Question of the day: How long is too long to follow up with a candidate post interview?

Follow up to today's RBC Daily:


I spoke with a recruiter who shared a unique situation. A long standing client that he's made multiple placements with in the past recently interviewed a candidate the recruiter presented. The feedback was positive, but no offer was made. The client wanted to look at a few more individuals. The recruiter continued to share other opportunities with the candidate and set up several more interviews. All along the recruiter consistently following up with the first client to gauge interest but did not receive any additional feedback. Fast forward three and half weeks and the first client finally circled around with an offer only to find out that the candidate had since moved on and accepted another position. The client was not pleased with this news, blamed the recruiter and indicated they would never work with him again.

Is there a right or wrong in this scenario?

Question of the day: How long is too long to follow up with a candidate post interview?

Tags: Candidate, Client, Interview, Placement, Recruiter

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The recruiter did nothing wrong. It can be a competitive environment. Who is to say that the candidate isn't working with another recriuter? If the candidate is that unique and that placeable then place on a first come first serve basis. Most all searches are to loooooooooooooooooooooooooong. Clients across the board need to speed up the process and learn that when you have the right one to make an offer.

In buying a home, you tour the "right house" and it meets all of your parameters do you really need to take another month looking at 20 more homes.........Make an offer or you will lose it.

Time Kills and clients need to learn that!

I can understand the frustrations on both sides here, it's always a pain when a client decides they just HAVE to have the one person who they can't and they often take out their annoyance on us. I suppose the question as to whether or not their annoyance is justified depends on whether the recruiter let the client know they were going to lose the candidate if they didn't act. They checked for feedback on the candidate as stated above, but it's not clear whether they were telling the client of the candidate's other prospects. If the agency never mentioned the other prospects the candidate had then maybe the client is justified in their irritation to an extent, although three and a half weeks with feedback is certainly not acceptable. If however the client was fully aware of the other prospects the candidate had and the agency made them fully aware of the urgency of the situation then there is no excuse for throwing your toys out the pram at this point because your inaction led to the loss of a good candidate. 

I try to be straight up with the client, either "fish or cut bait". If I'm not getting feedback from the client at all, I discuss that possibility with them that the candidate may not be available by the time they make a decision and they have to decide whether they can risk taking that chance.

Probably not as unique a situation as you think. I think the recruiter could have tried to establish upfront what the timeframe would be on a decision, considering they wanted to interview other candidates. The recruiter could communicate this timeframe to his candidate and see what he wanted to do or whether he was interested in waiting that long. The recruiter could negotiate with the employer and commit to not present any other opportunities to the candidate, if they would commit to a decision by a set date.

I agree with much of what has been said and I think the key factor is good, honest communication with all parties.  Sean, you are right that in the current market clients often think that it is a 'buyers' market' and are then suprised when the candidate they have taken a while to choose has gone . . .  I am always keen to ensure clients understand a central rule of good recruitment:  'the good people are the good people' no matter what market conditions and you have to treat them with respect (as you should all candidates) and act professionally.  If you take too long making up your mind then you risk losing the candidate.  In the scenario painted above I would certainly have been honest with the client and told them that the candidate had other opportunities - whether through me or potentially other recruiters is largely irrelevant as has been pointed out - which they were continuing to investigate - keeping them posted on as regular a basis as possible as to the candidate's potentially dwindling availability.  If I had done this and the client still failed to react and then gave me a hard time as a result I am not sure that this is a client relationship I would be happy to maintain in any case.  The clients I work with best are those that understand the value of the good candidates I bring them and the value of 'selling' the opportunity to them - the interview process is a two way street!  Funnily enough these are the clients who generally secure the best candidates.  Coincidence?  I think not - just good recruitment practice.  The trick is to educate those clients that maybe don't quite get this fundamental rule in a way that does not offend.  Not easy but part of the job I guess . . .

How long is too long for a client to act after an interview?  Apparently three and a half weeks was reasonable for this client. There are too many factors involved in the recruiting process to state a definitive answer (e.g., position goes on hold, inside business emergencies, the client's dog died). For that reason, the recruiter better be up front with all parties.

Did the recruiter inform the client that the candidate was actively interviewing elsewhere?  If not, then I can understand being upset over the surprise. Should the client have been surprised that he took a position elsewhere?  Maybe, given the job market. But if the recruiter was open with the client, then the client was just being unreasonable.

The client had a legitimate desire to see a full slate of candidates, and the candidate is trying to find a job. If I were in the recruiter's shoes, I'd tell the client that I was actively recruiting on the position, but the candidate is looking at other positions as well. The client was forewarned.  From the recruiter's standpoint, if he hadn't shopped the candidate to other clients he stood the risk of losing a fee. 

In this scenario, the client seems a bit unreasonable as they have had a positive relationship with the recruiter up until this point. The recruiter attempted to get feedback, and the client didn't give any. Someone mentioned the client being told that the candidate might have other offers, but some clients think recruiters are saying that as a pressure tactic.

I would not ask a candidate to turn down or not pursue other opportunities while waiting for someone to decide whether they are going to make an offer. Even if a client is saying they "definitely" are going to make an offer, it doesn't exsist until it's done. Things can change, intentions don't always equal reality. 

The client is being irrational. The recruiter brought them a person who was so awesome that they fired the recruiter when that person took another position (due to their own delay)? That was an emotional decision by the client and nothing more than a good ole fashioned scapegoating.

I don't play the "this person won't be around for long" card unless I have a candidate with some legitimate options that are developing quickly. However, when I have that scenario, I always play that card, ESPECIALLY when I can say that I'm not representing this candidate for those other positions. It helps create an us-against-them race against time which is pretty effective.

It sounds like this recruiter displayed a professional level of diligence and transparency with this client. If I were that recruiter, I would continue to demonstrate my professionalism by trying my best to win them back over. If I pack up my tent and scoot away in this situation, it could just make the client feel like they had made the right decision. If/when they do let me back in, you can bet that they'll listen next time around. My .02. 

I think the mistake was that it was not enough for the recruiter to just follow up.  He had to let the client know that the candidate was interviewing at other places.  This would have turned up the fire on the process if they had known.  

If the person took a job through the same recruiter, he should have let the first client know that the candidate was getting close on an offer!  If he took the job through some other recruiter, he should have stayed in close enough touch with the candidate to know what was going on.

There exists an ebb and flow to each client/candidate situation. I think, perhaps, the client was having a difficult week, month, budget meeting or whatever. The recruiter was NOT at fault.

To reconnect with a long standing client (which would be my goal), I would attempt a hand written note, phone calls, or if geographically possible, lunch.

The big question...did the recruiter place the candidate?  If he did, then good for him.  Perhaps the client knows this. Clients drag their feet and the job market is changing to an employees market.  If a client thinks a candidate meets all of their requirements, then make an offer.  No, instead they say, "let me see a few comparisons" and by the time they do that, the candidate they liked it gone.  This client sounds like an irrational individual and its unfortunate.  We need to continue to educate our clients but of course, many of them do not listen.

What is not known here are the following important facts; is it a contingency search, is there a contract in place and did the Recruiter place the candidate with another client or if the candidate was placed by another recruiter? 

Lets assume its a contingent search and the Recruiter in question was successful in placing the candidate with another client, in this case I would have to side with the Recruiter! He kept his original client in the loop and explained the candidate was actively interviewing which is the right thing to do.

It could have easily gone the other way where the original client never got around to an offer, the recruiter only submitted the candidate to the original client and that client hired another candidate, leaving the recruiter with a big goose egg!

If clients prefers exclusivity, they need to pony up and pay a "contingency fee"

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