After more than two decades in the Executive Search
business, I have learned a lot about what goes into a
successful hire. I try to impart my knowledge to both hiring
managers and candidates. Nevertheless, at many job
interviews I find myself listening to questions that make me
cringe and answers that make me want to cry.
Now it's my turn to talk.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Burnt Bridges and Bad Blood

There are very few ways to offend a headhunter.  Over the years we recruiters develop rock-hard shells based on hearing multiple iterations of the word “no.”  Still, there are occasions when a potential candidate has behaved in such a fashion that I might choose not to work with him/her again.  And I can assure you that certain conduct during the recruiting/ interview process can cause hiring managers and human resources professionals to write off a candidate in perpetuity.  (Hiring managers and human resources professionals have long memories.)

Here are a few examples of interview/ job search misconduct that can do irreparable damage to a candidate’s future prospects with those involved.

1.     Initial rudeness.  Answer cold calls neutrally if not politely.  A recruiter or company representative may choose not to call a rude respondent again.  And the future role that you don’t hear about may be much more attractive to you than the role that you greeted with bad manners.

2.     Boredom or bad attitude during your interview.  Even if you decide early in your interview that a role is not for you, do not begin to look at your watch or yawn or otherwise demonstrate boredom.  Instead, finish out your interview with poise and graciousness and hope that the positive impression you make will benefit you in the future.  Acting bored in an interview is disrespectful to those who have spent time and effort making it happen.

3.     Dishonesty.  Lies and misrepresentations regarding your background and credentials will always be discovered and never be forgotten.

4.     Long, drawn-out indecision.  It is always hard to leave a secure position and chart a new course.  But dragging your potential employer through a lengthy hand-wringing process will lead to bad blood all around.  Vacillate all you want among your family and friends, but appear decisive among those involved in your hiring.  If you have serious reservations about a position, a quick “no” is a gift to all participants.

5.     Changing your mind after accepting a position.  When you accept a position, your employer becomes committed to you, utilizing employees and man hours to complete paperwork, make the necessary benefit arrangements, formalize your salary, prepare an office, etc.  When you renege on an offer acceptance, not only have you wasted the employer’s efforts, you have caused other interested interviewers to be released.  Plan that your name will live in infamy among all those involved in your hiring. 

When it comes to your career, a burnt bridge in your background might also require a fire extinguisher in your future.  The world can be very small sometimes.  Though you might not anticipate any future interaction with someone interviewing you today, at some point you might find that individual sitting across the desk from you at another interview with another company – or even worse, in a position as your superior.   Feel the sizzle.

1 comment:

  1. Bob,
    you are correct in your blog but I would also like to hear the story from the other side. The story of the cold recruiters or shall I say Headhunters who get in contact and can't get back even if it is a no, or terms discussed om the beginning end up in the forgotten where terms received for signing are not even near the initial determined. Chasing for the one shot.