We are single industry recruiters in New York City. We insist on meeting all our candidates in person. If someone is not within commuting distance of New York, we do Skype calls. I am shocked at the number of people who don't show up.
People missing appointments is part of business. It is annoying and costly. That is why your doctor calls to confirm appointments. Restaurants do the same so that their tables don’t go vacant.
When I first started recruiting, I was appalled at the number of no-shows. As I became better known, the percentage went down, but it still happens. Three times last week, which is unusual, but why I am writing this post. The truth is, when it happens during the daytime – between nine and noon or between two and five – I don’t mind so much. I just keep working. But when it happens before nine, especially when I have come in early to meet someone, or during lunch or after five, I get aggravated because those are prime interviewing times and someone else could have come in. It is especially irksome when it happens at six or later because it means I have stayed late waiting for someone.
Late appointments (after 5pm) get cancelled at the last minute all the time. I fully understand, but I don’t forgive. Once upon a time I was a working account guy. And, come four or five in the afternoon, everyone starts rushing to complete the day’s work so it doesn’t get put off until tomorrow. When it comes to outside appointments, I understand what happens – inertia takes over. So does social life. And seeing a recruiter is not always the top priority, even when people are unhappy in their jobs. But that doesn't excuse simply not showing up or only calling ten minutes before the appointment.
Years ago, a friend of mine, not in the business, asked me a fair question. He said, “Who in their right mind would stand up a recruiter? I understand cancelling on your doctor for a routine appointment, but you could influence their whole life.” I fully agreed. But many people simply look at a recruiter as a temporary solution to a current problem. Others are just plain rude and uncaring. They don't see us as a trusted long-term adviser.
In 2008, I called to meet a candidate. He stood me up twice without a call. About a week ago, he called me to meet. He missed his first appointment but emailed an apology and rescheduled. Then he missed the second appointment with no phone call and no email. Of course, he is completely off my list and it is noted in my records. Despite his seniority in the business, I cannot believe that he has the excellence that his title or position would indicate.
I understand that people get called into last minute meetings. Or bosses demand that someone stay at their desk through lunch. And I know that clients call. It happens. But no phone call or email? No explanation or apology? I wrote about fear in the business a while ago. It is pervasive. Who would ever preclude a subordinate from making a phone call to cancel an appointment? And if they did, or if things were so intense that one cannot dare to excuse themselves for a minute, who would want to work for that person or in that kind of environment?
Anyway, now that I have vented. Here is my question. What if I were to bill candidates for my time when they stand me up?
Paul, Thanks for the thoughts here. We're all in the same boat with candidates, and sometimes it applies to Clients as well.
I've come to terms with it. In fact, I keep the same type of "do not recruit nuder any circumstances list" as you do.
The silver lining side of this is that they've stood "you" the Recruiter up, rather than that very important Client of yours that took so long to build trust with.
Cardinal rule of human behavior: "People do what's in their best interest as they see it".
So, the question you have to ask is this..do the candidates perceive meeting you (and you in general) as adding value to them getting a job? In other words, "What's in it for them" to meeting you? Do you explain it to them?
Are you cutting corners and not explaining this to them, as you probably have done so in the past?
Do other recruiters not require them to meet them and they get the same (or better) results than they do in dealing with them.
The key is to explain why it is important to meet. I generally tell my candidates (and clients) that my success rate increases exponentially when I have a meeting. Because....
1. Can assess their non-verbal messages they convey
2. Give them my undivided attention
3. Get to understand their career history AND career path
4. be able to convey to my client the whole package, rather than just what I hear over the phone.
So.. WIIFM?? What's in it for me, mr. recruiter?
"We insist on meeting all our candidates in person."
Interesting how my subconscious reaction to that statement was: "Oh great--- one more meeting to be interrogated, scrutinized, dissected, labeled, judged, discriminated against, belittled, baffled, confused, nervous, powerless, desperate... "
Paul--- It's common sense that the individuals you're recruiting are very qualified for the position, or you wouldn't be interested in them-- ie. a top quality candidate. To think that they don't have other stokes in the fire is egomaniacal ( I know mine is the only position they're interested in!) or condescending ( they're too lazy or dimwitted to be looking elsewhere-- they need this job!!) If I had other concrete options? Push comes to shove--- I'd turn down an stressful live interview that mentally and physically consumes the better part of a whole day-- and you're not the person giving me the job anyway?
I'd say--- leave the "no interview" option open for candidates-- on a case by case basis.
Mat: You run your business as you see fit. I will run mine. Advertising is a very image conscious business. Meeting candidates is vital. In fact, my clients insist that I do so. I can think of a number of ad agencies that have fired recruiters who send them candidates without first meeting. I don't for one minute delude myself into thinking that I have the only and best jobs in the advertising business. My point is that there are a few self-important people who stand me up. I accept them for who they are. Few of them ever get to the very top of the advertising profession.
Paul: Again, you run your business as you see fit. One thing I do not do is to give stressful interviews. My success is based on getting to know candidates and matching their needs with my clients' needs. I work for the people who pay me, but I can only do a good job for them if I do a good job for my candidates. In twenty-five plus years in the business, I have had only a handful of candidates leave jobs quickly. My referral are based on both satisfied candidates and happy clients. By the way, most candidates in the advertising business want to meet me. A few years ago, for charity, a lunch with Paul Gumbinner went for over $1200.
I think you dodged a bullet. Anyone who no calls and no shows generally will do it again, and it seems like they did. Odds are they would have no showed with the client too. Over the years, it's amazing how often I've seen bad behavior repeated...if they no show or cancel last minute and you give in and reschedule they almost always do it again! My first boss had a firm policy that under almost no circumstances would he give people a second chance because he knew it would happen again and he didn't want to waste his client's time.
Fortunately, this doesn't happen that often.
Also, I think it can greatly improve your relationships when you meet candidates in person...it's definitely easier for them to no show or cancel when you're just a voice on the phone...not as easy once they've invested time to meet with you.