I recently sent an email regarding a job opportunity that opened in the company I work, where I included relevant details on the desired candidate's profile along with my contact information for interested candidates. The next day I received an unusual email, with some content I found inappropriate and professional. To paraphrase that email:

*Salutations *

Good evening, my name is _____ and I am wondering if there is a chance you could interview my brother _____. I graduated from (mentioned some prestigious university) because I managed to get a full scholarship, however my brother did not had that opportunity and graduated from (mentioned some not-so-prestigious university) instead, besides that, he also had to work wile studying to afford his studies...

...He does not have many experience in the field you are looking, but he has a lot of talent and positive attitude that I feel it´s being wasted. I hope you can understand this situation and give him a chance...

Regards and end of mail

Two things I found inappropriate about that mail are:

  1. The person sending the email was the sister of the possible recruit, not the recruit himself. I feel such emails should be written personally by the candidate.

  2. In a way I feel like the sister is trying to make me feel bad or pity for her brother, in a possible attempt to convince me of hiring him or give him a special consideration. This I believe is highly unethical and unprofessional.

I was quite astonished at first and did not knew how to respond, but after some consideration I wrote to her that, in any case, her brother should write me instead and I will surely be open to consider and interview him. I feel that I responded to the situation properly. My questions are:

  • Is there anything else I could have done to better handle this situation?

  • Should I still consider this possible recruit?

  • If so, how could I avoid bias given this unusual email?

Note: In the end it will be mostly up to me to make the hiring decision on the selected candidate, as this person will be working under my responsibility.

  • 1
    I will definitely keep my word @JoeStrazzere , but this email makes me suspicious on this candidate and if he didn't write the email himself I am not sure if he is willing to commit to the company
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 2:35
  • 1
    It may be unusual, but not unethical. If he does write to you and you do decide to interview him, try to find out the reason his sister wrote on his behalf. A lack of motivation on his part, or some better reason?
    – Brandin
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 8:21
  • I take it you don't know the person who sent the email either? It sounds like someone referencing another person, but that only works if you know the referencer.
    – Erik
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 8:31
  • 1
    What is your role in the interview process? Do you make hiring decisions?
    – user812786
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 12:52
  • 2
    @GrayCygnus I'd give the guy the benefit of the doubt if and when he does contact you. He might be a great candidate whose sister has a poor sense of boundaries and decided to take matters into her own hands rather than simply telling him about the opportunity. Now, if he shows up for an interview with her in tow...there's a real problem.
    – DLS3141
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 13:35

5 Answers 5


I agree that it was unprofessional, on the part of the SISTER.

However, the sister is not the candidate. We all have crazy relatives and friends, don't discount the candidate because one of his crazies contacted you.

Evaluate him on his merits and the hire him or do not.

To address your questions directly.

•Is there anything else I could have done to better handle this situation?

Sounds like you handled it well enough.

•Should I still consider this possible recruit?

You already agreed to. Going back on your word would be unprofessional on your part.

•If so, how could I avoid bias given this unusual email?

Simple: He had nothing to do with it. Just keep that in mind. Maybe he's everything is overprotective sister says he is, maybe he's not. There's no way to know other than looking at him and judging for yourself.

  • 4
    Congrats on clipping 40K!!
    – Neo
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 13:23
  • Thank you for your answer, I believe I agree with you and I should put aside this situation and evaluate him based on his capabilities and attitudes. I also think it would be a good idea to ask him to clarify this sister situation to see what really happened, that if he reaches out personally of course.
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 14:59

I don't think it's unprofessional at all to ask for special consideration for someone who has talents that are not well-reflected in their work and educational history. Here, they are pointing out that his grades and class standing may not accurately reflect his skills because of personal issues during his education and that he has talent and a positive attitude that should be given consideration.

However, I would be suspicious that this really is just asking for a hire out of pity or for overlooking deficiencies that aren't actually compensated for by talents not reflected in the resume or history. I think it's entirely appropriate to ask for direct contact. If you do interview him, look to see if he really does have skills and motivation that aren't reflected in his resume and history. But understand that you are taking the risk that you'll be wasting your time on someone who really is unmotivated and whose hidden skills and talents are largely imagined.

  • I agree with you in that first part, usually it is difficult to obtain a job just being fresh from college/university, and in those cases usually your CV does not reflect your actual skills and experiences. But yes, it is suspicious...
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 3:10

Personally, instead of telling the sister that the brother should write, I would have declined to move forward with the person. My response would have been something along the lines of:

Dear ___. I am going to decline moving forward with your brother. This is a professional position and requires the ability for people to independently work on tasks. Someone who is not able to make inquiries, themselves, for a work position they are interested in does not demonstrate the required aptitude of initiative that is needed for this position. If your brother is someone who would have applied for this position on his own, without your intervention, I'd recommend just sending him the link to desired positions, in the future. While I understand your desire to help out your sibling, your efforts may be counter-productive in that regard.

  • Could you give the reasons for declining to move forward with the person?
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 15:42
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    @GrayCygnus - The reasons given in the "response" are the reasons. Anyone who needs a sibling or parent basically applying for jobs for them either isn't motivated enough to do it themselves, which I don't want in a worker, or lacks the aptitude to do it themselves, which I don't want in a worker. Otherwise, I'd be hearing from them, myself. Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 15:44
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    @GrayCygnus - If the person were someone of standing in a related field, a business contact, or even, perhaps, someone with a recruiting background, themselves (I'm lending my expertise as a recruiter to help out my sibling, but do not expect any kind of fee), I might feel differently. "Look, I'd be a great candidate, myself, so you can take my word that my less qualified relative, who isn't even contacting you themselves, would be a good hire" doesn't meet standards, in any way. If this was an entry level position with few requirements.... well, I'd still want them to apply themselves. Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 16:43

I agree with your assessment that the email from candidate's sister was inappropriate. Candidates should be judged on their merit and to have a relative of the candidate suggest that her brother be given special consideration due to personal hardship is indeed unprofessional. It may also be somewhat insulting to the candidate him / her self, as though he would not have been hired otherwise.

Should I still consider this candidate for this role?

I think the key to answering this are whether anyone else knows about this email and to what extent prior experience for the role is a necessity. If there is anyone else who may have known about this email, and are involved in the hiring process, then I suggest you recuse yourself, because as you said, bias is a real concern. The others involved may feel the email unfairly influenced your assessment of the candidate, whether or not this is the case.

The other point is that the candidate's sister mentioned that he does not have much prior experience in this role you are hiring for. Depending on how important prior experience is to the role under consideration, this factor may by itself disqualify further consideration of him from the hiring process.

How can I avoid bias or prejudice if I decide to interview the candidate?

By objectively assessing candidate on the merit his background, skills / knowledge, and professionalism. Focus on questions at the interview that are strictly related to the job such as ones quantifying the amount of prior experience he had. The statement from the sister stating that her brother is highly talented and worth considering should not be given much weight, as you do not know well this person, and that such praise should be expected, given the family relationship. Consideration of personal factors such as hardship should be minimized to help ensure all candidate are assessed with the same criteria.

  • Regarding if someone else know about the email. Only my boss and I know about it, however in this case, only my boss and I are the ones who will be carrying the recruitment process... that is why I am concerned about bias as in the end it will be up to me (mostly) to decide the person to contract, as that person will be under my responsibility
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 2:46
  • Thank you for your question edit, probably some details I included were the reasons for the DVs. I believe you missed a stray "*" which i'll remove. I will wait to see if more answers come by, but yours is currently the best fitted. Thank you for your advise
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 3:08

Is there anything else I could have done to better handle this situation?

You were absolutely right to insist he contacts you directly. If anything, I think you were too generous :) The email frankly reads like spam, with the plea for help and spelling / grammatical errors.

Should I still consider this possible recruit?

Yes, if he writes directly to you, since you said you would. (And if he doesn't, problem solved.)

If so, how could I avoid bias given this unusual email?

I think you should be biased, with a healthy dose of skepticism about his professionalism and "tragic backstory". His introduction was very unusual, so he should have a very good explanation for it. Of course other candidates would not get such questions, but other candidates didn't have their sisters writing in on their behalf.

Anecdote: I was helping out at a career fair, and somebody's mother tried to hand in a resume for him. Once she left, the recruiter tossed it straight into the bin. Nobody saw it as overly harsh; if this kid couldn't be bothered to turn in his own resume, why would we expect him to be motivated and responsible if he did get the job?

If he's seriously applying for jobs, he should know better. It's nice of you to attempt to teach him, but not your obligation.

Once you are satisfied that he is a genuinely interested and qualified candidate, I agree with Anthony's answer that you ought to judge him based on merit as you would other applicants. Does he have the skills required by the position? Does he seem motivated and responsible? Etc. If you think you cannot be objective, the best option is to recuse yourself and let someone else be the judge.

  • Thank you for sharing that anecdote :) yes, as you mentioned the fact that someone else than the interested is the one actively seeking for job makes you think if they will take the job seriously. I guess in this case we should hope that he did not asked her sister to send the email.
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 14:45

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