One of my friends was interviewed for a big company in the position of Sales Director for Asia. The requirements for the job didn't include that you need to know Mandarin or that it represents an advantage. After 4 months of interviews she was concurring against another individual, both of them were asked if they have any knowledge of the language. She didn't have, but the other person did, so she lost the job. She is very angry now that after 4 months she lost because of a requirement that was added after. Is it legal or moral or normal?

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    She could have used that 4 months to learn Mandarin. If she did, she probably had the job now. – scaaahu May 5 '16 at 14:35
  • The only situation this would be questionable in is if the other candidate is unqualified based on the stated requirements. Even then not necessarily illegal, amoral, or abnormal since actual requirements to do the job may be lower than stated but still questionable. – Myles May 5 '16 at 15:25
  • @Myles - If you're requirements don't fit the job (not the case here), it could look like discrimination. If a law firm requires their lawyers to be able to lift heavy objects, that seems a little suspicious. – user8365 May 5 '16 at 16:23
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    Speaking Mandarin was not a requirement, it was a preference. If the other candidate didn't exist, your friend would have gotten the job (despite not speaking the language). To decide between two candidates who equally meet the requirements, differentiating based on preferences is absolutely normal. – Hellion May 5 '16 at 17:01
  • @JeffO True. I was thinking more along the lines of "10 years experience widget flipping required" where they'd actually be willing to take 7 years experience if the candidate was strong in other areas. – Myles May 5 '16 at 18:05

It's perfectly legitimate and normal.

When it comes down to choosing between two very well-matched candidates the company will have to find another criteria to differentiate between them, and excuse me for saying this, but speaking the actual language of the country you'll be in is a pretty big deal in my opinion.

It definitely isn't a pleasant feeling to have your hopes dashed after 4 months of interviews and meetings, however there always existed the option that this wouldn't work out.

Your friend needs to move on.

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    Absolutely correct. The applicant needs to remember that this is about one thing: The company finding the BEST individual to advance THEIR interests at a PRICE that makes sense to them. If I didn't speak Mandarin, but had a demonstrable plan to increase their profits in this market by 25% over their expectations in 18 months, they would have hired me over the person that spoke Mandarin. It's about who benefits and supports the company's interests most cost-effectively. That's it. – Wesley Long May 5 '16 at 16:39
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    Yes, it wasn't a requirement, it was a tie breaker. – Kilisi May 5 '16 at 19:06

She did not lose the job. She never had it.

The other candidate had everything she had and spoke a useful language on top. So the other candidate was simply better. Sometimes you have multiple candidates that fit all the written requirements. Would it be "fair" to just throw a dice then? Maybe. But it makes total sense to pick the candidate that is better suited for the job. And it seems the company did. That's both legal and moral.

It would have been different if the final pick had been based on gender, age, sex or religion, but based on a skill that can be learned and that is actually useful for the position? Well, that's how it's supposed to be.


"Is it legal or moral or normal?"

I think it's the only thing the company could have done. If two candidates are equal on all requirements, you have to find new ways to find the better fitting one. And speaking mandarin for a position in asia is perfectly reasonable and legal.


I'm going to answer this in general and not to this specific example.

after 4 months she lost because of a requirement that was added after. Is it legal or moral or normal?

To be legal, there are some places where discrimination and equal opportunity regulations come into place. Some require the posting of a job for a certain amount of time before hiring a candidate. Changing the requirements, could require reposting the position.

This is why many companies do not give feedback for why you were not selected. This could prompt litigation.

Let's put an interesting twist on the newly discovered Mandarin language requirement. What if Mandarin was required from the beginning, but the company noticed that too many of the applicants were native Mandarin speakers, so they decided to make Mandarin as a second language as the requirement. This looks suspicious especially for candidates who speak both languages very well and opens the company up to a discrimination lawsuit.

Sometimes a company already has a candidate in mind and may tailor the requirements to fit this person. All the sudden, a surprise candidate who is equally qualified appears. Now company politics or possibly nepotism rears its ugly head, which isn't very moral, but is more normal than we would like.

Again, most companies don't really need to give you a reason not to hire you (Some locations may differ.) and it is in their best interests to say nothing. This is sad, because job candidates don't get the proper feedback to boost their skill sets. Maybe your friend could have picked up enough Mandarin in 4 months, but it would have been better to know that sooner rather than later.

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