The situation: I've made a job offer to a senior-level candidate, who seemed enthusiastic and asked for a couple of days to get back to me with a formal answer. It's now been several days, and he hasn't gotten back to me with an answer. I've reach out by phone and email, explaining we have a deadline, and he ignores me. I indicate that I have another candidate who I need to get back to. He doesn't respond at all, and I never hear from him again.
2010: He applies for a different position with the same organization! He mentions in his cover letter that he "had the opportunity" to meet with us a few years ago but "ultimately wasn't able to accept the job." No mention that he disappeared with explanation.
I, of course, have a mind like a steel trap -- a steel trap, I am telling you -- and immediately realize this is the guy who went AWOL four years ago. So I write back:
It's nice to hear from you. However, after we offered you a position in 2006, we never heard back from you either way, despite calling and emailing in an attempt to reach you. Can you shed any light on what happened then?He responds:
I sincerely apologize for not contacting you regarding the previous position for which I interviewed. I recognize, as I did at the time, that it was a unique opportunity to do tremendous work on behalf of the organization. Unfortunately, at the time I was unable to accept the position for financial reasons. It was an incredibly difficult decision that I deeply regret, and at the time I simply could not bring myself to formally turn down what I knew was the chance of a lifetime.
Where to begin? Okay, first of all, saying, basically, "I prioritized my own feelings of regret above courtesy, general professionalism, and your ability to move forward with your work" is a really, really bad thing to convey. How could you think this is a good explanation? (It's also probably BS. I doubt that he really felt emotionally unable to turn the position down; he's just looking for something to make it okay now, because he wants a job.)
Plus, applying again without even trying to address what happened earlier is weirdly cavalier. Really weirdly cavalier.
The lesson: Behave well, even when you think the other person doesn't have anything you want. Also, more generally, don't be an ass.