Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Adventures In Recruiting: The Candidate Who Said Too Much

A few years ago I had an assignment to find a head of planning for the New York office of a major international ad agency.  I had found a wonderful candidate for this job.  He had great credentials to run a department.  His candidacy had progressed to the point where the General Manager had said to him, “You will be getting an offer by the end of the week.”

That is when the fun began.

During his interviewing, he had met all the department heads as well as all the agency principals.  The day that the GM made the declaration to him, a newly hired department head called him and said, “Since we will be working together, I would like to get to know you better.  Can we have breakfast?”  An arrangement to meet was made for the next day.

The breakfast started at 8:30 and lasted all morning.  They had a vigorous exchange of ideas.  The planner laid out his thoughts for growing the company and its accounts going forward.  They were in complete agreement as to what needed to be done.  My candidate’s comment to me after the breakfast what that he loved her and that, “She is the real deal.”

That’s what everyone thought.

But then a strange thing happened.  I could get no feedback on the breakfast.  The department head did not return my calls.  The week went by and the offer did not come.  The General Manager, who was my friend could not determine what was going on either.  

Then on Monday of the next week  I got a call from the General Manager.  He was perplexed when he told me that the department head had been promoted and had now become, in addition to her existing job, the head of planning. He confessed that he thought it was odd, since she was only there about six weeks and had no credentials in planning.  The CEO told him they were not going to hire my candidate. 


Here is what happened. It took several months to find out.  It seems that immediately after the long breakfast, this woman, actually a snake, went to the CEO and made a play for the position saying that they could save money by making her the head of planning, in addition to her existing job.  She told the CEO that she had been giving the planning job a lot of thought and had ideas for growing and improving the department. She proceeded to lay out everything my candidate had told her as her idea.  Step by step, she explained his ideas as hers - everything she had been told at the breakfast.  It was indeed a good plan for the department and for their clients. The coupe de grace was when she told the CEO that they could save his huge salary and she would take on both jobs at no increase for herself.  The CEO was so impressed that he gave her the position, despite the fact that, while she had been exposed to planning, she had never been a planner. 

This was like a scene out of a bad movie.

The word I got over time is that she was terrible and had no idea what she was doing.  Not surprisingly, a few months later, there was a new CEO.  He quickly determined that the head of planning was a fraud and fired her.  But it was too late for my candidate who had long since moved on.

You can’t make this stuff up.


  1. It's sad to think that senior management would put such blind faith in a brand new employee, but in my experience people like this are a constant problem. The trick is to be able to survive them. Fortunately, she imploded. And I'm sure it's not the first time.

    1. Indeed, my subsequent research showed that she had a history of doing awful things. Turns out she is one of the very few people who has ever called me and I refused to see her. My way of getting even.

  2. Wow. CEO was the one really to blame, how did he buy that story?

    1. The CEO was a true idiot. When he was terminated, it happened very unceremoniously and quickly.

  3. If the evil manager and the CEO were such goofs how did they get their jobs?

    1. Well, neither of them lasted too long but were there long enough to do damage.


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