If I had a dollar for every time a candidate said…

You know it… you’ve been in recruitment long enough to have heard it all before right? In fact, absolutely nothing surprises you anymore… not even when the candidate tells you that their house burnt down… just as they were leaving to go to interview with your client… and they will have to cancel… only to see them check in on Facebook™ 37 minutes later at a beach 2 hours out of town. You shake your head with a frustrated mix of contempt and jealousy. After all, it’s stinking hot outside and you wish you were at the beach, instead of having to call your client who has flown in specifically to meet with your candidate… Ahhhhh a day in the life of a recruiter!

dollar1But… what about those excuses, justifications and outright lies that keep on repeating themselves? You know, the ones that you have heard ad nauseam… weekly… since you began your illustrious career in the most noble of professions… The ones where – no doubt – your candidate is smugly high fiving him or herself, nodding in the mirror and whispering ‘God I’m good… I’ve fooled them with that one!’

Well… ummmm… you’re not actually that good. You’re actually a twat who doesn’t have the decency to be honest with the person trying to source you the next step in your career. You’re actually an A-grade flog who has just been blacklisted by your recruiter for being wasting their time and making them look stupid in the eyes of their client. You are really just a selfish bastard that doesn’t value anyone’s time but your own and probably believes the world owes you a living… Yep… that little rant makes me feel a whole lot better…

I have noticed – as I’m sure you have – that there are a few of these reasons excuses that are very common. And for the benefit of those new to our industry I think it’s worthwhile to list a few of them here… so here goes…

  1. The Family Funeral – ‘Ok…’ I hear you say, ‘hold on there a minute Craig. Don’t disrespect candidates for having to attend a family funeral. That’s just not fair.’ Well… I take your admonishment on board… I really do… but ask yourself this question. Why does this reason excuse always seem to present itself half an hour before the interview, or when they have already missed the interview and you are following up? Wouldn’t the candidate have known… 1… even 2 days beforehand? If you are telling the truth, let the recruiter know in advance… please. I had a candidate once who… over a 3 year period… attended his grand mother’s funeral 5 times… now there’s a woman with amazing powers of recovery.
  2. The Cancelled Train – Totally unacceptable and I’ll tell you why. If you are serious about attending an interview you build travel problems into the equation. No recruiter… no possible employer… no-one should accept that as a reason for not attending an interview. It smacks of irresponsibility…
  3. The Sick Child – Really? You inform us half an hour before an interview that you can’t come because your child is sick and you have no-one to care for them? It happens…child illness… I know… I have children… but it just doesn’t happen 30 minutes before your interview… or if it does, not as often as it is being used as a reason excuse.

dollar2Above are just some of the excuses candidates use when they have no intention of attending an interview. It makes me angry (as you’ve probably worked out), because there are genuine candidates out there, who have real reasons for not being able to attend an interview. Reasons that we should empathise with and support them through. Unfortunately, the selfish liars out there add to our mounting levels of cynicism and leave recruiters feeling wary.

By far the worst example is The No-Show… who avoids phone calls and emails when we look for answers… but don’t even get me started about them… no don’t… I’m warning you…

If you’ve got examples of repeat-offender excuses we’d love to hear them. Maybe we can get them published as part of every new recruiter’s induction program?

In the meantime, we are 2 weeks away from announcing some very, very exciting news! Well for us anyway… make sure you look out for it!

Craig Watson

9 thoughts on “If I had a dollar for every time a candidate said…”

  1. The positive aspect to these candidate excuses is that you don’t end up placing these people with questionable ethics/behaviours with your valued clients (I hope).

  2. The car breakdown/accident/flat tyre/lost keys is a frequent one….and I have a particularly direct email template I use to send to candidates in the ‘no show – no communication – no apology’ category. It observes basic human decency, manners, honesty and integrity not demonstrated in their actions……I’m with you……don’t get me started!

  3. Another good read and all too familiar. In saying that though in a lot of cases I think if we are 100% honest with ourselves we could have prevented these things happening with more thorough screening……..be it a longer more in depth interview, more thorough referencing, building up a better relationship and trust with the candidate or going with our gut when something just doesn’t add up with them. I totally understand that these things do happen even to the best recruiters out there and have happened to me on numerous occasions over the years. I just think that on lot of occasions if we ask ourselves “could that have been prevented?” or “did I see that coming?” I think the answer would be yes in a lot of cases. It’s far too easy for recruiters to blame the candidate when there are lessons to be learnt from these scenarios. After all we are happy to take the glory for placing good candidates so we need to take the wrap for the bad ones/ no-shows etc

    I really hope all my interviews turn up today after that little rant!!

  4. I did have a candidate say he was stopped by Jack the Ripper, but this was in 2012…. perhaps JR got out !!! P.S. He didn’t get a re-schedule and I saved on a rebate period – Enjoy the sunshine fellow Aussies

  5. I had a candidate that told me over the phone he was let go for being late everyday. He told me he has learnt his lesson so I gave him the benefit of the doubt and scheduled to meet him. 10 minutes before his interview with me he told me he was going to be late because his car got towed and was waiting for a cab to arrive. I told him I would call him back with a new time. He will be waiting a long time for my call.

  6. Boy, this is astounding! Not being in the recruiting/HR sector, I find it absolutely amazing that people think it an acceptable business practice to soil their own nests in such a manner. I know I shouldn’t be surprised. People regularly find ever more imaginative ways to sabotage themselves and, in the process, the efforts of others. But how candidates could display such an arrogant, ignorant attitude towards both those assisting with new roles AND those with whom they’d potentially be working (or rather probably won’t be) is hard to fathom.

    At the same time, this article is incredibly ironic. As one who is actively searching the market for a new role and that next direction, recent trends that have appeared in the recruiting sector would seem to mirror the cavalier attitude of candidates. Now, I am aware that there are huge numbers of applicants for each new role but the comparatively new practice of not responding in any way, shape, or form is more than disconcerting and certainly transmits at best an ambiguous message back to candidates. Whilst those automated responses are probably less than anyone wants to either send or received, no one expects a “War and Peace” like reply or a warm and fuzzy, “touched above the elbow”, personalised message on scented paper. But it would be nice, convenient, polite, perhaps even business like to receive something indicating that an application has been received and/or a notification that a role has been filled (assuming of course, that it is not you who has been lucky/successful enough to fill the role!). It seems now to be acceptable more often for either or both of these simple automated messages to be neglected. This seems to be the case both for some recruiters, certainly not all, and some employers, again not all. But that this neglect of basic communication has become an acceptable method of conducting any business activity by candidates, recruiters, or employers, is disappointing, inconvenient, and discourteous.

    Any business activity involves at least 2 parties and each of us needs to take full responsibility for and ownership of our 50% of that relationship.

  7. To be honest my candidates don’t miss interviews. Of course all my interviews are done by Skype or phone which does make it easier but even when I was working in conventional recruitment I don’t think I ever got any ridiculous excuses. My advice would be thoroughly screen your candidates and don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions. Also, aim to work with more executive prestigious clients/ candidates and you can avoid some of these time wasters

  8. I totally agree with you, Craig. Just want to add one more lame excuse from the candidates for not attending their scheduled interviews, one of the most common excuses I heard was “I had to attend a sudden important meeting with my boss…”

    I normally gave them another chance, but if I heard another excuse (or worst, same excuse) from them, I would have an excuse to give them NO chance. Welcome to my blacklist name of candidates!

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