I have received a little feedback from recruiters and have experienced this myself. Backdoor Reference Checking... Has it happened to you? I know there are few out there that have run into a situation where the ideal, and I mean perfect, candidate was on the line. Résumé checked out, references were clear, all interviews were stellar, final face-to-face went well and then, the bottom dropped out and your candidate was washed out of the mix. What do you do?
Here's a story, you tell me what you think and how you would react... it's all true, by the way.
The CEO of a client company contacted the recruiter. He told the recruiter, "I want a self-directed hunter, a Sales Rep with one to two years experience and a successful track record. And I want him to come from one of these four target companies." The recruiter took the challenge and the very same day, found a candidate that had everything the client wanted: two plus years, over quota and working for one of the targeted competitors. The résumé along with recruiter's notes were sent to the CEO via email; a negative reply came back after the CEO had a discussion with a "trusted advisor" who thought the candidate had been let go from the target company one and a half years earlier. This wasn't true, the recruiter verified it.
The recruiter pushed back with the truth on his side. An interview took place and the CEO liked the candidate. A follow-up interview with the Operations Manager ensued, as well as an on-site interview in Chicago with one of the Sales Reps. The client company Sales Rep sent an email to the recruiter that he cc'd to the CEO and the Ops Manager; he thought the candidate was great and a solid fit for the company. All seemed right in the world.
But..., the Operations Manager contacted the recruiter (after the last extremely positive interview) and said, "We have decided not to move forward with the candidate." The CEO has left for Europe and is now unreachable. However, this is not a recruiter that takes this type of "no" without an explanation. An email was sent with details of the search and perfect candidate delivered to a tee, "Please shed some light."
The Manager's weak explanation was that this candidate would only be successful in a larger company environment. This is exactly the type of candidate the CEO asked for - hmm, a contradiction, it would seem. The answer hangs out there somewhere but the recruiter has indicated that, depending on how the CEO responds, this client company may become a source company. One is left to think that the "trusted advisor" stunk up the deal. Is the $18K flat fee, a contact in writing, just an un-fillable pipe dream? Should the recruiter empower himself and end the relationship directly with the CEO? Would it make a difference if this type of thing had happened before with the same company?
Are "backdoor" references or "trusted advisor" references just something recruiters have to deal with? Is there a better way? Can you prevent this from happening or prepare for the occurrence?
Please share your thoughts or experiences.
I'll keep you posted on this stunk-up search...