Edit. After a big debate saying me that I am about to commit firing offense, I edited my post a bit to show better picture what exactly happened. I hope I decrease my chance of being fired for this significantly.

A guy was interviewing for a position with a department next to ours and did not get hired. I do not know precisely why decision was made, but colleagues think it might be because of lack of soft skills. I did not even talked to him, but I talked to my colleagues who did, and consensus is he might have better chance if he improved his communications skills.

I would like to email him with general advice, just to help him (read this forum, learn about body language and importance of eye contact, get a good sleep before, don't drive 6 hours to interview and come jittery on few bottles of energy drinks, and even if you are desperate never let them know, most jobs are found via networking). Basic stuff, he has CompSci college education and seems to have technical skills but it is not enough, especially in this economy (improving, but oh so slowly).

Many programmers are introverts with bad communication skills, so he might not be even the worst of them, if he can get in. Not good fit for us tho, we are big team with plenty of intense communication, so we all agree that decision not to hire him was likely correct.

My question is: Should I tell him he should improve his communication skills? What can go wrong? What are risks to me and what I should avoid? I obviously don't want to do anything to harm my position here, there is absolutely no payoff for me by helping him, I just like to help people if I can.

I would respond from my personal email and tell him my response is personal and I do not represent the company. I guess in first email I should just ask if he is even interested in unofficial feedback, and stop at that.

Good question: why I want to do that.

I want to help fellow human being to succeed. Why such normal reaction is considered to be so wrong and so dangerous? Treat others as I would like others to treat me. If my son will be looking for a job, I hope someone will help him (btw my son is not aspie, but young person can use any help s/he can get). Pay it forward. I am not shining example of a 100% virtuous person, but I can see how can I help in this case, with very little effort. I am really surprised how strong opposition this suggestion has. Isn't this something we all do in such forums every day? Helping complete stranger?

If this is all the danger there is, I am going to take my chances and do it, very carefully. I will let you know results.

Follow up: I did contacted the candidate. No lawsuit. We exchanged few emails. Some stuff he was aware. He created gameplan how to do better next time. I was not fired either. Nobody was hurt. Relax, most people are good humans.

  • Good edit. If he says he is open to feedback, he'll be less likely to go to HR if he doesn't like your advice. If you give him the link without any speculation as to his condition, he's got nothing to be upset about and even if he were, HR can't get a grip on you. Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 13:22
  • 3
    This question from the interviewees side has a lot of answers explaining why companies generally don't do this. I'm not sure if this is a duplicate question but the answers there definitely provide a lot of what you are looking for.
    – enderland
    Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 13:40
  • 6
    I think the expression "no good deed goes unpunished" would apply if you gave this a try Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 14:35
  • 7
    You absolutely should not do this. Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 14:44
  • 4
    @PeterMasiar: it's not that we're scared to help each other, it's that we're "scared" to distribute company-confidential information (the interviewers' opinions of the candidate) even if it helps someone. Like Dan says, professionalism requires being cautious with your employer's internal information. If the interviewers wanted their opinions sent to the candidate then they could do it themselves or give you permission to do so for them. If they do neither, you're helping someone at the cost of betraying a trust, and you should consider that. Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 17:29

5 Answers 5


Some of this is highly dependent on your country - and how litigious people are.

You taking his email address is almost certainly a breach of your country's data protection laws. You're taking personal, private information, and using it in a manner for which it was not intended. DO NOT DO THIS!

If your emails says - or implies - "You weren't hired because they thought you were autistic." Congratulations you've opened your company up for a massive disability discrimination lawsuit!

Here's what you should do IMO

  • Ask the team who interviewed him to provide feedback to him.
  • Explain to the HR team how important feedback is to interviewees - get them to work out a way to provide good feedback which also complies with local laws.
  • Ask HR to implement a discrimination / disability awareness training programme so that interviewers know how to handle this in the future.
  • Finally, write a blog post or an interview guide that you can point people to before they come and interview at your company.

There's an old Polish proverb - "not my circus, not my monkeys." This is not your responsibility. You should not be meddling in this - especially as you are a representative of your company.

  • I asked the team. They would like to help (he seems to be a nice guy, if a bit awkward) but emailing him is too much effort for no gain for them. This is USA so I am aware about the danger of litigation - that's why I asked. I doubt that HR would bother with official response - and you explained why. Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 13:35
  • 10
    Your employer doesn't want you doing this. Doing so personally could open you up to a world of pain. Help the next interviewee by writing a guide. Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 13:39
  • 3
    +1 for bringing up the issue of disability discrimination. Even if that was not the case, the appearance of discrimination is usually enough to cause damage.
    – David K
    Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 15:03
  • Writing a guide will not make any sense. There are zillions of guides how to interview all over internet, far better than i can ever author. I have zero chance to contribute to the discussion in general. All of I can contribute is on the edges, get this one person read the right stuff. Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 18:17
  • Also, "he was not hired because he is autistic" is not true. He is not autistic, and I have no idea why he was not hired. We just were talking that someone should tell him this and that about how he is perceived in the interview. Bad communication skills are not unusual between programmers, AFAICT. Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 18:19
  1. Not sure what you can do. If you use your company email to write him, then you are acting officially because you are representing the company. If you represent the company and you want to communicate with him, you'll have to go through the proper channels.

  2. Somehow getting your hands on his personal email and e-mailing him using your own private email is problematic, too. You don't have any connection with him, and he doesn't know you. You would be operating in an unofficial capacity but the minute you mention that you work for the company, the cat is out of the bag. And you'll get in trouble with HR if he doesn't like your advice/intrusion and complains to HR- When someone said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, they knew what they were talking about. And they were not kidding either.

  3. Best bet is to have one of the interviewers send him your link. They'll make sure, hopefully, not to mention Asperger or any medication he may or may not be taking - That's a can of worms that's best left unopened. If he has a medical condition or taking medicines, he'll go through your link and adjust any advice there to his own situation, as he is supposed to anyway.

Comment from @HLGEM: "I will add that if your company has a policy (for legal reasons) of not providing indivudual feedback, you could get in serious trouble by doing it. Never do this without checking with HR first."

And @TerrenceEden answers in the same vein. Best to let sleeping dogs lie, shoo away the better angels of your nature and resist the impulse to bypass the official channels and help :) If you do it privately and don't mention your company affiliation at all and the other side keeps mum, you might get away with it, but why take the chance? :) This saga is turning into "Don't commit premeditated murder unless you're damn sure you'll get away with it". I can't advise you to commit premeditated murder :)

  • I would email him in my free time from personal email. His email is in the resume he left over. Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 13:04
  • 4
    I wil add that if your company has a policy (for legal reasons) of not providing indivudual feedback, you could get in serious trouble by doing it. Never do this without chcking with HR first.
    – HLGEM
    Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 13:48
  • 6
    @PeterMasiar: look at it this way, you're taking his personal email from a resume that you only saw because your colleagues passed it on to you. You only know anything about his interview because your colleagues told you. You propose to contact this address that you acquired through work, to pass on to him information that you acquired through work, and that might be confidential in the opinion of your employer. Looking at it that way, there is nothing personal about this. I don't think it makes any difference what email address you send from. Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 15:52

If you want to help the person then help them outside the context of the interview. Do not mention the interview or any reasons why he or she might not have been chosen. This person works for your company. Scrape up an aquaintance and then offer to mentor him and, if he agrees, then start giving advice about things you think he needs to improve to get ahead, but never do it in terms of how he failed an interview. Not unless he specifically asks you about how he can improve his interviewing skills and specically tells you about this particular one.

I am going to point out that at this point in time, you have no business knowing what happened in the interview as you were not an interviewer. Your colleagues should have considered that confidential information and at any place I every worked, for them to blab about it would be a firing offense and rightly so. It is very possible to get the company in legal trouble discussing why someone specific was not hired. This is why virtually no company will provide interview feedback to failed candidates. This is why teh people who did the interview and told you about it are 100% in the wrong. This is also why if you talk to the guy and he gets upset at what you say (and we can't predict his reaction), you could get fired or reprimanded and so could the people who did the interview who never should have blabbed about it. You aren't just risking yourself here.

  • No, this person does not work for our company, and I don't have any intermediary to tutor him. He lives 6 hours away. Firing offense is pretty brutal tho. You are right that we don't know anything about the decision or reasoning, only the fact that he is not coming on board, and I should not guess. Also, none of my colleagues told me any confidential info, just few hints about personal interactions. They thought he might be good fit based on technical skills only, so I have no idea what exactly happened. But you got me scared by mentioning "firing offense". Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 18:13
  • 1
    I intended to get you scared as you don't want to mess into these sorts of issues unless you are aware of the legal ramifications and the company policy.
    – HLGEM
    Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 18:36

I concur with others here that reaching out is inappropriate in this case. That said, as someone borderline on the spectrum myself, I would urge you to consider the original decision and to what extent there may been discrimination involved. Obviously it's a tricky thing to consider, since the main purpose of an interview is to discriminate (in the neutral, non-politically-charged sense) between possible candidates. Still, it behooves us to be cognizant of the biases we bring to the interview table and it's worth reflecting on whether the apparent lack of suitability for a particular conception of a position may have resulted in missing a surprising opportunity. Though challenging to utilize and often frustrating to interact with, the quirky mindset of an aspie might well astound you when applied to a technical challenge.

On a side note, the 'jittery' appearance might not actually be due to caffeine, if the candidate was truly on the spectrum. One of the quirks of the condition can manifest as repeated behaviors, especially if nervous or overwhelmed with new stimuli. An interview can be particularly stressful (due to the intense concentration required to analyze the associated social cues), so it's not necessarily the best representation of how the person will be once in a more comfortable environment.

  • No discrimination, being able to communicate effectively is very important for us. He might be better fit for smaller team with more backroom type responsibilities. This is not us. Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 16:21
  • @Peter, fair enough and I respect the blunt and concise expression of your perception. I just bring this up because, if you've never really gotten to know an aspie, you may lack the context to fully understand the encounter. If I may be so blunt in return, the 'advice' you have proposed to offer may well come off as condescending. An aspie knows that body language and eye contact are important, but using them effectively is extremely difficult when they are not intuitive hard-wired responses. It can be perceived as saying 'just be like more other people and you can get hired.'
    – Dan Bryant
    Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 16:32
  • I see. My response will be more detailed than just saying 'be like more other people and you can get hired'. If I get his permission to talk. Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 16:49

There are already a number of excellent answers here – Terrence's answer in particular – but it seems to me that some things could be added.

Setting aside the (valid!) legal objections to this, how would you react if a stranger would email you about an interview with "hey, I don't know you and you don't know me, I also wasn't involved in the interview process at all and don't really know why you were rejected, but I think it might be such-and-such. But I'm not sure. You may want to work on it, though! kthxbye!"

Is that really a useful thing to say? No. It's baseless conjecture and speculation. You might be leading this person down the wrong path.

So it's not just legally dubious in most jurisdictions, it's also not even a good idea in the first place. I appreciate your good intentions, but you're trying to offer help in an area where you simply don't have all the required information to really make informed actions.

  • Did you read my full post, including follow up? I DID contacted the candidate, and we DID exchanged few emails, so what happened is exactly the opposite of your answer. I had enough info to offer the candidate a bit of feedback and help. Commented May 15, 2017 at 14:01
  • Yes, and I'm glad it all worked out for you and the candidate @PeterMasiar, but questions are supposed to be helpful for others, too, and not just for your specific case. And in general, I do think it's not a good idea to contact the candidate for the reasons I outlined. Commented May 15, 2017 at 14:29

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .