Question of the day: How do you handle the candidate who doesn't stop talking?

This was one of the best questions from this week's #RBChat. What is your take recruiters?

How do you handle the candidate who doesn't stop talking?

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I tell thrm they'd do excellent in HR

I do one of the following:

1) I interrupt them politely. That's my job!

2) I ask more close ended and focused questions.

3) I may warn them and say, "I need you to answer the following questions directly, can you agree to this?" (I get them to agree to answer directly.)

4) If I do present them to my clients, I ask them if they would like feedback on their interviewing skills. If they accept, I tell them to answer a question in this way to my clients, "There is a 5 minute answer to that question and a 1 minute answer, I will answer with the 1 minute response and if you have follow up questions, I will be happy to provide more information."

5) I may say, "in 30 seconds or less, please describe..."

6)" In one sentence or less.."

I keep handing them more rope, but just enough to either let them hang themselves, or appreciate that I am in the presence of a beautiful mind. Either way, patience pays off.

I will listen until my eyes start to roll back in my head and I am having thoughts about slamming the phone down and answering when they call back by saying, " bueno, la señora no es en la casa".

At that point I cut off the verbal puking by telling them I need to put them on hold. Make another call or check email hoping they will hang up. They never do. I may put them on hold twice to see if I can disrupt the flow if not I have been known to say, "ok, John, I realize you are trying to give me your life history but let's try something, close your mouth and give your ears a chance."
"I am going to ask you a series of questions, I want you think about each one for 10 seconds before you answer, then I want you to answer in about 20 seconds." "if you can't do it we are going to start over with the question again, part of my job is to help you give the most important information with the least talking "

If the overtalking is nerves or overselling that exercise will calm them down when they realize I am not going to blow them off. If it doesn't work I know they are a babbler. I'm done, finito. It has been my experience that people who talk like that are extremely self centered, and will argue with you no matter what you tell them.

I have one of those now that I have finally trained to send emails because I do not take his calls.
He emails I answer questions and make suggestions he always comes back with, "I appreciate your comments...but, blah blah and I really don't want to make that change in my resume. He applies for jobs he doesn't have the qualifications for then gets irate that he has transferable skills and can learn anything. The more he is rejected the more he talks.

My last email was..I have told you everything I can think of, you choose not to believe me so I don't know what else to suggest except maybe another recruiter may be able to be more help.

The answer came back, oh no, I really like talking to you.

Why should any of us waste time on a one way conversation. Rubbing two bricks together is grate and the result is the same

Talking too much I can handle...Easy to shut them down when you spent years interjecting to get a word in.  Its the candidates that are so sure they know the job brief without ever asking you a question to get an understanding that I find difficulty with.  They wax on lyrically about how they can fix the world, and change the business they dont yet work in, never once pausing for clarification.  And when you interject, they just let you ask the question and then right back on that train they go.


Last time that happened I just told the candidate they were not suitable for the role and I would have trouble selling them to the hiring manager...well...that set this person off on a big sales pitch, so far removed from what we required that I came out with a headache.


Love recruitment.....sigh

For me it's pretty simple.  I realized long ago that my 15 minute - or even 1/2 hour "tips from a professional" with some blabbermouth is only going to be a waste of 15 (or 30) minutes of my time.

I'm not placing that guy.  Why hide from the fact that, for the most part, yappy, blow-hard candidates don't get hired.  They bore you.  They bore your client.  They bore their spouses.  The bore their team mates.


So rather than try to fix the flat tire - you're better off to realize you aren't going to score with this guy and spend your time finding the right guy.

This isn't social work people.  You aren't paid to overhaul personalities that have been derailed for decades.   Besides - you can't even do it if you WERE paid to.....

We're paid to be consultative, you have to tell the candidate honestly through constructive feedback if you feel their talking will adversely affect their chances at interview.  By all means be tactful but you have to get your point across but you still have to find a way to help them cut out the waffle before they sit in front of your client and reflect poorly on you.


Or of course if it's a mega technical role be up front with the client, tell them the candidate will babble but they can sit in front of a screen for hours & do a damn good job.

The ability to communicate - combined with fitting in with the team are usually as (or if not more than) important as the specific technical or professional skills.

You aren't going to "consult" someone on how to not be who they are. We are not paid to consult, by the way. We're paid to find the person they want to hire.

Jerry are you really saying you've never taken a candidate you felt was average and coached them well enough to get the role?  Whichever way you look at it that's the role of a consultant, you're helping them within the process.  It's not cheating the client in any way, some people just aren't good interviewers or don't have great social skills.  That doesn't stop them doing say a computer analyst role or being an ESG actuary, there are plenty of technical jobs out there that quite frankly you need no personality to do. The lack of social skills do however hinder them at interview for the role and those skills can be trained or refined to help the candidate.


I use to practice one of the most thorough "prep" approaches in the industry.  It would be hard to think of anything I did not go over - in some cases multiple times- prior to each send out.  I was just so darn proud of myself - coaching these people on how to interview, how to respond, how to shake hands, how to OWN the job by the time the interview was over.

I have long since decided that work was more or less a load of crap.  Nothing we do or say in a few phone calls is going to make much of an impact. 

I have tracked my numbers/metrics for 25 years.

During the hey-day of interview preps:  5:1 sendout to placement ratio.

Since I quit dragging my candidates through all that BS:  5:1 sendout to placement ratio

So now I just make sure they know what the job is, know what the company does, how to get there and who(m) to ask for.  Then I say "Good luck!"

I believe Jerry has a point that the candidate has to want to hear constructive feedback and be willing to take it to heart otherwise you are just wasting your time.

You do find candidates that seem interested in hearing feedback and kindly given criticism is take seriously.  Otherwise your time is better spent looking for backup candidates. 

I think you can tell when you start your constructive diologue they either seem interested or they would rather tell you what experts they are in communication. 

Just to clarify my thought here - someone who talks entirely too much is going to be someone who talks entirely too much 5 minutes into the interview when everything you've "consulted" on with them is pretty much out the window.

Over the years there are candidates who stick out as this very type.  I remember most of them.  I never placed any of them.

#Move #On

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