“Give me a job, give me security… give me a chance to survive…”


I don’t normally let candidates get to me. I’ve recruited in good times and bad, been screamed at, threatened, called names, and Lord knows what else by candidates who don’t handle rejection well. It’s rare, but it happens. I typically respond with a shrug and go on about my business. My experience with frustrated job seekers is, sadly, pretty broad (maybe it’s me?). Even still, this latest meltdown was worth documenting… as a cautionary tale.


Candidate comes in on a silver platter, courtesy of an employee referral. GREAT employee, solid referral. The stuff recruiting dreams are made of. Initial phone screen goes…. Ok. Something I couldn’t quite put my finger on wasn’t working for me but I tried to not let it get in the way. Proceed to phone interview. After a round of phone interviews with various stakeholders (this was a relocating candidate) we get close to an offer. I’m checking in regularly with the candidate as things were being worked out on our end and still that alarm bell is going off in my head. I try to ignore it some more.


Great, the scope of the position has changed. Another interview is required. Candidate is not pleased. More bells in my head, getting louder. I warn one of the stakeholders, who I have a really good relationship with. He understands but thinks we should still have (oh please let it be) the final interview. Schedule conflicts abound and the candidate flips out. He’s rude to the hiring manager/final interviewer, me, and the employee who made the referral. Sirens are tornado warning loud in my head - I don't see how I can possibly make this guy an offer. In the meantime, still trying to salvage this deal, I attempt to once and for all close the candidate. We’ve talked money before; I’m pretty up-front from the initial call as to what can be expected. All of a sudden we’re talking relo assistance (never on the table). Finally I get this email in response, spelling errors and all –


“I'm going to get to brass tax because it's been hellva day; add 5k to the top of the base range, extend me an offer and I'll accept.


The longer you drag this out the more expensive it's going to me to move, I'm trying to coordinate, movers, roommates, landlords and now I have to find a way to pay for a new head gasket for my car. Remember I am not moving accross town, I have to pack up my life an move it 2,000 miles across country. We lost March, its gone, let's not waste April.”


Perhaps I’m overly sensitive, but this struck me as mind-bogglingly inappropriate. Sadly, this had been pretty typical of the candidate’s communication up to this point. I let the hiring managers know that I could not, in good conscience, extend a job offer to this candidate. I just couldn’t do it. The manager was also taken aback and agreed this was not the person for this highly visible role. I let the candidate know that after careful consideration we couldn’t meet his salary requirements along with our concerns about his long term job satisfaction (he’d indicated in previous interviews his future career plans which clearly did not include Zones). He then asked for more feedback, saying “I’m not looking to get vicious, mean, or petty, just curious.” Sort of like leading a conversation with “no offense”, then proceeding to offend the hell out of someone.


Moral of the story? Recruiters and hiring managers will irritate you. So long as they are the ones making the hiring decisions, better to go scream into a pillow than fire off an email you can’t take back.

Views: 5000

Comment by Paul S. Gumbinner on May 10, 2012 at 8:34am

Amy, the truth for all of is that as well as we interview and screen, we never actually get to know a candidate until we work with him or her. That is when their true self comes out.  The way candidates respond to hiring managers, the rapidity with which they report in to us (as we all have, I have had candidates who just won't call me after an interview. I had one just two weeks ago who got an offer directly and never bothered to tell me "I assumed you knew.").  On a few occasions, I have done exactly as you did and withdrawn the candidate knowing that ultimately they would be wrong for the job.  That is part of why we get paid a fee - to be up front and professional.  Good for you, Amy.

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on May 10, 2012 at 9:12am
Thanks Paul, so true. Our referring employee was especially frustrated, and of course I couldn't fully share the details... Deep down I know I did the right thing and am grateful for the support from my RBC friends!


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