A reader writes:
What do you do if a job candidate’s sister writes you an email saying, “Please keep this as a secret” and says that she will help her very talented brother with the job and that this job would be perfect for him — on and on for a whole page.
Do I answer her? Do I tell the candidate? Do I ignore her?
How would you handle this? He is in the top three, but this makes me wonder.
Ignore it, on the assumption that even the best candidates can have crazy siblings. I’d pay some extra attention to ensuring that he seems to understand normal business conventions, but aside from that, make your decision independent of this. And if you end up hiring him, tip him off that his sister is sending emails that aren’t doing him any favor with employers.
That said, there’s one part of this that I’d want more information about: Do you mean that the sister wrote that she would help him with the job, or just that she wants to help him get the job? Because if she’s saying she’ll help him with the job itself, that’s additionally weird and something that you probably do need to address with him before offering him a job. I’d say something like, “I received an email from your sister that I wasn’t quite sure how to interpret. She said that she’d help you with the job if you were to be in the role. I didn’t respond to her, but I’m wondering if you can shed any light.”
And meanwhile, siblings, spouses, parents, children, significant others, and friends of job candidates: This is a very, very bad thing to do. Do not do this.