Disgusting situation?

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Disgusting situation?

Postby Philip » Fri Jan 14, 2005 2:10 pm


I've recently been at an interview in which I did fairly well. In fact, it could go to a second interview, or maybe even an offer, soon.

Well I happened to be talking about this to another person in my laboratory . . . As it turns out, that must have inspired him, because he's now applied for the same job.

Should I write this off as a coincidence, or do you think that I have been shafted?


Disgusting situation?

Postby Jim Gardner » Fri Jan 14, 2005 2:33 pm


I guess it doesn't matter at this point whether your labmate has given you the shaft or found this position opening on his own. The situation will obviously play itself out whether you worry about it or not. Nothing to do but sit back, perhaps enjoy an adult beverage or two over the weekend, and carry on.

Personally, I would not bring a job opening, in which I had sincere interest, to the attention of anyone who might potentially compete with me for that job. I consider myself an honest, open, and ethical person, but it just takes so much diligence and persistence to turn up good opportunities in this business, that I think the spoils should go to the person who does the hard work (not to someone the information has been handed to--like your colleague). (Am I wrong in my attitude about this?)

Best of luck. I hope things work out for the best.

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Disgusting situation?

Postby Mandy Tracy » Sun Jan 16, 2005 8:14 pm

Perhaps it is time to review the locations of the potassium cyanide in the reagent cabinet and the location of the aformentioned coworkers coffee cup.
Mandy Tracy

Disgusting situation?

Postby Cameron Veil » Tue Jan 25, 2005 6:23 pm

I'm not surprised. Most people just look out for themselves. You gave him an idea, and he took it. I wouldn't get angry at him - what's the point? If you're better, you'll get the job and you won't have to see that guy again.

Cameron Veil

Disgusting situation?

Postby John G. Hoey, Ph.D. » Tue Jan 25, 2005 8:35 pm

...I wouldn't worry too much about this person stealing your potential job; Yes, it's easy to give advice, and I honestly feel your frustration and concern. However, employers screen many candidates before granting face-to-face interviews. Those chosen for a first interview comprise a rather select group. Those making into the second or third round are in a very elite group indeed. If you have analyzed the situation correctly, you are pretty far along in the selection process......way ahead of that coworker looking to grab it from your fingertips. Have some confidence in the face you have presented thus far to this employer. I tend to think that these positions are generally not won or lost in this way. Now, if the person you are referring to turned out to be an "internal" candidate from the company, I think you could very easily watch this job slip away to this individual. Take a very deep breath, and don't allow yourself to bring a bad case of anxiety to the next phase of the hiring process.

John G. Hoey, Ph.D.
John G. Hoey, Ph.D.

Disgusting situation?

Postby anonymous » Tue Jan 25, 2005 9:24 pm

I'm with Jim. I wouldn't tell anyone where I'm applying, unless I sincerely thought they deserved a chance to apply also.

I also agree that since you already have an interview, you don't have much to worry about in terms of this person 'stealing' your potential job offer. They're a little late.

However, you are left with a nastier problem: how to deal with this person from now on. I think the implication is that, despite you having an invitationg for an interview, they think that you won't get the job. That says a lot about what they think of you and your work.

Depending on your relationship with this person, you could either go for an honest confrontation, and just tell this person it makes you uncomfortable that they applied for this job, but you might as well be open about competing. Or you could just tell them that you thought it was un-sportsmanlike and crappy and you hope they'll show better judgment in the future since you're likely to be colleagues in the same field for years to come.

This won't be last time you'll have to deal with something like this.

Disgusting situation and the consequences

Postby David » Fri Jan 28, 2005 7:49 am

Anonymous raised an important point. What does one do afterwards?
This raised the general dilemma of how one should respond to disgusting situations (not just the one described) and whether the response varies with the position of the offender. It is relatively easy to confront a peer (another postdoc) rather than someone higher up the ladder (prof). In the latter case your protestations/arguments might be written off as bad behaviour on your part; and thus the substance ignored.

For my own part I have received very bad treatment from my PhD supervisor. For example promising a nice letter of reference for an important job application but in fact writing a vitriolic missive. This is one example among many?but I won?t bore you!

I had previously approached the situation with this person thinking of win-win. I thought perhaps I haven?t really understood them; or perhaps I could change something in myself to make the relationship better. Honestly, I tried! After this failed I just went for 'no deal' as Stephen Covey puts it. I just severed links.

My point is this...where our actions against disgusting situations are doomed to failure because of the intractability of their personality what should we do? Myself I have tried to accept that one meets horrible people. What I learn from them is how not to treat others.
I had grounds and a case for a formal complaint that would have won me some measure of revenge. But if I had have chosen such a path I would have been labelled a bad sport and more importantly, as Neitzche cautioned, I would have become like the person I chose as an enemy.

Don?t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with fighting tooth and nail over a true injustice (e.g. racist behaviour); but where one pulls as stunt like applying for the job you wanted or promising one thing and doing another I wonder if your energy is better served on more positive things?

But maybe you all have some different thoughts?

best wishes


Disgusting situation and the consequences

Postby Dave Jensen » Fri Jan 28, 2005 11:37 am

Great post David . . . I agree that it is easy to get totally sidetracked and "sucked in" to a very bad situation when one is treated like you were, or like I was recently. I wrote about my ethical connundrum in the current Next Wave "Tooling Up" article.

In my case, I let a very questionable situation turn me into a revenge-filled zombie, working round the clock to make sure that I could "get even" with the guy who pulled the stunt. When a friend pointed this out, I looked at it another way. I had indeed gone way over the top. I found that my time spent thinking about it was far worse than the wasted time I had as a result of this person's unethical manner of dealing with me.

You are very right that you can get labeled by taking action against such people, and in most circumstances it is indeed best to just walk away shaking your head.

Dave Jensen, Moderator
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Disgusting situation and the consequences

Postby David » Fri Jan 28, 2005 11:54 am

Hi Dave
Actually the reason I wrote was becuase I had just read your interesting piece. Sorry I didn't mention that and I hope others will follow the link and benefit from it.

I found it particularly interesting that an experienced person like yourself could also get into such situations (without themselves realising it). It is not just those with relatively little experience like myself.

best wishes


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