How to lose a candidate in 10 days

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, our thoughts are circling around the hopes of our “interests” liking us as much as we like them!

In Recruiting’s case, we want to make sure our candidates love us as much as we love them.  But, let’s be realistic.  Sometimes, we (recruiting) don’t always do the right things to win them over.  Rather, the question should be… what are we NOT doing?  Hint: The answer isn’t “sending them flowers on their birthday”

Below are 10 ways to lose a candidate:

  1. Job description doesn’t match the actual job duties.  I cannot begin to tell you how many times a Hiring Manager (HM) has given me a job description to post, only for me to find out later down the interview process that s/he is looking for something completely different.  If this is irritating for the recruiter, imagine how the candidate feels.  Make sure what you are asking for is what you actually want.
  2. Failing to update them on their candidacy.  This one is self explanatory, I feel.  If you’re interviewing, wouldn’t YOU want to know where you stand?  Even if it’s a “thanks, but no thanks”
  3. Being non-responsive.  I know a lot of recruiters who let candidates’ emails, phone calls, and text messages just simmer in their inboxes.  I don’t know about you, but doesn’t this scream “I [the recruiter] don’t care enough about your candidacy to respond to you”
  4. Not answering questions directly.  Why don’t you know the answers to their questions?  If you don’t know the answer, did you go find out and then relay the answer back to them?  Not knowing answers is a big red flag.
  5. Related to #3, dancing around questions.  Don’t dance around questions.  Answer them directly.  Show them you are a no-BS type of recruiter/company.
  6. Saying one thing, but meaning another.  “You’re one of our finalists!”… yet they never hear from you again.  Say what you mean, and mean what you say.
  7. Having a tedious interview process.  Long, drawn-out interview processes are a candidate killer.  There is a limit on what seems appropriate.  Depending on the level of the hire, I’d say anywhere between 4-5 interviews should be plenty to know whether you will hire this candidate or not.  Do not — I repeat, do not — make them go through 8-10-15 rounds of interviews.  It makes it look like you can’t make up your mind, or that the company is unorganized.
  8. Too much shuffling, too little communication.  “Wait, I have a new recruiter?  Who’s this new person the recruiter copied on this email? Why is she emailing me now? Who’s my main point of contact???”  Keep your candidate informed along the way… all steps of the process.
  9. Being arrogant.  This is simple.  Don’t be arrogant.  Candidates know you are the recruiter and that they have to, first, win YOU over before you pass them forward.  That doesn’t give you (the recruiter) the right to completely disrespect your candidate(s).  You were a job searcher at one point in your life, too… and you will likely be one again.
  10. Undervaluing the candidate.  This one is a personal pet peeve.  The candidate comes and says “Today, I make 150k base salary, with a 10% bonus”.  Once the company gets to offer stage, they offer the candidate 120k base, 5% bonus.  That’s a punch in the gut to the candidate.  The sell of “If they want to work here, they will take the offer” doesn’t always fly.

Let’s keep our phenomenal candidates and treat them with the respect they deserve!

Head down, chin up!

Final Round Interviews

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As this quarter starts coming to a close, I have a handful of candidates entering final stage interviews.  They will meet the CEO, and we will either pull the trigger and make them an offer… or they will be left by the wayside.  With that in mind, I thought I’d take the time to shed some light on these nerve-wracking final interviews and give you some insight from the “inside” (generally speaking).

So, you applied for Position ABC at Company XYZ.  You’ve been through a phone screen, a 1st round interview, a 2nd round interview, perhaps a 3rd round interview, and you’ve been invited back for a final round!  Congratulations!

If we take a look at this logically, you would not have made it as far as you have if a) they didn’t like your resume b) you weren’t able to showcase your expertise, or c) they didn’t like you.  I bet that’s some weight off your shoulders, huh?

“But my final interview is with the {enter fancy title here}!!!”  How is this any different from the former interviews you have encountered?  This {enter fancy title here} is just another human being, just like you are.  And, if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know my favorite saying… it’s just a conversation!

What can you expect in a final interview?  Great question.  If you’ve made it this far, the team is confident in your ability to deliver what is needed in the role.  They know what they want, and you have it!  Below are some general things final interviews are looking to cover (not an exclusive list):

  • How much do you want to work here?  Very important information.  There are the people who are running away from their current jobs, and then there are the people who are running towards this new opportunity in front of them.  Most companies want the people who are running towards them versus the other option.  Running away is never a good sign.  Why are you running?  What will happen here if you find yourself hating your job?  Will you run?  Tell them – better yet, show them! – how much you want to work there.  Show your excitement for the role, the company, and express your genuine interest in the industry.
  • Career path.  What’s the end goal for you?  We have to make sure our expectations align.  If you are coming in today as an Account Executive, and want to be CEO in the next 2 years… I’m not sure this is the place for you.  If you are coming in today as a Financial Analyst, and 3 years down the line you want to be a Finance Manager… let’s keep talking!  Make sure you know where you are, and where you are going.  Make sure the company lines up with what you want for yourself.
  • Culture fit.  What does this even mean?!  A company’s culture defines them.  It is the characteristics, values, and beliefs that make them who they are.  It is the “personality” of the company, if you will.  Do you fit into that personality?  Does it fit you?

As with any interview, come prepared with questions.  Show your interest in the company, and show you’ve done your research.  Interviews are two-way conversations.  As much as we are interviewing you, you are also interviewing us.  Take your time to get your questions answered, and we will do the same.

As always… head up, chin down!  Good luck!

I never heard back. Why?

There comes a time when everyone thinks, “I thought I interviewed well.  What happened?  Why didn’t I get through to the next round?”  I think it’s human nature to always be asking “why”.  Let’s split this into a few scenarios:

You submitted your resume, but never heard back.  Why?

  • Before I make the decision to email/call you back, I look at your Facebook page, your Twitter profile, your blog posts, your Google+ page.  I Google you.  I have seen the rants about your job, how much you hate your boss, how you can’t wait for the day to be over.  I have seen the, sometimes, “unclassy” pictures of your drunken stupor from last weekend.  Would you hire you after seeing these things?
  • Your grammar.  Did you pass 2nd grade?  If so, I expect you to know the difference between “their”, “there”, and “they’re”.  Not only is this a poor reflection on you, but I risk my reputation as a recruiter as well.
  • Your resume is hard to read.  Why is it not in chronological order?  How long did you work at XYZ Corp?  When did you leave XYZ Corp?  Why is the font so small???  
  • Your resume is lackluster.  I can tell when you just copy a job description into your resume.  That’s great.  But tell me what YOU did in that role.
  • Your resume lacks information I want/need to see.  You’re in sales, and you don’t tell me how AWESOME you are at closing deals?  Why not?  Are you not proud of your accomplishments?  Things that make me go “hmm” will quickly put you in the reject pile.  

I had a phone interview with the recruiter, but never heard back.  Why?

  • You didn’t do your research.  Tsk tsk.  Always – ALWAYS – do a little reading on the company you’re interviewing with beforehand.  Know what their offerings are, know who their target clients are, know what questions you want to ask.  What else can you research?  The recruiter.  Find out where they went to school, their career history… use it to your advantage.  Build rapport with them off of any commonalities you might have.
  • You talk too much.  Long-winded answers rarely get you anywhere.  Why aren’t you listening to questions I’m asking?  Why aren’t you answering my question directly?  What are you dancing around?  Nerves are hard to overcome in interviews, I get it.  But you have to listen for cues.  What is the recruiter asking of you?  What kind of information does the recruiter need to evaluation your background? 
  • Your answers sound rehearsed and redundant.  Are you telling me the same thing using different words?  Have you said these sentences/phrases over and over in front of a mirror, and in every interview?  We can hear these nuances.
  • You don’t follow directions.  I found you on LinkedIn, I already have access to your profile.  When I ask for a resume, please send it to me.  Don’t direct me back to your LinkedIn page.  Not following an “ask” is a tell-tale sign of how much you want something.  
  • You interview poorly.  I have said it a million times, “interviews are just conversations”.  We are here to learn about each other.  I talk to some candidates where I feel like I’m trying to pull teeth.  Brag about yourself!  Be confident in your abilities.  Ask questions right back at the recruiter.  Just as we’re interviewing you, interview us!

I had an interview with the hiring manager, but never heard back.  Why?

  • Lack of detail.  By the time you’ve gotten to the hiring manager, they are looking for details on why you’d be great at a job.  If you can’t back up statements like “I’m a successful sales rep” with things like “I achieved 200% of my quota YOY by continuously prospecting my territory, fearlessly hunting and cold calling, and continuously analyzing my plan of attack”, the hiring manager isn’t going to be able to assess how well you’d do here.   
  • You didn’t send a “thank you”.  Call it what you will.  Some hiring managers don’t care.  Some do.  Some make it a “mandatory”, while others are just a “nice to have”.  But, why not increase your chances by taking 2 minutes out of your day to email them?  Show them you want it!

Job searches are hard.  Some would say, interviews are harder.  They’re stressful, they put you in a position of vulnerability.  Approach your job search like you would any other tough situation in life — head on!   

Remember… head down, chin up!  

 

Agency Recruiters – Pros/Cons

I like to try to keep an open mind, in everything that I do.  This goes for my personal life and my professional one.  As a corporate recruiter, I’m strong to believe that having an in-house recruiter is the best way to go.  From a company’s perspective, though, it may not be what you need/want.

Below, I outline some pros and cons to using an agency to fill your open positions.

Pros.  Agencies … 

  • … are able to provide you with a wide array of candidates due to the network they’ve built out with their candidate pool
  • … can be hired on a contingency basis, meaning they are not paid until their candidate gets hired.
  • … often specialize.  Sales, admin, tech, etc.  If you have a certain need, there is an agency out there that can help you fill it.
  • … offer a company the “try before you buy” model.  No commitments made.

Cons.  Agencies …

  • … don’t understand your company or the culture you’re trying to build.
  • … can be expensive!  Let’s look at the two types of agency fee models.  Let’s take the contingency model as an example.  Contingency fees are usually 18-25% of a salary, paid on placement.  Assuming a 20% fee, on a 80k salary, that is 16k per placement.  If you have this agency fill ten roles, that’s $160k.  I’m positive you can find an in-house recruiter for less, and who will do more.
  • … are not just hiring for you.  They are hiring for a LOT of clients.  Never think that you are their priority.
  • … don’t give you a commitment.  Unlike in-house recruiters, agencies have no emotional ties to your company.

I leave you with this question:  What are you looking to get out of your recruiter?

Respect

I have to say it.  I hate it when I find the perfect passive candidate, who says they are selectively looking, who seemingly is perfect for the role I sought them out for, who said they were mutually excited to chat… falls off the face of the planet.  I get it, though.  I really do.  You may have spoken too soon, or now your boss loves you, or what if your boss finds out you’re interviewing!  I understand completely.  But,  if you’ve changed your mind about your job search, just tell me up front and honestly.  

“It’s not you, it’s me.”

You have to treat a job search like a relationship.  You don’t know what bridges you are burning, so keep everything nice and respectful.  You wouldn’t dump your girlfriend by completely ignoring her for a few weeks, right?  

Don’t answer that.

Whatever you do, be respectful of the recruiter’s time, and it will pay off in the end.  The recruiter at Company A (that you’re not so excited about) may end up being the recruiter for Company B (your dream job) some day.   We don’t forget names.  We don’t forget faces.  

We will forgive you if you say our company isn’t a right fit for you.  But, tell us that it isn’t the right fit for you.