Recruiter Etiquette 101

I was booked on an early flight this morning. Trouble is, I live about an hour or so away from the airport… so that meant a 4:30am start for me. No biggie. I made it with time to spare… and was milling around the gate with other commuters…

It was about 30 minutes before boarding, and then came the dreaded voice over the PA.

‘This is an announcement for passengers on Flight VA809 to Brisbane…’

Uh oh.’ I thought.

flight delay1‘There will be a slight delay in boarding the flight as we are waiting for the First Officer. Our new expected departure time is 7:15am.’

Not so bad… just a 15 minute delay, and hey everyone gets caught in traffic once in their life…

30 minutes later…

‘This is an announcement for passengers on Flight VA809 to Brisbane…’

Uh oh.’ I thought… again.

‘We are still waiting for our First Officer. Our new departure time will be 8am.’

You are effing kidding me!’ I thought.

‘You are effing kidding me?’ The lady sporting the Louis Vuitton carry-on next to me complained.

OK, so now we are an hour late. I quickly email my client in Brisbane that I may be a little late for our meeting. Update Twitter™ with my sorry tale and grab a newspaper…

‘This is an announcement for passengers on Flight VA809 to Brisbane…’

Uh oh.’ I thought. Are you seeing the pattern?

‘Due to a crew change we have a new expected departure time of 8:45am. Please stay close to the departure gate for further announcements…’

Riiiight… a crew change… Read old mate First Officer is so hung over he failed the pre-boarding breathalyser…

I hate to think what the lady sporting the Luis Vuitton carry-on was saying now… Wait a minute… I can hear her from over the other side of the departure lounge…

‘90 effing minute delay and not even an effing apology! Think they would’ve held up the effing plane if I was late?! This is an effing disgrace! I want to speak to someone in charge! NOW!!!’

flight delay2Fair play to her I say. I mean, we all made the effort to get here ahead of time… we were prepared… we were patient about the first delay… even the second… to an extent… not so much the third. But the point is there was no apology whatsoever… and only 3 updates in 90 minutes.

I’m sorry, but that is shit customer service.

Which segues me beautifully into today’s post. I have read countless blogs on tardy candidates… hell I’ve written a couple, but let’s just for today hold up the mirror to our ourselves…

Put your hand up if you have never kept a candidate waiting in reception. Not you Luke… I know you’re perfect… and no… there’s no prize… But seriously, it’s just common decency isn’t it?

After all, we’re asking our candidates to come and meet us in an environment totally alien and intimidating to them. We expect a level of preparation, promptness, and an appropriate appearance. We are going to ask them uncomfortable questions about their work history, skills, personality and motivation. We are going to appraise them in a very short space of time on their suitability to what may very well be their dream job… it’s bloody scary… just like flying.

When was the last time you were a candidate? Remember the nervousness, the concern about your coffee breath, the sweaty palms – that no matter how many times you rubbed them on your pants – they got sweatier? (PS. my word of the week is sweatier… see how you can fashion it into a conversation with colleagues, bosses, strangers… go.).

You absolutely dreaded the interviewer coming, because you didn’t want to shake hands with sweaty palms that were only becoming sweatier (see I used it again…), and being judged. Not nice is it?

So, my very simple piece of advice to all recruiters is:

Don’t be an arse. Don’t keep your candidates waiting in reception… It’s not cool… it’s rude. Get the interview off to a great start. Help the candidate feel comfortable… not angry. And if for any reason you are held up, offer a sincere apology.

Unlike @VirginAustralia whoops… did I say that out loud?

Craig Watson



6 thoughts on “Recruiter Etiquette 101

  1. Michelle Ackland on Reply

    I think as recruiters we also need to realise that people/candidates have lives and careers and although they may be keen to move into another role not everything goes to plan and sometimes they will be late or sick or just can’t make the interview and as consultant’s we need to manage this and work with them not huff and puff about them being late.

    Speaking from experience being late to an interview is the worse feeling, we are all adults and am sure we weren’t late because we were off buying new shoes, so have some empathy and don’t make the person feel like they have to offer you their first born to make up for it.

  2. Barksdale on Reply

    Completely agree – I’ve worked with numerous consultants and managers who leave candidates (including potential recruitment consultants) in an empty interview room for 30 minutes or more. Its a old school power trip which managers use to make the applicant think that there time is worth more than yours. It may have worked pre Britpop but comes across as weird in 2014.

  3. Anne-Marie Orrock (@amorrock) on Reply

    I must admit I have played ‘pay back’ as an HR Director to visiting recruiters vying for my business and let them hang in reception for….ah as long as I freakin’-well-feel-like because this reputation with recruiters is so bad. However I didn’t feel as stung as recently when in a lawyers office I was waiting for 20 minutes. At $650 per hour you do the math. A very expensive wait on my time.

  4. Ross Clennett, (@rossclennett) on Reply

    I agree, Craig about the lack of apology. I am a regular Virgin flyer, and have been since they started in Australia. They cancelled a flight to Hobart when I flew there last month. I was at the gate for the next Hobart flight (2 hours later) for about 30 mins and during all the gate announcements there wasn’t single acknowledgement or apology for the earlier cancelled (no reason given) flight. It’s simply not good enough.

  5. suhas katti on Reply

    This happens quite often out here; where often the candidates are kept waiting at the client’s reception area; just ‘coz the interviewer is busy with other matters; despite the meeting being confirmed well in advance ! Quite often as a agency recruiter; i get calls from candidates who threaten to walk out since they have been kept waiting in excess of 30 – 45 minutes or more.. People need to respect other person’s time!! suhas katti

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