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.