A few weeks ago, my company flew in a job candidate to interview for a director-level position. The head of HR asked my three co-workers and me to take her to dinner the night she arrived, the day before her interview.

We are four seasoned, accomplished professionals, director-level staff, well-regarded within the company, all with five or more years of seniority.

The candidate had been recommended by her close friend, one of the company's newest directors with less than six months on the job. He did not attend the dinner.

We spent much of the evening listening to the candidate "sell" us on her many fine qualities and vivacious social life. At no time did she ask any of us what our roles were in the company or how those roles related to the position for which she was applying. In fact, she asked us no questions at all about the company. Her only questions were related to the local social scene.

Afterwards, we were not asked by upper management to give our impression of the candidate, nor did we offer it.

The following day, the recommending director went to the CEO and reported that immediately after dinner, the candidate called him to say she had been "shocked by our inappropriate behavior and disparaging comments about the company." The director was instructed to submit a written statement to HR, detailing exactly what the candidate recalled.

The director's statement claimed "the candidate said" that we were rude to her during dinner, made no attempt to get to know her, and spent the entire evening complaining about our jobs, the company, and upper management.

The candidate was asked to review this second-hand statement. She confirmed its accuracy and gave consent for it to be submitted to HR on her behalf.

The candidate was ultimately offered and accepted the position, before we knew a complaint had been filed against us.

When we were presented with the allegations, we were dumbfounded. Each one was either factually inaccurate, out of context, or purely fictional. A few of the allegations did describe real issues within the company that only an employee would know, but nothing that we would ever discuss with a job candidate. The recommending director who wrote the statement, however, is familiar with all of them.

We have responded to the allegations in writing, giving very detailed, specific accounts of her behavior and comments as well as our own, and refuting each false allegation.

We're not sure what kind of person thinks it's smart to initiate such drama at the start of a new job, or how we can be expected to have a healthy working relationship with her. Nor are we feeling especially confident in our executive leaders for questioning our integrity based essentially on hearsay, or for inviting a person of obviously questionable character to join our otherwise highly functional, supportive team.

Is this an anomaly, or has anyone out there had a similar experience? If so, what was the ultimate outcome? We would welcome feedback, words of advice, and recommendations on next steps.

  • 1
    Hello @JoePT , could you please reduce your post length, so more users are invited to read it and help you? Refrain from giving unnecessary details
    – DarkCygnus
    Aug 18, 2017 at 23:09
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    @GrayCygnus Perhaps... "recent hire claimed that we badmouthed the company when we invited him/her to dinner before his/her interview. A formal complaint was filed and we gave our statements to the matter. What should we do?" My response: It looks like you did all you could. If the MO of this individual is to cause drama, engaging in similar activities would be unwise. Remain professional and CYA, have a neutral 3rd party to witness any interactions. Over time, it would be abundantly clear that such claims, present and future, would be baseless.
    – Bluebird
    Aug 18, 2017 at 23:24
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    Shouldn't have taken her dinner. Hell, if you took my dinner, I'd be mad as hell.
    – Strawberry
    Aug 19, 2017 at 12:48
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    I think this has been over-edited. The fact that this is a director-level position, the friend who could have provided the information that makes the complaint seem founded, and even the strange "we weren't asked our opinion of the candidate" are imo relevant to a good answer. Aug 20, 2017 at 15:12
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    The original question was too long. The current edition leaves out vital details and misses the main point entirely. - It is not the new hire who is the source of the problem, it is the director who recommended and hired her. Aug 20, 2017 at 15:19

2 Answers 2


It looks like you did all you could. If this individual just likes to cause drama, engaging in similar activities would be unwise. Remain professional and cover your ass: have a neutral 3rd party to witness any interactions. Over time, it would be abundantly clear that such claims, present and future, would be baseless.


Come on! You don't have to be Niccolò Machiavelli to figure this one out.

Obviously the source of the allegations is the recommending director and not the candidate.

Evidently the recommending director thinks he cannot advance quickly enough just by doing valuable work and becoming part of a highly functional, supportive team.

He has brought in the new girl to be his running dog. He didn't even wait until she was hired before playing her as a sacrificial pawn in a gambit to besmirch your reputation and credibility.

No doubt his ultimate goal is to build a power base of fellow directors who owe him their jobs and will follow him like sheep and echo his every vote. On the way he must destroy anyone who might detect what he is doing, and rid the company of every well-ordered and valuable team that might offer any competition.

One move you might make is to explain to the new hire that the recommending director is not her friend and has hung her out to dry.

Another thing you should do is (as Frank says) have a neutral 3rd party to witness any interactions, except not just with the new hire, but especially with the recommending director.

Start documenting everything. Start thinking in terms of how much damage you would suffer if that director ever lied about what he agreed to do or asked you to do.

Also (as Frank says), remain professional and cover your ass. Just don't fall into the trap of believing you only need to protect yourself from the drama queen. It's her Fagin and mentor you have to worry about.

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    This does seem like the most likely explanation, given the events. Only thing I would add is that if the new hire already put her name to the fabricated allegations, then she has already chosen her side and talking to her about it is only going to let the other side know you're on to them.
    – Kaz
    Aug 21, 2017 at 10:53

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