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Worried candidate is too volatile to promote? Reason enough to give the job to someone else

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in Hiring,Human Resources

Some employees who are quick to anger may not have the interpersonal skills needed for a promotion, even if they are technically qualified to do the job. If you choose not to promote a hothead, few courts will second-guess your decision—as long as interviewers noted their misgivings and explained them in interview summaries.

Recent case: Deborah worked for the U.S. Postal Service and was technically qualified for her job and others that she sought. However, she had a history of poor performance, based largely on her lack of interpersonal skills.

Deborah applied for a promotion and was interviewed. The interview notes indicated that toward the end of the conversation, she grew angry and argumentative.

When she wasn’t picked, she sued, alleging she was the best qualified candidate for the job.

The post office said she wasn’t chosen on account of her poor oral communication skills; it emphasized the argument that occurred during her interview.

The court tossed out Deborah’s case, concluding that the post office had shown it had legitimate reasons for selecting someone else. It noted that not only did Deborah have a history of being warned about her in­­terpersonal skills, but the interviewers had taken her argumentative interview into account and documented her behavior. (Bringley v. Donahoe, No. 11-4971, 2nd Cir., 2012)

Advice: Establish a specific procedure for promotion interviews. Have the interviewers take contemporaneous notes to be included in an interview summary.

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