How to make a great first impression with a job candidate: part 2

As you read in my last post, I’ve been getting contacted by a lot of recruiters about potential jobs. Some of the recruiters are good, some of them… aren’t. This is part two of what happened with the recruiter I’m working with. I had interviews with the company today, and I liked everyone, and the job sounds great. I’m currently interviewing at more than one company right now, and this recruiter’s decorum has already put this company lower on my list, even though I really liked the company.

Here’s a snippet of the interview confirmation he sent me. The red lines marking out details and the blue numbers (see below) are added by me, but the highlighting and font sizes are all him (click on the image to enlarge).

1. Hi, I can read. I want to go to this interview, and I’m going to specifically be looking for things like where and when it is. You don’t need to make it size 16 font.

2. I tried. Some of them aren’t on LinkedIn, or if they are, have really common names and don’t have their profiles updated with their current positions.

3. Remember a few days ago when the hiring manager called me a job hopper? One thing that job hoppers may have an advantage of over other candidates is that we’ve been through a LOT of interviews. And in order to be a job hopper, you need to know how to interview well, how to dress at interviews, and you need to be someone who actually gets hired occasionally. I should say here that I don’t always wear suits at interviews. I’ve worked/interviewed at tech startups, and for those, I usually wear a skirt and nice shirt, maybe a blazer. It’s kind of awkward wearing a suit when the person interviewing you is wearing shorts, a t-shirt, and flip flops. But that being said- if I don’t know for sure that it’s a casual company, I wear a suit. All he needed to say here was “this company is conservative, so a formal suit would be appropriate.” There’s no need to be condescending and act like you wouldn’t expect me to dress appropriately. I know how to dress myself, and I know it’s important to show up on time. Believe it or not, I’ve done this before.

4. Oh, good idea. I was just going to wing it.

5. Um, eff off. Is that supposed to be inspirational or a threat?  Again: I’ve successfully been hired before. I know how to act at an interview. Making the font bold, big, and highlighted doesn’t emphasize your point. It makes you look like an 11 year old.  (Ironically, this interview is for a job that would require some email design skills…)

On top of all this, he also attached the email conversations he had had with the hiring manager, including the message defending my scandalous job-hopping ways. He changed it all to third person, except for one sentence: “If she hadn’t left my second job, she wouldn’t have learned how to edit HTML templates.” He also took out the sentence where I question why an employer would criticize someone for taking temp work while searching for the right job.

I understand that recruiters want to present the best candidates possible. It’s a reflection of their ability to assess the needs of the company and find the right candidates. And when they do find the right candidates, they make a commission off the hire. I get it. I know they want their candidates to do well. But it’s a HUGE turn-off to treat them like they’re children.

I’ve worked with other recruiters who are MUCH more tactful: They give as much info as they can about the company and the interviewers to help me succeed in the interview. They make clothing suggestions regarding the company’s culture, but don’t word it in such a way that sounds like they think I’m totally incapable of preparing for an interview. The really good recruiters actually meet with me in person, which I think is smart: they’re able to recommend someone they’ve actually met, so they can at least see that I’m a professional person who is capable of dressing myself and being ENGAGING! MATURE! ENTHUSIASTIC!

I don’t know if I’ll get an offer for this job or not (despite the recruiter, the interview went really well). I’ll definitely still consider working there, but I may have to have a word with the hiring manager about this recruiter. My other interviews this week also went really well, so I may have a big decision to make soon. I’m pretty excited about all three options, so this should get interesting.

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18 Responses to How to make a great first impression with a job candidate: part 2

  1. Steph Auteri says:

    Lord. How is this person a recruiter? He displays all the professional savvy of my very worst intern applicants.

  2. Kristin says:

    Seriously. He’s not very MATURE! Engaging! and Enthusiastic!

    I’m wondering how/if I should approach this with the hiring manager. The recruiter told me that they had already offered the job to someone, but that person chose a different offer instead. If I were to decline this, it would be largely because of the recruiter, so I would think they’d want to know. He works exclusively with this company. I could find them a few replacement recruiters pretty quickly.

  3. Josh S says:

    On the one hand, the recruiter’s client is the business. He wants to make sure everyone he recommends shows up on time, informed, and professional–otherwise he looks like an idiot for recommending a slob. And believe it or not, there are plenty of idiot interviewees out there who would show up late, uninformed, and dressed like they just woke up. So the recruiter wants to cover his bases. (I think it’s pretty obvious that you get this.)

    On the other hand, his patronizing tone and idiotic treatment of you is a turn-off. I’d be offended too. There’s definitely a more tactful, subtle way of going about that.

    I suggest you do one or both of the following:
    -Regardless of whether or not you get the job, let the hiring manager know that this recruiter left a bad taste in your mouth–to the point it made you consider not pursuing your candidacy at the company. Since the company is the recruiter’s client, and the client is the first representative of that company, the hiring manager really REALLY wants to know that this is how the company is being portrayed and promoted. (If I were in the hiring manager’s shoes, I’d get rid of this recruiter. Or at least have a big “How to be professional as you represent our company–or ELSE” talk.)
    -Contact the recruiter directly. Say, “Thank you for facilitating the interview process between me and Company X. I do want to give you some feedback, however. I have been through a great number of interviews, and used several recruiters. And I want you to know that your tone in emails is unprofessional. By doing X, Y, and Z, you show that you think poorly of the potential hires, even as you attempt to promote them. I’m sure that’s not your intent, but it’s how you are coming across. Thanks!”

    Beyond that, you have no responsibility or recourse. That’s all you can really do.

    • Kristin says:

      Great points! I know that it’s his job to find someone for the company (rather than to find a job for me), but there are plenty of other recruiters who act professionally with everyone involved.

      I’m going to see how it pans out (if I get an offer or not), but I do feel like I should address it with either the recruiter or the hiring manager. Thanks for the suggestions about how to approach it!

  4. Laura says:

    Speaking from experience, I would probably just leave it alone. I’m sure the manager knows the work practices of this recruiter and doesn’t care because somehow they place a lot of folks and make the company money. I’m not sure why you’d decline the job because of the recruiter though, if they help get you the gig that’s all that really matters IMO. For awhile after I got my current gig, my recruiter called constantly wanting to know how the job was going, brought bagels in and now wants to have lunch with me. It’s weird, I don’t like that kind of attention, but he did his job and I don’t want to burn any bridges with him or the hiring agency. I wouldn’t put much effort into getting this person in hot water, chances are they’ll be out of your hair sooner rather than later.

    • Kristin says:

      I guess I should clarify- I wouldn’t decline the job solely because of the recruiter if I didn’t have any other options. But I do have other options right now, and if I like all jobs equally (which I do), and it gets to a point where I have to make a decision, it’ll be a factor. I guess there is some merit in not completely burning a bridge though. I’m pretty sure this guy will burn his own bridges. :)

  5. I wouldn’t bother trying to address this with the recruiter himself, because all signs are that he’s not going to be capable of using the feedback in any constructive way. But I WOULD mention it to the hiring manager once the process is over (and especially if you take the job, although at that point, I’d wait until you’re already working there to mention it; don’t make it a weird thing between you during that period after accepting the offer and before you start work).

    If you end up getting several offers that you like equally, I wouldn’t be swayed against this one by the recruiter’s behavior … assuming that you’ve done enough due diligence on the employer’s culture to know that the recruiter is a fluke and not in some way indicative of their practices/norms/standards. Good luck!

    • Kristin says:

      From what I could tell at the interview, the people I’d actually be working with aren’t like this guy.

      If I decide to work with one of the other companies I’m speaking with, should I still say something to the hiring manager? As far as this recruiter goes, I feel like he’s doing and saying a lot of the same things that most recruiters do, but just not very tactfully. His email signature says that he works exclusively with this employer, but I’m not sure if that means he doesn’t recruit for other companies or that company doesn’t use other recruiters. Either way, he’s not giving candidates a very good first impression.

      • If I were the hiring manager, I’d very much want to know. Maybe something like: “I struggled with whether or not to mention this, but I ultimately decided if I were in your shoes, I’d want to know that (name) is probably turning off some good candidates. His communications with me were routinely condescending and even outright rude, to the point at it gave me some hesitation about even proceeding with the first interview (although I’m glad that I did.) I’ve worked with plenty of recruiters so this isn’t a case of not knowing the norms, and I’m not a particularly high-maintenance person, but his behavior was really alienating … and I got the sense that is his standard M.O. I don’t know what your experience has been like with him on your side of things, but I wanted to make you aware of the candidate side of it.”

        Or something.

    • Josh S says:

      Hi Alison! Funny to see you answering questions that aren’t on your own blog! Funny how circles tend to keep crossing, once crossed, isn’t it?

  6. stelle says:

    Wow! I would definitely say something to the hiring manager, if and when you decide to take the offer. Clients definitely care about the recruiter and how well they are doing their job. Hiring a recruiter is not cheap, and I’m sure they would want to invest in another company if they hear this is how a recruiter is treating clients. (I’m not sure how this company works, but sometimes multiple recruiters are working on one job and also the president gets a cut of the commission as well.)

    It’s true that as recruiter, you never really know what a candidate is going to do once they get into an interview. Recently, there was one at our workplace who went into an interview and just kept cursing. That was great. haha. I do agree that one was really unprofessional, and you would think they would at least fix their email. You were clearly more professional then they are.

    Wishing you so much luck in everything! Glad things are looking up for you and you may have some options soon!

  7. Pingback: How to make a great first impression with a job candidate | The Settlers Give it Passion

  8. In-house recruiter says:

    As an in-house recruiter, I deplore you (in a mature!!! and confident!!! way) to please let the company know how this recruiter treated you. I would be mortified about this and would likely cancel my contract with the person if I found out they treated candidates like that. This person is likely making 20% of your base salary off of your placement…at the very least, let the company paying thousands of dollars know what he/she is doing.

  9. Anon says:

    Hi Kristin -

    I think you should definitely reach out to the Hiring Manager about the recruiter if his process has rubbed you the wrong way. I recently had an incident with a bad recruiter that didn’t sit well with me. Alison, I wrote to you about my situation and you mentioned that I sounded “entitled” to the job. That wasn’t the case. I finally e-mailed the hiring manager that I interviewed with to discuss my concerns and I’m glad I did. I found out that this recruiter lied to me about a conversation b/t him and the hiring manager. The hiring manager cc’ed my e-mail to HR and was truly apologetic about the situation. Always trust your gut! I’m in a different location, but your recruiter’s e-mail sounds somewhat similar to the ones I received before going on my interviews. Very condescending…

  10. Kat says:

    Regarding blue # 3. I feel you. I had a recruiter that called me for a paralegal job in a law firm and I got the interview. She repeatedly (and by repeatedly I mean at least 3 times in the phone conversation prior to getting the interview, twice by e-mail and 2 other times during the phone call prior to the interview) instructed me to “dress professionally.” Now I have over 10 years experience as both a legal secretary and paralegal in small, medium and large law firms. I’m pretty sure that with all this past experience in obtaining jobs I know how to dress for an interview with a law firm. I actually felt disrespected that she would think anyone (okay, most) would wear anything less than professional attire to the interview.

    That should have clued me in to her crazy…but really it didn’t. She got worse, and would actually make this recruiter look like a motivational guru.

    So yes, I feel ya on that one, and the rest.

  11. Tami says:

    Kristin, maybe you should create a nicely designed email out of this recruiter’s email and present it to the potential employer. I laughed reading this entire thing. I’ve tried (unsuccessfully) to describe to my husband some of the lamest recruiters I have dealt with. He’s never dealt with recruiters and does the hiring for his department so I’m not entirely sure he gets it. I’ll make him read your posts – he’ll get it then.

    Good luck!

  12. nyxalinth says:

    This guy is a real winner, for sure. From the look of his email, it looks like he may have gotten immature, inexperienced people with bad attitudes who dressed poorly in the past and is making a condescending attempt at nipping it in the bud. I don’t have any advice, but the advice others have given is very good.

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