Junior Varsity Recruiting Behavior (Be Nice to Candidates!)

I am always getting calls from candidates asking me for advice on how to deal with recruiter behavior during their interview process. Some of the stuff is basic, such as “I never heard back” some more alarming, such as “I just got the “hard close treatment” from this bozo.”
This blog post is in response to what I hear from frustrated candidates. I direct this post to my fellow recruiters, corporate and agency based. Some of this stuff is basic but needs to be reinforced. Seems to me that in the rush, rush to get things done, recruiters have forgotten their training and basic manners. I’d like to urge you to be a human being during the hiring process, not a corporate drone. Below are the top complaints I hear from candidates.
  • “I am sorry, but I didn’t have time to read your résumé.” I don’t care how busy or important you are, if you have set up time to interview a candidate, read their résumé and be informed before the meeting. It is unprofessional and junior behavior to not do so.
  • Don’t miss a scheduled phone interview. If you can’t make the appointed time, send a quick email or call and reschedule. Candidates have schedules and obligations too. They made an effort, have some manners and do the same.
  • Fake job descriptions are illegal!  Yes, I am talking to you, headhunter at a Third Party Staffing Agency. If the job does not exist, don’t advertise it! Find candidates by actually getting on the horn and networking or cold calling. Advertising jobs that don’t exist or have been filled is bad business.
  • Keeping a candidate warm, forever. Your hiring manager either knows they want to hire the candidate, or they don’t. Have a frank conversation with them about the perils of keeping a candidate warm for too long. Keeping someone hanging is cruel and not an effective recruiting practice. It also really hurts your employment brand.
  • Return phone calls, even if you don’t have an update. A quick email back will do. People hate being ignored and they will tell everyone about their bad experience with YOU.
  • If the candidate does not make the cut, for god’s sakes, just tell them. This is especially important for a candidate who spent time with several of your employees. It is bad manners, bad karma and bad for your employment brand to drop off the face of the earth and never give them closure.
  • Give real feedback,please. I can’t tell you how many candidates have thanked me when I told them they did not progress in the process because the did X, Y or Z. People can’t improve their behavior if they don’t know what they did wrong. This blog post has some great comments on how to go about this.
  • Help your candidate during the process. No, don’t spend an hour prepping them or giving up company secrets but do share information that is relevant and might be helpful. Creating a level playing field is not a crime and candidates will forever respect you and be grateful for doing it.
  • Don’t over-sell an opportunity. Be honest. Do you really want to hire a candidate fueled by exaggerated info? Think about it. On the worst day on the job, it will be your fault! Don’t lie and mess with people’s lives. Remember, this person might be leaving a perfectly good job to go to your company. Give them the whole deal and don’t exaggerate.
  • Hard closing candidates. I am still amazed that recruiters think this works! Don’t play games with candidates and don’t be aggressive about “closing my offer.” It will just come back to bite you and your reputation will suffer. Here is a great blog on closing offers the right way.

I think so many recruiters forget that we are building relationships for the long-term, not just for your current open requisition.

Other relevant articles about the subject via FastCompany here and via ERE here.

Are you a candidate with recruiter pet peeves? Add your two cents, I want to hear from you.



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