A Candidate Scorned

Shawnee Love   •  
August 1, 2012

It is rare, but there are odd people (and I do mean odd) who strike back when they don’t get the job.  Voicemails, texts, and emails are their typical methods presumably because they don’t want to hear the reasons why they weren’t successful.  They just want to bully or vent.

Unfortunately, sometimes their bullying and venting crosses the line and the hiring manager has to decide whether to take the angry rant seriously or not.  I recently had one of these candidates emailing me at weird hours of the night.  When I received the first one, I wondered idly whether he had ever had anyone advise him not to drink and email.  After the second, I laughed because his outrage at not being selected was comical for someone who had no relevant experience, especially since he was applying for a job where anger management and conflict resolution skills were critical.

But as the week went on and the increasingly threatening emails kept coming in, I began to wonder whether I need to do something in case the candidate really is going to take action on his threats.  Beyond my first email letting him know he wasn’t shortlisted for the role, I had not responded to his aggressive emails figuring his anger would diminish and frankly not wanting to accidentally antagonize him further, but that strategy was not proving effective.

Clearly this guy has no hope in hell of ever getting a job I am hiring for. But at what point do the email threats need to be dealt with and what is the right reaction?  Do I email or call back risking antagonizing him further or escalating the situation or simply report him to the police and ask them to deal with it?

To my way of thinking, although 99.9% of the applicant population knows that sending threatening emails is a career limiting move with that company, the angry candidate deserves to be given a chance to correct his ways prior to taking further action such as reporting him to the police or his professional association.  Similar to a harassment situation, the first step is to let the person know his behaviour is:

  • Inappropriate,
  • Making you uncomfortable, and
  • Must stop.

It is also important to be clear on your next action if the person doesn’t stop.  E.g., “If I receive another email I will report your threats to the police”.

Have you ever received threatening emails from unsuccessful candidates? What did you do about it?