My focus as a recruiter is to help match opportunities (and all related requirements) to the very best candidates. Sometimes it is easier said then done. So what about the candidate that you introduce to an opening, get them engaged in the process, and for whatever reason an offer never gets extended. Yet- you as the recruiter take the barrage from an angry candidate. What approaches do you take to address this scenario?

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Why is the candidate angry exactly? Did the employer not follow up? Or did they offer the job to someone else? I'm not sure I've run across many angry candidates in my years of doing this. I usually apologize for their perceived wrong and move on. It's not worth working with people like that. If something wrong did happen, I'd be sure the employer knew about it since reputation is so critical in this competitive talent market.


Malia Jorgensen said:

This happens... you just have to let them go.

Before you react to an IRATE Candidate...try to imagine what a walk in their shoes feels like...

Photo by Valentino Martinez

Tim poses an important question because confrontation, in our work as recruiters, is inevitable and is magnified in times of economic downturns when the new unemployed include older people who were always in an upward career trajectory and younger ones just entering the workforce -- they have not learned to adjust to constant rejection. Their sensitivity is heightened for a lot of reasons and how they're acting out is a watch out.

BTW--there are two kinds of irate job candidates – the ones you are dealing with over the phone; and the ones you are dealing with – face-to-face. The direct confrontation: in your company lobby; in your office or cubicle; or at a Job Fair – can happen and should be anticipated. I’ve experienced all of these to include picket lines and confrontation in my office and in the yard in a prison setting. So the importance of this question Tim poses should not be taken lightly.

The first thing I do with an irate candidate is identify with their pain -- and I do that by imagining myself in their shoes. I’ve discovered that “misery loves company” and found that empathy -- understanding their point of view and exchanging war stories goes a long way in helping identify the exact problem and lowering the tension in the air. They want to know you - the recruiter - are hearing them and that they are not totally wrong in their anger.

With some exceptions most professionals are reasonable if you are genuinely meeting them half way. I address their upsides and their downsides in a respectful manner. Since no one is perfect they eventually admit that there actually can be a person just a little bit better fitted for the job than they are. You don't go in with that whittle them down to common sense thinking and will notice they calm down and reasonable.  This is the moment I address their temper -- suggesting that it is the worse way to make a point because it closes a door that may still be partially open.

I've had the good fortune of bringing those hostile conversations to an open conversations...parting on friendly terms.

Depends on what they are angry about. If the anger comes from not being selected, this is a result that is beyond the recruiter's control.

If it is about something that was avoidable we must pin point the hang up and not let it happen with another candidate.

All the best,

Ben McGrath


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