my boss implied I let religion impact a hiring decision, a new employee is snarking at me, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My boss implied I hired someone because of her religion

What’s the best way to address my boss making an assumption that I hired someone based on an EEOC-protected category?

I have a new manager who’s great overall. He speaks frankly and is helping me develop in my career. I sent him a resume three days ago for an employee I’ve hired who starts tomorrow (the hire was decided prior to my boss joining the team). My manager and I had a check-in meeting today, and he said the new employee’s resume was interesting to read. With a little smirk, he added, “I know now why you hired her.”

This employee’s resume shows service at an organization that indicates her faith. It’s a faith I share, and I believe my manager is assuming that I gave this candidate undue weight because of this. I’m on the interview committee at work, and pride myself at being able to put aside issues like this in deciding on a candidate’s fitness for the role. How should I confirm with my manager that this is his suspicion and address that I found it offensive that he would assume this? With a manager I haven’t worked with before, I don’t want to leap to conclusions. However, I also feel that if my suspicions are correct, I need to address it head-on.

I agree; you shouldn’t just let this go and allow the assumption to hang out there as unchallenged fact. I’d go back to your boss and say, “I didn’t fully process it when we were talking the other day, but I want to make sure you don’t really think that I hired Violet Thistlewell because of her religion.” If you get any response other than that a convincing explanation that he was joking (and actually, even then — because that’s a pretty sketchy joke), follow up with, “I want to make sure you know I’d never hire that way. I hired Violet because she has a great track record in ___.”

2. An employee on my new team is undermining me with snark

I recently started a new job and learned through my manager that a person on the team had interviewed for the role I was offered. This is a new position that was formed as part of a restructure and from what I understand, the person who applied felt they were a shoo-in for the position since they have been working for the company for several years. I am completely new to the organization and the business.

Anytime someone from the team asks me a question, this person is quick to respond, “Why would she know? She’s new to the business.” I try to ignore it, but lately it has been making me feel insecure and has me wondering what I can do to protect my credibility. I tried involving this person in my business processes to diffuse hard feelings; however, they continue to comment on my limited knowledge of the business. I realize this person has more knowledge of the business but for whatever reason (I suspect poor people skills) they were not offered the job. I’m trying my best to learn, but there is no way I can get up to speed and know as much as they do. considering they have had longer exposure to business within the unit. It’s difficult enough to adjust to a new job. How do I deal with this?

By nipping this in the bud. By allowing her get away with open snark toward you, you’re weakening your own authority, both with this employee and with anyone watching. The next time it happens, interject and answer the question you’ve been asked. Meanwhile, deal with her privately, by talking her through the standards of behavior you expect from anyone on your team and how you’d like her to approach things differently — and hold her to that. There’s advice here and here on how to do that, but you’re going to need to be more assertive than it sounds like you have so far, which has given her an opening to undermine you (and will get worse if you don’t stop it).

3. Rejecting a candidate for the second time

Do you have any advice on how to best reject a candidate for a second time? In this case, a candidate was a finalist for one position but was not selected. When a different opening was posted a few months later (which on paper she is also qualified for), she reached out again and we interviewed her again. She’s not the right fit, and I feel like saying no a second time really closes the door in a way the first rejection does not. Knowing she will likely read it that way, how should I follow up with her?

Just explain her your reasoning — and if you’d welcome applications from her again in the future, add that too (but don’t say it if it’s not true). For instance: “This was a tough decision, but ultimately we concluded we’re looking for someone with more experience in X. I really appreciate you going through our process twice now, and if we haven’t scared you off, we’d welcome your applications in the future.” Or, if it’s not a skills/experience issue but more about personality/culture fit, you could be vaguer: “I really appreciated the time you put into our process. This is a tricky role to hire for and we end up turning away some great people in the process. I won’t be moving you forward to our final interviews, but on a personal note, I enjoyed the chance to get to know you better and wish you all the best.” Or whatever. Just make it a little more personal than a form letter, since it’s her second time around.

4. Company told me I had more leave than I did and now wants me to repay the difference

I work for a small company that has only one HR person, who also does payroll. She recently emailed me that she miscalculated the maternity leave I took in August-October and would need to take $1,400 out of my next two paychecks. I spoke with her in person, and her mistake was not checking my leave accumulation balance and just using an arbitrary number. This is not the first time she’s made a mistake like this with me or many of my coworkers. The mistakes only come to light at the end of the fiscal year for my company.

Is there any financial recourse for me? She did these calculations before my son was born and I chose to take a specific amount of maternity leave based on her calculations. I would not have taken as much had her math been accurate. I have emails from her telling me the earlier amount.

If the company overpaid you, they’re entitled to recover that money from you by withholding it from your next paychecks … but you”re also entitled to point out that they gave you bad information that you relied on to your detriment. I’d pull together those emails she sent you earlier with the wrong amount and explain that you were promised X amount of leave, that you had no reason not to rely on the numbers the company gave you, that repaying the money would be a hardship and feels unfair (since you would have made different decisions had they given you correct information), and ask for the repayment to be waived or reduced. If you don’t get anywhere with her, take your case to her manager. (You might also try to get your own manager to go to bat for you on this, if your manager has some sway.)

5. Did this auto-reply indicate that I should follow up about my application if I don’t hear anything?

I have a question about an online job application I recently completed. I filled it out and then uploaded my resume with it. When I hit submit, their response word for word was the following: “Thank you for applying. We will contact you shortly.” This is interesting because virtually all job applications will say that they will contact you if your qualifications match their requirements. Here they are not saying that, so I am wondering if I should contact them through email about the my status if they do not contact me?

Nope. You’re reading too much into the auto-response. Companies don’t put nearly as much time into refining the wording of these as applicants spend in analyzing them. It’s just an acknowledgement that they received your application, nothing more and nothing less.

You’ve applied, they know you’re interested, and they’ll get in touch if they want to interview you.

my boss implied I let religion impact a hiring decision, a new employee is snarking at me, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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