Candidate Leaving You“It’s not you, it’s me.”

Everything seemed like it was going great. Your star candidate was head-over-heels for the new job opportunity. They talked with you about their long term career goals and you got to hear about their kids’ basketball games and ballet recitals. The stars were aligned and there was recruitment romance in the air.

But then…

Somewhere, somehow, the relationship started to slide. The candidate started showed less interest in going on interviews, and eventually stopped taking your calls. You hear three months later that they got another job and didn’t even tell you. Maybe the signs were there all along…

1) Bad Listener: You call the candidate to work out some details. They can’t remember what you last talked about. Was it THIS job, or THAT job? Chances are they’ve been seeing someone else – another recruiter with other positions lined up and they’re having trouble keeping track. Look not only for consistency and accuracy, but proactive questions, i.e, not “Where is my interview,” but “Should I bring up the fact that I’m currently unemployed?” You want not only attention and accuracy, but a strong sense of dedication and urgency.

2) Never calls, never writes: Sure, I’ll get back to you, they say…let’s talk later. You’re experiencing some serious communication breakdown and your candidate is trying hard not to fix the problem. Demand accountability from candidates that don’t return your communication in a timely manner. A day between calls is too long for someone interested in a job.

3) Never wants to go out anymore: Your candidate is too busy for that interview, or turns down a job because it’s too far away. They start scheduling interviews out two weeks in advance. Were they ever serious at all…or just wasting everyone’s time?

4) No respect: Try building a relationship with someone who calls you up shouting or making demands. If your candidate is rude, they don’t care, and wouldn’t think twice about not being honest or not showing up for an interview. Remember that they may treat hiring managers well during an interview, but the way they treat you is closer to their real personality.

5) Lies, more lies: The answers to their profile inconsistencies don’t add up. Suspicions arise about time-gaps, work history, their overall character. If a candidate seems sneaky, there’s a very good chance they might be here today, gone tomorrow. Don’t accept inconsistencies whatsoever or encourage them to tailor their resume. If they follow this kind of behavior, drop them out of the running as soon as possible.

After you spend a lot of time in recruiting, you’ll spot it a mile away from candidates. Any small excuse, misinformation, or deceit will set off an alarm in your head. Those who are gifted at reading people will have an easier time determining a good lead. But if you ask the right questions and demand accountability from the onset, it’s possible to determine a candidate’s motives and integrity through calculated conversation.

The thing about recruiting is that it’s easier to spot poor candidate behavior than it is to do anything about it. Seasoned recruiters don’t waste their time with games. The trick is to not accept it – have high expectations for any candidate (and hiring manager) that you deal with. It may save you some trouble – and a broken recruiting heart.

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