Hiring or keeping it all running at work isn't always easy peasy lemon squeezy. For real-life examples of horror stories, I reached out to recruiting software company JazzHR. And boy, did the HR managers they surveyed deliver some doozies. Corey Berkey, JazzHR's Director of Human Resources, offers some pointers on what to do if you face similar circumstances.
Issue #1: Safety
"[A new staffing specialist...] approached several of her co-workers about where she could procure various illegal drugs, and then asked about networking to hire a hitman to take care of her current husband's ex-wife, as evidently the alimony thing was a problem for her. She also told her co-workers how she had manipulated her hiring references in order to get the position."
In this case, the manager called the police, who responded. The specialist was let go, and while it wasn't proven that she was at fault, two coworkers discovered soon after that their car tires had been irreparably damaged, ice-picked through the side wall. The specialist was never arrested and moved out of state.
"Mid-interview [my perfect candidate] began to sweat profusely. I offered water, turned the air conditioner to a lower temperature as he began to mumble. I thought, 'Oh, no, I've got a medical emergency on my hands.' He excused himself to go to the restroom but didn't return after 15 minutes. I asked a male staff member to enter the men's restroom to check on him. The door was somehow locked and barricaded. The applicant wouldn't answer our calls to open the door but began rambling aloud. I called the fire department, and after another 20 minutes the applicant emerged totally intoxicated (empty bottle in hand) and possibly under the influence of 'something' else. The next day his wife called me requesting to know when his start date would be. No job offer was extended to this candidate!"
Berkey's advice: "When you're in a situation like this, you first have to check your emotions. Quickly assessing the situation and diffusing the tension is always key. It's also worthwhile to start commit the activities to memory - you may need thorough notes on the situation for the future. If things escalate beyond your control - or become unsafe, it's important to reach out to the right authorities right away."
Issue #2: Financial dishonesty
"We had a new hire who was provided a company direct billed credit card to pay for food and lodging when attending new hire training in another office location. When the bill arrived, there were a number of charges on the card from an adult novelty store located close to the hotel in which the employee was staying. When asked why there were charges unrelated to the food and lodging expenses, the employee stated he did not want his wife to find out about the adult novelty items he purchased because they were for her birthday."
Berkey's advice: "Part of being in People & Talent Management means you have to prepare for the unexpected. New hire orientation and onboarding are key as they allow you the time you need to take a new team member through the rules and policies of your workplace. Taking the time to shore these items up - and revisit as necessary - is key. Make sure people know what is an acceptable use of company funds (even when it may be obvious) and have an action plan in place for when someone breaks the rules."
Issue #3: Ghosting/phantom candidate
"Two days before [a new hire's] agreed-on start date, he called and asked if his start date could be moved back a week. We agreed. His new start date arrived, but the employee did not. We called, left messages and sent e-mails with no response. [...] We moved on, interviewed again, hired someone else. Two months later, the no-show candidate called and asked if he could start now, he had to leave the country for an emergency, and wanted to start. He did not, however, have an answer to 'Was the destination without cell coverage entirely?'"
Berkey's advice: "Set clear expectations for how/when you'll communicate with a candidate - and what you expect in return. Make sure that internal stakeholders have a communication plan between offer acceptance and start date - HR, Recruiters, Hiring Managers, Trainers, etc. can all step in here. [...Let] candidates know in an amicable way that they were not selected, because you never know when the opportunity may arise to resume that conversation (this is also important for your employer brand). You may need them sooner than you think!"
While these examples admittedly are extreme, they also demonstrate that hiring managers and leaders can be vital when it comes to responding to serious work situations. They can be all individuals have for protection or much-needed, compassionate help, and they serve as a critical line of defense for the wellbeing of the entire business. Know the law, have clear policies, communicate clearly and with respect, and never be afraid to reach out to the appropriate authorities or experts if you need to.