I think you should really go for option 3 with your personal conflict in mind, but not allow it to overwhelm your feelings for wether or not the person is capable of doing the job.

Workplace is full of personal conflicts, and while they can cause issues, they should not prevent work from being done.

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    If they don't get the job, then complain that you torpedoed it; management will not be pleased that you never told them of the conflict. – mhoran_psprep Mar 9 '14 at 18:53

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