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If you were dismissing the candidate for his/her political/religious
views only, I believe the answer would be yes, it WOULD be unethical.
When interviewing candidates, I try to keep two, broad categories of
attribute in mind.
1 -- skills/experience -- these enable the person to contribute in their
2 -- how well will the person work within the existing team --
copy/paste "these enable the person to contribute in their role"
If a writer were to be able to sit their their cube (or at home) with no
face to face contact with the team (writers, developers, QA folks,
training professionals), their working well with the team would be of
much less import, I believe.
Since that is likely NOT the case, excluding a candidate on the basis of
a lack of a good "fit" is perfectly reasonable.
There are likely many candidates available with the skills/experience
you need -- someone with those skills AND who can compliment (as opposed
to equal) the team already on the ground are much more rare. Id' rate
the two categories as being roughly equal in importance.
>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
>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
>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
>team all fall into the same side of the political spectrum?) The
>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,
>the real reason is never mentioned? On the other hand, is a new person
>(however well qualified) worth the possible disruption (97%
>to the sense of good will in the team?
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