"Where's your candidate?" the hiring manager fumed. "His interview was
supposed to start a half hour ago."
Alex suddenly felt sick. This was his third no-show in two weeks. "You
mean he didn't call to cancel?" Alex said.
"You got it," said the hiring manager. "And I'm getting pretty tired of
this. If you can't control your candidates, I'll have to find a
recruiter who can."
The Rude Revolution
Of course, the candidate's behavior was inexcusable-but not unexpected.
In a culture that seems to reward expedient self-interest, this type of
rudeness is becoming increasingly commonplace.
But on reflection, Alex probably could have done a better job of
qualifying-and ultimately, taking control of his candidates.
I've found that by gathering better information, spotting red flags and
exercising caution, recruiters can generally avoid the pain associated
with erratic or conflicted candidates. Here are some easy ways to
increase control and avoid disasters:
1. Explore the motivation. If you don't
know what compels your candidate to change jobs-or you're unclear as to
the characteristics of a job your candidate most desires-your ability to
sell the job or defend against a counteroffer is greatly diminished.
2. Show me the money. Be sure to build
a complete compensation profile that includes the candidate's salary
history, salary expectations and performance review schedule. that way,
you'll avoid sticker shock when the offer is on the table.
3. Probe for job search activity. Find
out where your candidate has interviewed, whether anything is in the
works or where your candidate's resume can be found, either online or in
the files of prospective employers.
4. Recognize-and react to-signs of disrespect.
If the candidate is hard to reach, doesn't return your calls or
won't answer qualifying questions, you've got a problem. And the best
way to deal with it is to confront the candidate and correct the problem
sooner than later.
5. Make the candidate sell you. Ask
your candidate why he wants the job you're trying to fill, and why a
prospective employer should hire the candidate over someone else. If the
person can't make a convincing argument, he probably won't get hired
6. If possible, avoid obvious deal-killers. Obstacles such as
relocations, spousal resistance, long-term employment at the current job
or visa discrepancies can sometimes be overcome. But be careful; if your
candidate looks, walks and quacks like a duck who's afraid to fly, he
7. Don't fall in love with your candidates.
This happens all the time, especially with candidates bearing -perfect-
resumes. To paraphrase an old saying, when passions run deep, the mind
tends to get shallow in a hurry. Look at your candidate objectively and
remember that in addition to the resume, factors such as behavior,
attitude and job market exposure will play a significant role in the
8. Lay out the ground rules. Most
candidates are happy to comply, as long as the rules-and the
consequences for misconduct-are clear and seem fair.
For example, not only is it reasonable to ask your candidate to keep you
posted as to any changes in job status or new opportunities, it's
practical as well.
Inherently Defective Candidates
Finally, you should recognize-and adjust to the fact-that some candidate
populations are more problematic than others. For example, certain
industries tend to attract flakey candidates like a high-powered magnet.
If that's the case, do the best you can to qualify all your candidates,
even if you know that some may bail out unexpectedly.
When dealing with an unreliable candidate pool, it makes sense to
protect yourself from employer blowback with the following script:
"Mr. Employer, my experience has shown that the candidates in our
industry have a tendency to drop out of sight shortly before their first
"Despite the headache it causes for me, this cloud has a silver lining:
problematic candidates will show their true colors before we invest a
lot of time resources in the person.
"That means that the candidates who follow through have a much greater
likelihood of successfully completing the interview process"and in fact,
will make stronger, more loyal employees in the long term, since the
candidates are self-selecting from the very beginning.
"So, let's allow the weaker candidates to drop out on their own and be
grateful that the candidates who show that they're willing to make a
commitment early on will have a higher level of enthusiasm and a better
chance of success with your company down the road."