I found this really curious dilemma at Thoreau’s blog and decided to borrow part of it.
The dilemma is as follows. You have two candidates applying for the same position. Are you more likely to choose one of them based on the information provided below?
- Applicant 1 indicates in her research plan that because of unique equipment needs she will require a very large start-up package, more than twice what would be normal for your field and your type of institution, in order to successfully carry out her research program. However, it is likely that this research program could involve more students than most other applicants.
- Applicant 2 indicates in her research plan that she would require a normal-sized start-up package. However, during the interview, she informs you, of her own accord, that she cannot accept the job unless you also hire her husband into a similar position. The cost of hiring Applicant 2 and her husband would be about the same as the cost of hiring Applicant 1. The number of students involved in their programs combined might be slightly large than the number who could work in Applicant 1’s lab.
I would have no interest whatsoever in hiring Applicant 2, to be honest. This is a person who thinks that her place of employment exists to solve her non-work-related issues. This is never a good sign. She supports nepotism, which is bound to manifest itself in a variety of other aspects of her work.
It is not acceptable for an employer to pry into a candidate’s personal life. Questions like, “Are you married? Are you planning to? Are you planning to get pregnant within the next five years? Is your partner male or female?” are completely off-limits to an employer, which is just as it should be.
However, this should go both ways. If an employer isn’t entitled to bring the applicant’s personal life into the equation, I think the applicant should also abstain from making their private issues part of the discussion.
All of these reasons would make me lose interest in candidate 2 very fast.
What do you think?