30 years in HR, part 12: some terrible stories…

1. The applicant who had been to my high-school

The first employee I could hire for my first team. I was looking for a graduate recruiter. Challenging job, many applicants. This one stood out. Why? Because he had been to my high school. Immediately I had positive associations (creative, persistent, not middle-of-the-road), and of course these prejudices were confirmed in the interview. He was an excellent candidate, and luckily he took the job. All the impressions after the first impression were worse. He would arrive in the office three after nine, tie in his hand. First stop: the restroom to put on his tie properly. When I collected him from his home one day early in the morning, to go to a milk-round at one of the technical universities, I had to wake him up. His apartment was completely empty, only some crate’s (beer) to sit on.
I had to let him go after six months. My first (not last unfortunately) disastrous hire. When we opened his desk, we found piles of applicant letters, unopened, that he had just dumped in the drawers.

2. The engineer who was clairvoyant

This young engineer, hired a couple of month ago, had entered the office of the CEO via the back door (unheard of). If the CEO had a minute. He explained he was hired as a software engineer, but that the company did not make the best use of his capabilities. He was clairvoyant. He could help the company in the selection of the best people, as he could see who was good and who was not. He could also help the CEO in weeding out poor managers, as he could see who could be trusted, and who not. The CEO asked him to make an appointment with my boss, to discuss further. My boss and I (“just watch and see what happens”, my boss said). The young engineer explained his supernatural capabilities. My boss said: “If you are clairvoyant, you know what will happen next”. The engineer nodded. We made a mistake, he said, but he could understand us. I helped him to gather his personal belongings, and escorted him to the exit.

3. The day we forgot Mario

An international training program for high potentials. As part of the program we traveled to Berlin, to visit the “Internationale Funkausstellung”. Early start, which was not easy as the evening had been great fun. Halfway between Eindhoven and Amsterdam, slowly waking up, I looked around the bus to see where Mario was sitting. Mario was the guru from Marketing Communications who would guide us in Berlin. He had stayed in the conference center, in order to be able to travel on the bus with us. No Mario is the bus. We had just forgotten him. No time to turn back. I phoned the conference center when we arrived at the airport (no mobile phones in those days), but they could not reach him. When we arrived at the IFA, one of the first persons we bumped into was Mario, loudly laughing. He had taken a taxi to Düsseldorf airport when he found out we had left, and had arrived in Berlin before us.  No regrets, and we had a productive day in Berlin.

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