Be careful who you swear at on the train

  • 19 February 2015
Tweet by recruiter Matt Buckland Image copyright @ElSatanico

That moment when you walk into a job interview, and the person who greets you is someone you were very rude to earlier that day.

That's exactly what happened to one man in London earlier this week. It's been recounted blow by blow on Twitter by Matt Buckland, the recruiter. His description of the scenario has been retweeted almost 14,000 times. In the tweet, he describes it as "karma" that a guy who pushed past him on the Tube and swore at him "just arrived for his interview with me".

"I was on my way into work on the Tube on Monday morning during rush hour. I stood to one side to let a lady get by, and ended up blocking a man momentarily. He shoved past me, almost knocking me over, and shouted," Buckland told BBC Trending.

Despite a bad start, the day carried on as normal for Buckland, who is the head of talent and recruiting for Forward Partners, which funds early start-up businesses. He had an interview scheduled for 5:30pm. At 5:15pm the interviewee turned up. Lo and behold, it was the man who'd been so charming earlier.

Buckland stepped away briefly to tell his Twitter followers about it and went back into the interview room. At this point the interviewee still hadn't made the connection. "It was totally awkward," says Buckland. "So I approached it by asking him if he'd had a good commute that morning. We laughed it off and in a very British way I somehow ended up apologising."

By the time the interview had finished, the tweet had gone viral and people began sharing similar stories of their own online. It became a topic of discussion on Reddit, LinkedIn and Tumblr. A Facebook post of Buckland's tweet accompanied by the caption "Quick reminder: Nice continues to finish first" has been liked more than 400,000 times.

So did the applicant get the job? In a word, no. "As it worked out, he wasn't right for the role," says Buckland. "The job is still open." But he's quick to stress that the applicant's lack of success wasn't because of the rude encounter.

So would he have been legally entitled to take the scrape in the Tube into consideration? "He could have taken that into account if he'd wanted to," says Colm O'Cinneide, a reader in law at University College London (UCL). "Employers have wide discretion to take lots of things into consideration, so long as it doesn't breach anti-discrimination laws which prohibit judgements based on race, ethnicity and gender."

Some have questioned Buckland for making fun of the applicant on social media, a charge he denies, "I don't think it's public shaming as he hasn't been named. I've been in contact with him and he's fine about it," he said. "Although understandably, he doesn't want to do any interviews."

Blog by Anne-Marie Tomchak

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