Dear All,

I recently interviewed a very strong candidate for quite a senior position. His resume was the best of all the candidates by a stretch.

The interview went very well, he clearly knew what he was talking about, we knew a lot of mutual management, he nailed most of the questions and asked a cracking question of us ( it was a panel with me heading it) at the end. He was over qualified for the position, I put this to him and he came back with a strong answer, ' I don't want to do management anymore, I want to get back to the nuts and bolts,' and I believed him. There were a couple of concerns though.

i) We were all adults in the room with a lot of experience working in a very tough environment. He used to work for our main competitor 6 years ago. When I asked him if he left on a good or bad note he thought about it and was honest, he said a bad note. When I asked him to explain he said there were two major foul ups, which we knew about, which had nothing to do with him, also true, but he was the scapegoat. He was a foreigner to the company working for an infamously ruthless boss. They couldn't fire him as he had done nothing wrong so they stuck him in a menial position on the same salary so he resigned. He said he was utterly gutted by the experience. I'm not sure if this is a red flag? I don't believe he was bad mouthing the company per se just honestly laying out the facts and how they impacted him.

ii) Since that time he has held quite a few high powered jobs but for limited periods of time. When pressed he wants out of management though is now working freelance doing what he wants to do.

ii) When departing he said ' If you don't think I'm appropriate for this position I am open to other suggestions' Another red flag?

I'm undecided whether to take him to a second interview with the President of the company.

Any advice greatly appreciated.



RDHodgson's picture

From what little I know, he sounds a flight risk, sure. Couldn't say without having your full context of course. 

As to the thing about bad-mouthing, well... you asked for it brother. It's one thing to say, "Could you elaborate on your leaving this position?" but you actually asked him for an evaluation of the situation, not just an elaboration. If you lead him down that path, I mean, you can't be too surprised where it left. I couldn't say he definitely was too bad-mouthing... sounds fine to me, but... yeah, I'd just caution that the situation isn't the same as him being asked "Why did you leave X?" and coming out with a schpiel about what jackasses they were.




anselm's picture

Thanks Rory,

Agree about the flight risk factor but that's something I can bring up in the second interview.

I also think you are right that we kind of pushed him in to a corner with his previous employees.


JulieGeek's picture

 If he really is that well-qualified, I would balance my perception of him as a flight risk with his demonstrated track record and weight it with what he could accomplish while he's with your company. I've known several people who have moved in and out of management and individual contributor roles. I found those individuals to have the best characteristics of both worlds.

The fact that he spoke honestly, yet without rancor, about his former employer, I think indicates a goodly amount of self-knowledge and savvy. I've been in a similar situation and I felt I had to accurately describe the situation without sounding like a whiner. It sounds like this guy has done the same.


JohnG's picture

 Generally the advice against candidates being critical of previous employers is based on the idea that if they are willing to do that about a past firm it may show indiscretion and they may do the same to a new firm. That doesn't, or at least shouldn't, mean that it is never appropriate to explain a situation politely and without malice.

Ultimately there are always questions about candidates’ motivations. If he genuinely doesn't like management then it might explain why he has moved through various roles at that level without settling. You could therefore have a candidate with the experience and skills for a more senior role who is happy and motivated by this role. Unless you're only interested in hiring people who are 'high pots' and likely to develop quickly that wouldn't be a flaw. Obviously it may be a lie, he is a crap manager and desperate for another job. Ask some more questions and try and nail it down.

derosier's picture
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 ' If you don't think I'm appropriate for this position I am open to other suggestions' Another red flag?'

That seems simply to address your 'overqualified' comment. He may be perceptive that you think he's overqualified, but really wants to work there (for whatever motivation) and is trying to hedge his bets.

Nothing you've mentioned really raises red flags to me. And, I'd say that if you have any doubts, don't hire. Every time I've hired someone I had any doubt about, I've regretted it.


- Steve

Mattias's picture

Check his salary expectation. If it is in accordance with his experience i would say its just a case of a person realizing they do not want to be a manager. It is not for everyone.

Take heed! I am only 27 and i already now of two cases in my company where people went back to individual contributor roles because they didnt like being managers. Its not for everyone.

TNoxtort's picture

To me, he sounds very self aware, and very candid and honest. It sounds like he's really looking for the best position for him, and being up front about what he likes and doesn't like. If having him in this role fits your needs, he may NOT be a flight risk because it is what he wants too.