From a recruiter:
Dear HR Store,
We had interviewed a lot of candidates for a role in the sales team and the hiring manager had selected a candidate. We had also worked out the compensation plan/structure that we would offer the candidate. It was decided that the hiring manager would discuss the offer with the candidate and then I had to mail the offer to the candidate. While mailing the offer letter, I made a terrible mistake by mailing it to a different candidate (with almost the same name as the first candidate) whom we had interviewed for the role but was rejected. I had previously sent him an interview rejection mail too. I’m totally terrified. How do I manage this situation?
I’ll digress and rant about this a little. Here’s exactly why recruiters end up among the most hated folks on everyone’s list. All that was required from you was to mail an offer to a candidate. Just how tough is that? You are right about feeling terrible for sending out an offer to the wrong candidate! Go ahead; scream it out of your system. Now, if you’re feeling a little calmer, let’s think of the next steps.
Before I give you any suggestions, I’m not sure of the legalities in this situation and you might want to consult an attorney. If it was left to me to decide the next steps, here’s what I would do.
To avoid any confusion in my reply, I’ll call the selected one as ‘Candidate A’ and the other ‘Candidate B’. First, talk to the hiring manager and explain the goof-up. He’ll need to know about this, in case ‘Candidate B’ decides to call/mail him to discuss about your mail. So, when you tell the hiring manager, either he’ll blow his lid off (very likely) or maybe, just maybe, there’s a remote chance that he’ll understand and empathize. Either way he might ask you to send out an apology mail to ‘Candidate B’. But hold on. Before sending out another random mail to ‘Candidate B’, call him and explain the situation. Yep, you’ll have to apologize profusely and hope he’ll understand. Next, you send him an email outlining your discussion and tell him that the mail wasn’t meant for him. That’s it. Don’t get into details about who was meant to be the original recipient of the mail. That’s divulging more confidential data. Apologize for the inconvenience and end it there. Might look high handed but getting into details could get into more trouble.
Also, you might be thinking of getting the hiring manager to talk to ‘Candidate B’. Don’t do that. He wasn’t involved in this mail mess. It’s for you to clean it up.
Understandably, this is a terrible situation to be in. More so for ‘Candidate B’, who could right now be out of a job and he might have thought that your mail was sent after reconsidering his candidature! It’s not the case, but that’s how it will look. Next time, pay more attention to details. You could be sending out a hundred mails a day, but this one has higher consequences than most other mails. Give it sufficient time and attention.
Hope you are able to resolve the issue without getting into deeper trouble. Good luck!