…excusez mon français

The employer gave me feedback and said that my candidate was doing rather well in the interview until he made the comment, “excuse my French” and then proceeded to curse. According to him, the cursing was minor. According to her it was significant because, first of all, she is a woman; secondly, he does not know her that well (in fact, not at all) and, third, he has no idea whether she tolerates that kind of talk or not.

I played rugby for more than 20 years and certainly have been exposed to more than even rough language. Some of the guys I played with couldn’t utter one sentence without at least two profane words. (One of them I played with in college became a Jesuit priest…not the same guy.) And, I often have to remind myself to watch my own language (especially on our radio program). So, language like this doesn’t particularly bother me. But I’m not the hiring authority.

My candidate is about as good as this employer would ever find. But she dismissed him immediately because of his indiscretion. She claimed, correctly, that it was just plain bad judgment and that it wasn’t so much that she was offended as it was that he’d never spoken to her before, didn’t know her at all and had no idea whether language like that would be offensive to her. It ended her interest in the candidate right away.

Unfortunately, the candidate made the excuse that the words he used weren’t that offensive. I reminded him that his opinion really doesn’t matter. It was her opinion that did.

This market is tough enough without a candidate shooting themselves in the foot by using language that might be offensive to the hiring authority. It really doesn’t matter whether the hiring authority is a man or woman. None of us really know how another person, a stranger, is going to respond to foul language.

The unfortunate thing about this is that the candidate is a real professional who’s made more than $300,000 a year a number of times selling consulting services. He’s really, really, really good. This is an excellent company and would’ve been an excellent place for him to join.

Excusez mon français?  Non!  Ne jure pas!

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