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You’ve got this: how to decline an internal job applicant


  • Dr Froswa’ Booker-Drew answers your questions, putting her years of experience and practice into the goal of solving those knotty problems that beset us, and assuring us: ‘you’ve got this’. If you’d like Froswa’ to look at your particular problem, email it to [email protected].

Question:  I will be interviewing for a new position on my team in a couple of months (a big project is about the get the green light). A colleague in one of the other departments has indicated they would like to apply for the job. They have the qualifications and skills. However, their personality is abrasive, and I don’t think they’d be a good fit. How can I decline or reject them without making an enemy? Kerri Stokes

Kerri, Congratulations on the new role!  I am very excited for you!  I would love to celebrate with you…interested in purchasing a ticket, hotel, food, rental car, new wardrobe for me to come and hang out with you and the team? If you know Idris Elba, bring him along, too.  I’ll be thoughtful and cut down on the cost by sharing with him! This could be the beginning of something special!  LOL!!!!

On a serious note, functional skills are important for a job but they are not the only skill necessary for success and quite often, what we refer to as soft skills are not soft at all.  They are challenging and many people do not have them like your co-worker.  It takes collaboration, critical and strategic thinking, the ability to listen, and understand the needs of your team and the project to make things happen.

Don’t focus on rejecting or declining the individual.  Make sure that you are discussing job needs versus personality issues.  What will it require for the incoming person to be successful?  Create a list of skills that you are seeking in addition to the existing job description.  See this as an opportunity to coach the person and provide some tangible guidance to help them excel.  Explain that you want them to be successful and your desire to highlight some areas that need improvement.

Even use the work of Carol Dweck on Fixed and Growth Mindsets as a framework for the person to differentiate between the two in their work.  Praise what they do bring to the table as well as provide details on not just what needs to be improved by sharing why and how it can be achieved.

You’ve got this: how to decline an internal job applicant

Ultimately, it is up to the person to receive the advice and guidance you are offering.  Hopefully, they will accept it and see it as an opportunity for expanded growth.  If they are unable to view it this way, you’ve done your best in trying to offer not a complaint but a solution in partnership with the individual. Instead, focus your attention on cultivating a team that can reaffirm your message without giving away your power to fear of the unknown…You got the job and You Got This as well!

About Dr. Froswa Booker-Drew

Dr. Froswa' Booker-Drew is a Partnership Broker. Relational Leadership Junkie. Connector. Author/Speaker/Trainer. Co-Founder, HERitage Giving Circle. She been quoted and profiled in Forbes, Ozy, Bustle, Huffington Post and other media outlets around the world. In addition, she has been asked to speak on a variety of topics such as social capital and networking, leadership, diversity, and community development to national and international audiences. This included serving as a workshop presenter at the United Nations in 2013 on the Access to Power. One of the most impactful life events for her was being a part of the documentary, Friendly Captivity, a film that followed a cast of 7 women from Dallas to India. Honors for her work include: Semi-finalist for the SMU TEDx in 2012, 2012 Outstanding African American Alumni Award from the University of Texas at Arlington, 2009 Woman of the Year Award by Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and Diversity Ambassador for the American Red Cross. Graduating with a PhD from Antioch University in Leadership and Change, she also attended the Jean Baker Miller Institute at Wellesley for training in Relational Cultural Theory and completed facilitator training on Immunity to Change. She has also completed training through UNICEF on Equity Based Evaluations, and is the author of 2 workbooks for women, Ready for a Revolution: 30 Days to Jolt Your Life and Rules of Engagement: Making Connections Last as well as a writer for several publications around the globe. WFAA Attention Series: Froswa Booker Drew on Vimeo

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