I worked at company X for five years, managing field technicians for part of that time. I had to terminate one of those technicians (B) for reasons.

After firing this technician, A came to work for X. A and I worked well together, and we've kept in touch a bit since I left. We are in similar lines of work so this is a connection that may prove valuable to one or both of us in the future.

Recently, A informed me that B had applied for a job there. A recognized the name from some old service records from my time, and asked me what I thought about re-hiring B. Apparently no one else at the company remembers B very well anymore.

I want to give good advice to my friend A, but also make sure that B gets a fair shake - after all, they've had some time to change their ways. Given these goals, what should I consider in responding to A?

If I were still there, I would likely call B in for an interview, and ask to speak to several recent references. But I would know what I was looking for. I'm afraid that if I tell A to do this, they will simply toss B's resume as being too much trouble, which isn't fair. But, I also don't want to give poor advice to A, for fear of damaging a valuable relationship.

  • How long ago did you fire him? – Old_Lamplighter Jan 23 '17 at 19:07
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    We cant decide what you should do. If you figure out what you want to do we can help figure out the best way for you to do that. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Jan 23 '17 at 19:09
  • Does company X no longer have record (in the HR department) of the cause? – Joe Jan 23 '17 at 22:30

Given the goals and concerns stated above I'd go with:

"B had some strong points like x,y,z but I had to let him go for reasons a,b,c. It's been a few years, if he's grown and matured he has potential to be a strong employee."

This shows that you endorse giving them the benefit of the doubt while being open about what the issue was that led to termination. It's A's prerogative to take the advice as a whole or not.


You tell A that you fired B for reasons.

That should be part of their record, which A should be privy to. If A is a decent manager, they should realize that plenty of time has passed for B to correct those issues. Then it's up to them to judge if it's worth their time, and if B has improved. It's their responsibility, so let them deal with it based off of the facts at hand.

  1. Your first priority is to preserve your relationship with A. You terminated B's employment for cause. Clearly state what the cause was. You want to be fair to B? Give an evaluation of B's performance that's independently what caused you to fire him. In other words, do you think that B's performance was good otherwise? If your answer is no, then your answer is what it is.

  2. It's up to B to convince your friend that he's changed his ways or that the circumstances under which he was fired no longer apply, etc. It's not your problem if B is not adequate in convincing, you did not create the circumstances that led to his firing in the first place - he did. It's up to him to clean it up.

  • he has no contact with "B" and it sounds like it's been quite some time. – Old_Lamplighter Jan 23 '17 at 19:08
  • @RichardU - We can only go with what we know. B is going to have to be his own best advocate. Just as you and I have to be our own best advocates. The fact that B got himself fired fired creates a concern, and it's up to B to address it. In case you're wondering, I've gotten myself fired several times over the course of my career :) – Vietnhi Phuvan Jan 23 '17 at 19:11
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    The OP's first priority, unfortunately, is to protect themself from litigation. – Dancrumb Jan 23 '17 at 23:44

How long has it been since you fired "B"?

If it was due to criminal activity, then tell "A" that he was terminated for cause, and leave it at that.

Other than that...

If more than five years, just tell your friend "It's been a long time, I don't remember much". People mature and mistakes shouldn't haunt them forever.

Less than five, it's a judgment call on your part. Balance the seriousness of what he was let go for with the time passed and any good points he may have had. "He's worth looking at" is good if you think he has redeeming qualities. or "I'd be careful with this one" if you want to give your friend a heads up.

DON'T go into specifics, as if it gets back to "B", he may try to sue you.

Also, remember, you knew "B" back then. Do you know him now? Do you know if he's doing the same things now that he did when he was let go? If you can't answer that, then you can't give fair advice on "B" as he is today

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