“Give me a job, give me security… give me a chance to survive…”

 

I don’t normally let candidates get to me. I’ve recruited in good times and bad, been screamed at, threatened, called names, and Lord knows what else by candidates who don’t handle rejection well. It’s rare, but it happens. I typically respond with a shrug and go on about my business. My experience with frustrated job seekers is, sadly, pretty broad (maybe it’s me?). Even still, this latest meltdown was worth documenting… as a cautionary tale.

 

Candidate comes in on a silver platter, courtesy of an employee referral. GREAT employee, solid referral. The stuff recruiting dreams are made of. Initial phone screen goes…. Ok. Something I couldn’t quite put my finger on wasn’t working for me but I tried to not let it get in the way. Proceed to phone interview. After a round of phone interviews with various stakeholders (this was a relocating candidate) we get close to an offer. I’m checking in regularly with the candidate as things were being worked out on our end and still that alarm bell is going off in my head. I try to ignore it some more.

 

Great, the scope of the position has changed. Another interview is required. Candidate is not pleased. More bells in my head, getting louder. I warn one of the stakeholders, who I have a really good relationship with. He understands but thinks we should still have (oh please let it be) the final interview. Schedule conflicts abound and the candidate flips out. He’s rude to the hiring manager/final interviewer, me, and the employee who made the referral. Sirens are tornado warning loud in my head - I don't see how I can possibly make this guy an offer. In the meantime, still trying to salvage this deal, I attempt to once and for all close the candidate. We’ve talked money before; I’m pretty up-front from the initial call as to what can be expected. All of a sudden we’re talking relo assistance (never on the table). Finally I get this email in response, spelling errors and all –

 

“I'm going to get to brass tax because it's been hellva day; add 5k to the top of the base range, extend me an offer and I'll accept.

 

The longer you drag this out the more expensive it's going to me to move, I'm trying to coordinate, movers, roommates, landlords and now I have to find a way to pay for a new head gasket for my car. Remember I am not moving accross town, I have to pack up my life an move it 2,000 miles across country. We lost March, its gone, let's not waste April.”

 

Perhaps I’m overly sensitive, but this struck me as mind-bogglingly inappropriate. Sadly, this had been pretty typical of the candidate’s communication up to this point. I let the hiring managers know that I could not, in good conscience, extend a job offer to this candidate. I just couldn’t do it. The manager was also taken aback and agreed this was not the person for this highly visible role. I let the candidate know that after careful consideration we couldn’t meet his salary requirements along with our concerns about his long term job satisfaction (he’d indicated in previous interviews his future career plans which clearly did not include Zones). He then asked for more feedback, saying “I’m not looking to get vicious, mean, or petty, just curious.” Sort of like leading a conversation with “no offense”, then proceeding to offend the hell out of someone.

 

Moral of the story? Recruiters and hiring managers will irritate you. So long as they are the ones making the hiring decisions, better to go scream into a pillow than fire off an email you can’t take back.

Views: 3515

Tags: candidates, interviewing, offers, recruiting

Comment by Maisha Cannon on April 30, 2012 at 4:54pm

Gee whiz, how unprofessional can you get! Great reminder to trust your gut when instinct tells you to walk away. How embarrassing for the referral, as well! Yikes. Consider yourself lucky, sounds like he/she would not have been a good long term fit, anyway (add dodging bullets to your skill set). Did you offer more feedback per the candidate's request? Seems like a ticking time bomb.

Comment by Amy Ala on April 30, 2012 at 5:03pm

Lol Maisha seriously... I did send him a longer email still trying to keep it professional yet gently let him know where he went off the rails a bit. The problem with transparency (in many cases) is the candidate doesn't really want to hear it and won't get anything out of it, other than a reason to pick a fight.

Comment by Bill Schultz on April 30, 2012 at 5:28pm

Exactly right, Amy-about transparency.

Sounds like you saved the company from a headache employee.  

"we lost March" LOL

Comment by Amy Ala on April 30, 2012 at 5:47pm

Thanks Bill :) If I thought he'd actually get something out of my feedback I may have been more inclined to share... then again a guy who sends a demand for 5K over the max salary range shared with him at the beginning in an email full of typos and misspellings... might as well save that energy for writing a therapeutic blog post about it!

 

What the cost of a new head gasket has to do with an appropriate offer I have yet to figure out.

Comment by HRNasty on April 30, 2012 at 6:25pm

Great morale to your story.  "better to go scream into a pillow than fire off an email you can’t take back."  Your candidate needs to add some polish to his brass balls.  


Comment by Bill Schultz on April 30, 2012 at 8:13pm

"What the cost of a new head gasket has to do with an appropriate offer I have yet to figure out."

it's called "let me make my problems your problem."

Comment by Sandra McCartt on April 30, 2012 at 8:34pm

Oh boy, and the other moral to this story is to not ignore that little green worm of doubt that starts crawling around in a recruiter's brain when it starts to wiggle.  I have done it a few times thinking that i was being too picky or expecting too much of a candidate who was not particularly good at the finer points of interviewing.  Never fails that green worm turns into a giant vampire moth and slaps the back of my eyeballs if i ignore the thing.

 

Head gasket indeed.  Kiddo , you got problems, i got problems but you are not going to be one of them moving forward you just blew the job ,head gasket.

 

I had a job that required excellent communication skills, particular focus on grammar and spelling.  Got a great candidate who phone interviewed like a champ except she had one grammar glitch.  Instead of saying "I did all the troubleshooting blah blah", she would say "I done".  Not one other glitch.  the little green worm was mumbling, "no, no, better not."   I decided to move her forward.  Since she didn't have any other grammar glitches i talked to her about it and suggested she just say " I did" instead of "i done"  It was a short phone interview  The first words out of her mouth were , "After reviewing the job description i can say with certainty that I done did everything you need."  Damn that little green worm he is almost always right.

Comment by Mitch Sullivan on May 1, 2012 at 2:49am

I'm quite concerned that the candidate couldn't spell 'brass tacks'

Comment by Bob McIntosh on May 1, 2012 at 8:25am

Good call, Amy. Seems like this guy would have been hell to work with at the company. I don't think this is age-related; some people just have no clue of how to act. I guess there's a lot to be said about finding the right fit.

Comment by Randall Scasny on May 1, 2012 at 12:13pm

Amy,

You are just too nice of a human being.

Look, the reality is no one hires or wants to work with an angry person.It could destroy the cohesion of the existing team and create a bigger problem.

Myself, I would have told him point blank to (a) take a hike or (b) Go [4 letter word expletive] yourself! and hang up. You'd be doing him a favor.

Randall Scasny

fs5consulting.com

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