We were hiring a couple months ago. There was someone I interviewed that seemed like a top-notch developer, and that I thought would be a good fit. However, he was on the other side of the US and we decided (at the time) that we wanted to stick with local candidates for a number of reasons. As a result, I told him that he was a great candidate but that we decided to focus on more local people, and thanked him for his time. He took the email well and was very gracious in response.

We're hiring again, and now we are more interested in top-notch developers and more flexible about things like relocation. I would like to see if he is still on the job hunt (he had been on the job search for a while, and so it seems likely he may still be). The trouble though is that I shredded all of my notes from the first job hunt. I can't look back through my emails because management changed my email address, and all past emails are permanently gone. My only other source of information is the original job posting from a couple months ago, from which I have narrowed "him" down to one of two people, on the basis of his nationality (I remember distinctly that he was Asian with an Asian name, and I interviewed two Asian people).

Not only do I not want to accidentally contact the wrong person, but I know I specifically don't want to contact this particular wrong person. I remember turning down the other asian candidate. He was not as skilled as what we were looking for, and after his interview I politely turned him down and gave him some feedback on his candidacy, from my perspective (something I always make sure to do). He took the news very poorly, and tried to argue with me about the decision. I ignored his response and didn't let it turn into an argument.

So I would really like to reconnect with this candidate, but it seems I have no way of figuring out for sure which candidate I actually want to reconnect with. It seems therefore that I have a 50/50 chance of getting the very wrong person. Is there anyway to potentially salvage this situation, or should I just move on with my life? My general experience from trying to hire people in the last few months is that finding good candidates is tough to do, so I would rather not lose a potential valuable candidate if I don't have to. I feel like I'm stuck in a real life version of the ol' knights and knaves puzzle.

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    Have you tried looking them up on linkedin, maybe you remember enough to recognize the "right" one from their profile?
    – Kerkyra
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 14:31
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    "because management changed my email address" have your IT department fix the problem and dig up the old emails.
    – Fattie
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 14:35
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    @ConorMancone I think there are laws regarding email retention. Don't take "impossible" as an answer from IT. What they mean is that they don't want to do it Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 14:43
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    @ConorMancone - typical right?! anyway the almost-white-lie phrase "updating my contacts" is the solution to this common social difficulty.
    – Fattie
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 14:43
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    @RichardU - really :) for IT dudes "can't" is an almost-white-lie phrase implying "can't be bothered" :)
    – Fattie
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 14:44

1 Answer 1


"but I know I specifically don't want to contact the wrong Asian person in this case"

Email both of the Asian Persons and state ...

this is Conor Mancone from XYZ. I'm updating my contacts with previous applicants. I recently lost some address and email information - did we have a conversation about Threaded Fortran programming in March? I'm afraid I've mislaid your complete name, email, address so I'd appreciate if you could update me.

The phrase "updating your contacts" often solves such social problems.

It's a common business issue that you "forget who the heck you were talking to!".

The phrase "updating your contacts" is something of a business euphemism for "Was that you??"

Really, if you can't remember who it is from the ensuing conversations, you've got trouble! After the second email, you may possibly need to say something which references your earlier conversation. For example: "I'm unsure if it was you I was discussing relocation with - you live on the East coast right?"

One thought...

because management changed my email address

that's pretty weird, ask your IT department fix the issue?

  • 1
    is there Threaded Fortran programming ??
    – Fattie
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 14:44
  • After determining for sure that there was no hope for past emails (long story, that boils down to the fact that we don't actually have an IT department) I just shot off an email along those lines. I'm pretty sure I narrowed it down to the right person on the basis of the grammar in their resume. I remembered that there was a marked difference between the english fluency of the two candidates, and that difference was similarly visible in the resumes. So we'll see if I get a bite, and how it turns out! either way, thanks for the suggestion! Commented Jun 30, 2017 at 12:57
  • SO scores another success! :) yeah the "updating my contacts!" is a great euphemism.
    – Fattie
    Commented Jun 30, 2017 at 13:17

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