19 Jul 2018

Dangerous Peers

My blog subjects are always real life situations that have inspired (?) me to share with my audience and I hope, in some small way, to de-bunk the myth that getting a job is hard work.  I often joke with friends and family that recruitment isn't rocket science - and it's not. However, it does take us back to the basics and core principles of, well, life.  Manners, Enthusiasm, Professional attitude, friendliness, an engaging manner, a smart and well turned out appearance - these are all the things that 'get' you the job.  Most employers are not looking for anything unheard of or uncomplicated....but they do want to get the basics right.

Anyway. I digress. The 'case study' that I wanted to share today is a bit of a double edged one.  I had a brilliant candidate in for an interview with a top agency in the region.  I do know this candidate and I know the client well too, particularly the hiring manager.   There was an initial chat, then a formal first stage interview and then a final stage interview with a presentation.  The client had mentioned a couple of times that they couldn't gauge how 'keen' the candidate was.  He felt that he was 'selling' the business to the candidate with not so much in return.  However, the candidate technically did nothing wrong and there was a good match with the skills and they would compliment the existing skills within that team.  

The client offered the role to the candidate and this is where both I and the client started to get a few real warning signs.   Usually, when a candidate is offered a new role, they are pretty happy - whilst I don't expect hysteria, the usual reactions are positive ones, a whoop or a sigh of relief at least.  In this case, there was nothing more than 'I'll need to have a think'.  Which is fine....Normal practice is to ask for the offer in writing and that can buy some thinking time whilst you see the details in black and white.  But the candidate didn't seem that bothered about getting the offer in writing.  We were negotiating on the money so I think in fairness, we all wanted to get that right before talking about pensions and healthcare.   The client met the candidate again informally to chat things through but at this point, they were starting to question things a little.  After four meetings, there does, at some point, need to be a decision.  A week later, it came.  The candidate declined the offer.

OK.  Fine.  This happens.  Part of the wonderful world of recruitment is that sometimes people decide to sit tight, take different roles, leave the industry etc.  But it's always frustrating if you can't fathom why someone declines a role.  After all, this was a great agency, great clients, a great opportunity for the candidate - genuinely I couldn't see why they didn't want it.  They'd pushed hard on the money and the client hadn't given them what they wanted - but it was a strong offer and would give the candidate a lot more exposure and challenges than they currently had.  So I scratched my head.  What could/should I have done differently?

It turns out that the answer is that it wasn't in my control.  The candidate had done what they referred to as their 'due diligence' and talked to 'people in the industry' that they knew and some 'friends' and people who had 'worked with other people in the agency'.  One person had said something that put the candidate off the job and the agency.

The day after the decline, the candidate had a change of heart.  To cut a long story shot, I went back to the client to see if they would re-consider. However, the damage was done.  The client had a 'back-up' candidate who really did want the job and who wasted no time in enthusiastically accepting the offer.   The original candidate admitted that someone had 'poisoned' their mind a little and that was the main reason they declined the role.

My tips....

1.  Show enthusiasm during interviews.  The client in this situation had time to analyse the previous interviews and thought that the candidate enthusiasm was lacking.  This was the main reason they wouldn't re-consider the offer.
2. Be honest with your recruiter if you have any reservations about an offer.  A good recruiter will be objective.
3. Yes, do your own due diligence.  But if peers are negative in the extreme, perhaps question why that might be.  Are they being objective?
4.  Trust your own instinct.  What vibe do you get for the agency and the Hiring Manager?
5.  Don't turn down a job offer until you are ABSOLUTELY sure you don't want the job!

It's natural that we'd want to ask peers and colleagues for recommendations and feedback on other businesses and people. However, keep an open mind and really question it if someone is hugely negative.  You need to quantify any negativity that comes from other sources and balance it out against all the things that you do know for fact!