A fortnight ago, Guru was generous enough to offer some of his personal sweetie collection (including chocolate-covered ants and snake venom lollipops) in a bid to find out the worst thing HR professionals have been forced to swallow during their careers.
It seems from your letters that you’ve been asked to swallow a lot. Here are Guru’s favourites, including the lucky winner who can chomp on the cheddar cheese flavoured worm crisps to his heart’s content.
Needless to say, Guru is confident that in each case, the proper procedures were adhered to by the HR staff concerned in the following situations:
Voices of reason?
Upon recruiting someone for a position as a meter-reader, a 50-year-old candidate started the interview by telling me he used to be an HR director, so he would know if I didn’t do the job properly.
His CV told a slightly different story, but I persevered and asked the standard interview questions required. In answer to my question: “Have you ever had an accident at work?” he responded that he had been run over by a missile.
He went on to explain that he used to be in the Armed Forces and as part of the long-service ceremonies, a missile would be taken out on a trailer to an airfield to be used as a backdrop for the presentation and photographs.
He said he forgot to put the brake on and it rolled over his foot, resulting in hospitalisation.
To add to this strange tale, he was then asked how he would feel about working on his own a lot of the time. His answer was that he would be fine, and that the voices in his head would keep him company.
Perhaps the most unlikely part of this tale is that I managed to keep a straight face during the whole interview.
Ruth Dawson, career development consultant
Some years back, before the non mainstream religious beliefs were ‘credible’, I had to carry out a welfare interview with a young man who had come down with a bad case of scabies. He had come back to work without being signed off by a doctor.
When I questioned him, he became defensive and said that he didn’t need to see a doctor and that he was OK. When I asked on what basis was he able to carry out a medical diagnosis, he stated that he could heal himself as he was a pagan white witch and could magic his problems away.
Needless to say he didn’t stay long, as he didn’t think the ‘vibes’ were right. He left to become a paramedic – I kid you not.
Your ever faithful disciple,
One slice short
There are so many stories – where do you expect a well-meaning HR professional to start?
We had a man who got hit in the head by a loaf of bread, and has since gone off with post-traumatic stress disorder which progressed into depression. He has been off work for three months now.
When he initially went sick, we felt we had to ask if the bread was sliced or unsliced, white, granary, brown, baguette, cob, etc. We felt it would have made a difference if it had been thin sliced white bread rather than an unsliced granary loaf, but we never got a response to our enquiries.
Lynette Brown, HR and training manager
And the winner is
Spies like us
We had a sales guy who advised me that he was working for MI5, he and his family were in danger from drug barons, and his recent hospitalisation was due to stab wounds occasioned on his person during an attack on his home by said barons.
All of this was provided to me as justification for his lack of attendance at work, inflating his expenses and submitting a spurious insurance claim on the loss of his company car containing his scuba equipment (and probably a dinner suit, snake venom suicide pack and martini kit). We were able to confirm that he had no links to the work of our security boys, drug related or not, the burglary was a fabrication, and his wounds were self-inflicted.
I eventually orchestrated his departure on the basis that if he was involved in this extramural activity, he posed a threat to the safety and security of his fellow employees, and if he was not involved, then he was clearly untrustworthy.
Roger R Buxton, HR director