From my recruiting experience, sometimes its challenging to remember ALL the candidates you have met during the week. Relying on my photographic memory is not enough anymore. How do you keep track of your candidates, what techniques are/have used to keep a mental picture of the person? Do you think its ethical to take a picture of a candidate for the sole purpose of  'jogging your memory'? I have mixed feelings about this issue, what do you think?

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Comment by Valentino Martinez on November 12, 2011 at 9:36pm



The fact that you’re asking if it’s “ethical to take a picture of a candidate” to aid your memory for recruiting purposes suggests you already know the answer but want to confirm it. I say “No” and “Yes”.


I agree, “candidate blur”—as I call it, is always the problem when too many candidates are reviewed by a single recruiter in a condensed time-frame.  College recruiting process poses this problem primarily because of how college administrators establish their schedules to accommodate students, recruiters and time constraints.  Such schedules amount to 30min of interview time with 15 min to take notes and prepare for the next interviewee.  After a couple of days of back-to-back interviews—the students begin to look, sound and have very similar credentials relative to similar coursework, faculty, group projects, etc.  I found that to be the case regardless if it was students from:  Engineering, Finance, IS or Business.


How I kept and keep track of primary candidates is to rank-order them relative to education, experience, and extra-curricular activity.  Plus I take note of maturity, communication and leadership skill and give a numerical value to each.  Taking preliminary notes on the résumé for example, also helps so that you can focus your evaluation.  It also seems to me quality credentials are memorable.  In fact, the higher the quality of a candidate’s credentials—the more memorable they are to me.


The problem in using, or wanting to use pictures of candidates, to help “jog your memory”, could also open the door to blatant or subtle discrimination based on appearances.  Especially, if the end result of using pictures tends to favor or disfavor some over others, e.g., the good looking; the slim and trim; men; race, ethnicity, the disabled, etc.


The use of pictures, however, can be justified if they can be deemed critical to the selection process.  For example, if a movie studio is looking to hire a stunt man who resembles Brad Pitt, for example—then physical appearance based on a photo would be helpful in the selection process.

Comment by Isabelle Shelby on November 14, 2011 at 11:05am


Thank you for your feedback. I am very aware of the consequences of taking a pciture however really want to learn what others had to say about this.

Comment by Tony Palm on November 14, 2011 at 12:23pm

Many years ago I started capturing 'Notes' on every person I met at the very earliest possibility; always before COB! Generally, when I create a new contact in Outlook, I add a few words about how we met and any other pertinent facts about that individual so I could ‘jog’ my memory. Over the years, a sort of ‘shorthand’ has evolved that silos every one of my Outlook contacts in such a way as to allow me to search by more than just the existing fields (i.e. name, company, position, etc.).


That technique has saved me embarrassment on countless occasions as I can conduct an exhaustive search in a matter of seconds, all while engaging in mindless small talk with someone who has called who expects me to know everything about them simply by stating their name. After all, names are the currency in the staffing industry; correct?  


As I rarely meet most of the candidates that I place until they arrive for an interview, capturing a photo is moot. And frankly, my ability to put a name to a face is limited at best. However, being able to search Outlook for candidates by my own shorthand is far more effective than a photo. And it has the added benefit of keeping me inoculated from any discrimination concerns a photo generally causes!

Comment by John Comyn on November 15, 2011 at 1:44am

In our agency a photo is mandatory and part of the database system we use. When the candidate arrives for the interview they are asked if we can take a photo and and we explain why. We have never had an objection. It's pretty simple - you want a photo so in 3 years time when a great opportunity presents itself you can put a face to a name and not overlook the candidate. We have a large database and you cannot believe how useful the photo is especially when you have a number of consultants using the same database.

Comment by Valentino Martinez on November 15, 2011 at 2:30am

@John, America tends to have a fairly litigious workplace.  All imbalances get challenged.

Naturally, if you ask an interviewee if it's okay to take their picture they'll agree...unless they're fugitives and wanted by law enforcement. 

Also, isn't it performance, good or bad, that make an employee memorable along with their face rather than just a face?  Unless the face is part of the selection equation which is why some have advantages over others which brings us back to the arguement of using photos for that purpose.

And the fact that you have not had objections so far doesn't take the possibility of it biting you in the butt later.  The objection will not come from you taking pictures--it'll come from a pattern of hiring practices that screen some people in and other out.

Comment by John Comyn on November 15, 2011 at 3:12am

The photo is not sent too a client is the one thing nor is the selection critria based on a photo. It is merely a means to jog the memory. How often do you have a candidate phone you and say "I saw you last year do you remember me" In milli seconds I have a photo in front of me plus a record of any communication we have ever had. It makes the candidate feel very special when you are able to say "of course I remember you. The last time we spoke you said bla bla bla " Nevertheless point taken. In South Africa we have a miriad of legislation that governs our industry strangely a photo is not one of them. Oh and the candidate can say no and it is not an issue or will it compromise them in any way.

Comment by Isabelle Shelby on November 15, 2011 at 11:52am

@ John- hypothetical question- since you haven't encounted anyone objecting to taking a picture, what will you do or the agency do when that one candidate does object? What are the chances of that person being placed, how will you justify the legality of using a picture for your process, or will you have this candidae continue in your agency process?

Comment by John Comyn on November 16, 2011 at 1:45am

@Isabelle - we do not have any problem what so ever if the person does not want a photo taken. We do not send photo's to clients it is purely so we can put a face to a name. Example: all the consultants use a common database & obviously that is where the candidate search starts. If I see a candidate who has what I am looking for I will then go to the consultant that dealt with the candidate to get a 2nd opinion. He / Her may have interviewed the candidate 3 years ago. By typing the name a photo comes up and person will immediately identify with the candidate. Again I stress there is no legislation that prevents us from taking a photo. Let me ask you a question - if you send out a candidate that has a severe impediment but is right for the job do you tell the client what to expect?


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