Should I rat out the lousy HR person?

by Evil HR Lady on January 17, 2014

Dear Evil HR Lady,

After interning at a big DC NGO four years ago, I applied for a regular job at the organization, at the suggestion of the department manager.
Since I had worked there before, had the right level of experience, know a few directors, and even was in the NGO’s fantasy football league at the time, I figured I had a really good chance.  Heck, I heard through my contacts that the head of HR was asking about me, and remembered me fondly from my time there.
Unfortunately, everything went awry. Firstly, they had me travel in for an interview, only to make me Skype from a spare office, with a 22 year old HR rep doing nothing but staring at me for the hour.. All while I had to stare into a video of me only. (The manager was voice only).  The interview went well enough (not perfectly, but well).
At the end of the interview, the HR rep refused to shake my hand (I offered it), said “you know the way out, right?”, and hurried off to a meeting. When I sent a follow up email (a week after she did not send a promised Tuesday response), I got an  “oh, I’ve been busy and in a lot of meetings.  We went with someone else.” 
I have no problem if they found someone better (I heard a rumor about another “in” candidate), but this treatment was awful. Should I let the head of HR there (who I know) know? 
My love for that organization has turned to hate because of this HR woman.

I wish I could say, “Oh goodness! That is so absurd! I have never heard of an HR person being so incompetent and rude!” But that would be a lie. (Although conducting an interview through Skype when you’re actually in the building is super weird and that is the first time I’ve heard of that. So, congratulations on experiencing something super rare!)


I totally understand the urge to tell the head of HR that she has a loser on her team, and I might be tempted to do so. However, before doing so, you need to think through a few things.


What do you want to get out of this? If you are doing this out of the goodness of your heart and you just want them to know because you truly value their mission, then mentioning it is the right thing to do. If, on the other hand, you’re just ticked that you didn’t get the job and you blame this incompetent 22 year old, then don’t. It won’t go over well.


How will the HR Director take it? How well do you know this woman? I “know” lots of people, but I would have no idea how they would react to me telling me that a member of their team–that they hired and trained–is not doing her job well. Some people are super defensive. Some people are the reason their staffs stink. It’s possible that she is the one who told the poorly trained HR person to conduct the interview via Skype. So, if you know her well enough to know that she’ll take it well and she’s not the cause, then speaking up is a good thing. If you don’t, however, you may wish to keep your mouth shut.


Do you want to work there in the future? If you want to burn your bridges, say what you want. But, since you’re involved with other people who work there, and (presumably) you’d be open to working there in the future, you don’t want to burn the bridges.


HR is probably not place to go. You know the department manager. Presumably this person is the one who decided not to hire you. As you said, you’re okay with it if there was someone better. If you can be totally zen with that, you can mention it. If you, on paper, are zen with it, but deep down you’re still bitter and angry, you can’t.


What would I do? Well, if I already had a relationship with the people there, I’d probably send an email to the hiring manager (not HR, unless my best relationship was with the HR head) like this:


Thanks so much for considering me for the job. I’m totally bummed that I didn’t get the job, but I’m sure whoever you hired will be awesome. I’d love to be considered in the future, so let me know if something comes up that fits my talents. I do have to say, it was fun to be back at NGO, although I found it strange that [bad HR person] conducted the interview through Skype when I was sitting right there! Weird, but I guess she was super busy and probably multitasking.

Looking forward to beating you in next year’s fantasy football league!

Thanks again!


Caution. Don’t copy and paste that note unless you’re the type of person who would use “bummer” in your daily speech. I imagine there aren’t that many of us. Put it in your own voice. But, that’s the general guideline.


{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Daniel January 17, 2014 at 7:20 pm

When I was a new HR person, I was told that I should be very careful going against HR because the community was small, everyone knew each other, and going against HR was a good way never to work in HR again. I’ve been doing this for 15 years now and am quite familiar with the HR community in my home town through my involvement with the local SHRM chapter. I’ve also been a manager for six years. My thoughts on this are that the HR head needs to know how her staff is operating and representing not just the department but the organization as a whole. If this 22 year-old HR staffer has done it once, she’s done it a bunch. I would rather know so that I can fix the issue. Still, perhaps going to the hiring manager would be better so that a person without a rat in the race could view what was happening and give his thoughts to HR director. But yes, absolutely, tell.


Sam January 20, 2014 at 7:32 pm

Should you say something? YES!!

Here’s my take. As a recruiter and leader, I’d be horrified to know that someone on my team treated any candidate like this, but especially a candidate who knows leadership in the organization. What a blemish on their reputation! I would absolutely want to know so I could coach the individual (or find them a new position in a role not connected to my function).

The Skype thing? I’m stunned. I’ve done that, but only when someone wasn’t available but always had the candidate meet others onsite in live interviews.

I would suggest a well crafted email to the HR VP or head of recruiting is in order.


LTMG January 23, 2014 at 4:33 am

Thank your lucky stars that you didn’t get the job. If there is one horrible employee working there, more are hiding. Generally, bad employees eventually become visible. When they do, two things will happen. First, they will resign, willingly or often not. Second (tongue only a bit firmly in cheek) they will be promoted where they can do more damage. Do stay in touch with your fantasy football friends in that office, though. If the company manages to boot unpleasant employees, you might get a refferal to return.


Some guy January 24, 2014 at 1:19 am

Evil HR Lady, thanks for answering.
This is the OP.

In 2009, I was doing well enough to have the internship extended twice. I actually was offered and accepted a full-time position at one point by my supervisor, only to have the offer reneged. The same thing happened a few weeks later when I was offered a consulting contract by the same person, only to have that offer taken back as well. I got a job elsewhere soon after.

I thought the organization had turned over a new leaf when I applied for that position four years later.


Evil HR Lady January 24, 2014 at 6:15 pm

Sounds like the whole place is a mess! as Just Another HR Guy said, you dodged a bullet!


Just Another HR Guy January 24, 2014 at 4:00 pm

I think you dodged a bullet.


Some Guy January 28, 2014 at 7:06 am

Yes. Bullet dodged. Thanks for everyone’s input.

By the way, i just a noticed a full page rant on Glassdoor about this same junior HR person. The author apparently didn’t make it past the phone screen, but had identical impression of her that I did. HR woman was rude, contemptuous, and inept…. And yet, still employed!

I want a job in HR– I’d love to treat people like garbage and get away with it!


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