One of  the most mysterious… sometimes wonderful and sometimes not…aspects of my calling is that I deal with just about every and in the spectrum of people. One of the most glaring oddities of working with folks happened this last week.

I had a candidate referred to me who had been in his most recent job for two years and the job before that for 15 years. In interviewing him, he not only seemed like a reasonable guy, but had a really solid track record to go along with the stability.

He’s been involved in a fairly small, narrow sector of business but also a very dynamic one. I know a number of managers in that sector, so I began to call the managers I knew to see who would be interested in speaking with him.

He was leaving his present position for “cultural differences.” I knew exactly what those cultural differences were because his new boss was an old client of mine and saw the world in a rather driving, bombastic manner. This style was certainly not what my new candidate possessed and I could see why they would part ways. Everybody agreed to “play nice in the sandbox.” My candidate agreed not to say anything disparaging about the company or his boss who he was leaving and those folks agreed not to say anything negative about him. I could tell by just reading between the lines that this was an agreed to compromise to let everybody go about their separate ways with dignity and no negative comments. They gave him more than a reasonable severance with the understanding that everyone would be gracious about what they say about each other.

It was clear that the guy was a performer, but his style was certainly not that of the new boss he was leaving.

I called for clients in the vertical that this fellow had worked in. One of the clients said that he knew the candidate and that the candidate was nothing but a “slug.” This hiring authority claimed that my candidate was successful where he was only because he had been working for people who protected him and liked him and made sure that he was taken care of. This particular hiring authority made it very clear that he would never hire my candidate.

The fourth guy that I called said that he knew the candidate and thought the guy was absolutely wonderful. He agreed to meet with him and since their meeting, the interviewing authority is having my candidate talk to his boss this week and they would like to make him an offer as soon as possible.

Now, this is about as interesting as it gets. One hiring authority says he knows the guy and says he’s a slug and the other guy says he knows him and thinks she’s absolutely wonderful… top performer, etc.

I know this may come as strange to a lot of people who aren’t in the recruiting business and, truth be told, it is strange. Having done this since 1973, I don’t think I ever will understand how people can see things so differently. I’ll probably never be able to figure it out.