I went for an ‘informal interview’ with a firm recently. I’ve been in the industry ten years and so you do find you work with people in Firm A who used to work at Firm B with colleagues of yours from when you worked at Firm C. And so on.

Anyway, the interviewer said that he’d been chatting with some of my former colleagues. He then asked how I coped with stress, to which I said ‘well, I don’t find it that much of a problem’. He was surprised to hear this since apparently one of my former senior colleagues said I had been off for ‘nearly six months with stress’.

I was, at one point, signed off for three months, off for another two weeks while my ‘reasonable adjustments’ were set up, and then part-time for two months (before losing my job in a redundancy package after TUPE rights expired). My diagnosis was that an autoimmune disorder I already had flared up following a mild dose of food poisoning. My lab tests supported this, as do my doctors’ and specialists’ notes (all of which went to occupational health) I was indeed very stressed until signed off, because I was in considerable pain and experiencing constant nausea, and ended up as an inpatient in the hospital for a few days. But I was NOT, at any point, signed off with stress.

My actual response to my interviewer was ‘I am surprised and disappointed that you were told that, because it is not actually true’, followed by a brief summary of the above.

I am assuming this is not actually actionable since I have no proof and I think the information was given orally rather than in writing. Now I think about it, there have been a couple of jobs in the past where I was apparently ‘an excellent candidate’ but didn’t get it, and frankly I am thoroughly teed off that someone I used to work with has told a lie about me in a way which could affect my employment prospects.

I am in touch with one former senior colleague, know the wife of another from university, and a friend works with a third (who knows that we know each other). I am sorely tempted to let it be known that this has happened and indicate how incredibly unprofessional I found it and how amazed I am that someone would tell such a whopping lie and damage my job chances. Then the liar would at least know that I know, as it were, and hopefully back off.

Reasons why? Why not? Other thoughts?


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