10 warning signals to drop a candidate



Your most promising candidate drops out at the last moment. The short-listed candidate refuses to go for an interview. you are frustrated that your candidate just does not talk to you.

These and many other such instances are commonplace in the life of a recruiter. Every candidate gives you enough signs to tell you when he has lost interest in the opportunity that you are discussing with him. (male pronoun is being used throughout this post to represent both male as well as female candidates).  It is vital to read such signs as early as possible to avoid a heart-break at a later/final stage.

Here is  a list of 10 such signals based on my experience.

Signal #1 -  the candidate listens to you every-time you call ( and this has happened 3-4 times already) & asks you to call back after a day. Either the candidate is too slow to grasp or too indecisive or a procrastinator, all of which you may want to avoid in a candidate.

Signal #2 -  After repeated discussions, the candidate does not remember which profile you had discussed with him and wants you to go through the details again. A common explanation is that he has been talking to many consultants for a number of positions and does not remember which position he discussed with you. What ?

Signal #3 - Does not take your call & does not respond to your emails & text messages. Wake up my friend, the candidate is seriously not interested or is just sick of your calls. Of course, if the candidate had mentioned this in the first call, you would not have pestered him so much.

Signal #4 -  is busy every time you call him, does not give any specific time for you to call,  promises to call back all the time & never calls back. Do you really think this person will have time to attend the interview if shortlisted? Forget it.

Signal #5 - does not send his profile after promising to send " within next 30 minutes" half a dozen times. He is probably not looking for a change . Most certainly he is not interested in the change that you are proposing.

Signal #6 -  is interested in that sales profile but wants it to be near his house ( or gives such similar contradictory reasons for other roles). Self-explanatory. Isn't it ?

Signal #7 -  is interested in a profile but can't travel too far ( within same city) to attend the interview, a variant of this is the candidate who keeps asking you to reschedule the interview for one reason or other and is too casual about the whole process. You can either keep such candidates or keep your client.

Signal #8 -  is unduly rude and impolite and treats you badly. If a candidate cannot reciprocate respect, he does not deserve you (unless of course money comes above self-respect on your list.

Signal #9 - claims to be the top performer, the do-all, highly decorated employee and yet is unable to justify the low remuneration level or the reason for change or the multiple gaps in the profile. Even more inexplicable cases are of such 5-star performers who leave jobs before you can say - candidate.

One of my conversation with a candidate went like this

iHR - why did you leave when you were doing so well ?

Star candidate (SC)  - I wanted 2 weeks leave. they did not allow me, so I left them

iHR - Why would a company do like to this to a star performer? You mentioned that you beat all your targets, you must be a valuable employee.

SC - They gave a better bonus to my colleague who is doing less than me. and when i asked for leave, they told me i had not done enough.

iHR - That should not be a problem, i am sure such a big organisation will have a good MIS & performance appraisal system. You can always prove what you have done.

SC - Nah, the MIS is all wrong and  had a fight with my boss about this as it is showing me at the bottom...

You know where it is leading to. Thank you so much.

Signal #10 - This is a serious one. Drop any candidate who does not seem alright in terms of integrity. There will be candidate who be willing to walk out on their existing employer, candidates who would request you not to mention certain details ( that they discussed with you about their job)  in your note to the client, candidates who cannot give convincing answers to glaring inconsistencies in their profile etc. There will be many such signs which a recruiter picks more by instinct. Recruiting is like match-making. It is not a transaction. would you ever want to suggest a candidate who would be a bad match ?

Are there any other signs that have made you decide to drop a candidate.  Feel free to share.


Originally Posted at : http://implanthr.wordpress.com/2011/05/28/10-warning-signals-to-dro...

Views: 2650

Comment by Donna Welch Mast on May 31, 2011 at 10:08am

I, only once in my career, actually told a candidate I would no longer represent him.  He would constantly go around me to the hiring manager to the point that it became almost stalking, even when I asked him not to.  I was forced to tell the client that I no longer represented him and they do as they pleased.

Then when he didn't get the job - he actually blamed me - yelled at me on the phone telling me it was my fault.......I will never work with him again.  He then came back and apologized - I accepted it and wished him the best of luck....I've never had that happen to me and it won't ever happen to me again.

Comment by Chris Riopelle on May 31, 2011 at 10:13am
I'm usually put off by star candidates that have been in the business for several years that cannot provide me with an executive or managerial reference that can verify their background.  You mean to tell me you've been a top sales exec for 10 years and you can't provide me a past manager that will verify your claims?  I may need to drop you from the process.
Comment by Subramani B on May 31, 2011 at 10:15am
Donna, you are lucky to have faced this only once. Many recruiter friends of mine have faced these frustrating situations multiple times. When I started off as a recruiter, i too went through this learning cycle.
Comment by Mark on May 31, 2011 at 10:23am

I recruit very senior level telecommunications engineers and I have come to be too familiar with what is mentioned here.  I always try to determine how interested the candidate is in the opportunity.


One thing that is an automatic "Drop" indicator:  Talking money at the beginning of the conversation.  If they immediately ask the rate without hearing the opportunity, I know that I've got a loser who will jump ship as soon as someone else offers him another 3% salary.  I've fought with my bosses about the guys who only care about money more than once.  They never work out.

Comment by Katherine Lebeck on May 31, 2011 at 10:26am
In my experience #8 is the single most important indicator.  It is the umbrella personality trait that encompasses the majority of the other indicators you mentioned. If mutual respect is not present you will not be able to develop trust much less a viable working relationship.
Comment by Subramani B on May 31, 2011 at 10:40pm

@Mark- bang on. talking about money upfront completely hijacks the discussion on the role. very often, the talk may not proceed much further.

@Katherine - True. it is really upsetting me when candidates dismiss a recruiter discourteously. One thing i learnt early in my career is - Be firm & say No, if you wish to, but without being rude. 

Comment by Lindsay Peoples on June 1, 2011 at 8:57am
It is all about asking the right questions from the very beginning. So many times these things can be avoided by asking open ended question, gauging their reactions and by probing.
Comment by Donna Welch Mast on June 1, 2011 at 10:28am
In this market and this is from my own experience lately working for a company - many recruiters don't or are not allowed the time to develop a relationship with a candidate and must make "submittals" be the end of the day or they get yelled at.  So, many don't ask these questions and then the candidate bails on them because they didn't want the position from the gitgo.  That is why I won't work for a company that has that as their philosophy.  That' temp/contractual recruiting when someone asks from the beginning what the money is - they are usually contractors.  Candidates being rude?  That's because they get so many calls from recruiters who don't take the time to develop a relationship with them - that is a double-edged sword on both sides.  Kind of "damned if you do - damned it you don't".  Recruiting is a hard job - extremely hard and candidates should gently be reminded of that - you guys are humans......I have actually told several candidates that - "you don't need to be rude to me".....someday you may need me."
Comment by Subramani B on June 2, 2011 at 4:12am

@Lindsay- asking right question is the key. at the same time, the ability to read through the answers is equally critical


@Donna - very relevant points. Thanks

Comment by C. B. Stalling!! on June 2, 2011 at 10:38am
interesting, not sure i need all 10 to get rid of someone


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