A reader writes:
I just did a phone interview with a job candidate, and he sent me a fruit/wine basket. What am I supposed to do with it? Do I send it back? We are not going to go further in the process with him, as he was not qualified for the role, but what am I supposed to do with this basket? Do I politely decline and send back?
Candidates, please, please, please do not do this.
There is NO need to send gifts to your interviewers, and you will generally creep them out and cause awkwardness if you do. And, really, what on earth would anyone expect to accomplish by this? If you’re not qualified, it’s not going to change that. And if you are qualified, you’ve now made everyone uncomfortable by implying that you think your qualifications aren’t enough on their own, but that the interviewer might be swayed by some pears and a bottle of Merlot. It’s tacky and it’s ineffective.
Anyway, as for what to do: Sending it back would be insulting and would create much more awkwardness — this time for him, as well as for you. But since you probably feel awkward about consuming the contents of the basket yourself, offer it to others in your office who weren’t involved in the hiring process and won’t have the same weird feelings. And in return for partaking, make them promise they will never do this themselves.