This is a first---candidate pulls out of process because the work space is 'grim'.

This is a first for me and I don't think there's much I can do to overcome this candidate's objection.

I've been working on a needle in a haystack search for one of my favorite clients. They are looking for a project manager with very specific web experience and I finally found someone that seemed to be a strong fit, both experience and personality wise. Everyone I've ever sent to this company has wanted to work here....until now. This candidate gave me very detailed feedback, loved the manager (who I placed here a few years ago, and really is a great guy), and loved the job, it was just the kind of challenge he's looking for and type of company. So far, this is the only candidate who they've liked enough to bring in and were planning to bring him back for a second interview this week.

Except that, he doesn't want to go back! Why? Because he doesn't like the work environment. The company is going through growth and space is an issue, but I remembered visiting this company years ago and the space was gorgeous! It had gleaming bamboo wood floors and they'd taken over office space from a design firm, so it was bright and sunny. But, they've since moved down a few floors to a bigger space, which I hadn't seen, and it's evidently not as impressive. The candidate described it as having dingy beige carpet, and rows of tiny cubes....downright 'grim' and said he'd never complain about his current office environment again.

This just really surprised me. I've never had a candidate nix a job because of the work environment not being plush enough. Or have I just been lucky so far, and this actually is more common? I guess I just can't relate. The work environment has never been something I've thought twice about, it's always been about the work and the people, not what my office space is like.

Has this ever happened to any of you? Were you able to overcome it, or was it a deal-breaker?

Views: 88

Comment by Mark McMahan on February 18, 2008 at 3:03pm

It will inevitably happen when Murphy's Law kicks into high gear. Two things come to mind; First, somewhere in my original discussion with the candidate is the part about what's important to them in a position. Second, it always helps to visit every few months or at least once a year just to see what's changed. I had a similar experience hiring consultants to work at the City of Chicago. They were housed in a sub-basement which was below the water level of Lake Michigan. Talk about dingy and dark. I made it a point to go and see what it was like there just to get something redeeming out of it for my candidates. In that case I oversold the team dynamic and it worked but not as often as I would have liked. I also think the situation you're talking about has a lot to do with the generation of potential employee you might have been dealing with.
Comment by pam claughton on February 18, 2008 at 3:12pm
Thanks Mark! I agree, a visit to check out this new space is definitely a good idea. It is Murphy's Law too, I finally find someone that they like, and he's not interested...go figure!
Comment by Karen Swim on February 19, 2008 at 10:16am
Pam, what a great post! I think that in the past few years we've learned more about the impact of environment on our attitudes and productivity. Look at the proliferation of design shows, articles and content devoted to the topic. Inevitably, I think everyone is impacted by the work environment but the priority will be different for each candidate. I suppose that's another question to add to the profile. I hope you find a great fit soon!

Comment by Nancy Ford on March 17, 2008 at 10:37am
Pam - I feel your pain! I had a great company in Nevada, found some excellent need-in-a-haystack candidates for them, but every single one of them - after they went in for an in-person interview - backed out of the job. I spoke to the VP about this and he said they were very casual - wearing shorts, etc., and other than that he had no idea why people were so turned off. I did place one person at the company and he's been there for years, but when candidate after candidate pulled out after their on-site, I finally dropped the search.


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