Is swearing by the interviewer ever appropriate?

by Evil HR Lady on February 15, 2014

Dear Evil HR Lady,

We have a young, inexperienced sales manager who has taken to using swear words when conducting interviews.  He says he does so in order to evaluate how the candidate would handle his swearing in the office.  Just last week he interviewed two middle-aged women, both well qualified for the position – and now one of them will not even return my phone calls. Is swearing by the interviewer every appropriate?

Please help! Finding candidates in our niche market is hard enough without them feeling intimated and wondering about the company’s culture.

Short answer: No. Absolutely not. Especially when you’re talking about swearing that is so severe that the candidates won’t even return calls.

Long answer: This guy stinks as a manager as well. Where’s his boss? If it’s you, it’s time for a sit down discussion about not only how he interviews, but how he manages his people. If his excuse for swearing in an interview is that he wants the people to be aware of how he’ll be as a manager, this is a sign that he is a bad manager. A very bad manager.

I know that many people think swearing is just nice and normal behavior. Fine. Got it. But, we’re not talking about him saying, “We work $&*! hard here and sometimes the customers can be $&*#!” If he said stuff like that, it’s doubtful candidates would be offended to the point of not returning calls. (Although, to be honest, while I would return a call after such and interview, I’d do so only to withdraw my name as a candidate. I would not wish to work for such a boss, although most people wouldn’t be bothered.) What I suspect he does is take it to extremes, and that is inappropriate. Very inappropriate.

And if he does it with his candidates, he’s doing it with his employees. And this means he’s not showing leadership skills. No, in fact, he’s using bullying techniques in order to get results. He thinks he’s being hip and cool, but he’s not. He’s just being young and dumb. And it’s his manager’s job to inform him of this.

So, if you’re his boss, sit down and tell him it’s over and done. He needs to clean up  his language or you’ll kick him out the door.

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