HR Strange But True!
May 01, 2008

Last week we began shining the spotlight on the dark side of HR--some of those moments you'd probably like to forget (and yet you willingly share). This week we continue our equal time kick, no doubt delighting the inept employees and applicants you've happily thrown under the bus in previous columns.

Quite Questionable

"We had a vice president of merchandising/planning who interviewed a candidate and asked when her birthday was so she could figure out her Chinese horoscope. The VP told the candidate that it would help her to figure out her personality! We are a $4.5 billion public apparel company with over 17,000 employees worldwide."

Not to be outdone:

"The owner of our small company likes to really get to know the people he interviews before we hire them. The owner has a habit of asking if they have kids, what church they go to, etc. At one interview the owner went on his normal charming rapid-fire questioning and then turned to me and said, 'Oops. Am I asking anything that will get us in trouble?' Tell me, how do I answer a question like that with the candidate sitting right there?"

A Real Slip Up (or Down)

"As I was escorting a job candidate to the manager's office (down a long corridor) the half slip I was wearing suddenly fell down around my ankles and became tangled around my feet. This caused me to lurch sideways into the candidate who promptly put his arms around me to keep from falling down. The whole scene was witnessed by several co-workers. Humiliating? Yes! But, we were all laughing so hard by that time it didn't matter."

And another hands-on experience:

"I was doing an employee orientation and part of it included a tour of the office. We are in an older building and there are some structural support poles throughout the office. I was walking along next to our newest employee and turned my head in time to see her just about to walk straight into one of the steel poles. Without thinking I reached out to stop her. Unfortunately, my hands hit her dead on in the middle of her chest--one on either side. I was so embarrassed. I didn't know what to do or say except apologize. It was a joke around the office for a while that the HR manager would 'feel up' the new employees. Not the best reputation for the HR manager. I've decided that if it happens again, I'll choose the Workers' Comp paperwork over the embarrassment of trying to avoid an injury."

Not a Ringing Endorsement

"I was meeting with an employee in my office to go over benefits and answer some of her questions. We had recently experienced a period of turnover and had terminated a number of nonperforming employees. I had gotten a new cell phone that had custom ring tones and had selected a favorite song from Queen as my ring tone. As we sat there talking, my cell phone started ringing 'Another One Bites the Dust.' The horrified employee just stared at me and after a moment said, 'Do you really think that's the most appropriate ring tone for the HR Director to have?' We had a good laugh later, and I did change the ring tone to something less intimidating."

Keep Your Night Job

"Early in my career, one of my assignments was to recruit and hire a secretary for the plant manager. The candidate who scored highest on the interview and tests was a 'drop-dead gorgeous' blonde. She scored almost perfect on the typing, shorthand, and telephone ability test and had a great personality. When I offered her the job, she said she wasn't concerned about salary, and only wanted to know about the medical and insurance benefits. I went into great detail and she said she would accept the job (this was before I even mentioned salary). I later found out why. She was a high-priced 'hooker' who was only concerned about health insurance because she made more in one night than we were paying in a month, but needed the medical insurance in case anything unexpected happened."

Good stuff, huh? So keep those cards and letters coming in, and we'll share more of your workplace whimsy.

TGIF - It's HR
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