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Ignoring recruiters, urgency and radio silence in the job interview process

ignoring recruiters

Your radio silence is a sign, and the clock is ticking.

Ignoring recruiters, candidates going dark

Don’t ignore recruiters.  If you are interviewing with a company for a job, it is imperative that you respond to the recruiter in a timely manner throughout the entire process. 

As a person that is reaching out to candidates, I know that HR has a reputation for not returning phone calls, not updating candidates, and leaving the impression that the company doesn’t give a crap about the candidate experience. I get that.

As a representative of the company, if I provide a bad candidate experience, I should not expect the candidate to be thrilled to be working with our company.  The candidate experience is an indication of what is behind the company curtain, just like bathrooms in a restaurant.  If the most visible place in a restaurant (the place we take care of No. 2) is not clean, what does the area we do not see (where the food is prepared) look like?

First impress

If our first experience as a candidate is poor, we can only draw the conclusion that the rest of the company experiences are going to be poor.       

As often as I hear the complaint that the HR house is dirty, you would be surprised how often candidates ignore recruiters during an interview process. Below are a couple of examples of radio silence that will leave a bad impression on your hiring manager or recruiter.    

Although this happens with all demographics, the phenomenon of ignoring recruiters occurs with Millennia’s on a regular basis. I want to share it here because my theory is that this comes from a lack of experience when it comes to networking.  I doubt it is on purpose.

Ignoring recruiters scenario 1.  Millennia’s

I receive an internal referral from an employee on a connection of theirs that happens to be a Millennial aged candidate.  As a recruiter, I really appreciate internal referrals. The employee making the referral knows what the company wants and most employees will not put their name on a candidate unless they believe they will be successful. I try to do a couple of things when reaching out to this referral. 

  • Let them know that the employee that referred them is a great employee and knows what success at Acme Publishing looks like.
  • Let them know that I have heard nothing but great things about the candidate.
  • Explain that we would love the opportunity to buy that person coffee and see if there is a fit.  If we don’t have a fit, maybe we know someone who does.
  • Leave 5 ways to contact me including personal cell, and how many lanterns means by land, and how many in interpreted to mean “by sea”.
  • Let the referring employee know that I reached out to their candidate. 

Don’t hear anything

In other words, I am trying to take all of the guesswork out of this process for the referred candidate. Regardless of how intimidating my Darth Vadar-esque presence is, they should have NO insecurities about reaching out. It surprises me how often it will take days and in some cases weeks for someone to just respond to my initial email.  Just as often, I don’t hear anything. Nada, zip, zero. When I do hear back, it is obviously at their convenience because there is always an “explanation” why it took so long. The presence of an explanation tells me they know they took too long to respond. 

Three quick thoughts    

  • It boggles my mind
  • It makes the person that referred the candidate look bad. They vouched for the candidate and right out of the gate the reflection back is a lack of courtesy.   
  • It makes me wonder how timely they will respond to our customers if hired.

If a company reaches out to you because someone you know is recommending us as a candidate, we need to show some discipline and more importantly, show some courtesy and respond in a timely manner. Candidates that are slow to respond are rarely hired. Candidates that ignore recruiters are ignored back. (Yes, passive aggressive I know.) 

Radio Silence scenario number 2: I make an offer and the candidate ignores recruiter.

  • In the process of working with a candidate through an interview loop, usually at the very beginning of the cycle, candidates call back immediately. Communication is not only timely, communication is easy. With today’s technology, we can respond to a recruiter for from our phones, while in line at Starbucks!   
  • Early in the loop, candidates are literally anticipating my questions and answering everything they can in an effort to speed up the process. 

Radio silence is usually an indication of cold feet

  • The offer wasn’t strong enough in their mind, which is a pisser because we always try to agree the financial requirement needed to join the company. (If you gave me salary range requirements $40-$50K, I heard the lower number).   
  • Your significant-other got cold feet and like Mr. Freeze turned you to ice. 
  • The current employer gave you a counter offer. (Which is also a pisser because we review what the conversation is going to be like with the current employer when the notice is turned in and how to explain the move in a way that is usually foolproof)
  • The candidate is lazy. They got to the goal line, received the offer and now feel like there is no urgency. Until your butt is in the seat, there is urgency. This is generally an indication in the companies mind on how you are going to treat our customers so we will start to consider retracting the offer.    

Shows over, move along

As soon as we start receiving radio silence, mentally and emotionally, I have moved on. If I receive radio silence after I throw down an, I go into Club Mode. Think of your classic scene in a club where a guy asks a girl to dance. We have all seen this one play out. 

Our recruiter asks our candidate to the Big Dance. “Hey, you are so beautiful (qualified), you want to dance (you want a job)”?  If I get the silent treatment, if I am ignored, like anyone I will feel rejected and embarrassed so I come back hard.  “Well f#$% you then, you were ugly anyway”.  Moving forward, I don’t just get ugly, I get dirty-ugly. 

I am no dumbass

I can’t take a chance on the candidate dragging out the process and then NOT accepting the offer. The hiring manager will look to HR for an explanation. I don’t want to look like the dumbass that couldn’t anticipate this scenario. The way I can lessen the damage to my reputation is by being pro active and reporting to the hiring manager:

“I haven’t heard back from the candidate we gave the offer to, so I have started looking at new candidates and just renewed the job posting.”

Lookin’ out

I gotta look out for number one here. And just to be clear, I am number 1, and the hiring manager is number 2. Make no mistake, the candidate is number 3. You have heard of women and children first? Step aside, child coming through. I am not going down because of an unknown commodity that didn’t have the courtesy or guts to simply give us a heads-up. “HRNasty, I am really interested in your company, but I think I am going to get a compelling offer from someone else. Can I have 2 extra days”?  Or “Nasty, hey, you had a compelling offer, but like I mentioned in the interview, I was also talking with Acme Printing.  They gave me an offer and I am going to go to Acme”.

If you want to string out the process, please do not think that I have forgotten about your offer or your buddy that put your name in the hat. If you are an internal referral or have received an offer, until I get some closure, you are all I am thinking and worrying about. 

See you at the after party,


nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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