Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Adventures In Recruiting: The Case of the Two Timing Candidate

Recruiting is a tough business because we often deal with things out of our control – like people.  They do and say inconceivable things.  Every recruiter has stories like this one.  But I thought my readers would enjoy the insanity we sometimes have to cope with.

Once upon a time, there was a financial person from a major agency who was very unhappy.  He came to see me and I liked him very much.

A few months later, I had a great job for him.  One which had all the elements he was looking for – chance for advancement, chance to build a department under him, great potential with a wonderful boss.  After a couple of weeks interviewing, he was told he would be hired; all that had to happen was to agree to terms and then get a formal offer letter. This was the second week week in January.  During the several weeks while he was interviewing, he was responsive and returned calls and emails immediately.

He agreed to the base salary and then was going to be sent the remaining terms (vacation, bonus, etc.) All of a sudden he fell silent.  He did not respond to the terms letter. He did not return my calls or those of my client either.  After trying to reach him for two weeks, I called his home and spoke to his wife.  He called me the next morning with a long story about an ailing friend who he was close to and would need to take care of while this person was in hospice.  He was obviously distraught.  This was the first week of February.  I found it strange that two weeks had gone by with no contract, but I rationalized that it was this situation with his good friend. He asked if he could start the job on April 1st so that he had time to wrap up this business..  We agreed.

He spoke to my client as well and confirmed that he wanted the job and had asked for a week to read the terms and promised to get back to us.

Then he disappeared completely.

He never answered calls from me or my client.  He never answered emails.  Clearly, they had caller I.D. and they did not pick up when I called his home.  At first we were actually concerned about him since he was beside himself over his friend when we last spoke to him.  We thought that perhaps he had a breakdown of some sort.  The month of February went by with not one word from him.    After three weeks of complete silence, which included many unanswered emails and calls to his personal, work and home phones.  The client and I agreed that we had no choice but to withdraw the offer.  My client needed to fill this position and my candidate's actions indicated that he might be unreliable.  Even in crisis, most people find a way to communicate.  

We have now found another candidate and that is progressing smoothly.  

I remained curious about what happened to my candidate.  For me, there was an inexplicable void.  Then, last week, I looked up my candidate on LinkedIn.  And what did I find?  My candidate had actually started a different job in January (yes, January), long before any of this had happened, despite confirming his acceptance to us in early February.  What I think happened is that the story about the friend in hospice was true and he did take off from work to tend to his friend for a month. But what he was apparently doing was keeping us holding as a backup in case his new company decided to fire him since he had only been there a week or so when he took off for a month.
Incredibly rude and odd.  All he had to do was call or email a simple note saying that circumstances changed and he had accepted another job.  But instead, he chose to be silent and ignore myself and my client leaving us in a total lurch.

It still surprises me that someone who seems so nice, gets good references and is really smart and talented can have such low moral character.  His actions were inexcusable. And I am still scratching my head.

You can’t make this stuff up.


  1. Contemporary culture does woefully too little to reinforce basic values of character and integrity. Nike's recent Tiger Woods ad ("Winning takes care of everything") is emblematic of our shameless priorities.

  2. I agree with your premise, Mark. I have always applauded Nike for staying with Tiger; they are the better for it. Although I haven't yet seen this particular Tiger commercial so I won't comment about it until I have.


I would welcome your comments, suggestions or anything you would like to share with me or my readers.

Creative Commons License