Recruiters…give thanks to the crazy, weird and odd…

crazy-peeps3After writing a blog a week for the last couple of years, you might have thought that by now we would have run out of recruitment stuff to talk about. It often feels like that. But, just when you think that you have exhausted every topic, the wonderful world of recruitment has an uncanny knack of presenting you with inspiration in the form of comedy gold, annoyance, general stupidity or a combination of all three…

I had a call last night from a friend of mine; lets call him Tony DeMarvellous. Tony has recently been looking for a new job. After a couple of rounds of interviews with a company, and apparently having been identified as the favoured candidate, he was asked to attend ‘some basic psych testing’. Fair enough he thought… I’ve done this sort of stuff before. So off he rocked to answer some multiple guess questions and give his opinion on whether sunsets or sunrises are better. Or so he thought…

He, became a little suspicious when, upon arriving, he was shown into a dimly lit room containing just a table, two chairs and a single light hanging from the ceiling. It looked more like an interrogation room. which was a bit odd he thought, especially for a global blue chip company… and the fact he wasn’t a spy who had just been caught behind enemy lines.

After acclimatising himself to the uncomfortable surroundings (which, as he was later told was the purpose of leaving him there for 30 minutes) enter stage left the psychologist… a rather stern looking woman with a strong east European accent and a moustache that Magnum would have envied.

For the next six hours Tony was subjected to an array of weird and slightly disturbing tests; everything from being asked how he would go about planning the coup of an imaginary country, through to building a castle using only rice paper and straws. When it came to the mental arithmetic part, and Frau Psycho Von Scary said “ I vill ask zee questions only vonce “ he really had to ask himself whether he had in fact mistakenly walked into the headquarters of the KGB (on the outskirts of Manchester!!!) and in fact was being interrogated as a spy. When he wanted to take a pee and wasn’t allowed he started to think if he would ever see his family again!!! He was half expecting to be hooked up to some electrodes and asked about the plans for the second front.

The six hours came and went. At the end, Tony was exhausted, dripping in nervous sweat, slightly confused and a little scared… but mostly just thankful that he was still alive to tell the tale… as am I… because now I have another fun recruitment story to dine out on.

Anyone who has worked in recruitment will have similarly amusing and ridiculous stories to tell. And for me, it is a big part of what makes our industry fun to work in. The strange client, the slightly crazy candidate, and the colleague who is a little out there… I wouldn’t be without them. Because in an industry that can often be stressful, annoying and not very funny… these little gems give us all some much needed comedy relief.

So, cherish the crazy, stupid, weird and just plain odd. Your job might not be as much fun without them.


As for Tony DeMarvellous? He is still waiting to hear whether his plans to overthrow the president of Zumbagartana and his rice paper castle means he is suitable for a job in sales… although he suspects his weak bladder will go against him. And Frau Psycho Von Scary is currently on secondment in the Middle East… doing something that her skills and personality are more suited to.


Luke Collard 


4 thoughts on “Recruiters…give thanks to the crazy, weird and odd…”

  1. Good story Luke. A colleague of mine had a similar testing nightmare recently; after 2 interviews the potential employer demanded he come in to complete psych testing the following day. He had a young family and had to move a bunch of stuff around to make it on a Saturday morning but made it in. No prep/advice was provided at all by the internal recruiter. Two months later he had heard nothing back and withdrew his application (big big financial institution). A lot of time and cost by many people wasted.
    Testing can be daunting for people and always time consuming. Often the tests are run through a third party so the employer or agent (stupidly) loses control of the process and rarely is feedback required as it should be. In most cases the candidate is entitled to a debrief from the testing company. Companies need to recognise how psych testing impacts the process and what the candidate goes through.

  2. Luke,
    Please tell us your story is a figment of your imagination after a weekend of watching a string of horror movies.
    If it’s true it’s a sad indictment of the recruiting industry.
    We need to get rid of this type of nonsense. The best way is to report it, complete with names and dates, to the relevant Psychological Society.
    When professionally designed and administered psych appraisal is a powerful adjunct to other selection tools.

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