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That Candidate Did What...?

8.31.2010

We received great responses from our first two "Candidates Do the Darndest Things" blogs - thus we've decided to take another look at some of our more interesting candidate experiences.

The executive search business is one of the best ways to meet and work with fascinating, high achieving individuals...however, there are also those meetings that leave you scratching your head in amazement...

  • At 6:05pm, when I phoned the cell of the candidate I was scheduled to meet to check on his whereabouts, I appreciated that he promptly answered. However, I didn't appreciate his response: "I'm in the restroom and will meet you in the lobby shortly." Note for the future - just let the call go to voicemail. And in case you were wondering, we skipped the handshake.
  • Another candidate must have had my number saved for one-touch dialing - a fact I deduced after he left three accidental voicemails in three days. I understand trying to provide a "complete picture" of one's candidacy, but 10 minute messages of the candidate picking his kids up from school, taking the dog to the vet, and debating where to go out for dinner was a little much.
  • Starbucks continues to push the envelope with blended coffee-related drinks (one of my colleagues has a standard beverage order that  wouldn't fit in a "tweet"). Though I'm still a regular joe when it comes to a grande bold, I appreciate that others might have more sophisticated tastes. I also think it is fine for a candidate to bring their own take-out coffee to an early morning meeting. However, when one candidate showed up with what appeared to be an ice cream sundae (complete with towering whipped cream), I had to question that person's judgment. Good rule of thumb - if you have to "drink" your coffee with a spoon, it's not a breakfast beverage, it's dessert.
  • While it's certainly important to take notes during a meeting, it's equally important to engage with the other person...unlike one particular candidate, who in a herculean display appeared to furiously transcribe every single word I spoke, verbatim, head buried in her  notebook while peppering me with convoluted questions. Had she been interviewing for a stenographer position, she would have knocked it out of the park.
  • And speaking of writing, while the vast majority of people send a post-meeting thank you via email, occasionally we still get a handwritten note card. My penmanship has definitely deteriorated over the years but not nearly as bad as one card written out at a 45 degree angle, apparently while the author was riding the subway or perhaps during an earthquake...

One final note as summertime comes to a close, regarding sunglasses. While one doesn't need to sport the latest Gucci or Armani designs, the same professional considerations should be taken into account as with a suit, shoes, or any other apparel item. When a candidate arrived with a pair of luminously fluorescent specs that almost certainly started life as the prize from a Happy Meal, it was a rocky first impression. It's never a winning situation when your choice of fashion accessory is the most significant "takeaway" from a meeting.

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