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Your management decision here is multi-dimensional, and you need to carefully consider long-term consequences for your group as well as the candidate.
Others have rightly pointed out that it's not professional, probably not ethical, and possibly illegal to disqualify this person just because they hold different political views. On the one hand, you should listen to your gut regading how this person would interact with the group. But the scene you present points to underlying issues in how the group dynamics are playing out. It sounds as if (with no other information other than what you provided) your group is in danger of stagnating badly and has become terribly cliquish, and any new person coming in is likely to be ostracized on some level. If you choose to bring this person on, you as the leader should feel obligated to welcome this person with respect and an open mind, and expect the same from all members of the team. If he or she fails, it's your responsibility. It could be a great challenge and a way to change the group dynamic, but it takes careful management and strong leadership.
I tend to avoid politics at work, but poltical discussions CAN be grown-up, respectful and enlightening... it just takes some very hard work. If you choose not to bring this person on, do so because he/she is not a good fit and you have a more qualified candidate, not because they hold a different world-view.
Connie P. Giordano
The Right Words
Communications & Information Design
(704) 957-8450 (cell)
"It's kind of fun to do the impossible." - Walt Disney
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> We are a five person documentation group at a mid-sized company. I
> started here as a lone writer eight years back. The team grew to its
> current size, over the years as the need arose. Though I have the final
> say in the selection of a new writer, the team members are involved in
> the screening and interviewing process, and the final decision is a
> We are a pretty close-knit team, and fit in together well. Though each
> writer works on individual books and products, the rest of the team
> pitches in whenever necessary, like in a crunch at release time or when
> some one needs time-off with a scheduled release coming up. Our regular
> table in the cafeteria is called the Doc Table where people stop by to
> chat us up. Of course, we do enjoy our private jokes about the rest of
> the company? :-)
> Now we are in need of another writer and have been going through a round
> of interviewing. Been a bit frustrating till we found the ideal
> candidate. Articulate, good language skills, in-depth knowledge in our
> technologies, friendly nature? The interviewing team were exchanging
> gratified smiles till we took the candidate for lunch.
> The contrast in views couldn't have been any greater. And the person was
> not the least bit reluctant to express them either. Like it was a given
> that no one could ever disagree with those opinions. (Did I tell you our
> team all fall into the same side of the political spectrum?) The visible
> strain the team was under to keep the situation from sliding to an Al
> Franken date with Ann Coulter would have made me smile if I was not
> under the same strain.
> The question is, would it be ethical to deny employment to a person
> (otherwise eminently qualified) based on his/her political views, though
> the real reason is never mentioned? On the other hand, is a new person
> (however well qualified) worth the possible disruption (97% possibility)
> to the sense of good will in the team?
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