Prevent a Hiring Mistake: Trust Your Recruiter’s Instincts

As a recruiter, I work with candidates on a daily basis.  I pride myself on being a very friendly, attentive, and likable person. In working closely with candidates, I have a tendency to become friends with the candidates with whom I am working. People are fun to get to know. But on a rare occasion, I will come across a candidate who isn’t friendly and who does not handle rejection very well.

Recently, just such an occasion occurred.  I was working to fill a high-level position with one of my top clients.  I’d submitted four qualified candidates for the position, and my client decided to move forward with two of the candidates.  The first step was the phone interview.  As I do with all of my candidates who have an interview, I called a particular candidate–let’s call him Nick*–to prep him prior to speaking with the manager.  Having worked with this client for a very long time, I wanted to give Nick some tips as to what they were looking for professionally as well as culturally.

From the very start, Nick didn’t feel that he needed much direction from me.  After we hung up, I felt a little bothered but figured I would let the client decide.  Well, Nick had a good phone interview, and my client decided to move forward to a Skype interview, since Nick was located in a different state.  Incredibly, when I called Nick with the good news, he complained about the interviewing process and asked why he needed to go through so many interviews!  I explained to him that this was normal protocol and that especially for a permanent position, employers want to make sure the candidate is the right fit for the role and their organization.

Nick finally agreed to have a Skype interview, and much to my surprise, the client was impressed with his experience and decided to fly him out to interview onsite.  I called my candidate with the great news.  Instead of being excited, however, he questioned why he had to interview a third time!  He ranted and raved about how my client was the only company that he’s ever heard of that conducts this many interviews.  Surprised, I told him that maybe he wasn’t the right fit for my client. But after explaining with a sigh that his time is valuable, he grudgingly said that I could go ahead and schedule the interview.

The pit in my stomach was growing at an alarming rate.  From an ethical standpoint, knowing about this candidate’s personality and attitude, I felt it would be a disservice to place him with my client and damage the trust they had placed in me. Although it meant I could lose making placement, I picked up the phone and called the hiring manager to explain how disappointed I had been with Nick’s attitude.  I shared my concern that Nick would not be the right “cultural” fit for his company.  My client told me that he trusted my judgment and appreciated my honesty.  He then asked me to cancel Nick’s interview.

I called Nick immediately, using a very nice and professional approach.  Cutting candidates is not my favorite thing to do by any means, but I knew that this had to be done.  I explained to Nick that my client and I thought it was best that we cancel his interview.  I was completely honest with him about the reasons I had in making this decision in hopes that he might take my advice and be less abrasive with his recruiter/employer in the future.  Nick did not take it well, but after we hung up, I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I proceeded to continue my search for qualified candidates for my client.

A couple of days later, I received an explosive email from Nick.  Apparently the fact that he’d been rejected had been brewing inside of him for awhile now!  The shocking emails that followed became more and more abusive and disrespectful.  I remembered that one should never react right away but instead calm down, breathe, and NEVER stoop to the abuser’s level.  When I finally decided to respond, I simply said, “Thank you, Nick, for confirming our gut feeling that you were not the right fit for the organization.  I wish you the best of luck in life!”  Nick sent me a few more emails, and then he finally stopped.

This experience affirmed two great lessons for anyone making a hire:

1) Trust your instincts. Even if someone looks good on paper, or everyone else but you thinks the candidate looks great, don’t ignore a nagging feeling if it persists.   

2) Always be direct and honest with both clients/hiring managers and candidates. Honest communication will build the trust you need for long-lasting, meaningful relationships in the workplace.

For more tips on how to manage a disgruntled candidate,click here!

*not his real name

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