December 14, 2011

How to Deal With the BBOC – Big Bully on Campus

Big Mean DogIf you thought that bullies were just for school yards, you would be wrong!  Unfortunately, once those bullies grow up and get jobs in the real world they continue their bullying ways.  If they work as “line” employees, it doesn’t seriously affect the recruiting staff… but what if they get promoted to be a manager or make their way into the boardroom?  Some companies promote these bully types out of desperation thinking that the BBOC will produce better results by driving their people harder.

As recruiters, we know that the perfect storm is “The New Manager With a Propensity to Be a Big Bully.”  We fear for our applicants lives.  We wake up in cold sweats with visions of our perfect candidates running out of the interview room in tears, never to come back.  We’ve all sat on the phone with a candidate who has been in an interview with the BBOC and they all say the same thing. “I wouldn’t work for that guy if you paid me twice what they’re offering!” “He should be fired for treating me that way in an interview!”  “Why didn’t you warn me that he was going to act like a complete jerk?”  “Who does she think she is telling me, I’m not really ‘convincing’ her that I’m the right candidate?”

What can we say when that happens?  “I’m sorry” just isn’t enough.  These candidates will never give you another shot, they will bad mouth your company, and forget about getting any referrals.  Many recruiters would just stomp their feet in the sand and just refuse to work on the open job requirements of the bully.

I recommend going back to some childhood lessons and deal with the bully head on.

First, stand up to the bully.  When you receive feedback from a candidate about how they were treated.  Schedule a 20 minute meeting with the BBOC  and go over both his feedback and the candidates feedback.  Two things can happen here.  1) The BBOC wants to hire the candidate or 2) The BBOC knows the candidate won’t accept and just writes them off as being weak and proceeds to give you weak feedback on the candidate.

If they want to hire the candidate:  This is where you get to stand up to the BBOC and let them know that because of their bullying ways the candidate told you to go take a hike.  Specifically let the BBOC know that the candidates feedback about the interview was entirely opposite of theirs and that he or she would be surprised to know that an offer was going to be extended.  You must let the BBOC know that you will not be able to extend an offer specifically because of how they were treated during the interview.  Be specific about the language, tone, posture, accusations, and questions that the candidate shared with you and directly tell the BBOC that that interview style is not supported at this company.  Let him know that you respect his ability to manage his own team but for the sake of recruiting, he needs to adopt the company protocols as it relates to interviewing techniques.

You can kind of side with him so that you don’t totally alienate him from working with you.  But, at the same time, you must be firm on company supported interviewing techniques.

If the BBOC gives you weak feedback on the candidate and does not want to hire him or her:  This is where you need to be thoroughly prepared to defend your candidates qualifications and your reasoning for putting them in front of the BBOC to begin with.  Ask specific questions to find out if in fact the BBOC was able to see the skills and abilities that the candidate had.   Don’t end up arguing with the BBOC over the quality of the candidate, you can get on their side by agreeing that maybe they weren’t the best fit.  However, you will need to stand up for your candidates feelings about the interview process and be firm with the BBOC that regardless of skills or ability a professional interview is expected at all times.  Give him 2 or 3 walk away techniques if he truly doesn’t feel the candidate is qualified and doesn’t want to waste his time.

With BBOC’s some other appropriate advice is to make sure that he or she phone screens their candidates ahead of time.  Once they have some skin in the game with the candidate they are likely to treat them better.  Also, show the BBOC how much it’s costing to keep the position open in lost productivity and other recruiting costs.

If all of this doesn’t work, then you have to tell your parents and teachers about the big bully – tell your boss about the bully and make sure he documents everything in order to protect you. You don’t want his destructive behavior coming back to you or even worse, has his behavior perceived as a standard operating procedure of your company. In short, the only way to beat a bully is to stand up to them. Don’t let them kick you around and kill the opportunities that you work so hard to develop.

Read more in Interview Techniques

Marie is a writer for covering career advice, recruitment topics, and HR issues. She has an educational background in languages and literature as well as corporate experience in Human Resources.