A reader writes:
My husband recently graduated from a technical college, and is now on the job search. Yesterday, he interviewed (which went VERY well!) for a position at the company where I work.
I’ve been there for nearly four years and am in very good standing, as I’ve proven myself a reliable and professional employee. I personally know a few of the people with which he interviewed (one I even graduated from high school with, and is a friend), have worked with them on projects in the past, and I view them as very friendly, open people. I’m wondering, what are my boundaries when it comes to talking about my husband’s employment prospects with my co-workers? Should I remain completely hands-off, and just not do it? Or because of the close-knit atmosphere, could I approach my fellow employees with a quick mention of how excited my husband is to potentially work there, and that he would be the perfect candidate out of the twelve people they are interviewing?
Additionally, we just really, really need him to get this job! Finances have been very tight for a very long time, and it would be a complete and total blessing for my husband to land this position. I realize this is not my fellow employees’ problem, but my company does tend to “take care of their own,” and does employ several husband-wife duos (in different departments, of course). If it were as simple as just telling my interviewing co-workers that they would not regret hiring my husband, that they won’t find a more driven person, and how badly we need him to snag this position, I’d do it in a heartbeat. But, I DO NOT want to hurt his prospects in any way!
What do you think? Would a quick chat with a fellow friend/co-worker possibly help my husband? Or would I just end up hurting him?
Personally, I wouldn’t do it. It’s not going to come as any surprise to them that you’d say positive things about your husband, and you risk putting them in an awkward position if they end up not thinking he’s the best person for the job.
And by not attempting to influence the decision, you demonstrate that you’re able to handle the situation professionally if indeed they do hire him. There’s always a concern when hiring someone’s spouse that they’ll inappropriately function as a unit — i.e., that if Spouse A isn’t getting along with her boss, Spouse B’s relationship with that person will be impacted too, and so forth. So by demonstrating now that you keep your marriage and your business life separate, I’d argue that you’re actually helping his candidacy.
I’d probably say something like this: “John is really excited about the role after his interview yesterday, and I think that position could be a great fit. However, I want to make sure you know that it’s not going to cause any awkwardness with me if he ultimately doesn’t get the job — although of course I hope he does!” And then I’d leave it there.
However, if you ignore me and decide to say something to your coworkers after all, at least avoid statements like the one above saying that he’d be the best person for the job out of the 12 people they’re interviewing — because unless you’re very familiar with all the other candidates, you really can’t say that credibly.
Really though, the best way to help your husband in this situation is to help him understand what the company is looking for, what the culture is like, how he could best make a contribution in the role he’s applying for, and any company-specific nuances that might help him communicate that.
Anyone want to disagree?