Part I: HR Case Study — Recruiting a New Teammate

*Written on September 12, 2005

Something to think about…

Our company has had an opening for a marketing/technical writer for the past couple of weeks. We’re looking for a replacement of two of my former team members found better opportunities elsewhere.

They finally found a perfect candidate with this Canadian-Chinese woman whom we’ll call SY.

Personally, I found her to be bright and highly energetic. She reminds me of me, but older. My only concern was that she was wearing open-toed shoes during her interview and that I could see her bright red nail polish very clearly. But these are just minor details you ignore if the person is competent and does her job well.

But I’m digressing.

Anyway, my company gave her an offer on Monday and she said she’ll think about it till Friday.

My boss was like, 5 days… okay.

But since my boss felt that SY could do the job, they decided to give her till Friday to make up her mind.

Friday morning came… no reply from SY.

Friday afternoon… still no call.

Finally, my boss has had enough.

She called SY up and asked for her response.

Umm… can you please give me till Monday to think it over?” Sandy asked.

No,” my boss replied. “You have to give us your response now. Because we don’t want to delay our recruiting process any further.”

So after thinking about it for a while… SY finally accepted the offer.


During the interview, SY said that she could start two weeks after the offer is accepted.

Hence, my boss said she could start two weeks after.

Then, SY retracted and said that she’d rather work at the beginning of October (around 6 weeks after) because her teammate is going on a one-month vacation and her boss needs her help.

However, since September is one of our slowest months, it is the most opportune time for her to receive training. Hence, my boss asked her to come earlier.

Finally, after some discussion, both parties agreed that SY would start on September 12 (after one month).


September 5 — SY called up my boss early in the morning and said that she couldn’t start on September 12 because her boss begged her to stay longer to help out. She again stated that her teammate has already left for his one-month vacation, and her office is overworked.

SY then said she would rather start on October 2 — this was a week before she was supposed to start officially in our company.

My boss said that he’ll get back to her.

During our weekly meeting, our boss briefed us with the situation and threw the decision to us.

What should we do?” he asked.

First, she has already accepted the offer, and has bid farewell to her previous boss. She had promised that she’ll definitely start working with us on October 2, and has even offered to sign an agreement that she’ll start on October.

However, our team needed her for September. We need her to be trained come October.

The tricky issue was, if we forced her to come on September 12, she will be unhappy on leaving her previous boss in need. And since that we knew that she was indecisive from the start and have gone back on her word several times, the team would already have a bad impression of her.

And given our previous experience (the post was briefly occupied by our former teammate), we don’t need an employee that is wishy-washy. We don’t want someone who’ll come and work here briefly and leave three months later.

Nevertheless, if we let her start on October 2, our team would still have a bad impression of her. Given the facts, people already think that she should’ve known earlier that her teammate is having a one-month vacation (a totally foreseen event), and could’ve prevented her from staying at her old company for a longer period of time.

Besides, some already assume that she is staying primarily because she is waiting for the huge Mid-Autumn bonus which usually arrives mid-September.

Therefore, if she leaves on September 12, it’s unlikely that she wouldn’t get the bonus she had worked hard for.

So our boss asks our decision — what should we do with SY?


So I’m posing the decision to all of you readers? If you were us, what would you do with SY?

If you were SY, what would you have done? And what could you have changed?

I’ll post the result of our decision tomorrow. And let’s see whether you agree on it or not.

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4 thoughts on “Part I: HR Case Study — Recruiting a New Teammate

  1. First, she should have resigned and started work with your office on the agreed upon date. If she wanted to help out with her former boss, then she could have worked evenings and weekends for a month or so, and inform you about the arrangement.

    It would be better if you find another person since she seems wishy-washy but in a way this shows that she will not leave any project hanging, so this incident really has some plus and minus points.

    But knowing how hard it is to find capable, technically knowleageable people, I myself am inclined to still accept her but suggest that she can continue on working with her former boss & colleagues on a strictly moonlighting basis – evenings and weekends. And instill in her that this is not a good way to start working in a new environment.

  2. I hate it when that happens…I’d ditch her, but it seems like you already have a binding agreement..

  3. well, I think it’s also rude of SY to have you guys wait for her. Rude and unfair.

    You’ve already given her a lot of consideration, the least she could do is return the favor.

    I don’t think she’s committed to your company in the first place and so it would be better to just let her go.

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