Talent Acquisition

How Candidates Should Act During the Hiring Process

The recruiter/candidate relationship can sometimes be a tricky one. You both need to be on the same page in order to get to the ultimate goal: a successful hire. If everyone isn’t working towards the same goal, success won’t always be found.

Etiquette plays a very important role in that relationship. Sometimes a candidate does not want to answer a question truthfully in an effort to not hurt their chances at prospective employment. Unfortunately lying, or omitting the truth, can only hurt you as a candidate more than help.

A recruiter wears many hats – from sourcing to interviewing, to negotiating offers, and more. One of the most important roles of a recruiter is ensuring that the hiring process is run smoothly.

At any point, the hiring process can get stalled, and the more information the recruiter has collected about what both sides want (candidate and hiring manager) the better they can be at making sure a successful hire is made. This is where the relationship between the recruiter and candidate comes into play and why it is so vital to be on the same page. If you as a candidate do not take the process seriously you are hurting the process.

Below I highlight some of the main reasons how a candidate can hurt or slow down the process by not acting with the right etiquette:

1) Salary expectations:

This is usually the make or break for any deal.

I don’t have exact numbers on me, but ask a majority of recruiters and they will tell you most deals do not go through because of a disagreement on a salary. As a candidate, it is your responsibility to know what you are worth.

It is also important to know what is realistic. We all want six-figure salaries, but if you aren’t there yet, don’t decide you won’t settle for anything less, it will only hurt you. At the same time when you get the offer letter, now is not the time to demand more money. Yes, things can change throughout the hiring process and as you learn more about the job your salary expectations can change. But getting the offer letter and deciding you want 10K higher than you originally discussed with the recruiter is bad form.

Decide what you are worth, tell the team hiring you and go from there!

READ MORE: How to Answer Salary Questions in Your Interview

2) Schedule flexibility:

As a recruiter I realize you work, so scheduling interviews may not be easy. However, as a candidate, you must be flexible, and deciding you will only interview after hours or the weekends is just unrealistic. Just as you are working from 9-5 so is the person interviewing you!

Do not take time from a hiring manager outside of work just because you can’t handle an interview during normal working hours. You are one of the hundreds of viable candidates and if the hiring team agreed to every candidate demands like that they would never have time to themselves. Normally interviews done out of normal working hours are reserved for candidates who are close to an offer letter.

3) Communication:

Unfortunately, the hiring process can get a bad reputation for dragging on and this sadly can be true. But the term “strike while the iron is hot” is completely applicable in hiring. When a team is ready to make a move, all parties must be prepared. As a candidate, you must be ready to respond quickly. Of course, if you are working it is understandable that you may not get back to a recruiter until the end of the day, or only over email. But regardless it is proper etiquette to respond back to the recruiter within the same day unless something drastic has come up. Deciding to not call your recruiter back for whatever reason is improper and unprofessional.

4) Honesty:

There are a lot of items that can be covered under the umbrella. Ultimately you must have complete transparency with the recruiter. One part of honesty is informing the recruiter of interviews with other companies. Believe me, you will not hurt a recruiter’s feelings by telling them you are interviewing elsewhere. Any good recruiter realizes this. If you are as good of a candidate as you say you are you should be in demand. And honestly, companies competing over your services will only benefit you when it comes time for an offer. It makes companies act quicker when they know they could lose you to a competitor and could drive up your asking price so they can get you. It only is a benefit for you by being honest, so don’t hold anything back.

5) Declining offers:

This point really could be labeled as 4B, because it again has to do with honesty. If an offer does come your way and you just ultimately decide against it, declining the offer is not the worst thing in the world. These things happen, and as disappointing as it may be for the company who you declined, they will move on. And they ultimately will probably not hold it against you. However, if you decide not to inform the recruiter of this and leave them hanging this will present problems. Recruiters put a lot of effort into working with you for this position, the least you could do is call this person and have an open and honest discussion on why the offer is being declined.

6) Commitment:

An offer letter is a contract and contracts are made not to be broken. So when you officially sign an offer letter you are signing a contract of employment. In most cases, there are no financial or career-threatening repercussions of breaking an offer letter, so this is why candidates can feel so comfortable with doing it. But this is very bad form. A company has made the decision to bring you onboard and told every other candidate they have not been chosen. If you sign an offer letter, all other offers from other companies or a potential counteroffer from your current employer should have already been discussed. Signing the offer letter and then deciding that you will accept that counteroffer or possibly another offer is unprofessional. And by now the company has spent a lot of money interviewing you and performing the necessary pre-employment checks, which is now essentially money wasted.

After reading all this I can see how a candidate would say “so what?” because really there are no financial or professional ramifications on you as a candidate if you break any, or all of these points. However I can tell you this much, the recruiting industry is a very tight nit community. The society we live in is all about connections and networks. From LinkedIn to Twitter to Facebook and every other form of social media our networks are wide and they are well connected. I can tell countless stories where a candidate’s name has come up and someone in the hiring group knew of a story of that candidate in question that made them not want to move forward with an interview. All because a candidate made a decision in their past that is now impacting their present-day chances at a potential position.

You are not the only candidate being considered for this position. So while you feel your technical abilities may be the strongest and therefore making you the best candidate that is not all that matters. Equally important is your ability to interact with the company in a professional manner. Companies put a high value of emphasis on hiring for ethics and etiquette as they do on technical skills. As a candidate, it is just as important for you to be able to perform the job at hand as it is for you to be a person of good morals. If you decide that is not the case then at some point in your career this can come back to impact you in a negative way.

Disclaimer: Yes this article is written from a recruiter’s perspective. However, I can assure you this author has been on the candidate side of the table. Everything written in this article is advice that I myself would comply with, no questions asked.

This article was written with ideas and experiences of a close business contact of mine, John Creeden. He is a well respected Talent Acquisition professional in the NY/NJ area.

By Chadd Balbi

Chadd Balbi is a seasoned recruiting professional with extensive experience in full life cycle recruiting and business development in both Corporate and Staffing environments. His emphasis is on strong recruiting, business development and client relationship focus. Specializing in the IT staffing industry. Follow Chadd on Twitter @CFBRecruiter.