Being Politically Incorrect…

I’ve been seeking a few people to help me organize a big event at work.

So far, our HR Department has been sending me candidates with pristine credentials — most are graduates from National Taiwan University (arguably, the best school in Taiwan) with super high GPAs.

Unfortunately, I’ve learned that brains don’t necessarily equate to competency and efficiency. One girl I interviewed enjoyed high test scores and yet seemed autistic and lost. She took a long time to answer simple questions like, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” she made me question my patience!

The problem is when there’s not enough qualified people to choose from.

Either they’re too slow, too arrogant (such is a curse of getting graduates from good schools… a lot have attitude problems), language skills too lacking, EQ too low… and yes, even have a special case where the person seems qualified on the get-go…

and yet, has body odor. 😮

At the expense of being politically incorrect, I asked myself whether I’d not hire a perfectly qualified individual because well… he smells. 🙁

Don’t get me wrong, I did think about this person for a while. I was weighing whether or not it’s worth it to get somebody who can contribute to a project despite his smell. “You can always pen more perfume around the area and hint that he needs to use anti-perspirant,” my colleague said.

However, I thought about it. If the candidate already smells while in an air-conditioned room, how much more would he affect other people once summer comes? Sure, he can competently work, but at what expense? If he already smells in the 10 minute interview thus affecting the room odor, how much more worse will it be if you worked with him 8 hours a day, 5 days a week?

My colleagues will hate me for such a hiring decision. 🙁

So after much deliberation, I decided not to hire this candidate. I think good hygiene is very important in an employee especially since my job deals a lot with facing clients, and an employee represents the institution he/she works for. Having body odor is unfortunate but one cannot expect the candidate to change just because you hired him. Either you can accept him — body odor or not — or you can’t. And in this case, the job is service-oriented so something minor such as body odor may affect how clients view our company.

Okay, so start criticizing me for being politically incorrect, but tell me, if you were in my shoes, would you hire him? Or would you rather look in the long-run and see whether that person is a better fit for the job/company?

Sigh, not hard to make hiring decisions, but it sure is a learning experience. I’m sure this isn’t something that most people deal with often… so pretty lucky, kinda.

Let me know what you think — how important do you think is personal hygiene in making hiring decisions?

What if you encounter factors that are difficult to change such as body odor, would you still hire the person given that he/she is qualified? What are the factors you’ll consider when hiring someone?

Comments welcome!

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5 thoughts on “Being Politically Incorrect…

  1. I would have decided like you, but did not tell my collegues, why. Easy…^_^

    There is nothing worse than a bad smelling collegue because you cannot escape. Even he will be present in absence, aaarghh.

    Be happy, that it was in your hands to decide!


  2. Ahahahaha! It seems a fairly common example – for example a long time ago in our secondary school we had one person who was exactly like that and I can say that it negatively affected the whole class. Not so much for the actual smell (besides, I had a nose problem half the time and couldn’t feel anything) but more for the people’s reactions and wasting time on it. I recall it became an internal joke later. So in the end the source was with the unfortunate classmate, but the true problem was with the class as whole.

    On the other hand, I’m curious about “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” question. What would you say about it if you were asked yourself? When getting an answer, can you tell if that’s something the candidate has really been thinking about or it’s just something he scribbled down before the interview, knowing he would be asked that? I think it’s fairly common for people to not think about it at all and then come up with some ludicrous answers when the time comes…


  3. Hej Raven, me back (^-^)!!

    I see that you’re trying to keep your mind of your pokémon :P. Happy to see that!

    Hah, body odor .. O.o … -.-” ….. well, I would think that you’re right. By the way that I’m seeing this, although he probably could handle the job, besides his odor, he didn’t made other ‘good’/striking impressions on you… otherwise you wouldn’t have thought to long about hiring him.
    If he had a striking appearance, personality or whatever… you would have hired him, I’m sure of that.
    But it seems that he was just an ordinary man.. with a different.. uhm… smell to it :P.

    As I have mentioned before in my other posts, when you’ve accepted a person, (and it doesn’t matter how long you know that person…) it ‘doesn’t matter’ what that person does, although he/she is going beyond your boundaries (being smelly, hih) -> for these people, you’ll always close an eye, till it hurts so bad (or smell so bad) that you can’t take it anymore… than you’re waving.
    By the look of this, his ‘charm’ couldn’t make you think twice.

    So… you were politically correct ;), because otherwise you would have hired him and making excuses of how to get rid of his ‘nice smell’ :P.


    …there is one thing that I would like to share with you…, maybe that it will help you as it helped me in the past 2 weeks to reflect on the things that I’ve done in my life.
    Well, in these two weeks that I have been gone… I met a very wise woman and she told me that everything in life that happens to you…you’re the cause of it. I know, it sounds weird/strange, but it’s really true. You’re environment reacts on you, on the things that you do… or don’t do … it’s the same as… not telling the person that you like, that you’re into him. By being so, you’re giving signals to your environment, to him, which you are unaware of.

    Although you’ve given him mega big hints (the feeling is right) and wondering why he hasn’t made the move (because we’re conservative). He only reacts to your attitude/the way you act…

    So… as you’ve said… who is stupider?

    The stupid guy who can’t appreciate an amazing girl when he sees it — or the girl who’s liking this stupid guy??
    … both…. I would say.

    Well heck… it takes two to tango right? and always one person is holding back and another is taking the lead. In my opinion it should be the man in the beginning… to make the first move, but heck…..
    … nobody is taking the lead….., because you both are in the gray zone… wondering … scratching your heads.

    *me scratches mine now 😛

    … so, it looks like I have to take charge….. o.O, but you don’t want to.

    So then you’re stuck in the gray zone, wondering why he is like that? Why hasn’t he made the first move? He’s hinting and all (you to)… everything is still ‘fun’ by playing the ‘push and pull thing’, but heck, it isn’t always fun in the gray zone….. so why doesn’t he take the bull by it’s horn???

    I’ve thought about it and I have always thought… if I will see Pokémon, I would ask him why… why didn’t you….. you chicken (my new nickname for him ;)?? But heck… instead of pointing the finger at him, maybe it is time to point it to another direction … -> me!
    Yes, I’ve had my share in this as well… it takes two to tango right?

    *so me really slapping myself -.-” and scratching my head really… really hard

    But this was really an eye-opener for me, and I am much aware of myself now.
    My attitude has changed. Now I’m more open/direct to my surroundings and I’ve noticed a big difference on the way how people react to me/ tread me.

    I think that you’ve also experienced something similar like that (as I have read in your earlier posts), that when you stopped being the ‘nice girl’ (people taking advantage of you)… people come and go, but the roots….. they are the ones to hold on to, as Madea would say (^-^).

    But please.. if it’s possible, don’t …. please don’t let this go the same road as with Aussie guy. That you will regret that there was an opportunity, but you’ve let it slip, because you held back… and I can really relate/understand to that.

    I hope that you don’t see me as someone who is pointing her finger at you, because I really ain’t doing that!!! I can’t judge, because I am not in your position. I haven’t felt the feelings that you are in and I don’t know what has happened till now between you guys but.. I can imagine… and I can feel your emotions through your writings…..

    … so you’re the one who has spent time with him, and not your friends…
    … you’re the one having these feelings…
    … you’re the one who has been in the situations with him, and not us…

    So you can listen to their advice and mine, but you’re the one who will have to make the decision in the end, and not us.

    I think that the ‘little’ voice inside of you has also told you something…

    We are here to catch you, support you… being here for you, whatever the outcome is.

    I would like to tell you more, but I don’t know how…

    …but maybe…..

    … it is time to take the bull by its horn…

    …it’s not so much fun in the gray zone, I know.. but also remember… life isn’t black and white, it is always… always gray….. the question you have to ask yourself is…

    … how gray do you want it to be???

    With love,


  4. Good decision. Personal hygiene is very important in the workplace. I would’ve done the same thing.

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