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Candidates (and Clients!) Do the Darndest Things!

3.08.2011

During Mardi Gras, you can count on witnessing a myriad of oddities and unusual occurrences...since it's that time of year, we've decided to revisit some recent strange behaviors that we've seen from both clients and candidates alike...

· Though we counsel arriving slightly early for interviews, we don't advocate taking the same approach a recent candidate did. Upon arriving 30 minutes early to meet at a client's corporate headquarters, he decided to stretch his legs with a walk around the premises. It didn't occur to him, as he paused to occasionally fix his hair and adjust his tie in the building's reflective exterior, that the executives he would be meeting were on the other side of the glass, observing it all...to make matters worse, it was still possible to chart his progress after entering the building, as he left a clear set of muddy footprints on their newly laid carpet.

· The successful candidate was thrilled after accepting a newly created Vice President of Human Resources position with one of our clients - and the offer letter she received underscored that they were in sore need of her expertise. Opening with "You will be present on January 10 at precisely 8:00am in our main lobby," continuing with other painstakingly detailed, specific minutiae, and ending with an option to "Circle One: I Accept...or...I Decline" - she couldn't tell if she was being enlisted, or being asked to report to prison.

· Another client was meeting with two finalists for a marketing executive position on consecutive evenings. When one was delayed by a day due to snowstorms, our client made the snap decision (unbeknownst to us or the candidates) to meet with both candidates on the same evening, at the same restaurant, at the same table, at the same time. As it turned out, they all hit it off, our client hired both, and together they have led the company to record growth.

· When a Chief Operating Officer candidate for an ultra-high-growth startup announced that he was on his way to my city, San Diego, with his family for vacation, it seemed a perfect opportunity to meet. Though he had warned me that he hadn't packed a formal business suit, I expected a bit more than the board shorts, Hawaiian print shirt, and flip flops he showed up in. If those were the "dressiest" clothes he had brought, would have been interesting to see the most casual...

· We all value privacy, but taken too far this can come across as paranoia...one colleague found that in every email exchange with a candidate, she was prompted by auto-reply to complete (and re-complete, and re-complete...) a form or be blocked as an unauthorized sender. With the resultant delays, it would have been quicker mailing letters back and forth.

· Speaking of emails, we recently received one with the subject line "Exceptional Communicator." Hundreds of lines of single-spaced, 8-point font in the body of the email (sans resume) made us wonder whether he just had incredibly poor presentation skills, or was asking us to proof his autobiography.

· One final note regarding emails and exceptional communicators, while it is true that persistence often pays off, emailing an executive search professional several times a week, for months on end, while also sending e-cards for every minor holiday ("Happy Groundhog Day!"), is not a winning formula.

And in recognition of Fat Tuesday, it is worth mentioning that a dinner interview should be treated like any other professional meeting - not, as one apparently nutrient-deprived candidate did, as an occasion to down the entire pre-dinner bread selection, then a salad, appetizer, 18-ounce steak, and dessert...as amazing as it was to witness.

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