There were two candidates remaining. One of them was represented by A Sales Guy Recruiting. We felt good about  our chances; our guy was strong and articulate. He understood the space, he faired well in the phone interviews and he was confident.  He was a good fit on paper AND in person – or so we thought.

The two candidates were flown in on the same day. They were to meet with a several different folks on the sales team and the executives. The goal, evaluate the two candidates, figure out who was the bigger bad ass, and then make a decision.

As the day came to an end, I got a call from the CRO (Chief Revenue Officer). He walked me though the interviews and his assessment of our candidate.  It’s wasn’t good. He said he felt our guy wasn’t as impressive in person as he was on the phone. He also felt our guy didn’t stay on task as well as the other candidate and seemed nervous. He shared a lot of observations, good and bad, but in the end our guy was in second position by a hair.  If they made the decision immediately, our candidate would have been left out in the cold.

Because it was so close, the CRO was thinking about having one more round of interviews. He wanted to be sure about this decision.  He tells me he’ll get back to me tomorrow and let me know what next steps are.

I hang up the phone and call our lead people strategist on the account and share with her what the CRO had just said about our candidate and what next steps would be.  Believing our candidate just got cold feet, we determined we need to give him the feedback in order to prepare him for the next round and provide him a chance to regain a foothold.  He’s losing and we know we’ve got the best candidate.

What happens next blew us away.

A bit deflated, but confident we can reposition our guy as the number one candidate, we share the client’s feedback with him and that’s where things went sideways. Rather than absorbing the feedback as constructive and “inside” information to be used for improvement, our candidate became defensive and combative. His response was juvenile, inappropriate and immature. After repeated attempts to refocus him on the positive aspects of the situation and how he can use the information we have to show better during the next interview, our people strategist stopped texting (Yes, all this happened over text.). She was tired of trying to convince him. He wasn’t willing to hear it. He was right and everyone else was wrong.

The next morning our people strategist calls me to share what happened. I ask her to read the text exchange verbatim. What I heard astounded me. It was NOT the type of communication I expected from a professional, sophisticated, sales person. This candidate was not the A Sales Guy Recruiting “A” Player candidate we thought he was. It was clear, we had a problem and decision to make.

With no delay, I pick up the phone and reach out to our client and politely let them know we will no longer be representing the candidate. We explained that we no longer believed he was a good fit for the position. We let them know however, they were free to continue interviewing him and if they chose to hire him we would NOT charge them a recruiting fee. He was no longer an A Sales Guy Recruiting candidate.

We walked away.

The recruiting fee would have been $25,000.  That’s a lot of money last time I checked. But, my mom showed me a long time ago that money cannot buy integrity. That integrity is only earned through the right choices.  As far as we were concerned there was only one choice. We could not, in good conscience, continue to promote this individual as a valid A Sales Guy Recruiting candidate when we knew he wasn’t. Through our interaction we saw things that changed our assessment of him.  He was not coachable, not open to feedback, argumentative, selfish and disrespectful and not the kind sales person our client needs or wants. We had to walk away.

Could we have looked passed his behavior? You bet. Our client wasn’t privy to any of the conversation. They had no visibility into what happened. We could have coached the candidate, sent him back in to try and win it. But, we didn’t and thank god we didn’t.

They made the offer to the other candidate, BUT she didn’t accept. Because of this, they would have hired our guy and in the process taken on a difficult and potentially poisonous employee. That would have SUCKED!

Our client was a little taken back by our choice. They asked for more details. We told them only what we said here. We felt he lacked the coachability, leadership and maturity to be the “A” Player they were looking for.  That was all. We took the highroad.

Walking away from revenue is never easy. Walking away from revenue when no one is watching is even harder. But as far as we were concerned, there was only one decision — it was really that simple.

Views: 260

Comment by Anna Brekka on May 19, 2014 at 12:11pm

Thank you - good post. 

Comment by Chris Wessell on May 19, 2014 at 2:09pm

I've actually done this before. Good for you. In this business all we have is our reputation.

Comment by Linda Ferrante on May 20, 2014 at 8:44am

Excellent post.  A great response to those haters out there that think we're all in it for the money.  I applaud you for making the right decision.  

We've done this twice in the past two years, and I have to go back and wonder what I missed during the screening/vetting process.  I look at it as a learning process, but also that we are preventing a potentially disastrous situation with our client.  Yes, it hurts losing that revenue, but maintaining integrity is more important in the long run.  I know our clients respect that and appreciate our extra efforts.

Comment by Robye Nothnagel on May 20, 2014 at 10:57pm


I did have some up and down hints during the recruiting process but the guy always had an excuse, which I accepted. Bad for me... but at least we did the right thing before it was too late. Thanks for your comments.

Comment by Robye Nothnagel on May 20, 2014 at 10:59pm


Thanks for the vote of confidence. Definitely hard to do, but the right thing.

Comment by Rebecca B. Sargeant on May 21, 2014 at 7:42am


We share these stories among ourselves all the time.  I wish stories like this would get out to our clients more often.  Not only did you walk away from the fee but you saved your client at least a couple 100K if they had hired him.  Think about the cost of his salary, time in on-boarding him, damage he could have done to their client base, the other peoples production he would effect, the cost of getting rid of him and then to start the search over again. 

You should really toot your own horn and show your clients how high your standards really are.


You need to be a member of RecruitingBlogs to add comments!

Join RecruitingBlogs


All the recruiting news you see here, delivered straight to your inbox.

Just enter your e-mail address below



RecruitingBlogs on Twitter

Recruiting Videos

  • Add Videos
  • View All

© 2018   All Rights Reserved   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service