Question:  This week, we have had two candidates ask to move their interview date and then surprised me by telling me they have taken another job. How often should I be asking candidates what else they are pursuing? Should I press them more? Anyone who wants to reschedule and why? Tatiana

Coach Mike:  Often and yes and yes. When taking a data sheet or doing an assessment on a candidate, you have to make it easy for them to be honest with you.  So, one of the things we used to do is this one technique:  Mr/Ms Candidate You can say ‘no’ at any time in this process  until you say ‘YES’” and I will combine that with the other technique that will help you even more deeply with this.

Candidates feel like they cannot level with you because the recruiter has a vested interest in the candidate taking their job even if it is not in their best interest. I would have the “you can say ‘no’ until you say ‘yes’ conversation”.

So, if it was you, Tatiana , I would say “Tatiana, you look really good for this search assignment. I am going to submit you over. Based on what you have heard so far, it sounds like this would be an intriguing thing for you to interview.” “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” “Here is why…. Okay, great.” “Here is how I work:  you can say no to me any time until you say yes, and by that I mean you can go on that first interview or something might come up before the first interview. You can tell me that you thought about it, the situation has changed and you do not want to go on the interview. Just be straight with me. You can go on the interview; you can find the company is not in alignment with what you want to do in your career. And you can then withdraw from the opportunity–no hard feelings. Just tell me why, give me some specifics so that I can grow from it, whether it is that the company did something to mess up or your situation has changed. 

You can go on the second interview and say, “No, I do not want to go any further in the process. I do not want to go to the offer stage. It is not in the alignment.” You can go to the offer stage provided you have not made a commitment to take the offer and you can say, “No, I do not want to entertain the offer.”  You can say “no” and I promise you I am not going to give you a hard time. I am going to simply ask for clarity. Once you say, “Yes, I’m going to take the offer”, then you can no longer say “no”.  Is that fair?  Are you comfortable with that?

Here is where I cover the counter offer. To wrap this entire journey together over the next few weeks if you are the ideal candidate, you can back out at any time. I just want to know why. And I will be straight with you as you go to the process as to what is going on. Is that fair?” And they will generally say, “Yeah, that is very fair.” “Can you commit to me on that?” I tie that down.

“I need you to be honest with me because you can hang up the phone with me and another recruiter or another company can call you with the ideal opportunity of opportunities for you and, of course, you are going to interview for it. Just let me know and then let me know when you are interviewing where it stands. I am not going to stop you in the process because I know right now that you might be interested in another opportunity. As long as I know why, I am going to be okay with it. I will send you to my client and it gives you the basis of comparison.”

“If you get an offer, before they can move forward on you or the opportunity that I send you on is not as good as the one you are getting close to an offer on, just back out. Is that fair? Can we be straight with each other?” Most of the time, you have trouble with a client or candidate when no expectation is verbally exchanged on how you will work with each other.

Should I put this stuff in writing? No, because then it looks too formal. It looks too lawyerly. I still find, thank God, that most people have integrity. What I would do is set and manage expectations verbally with each person. You might say, “Well, it is kind of a pain in the butt.” You know what? When you are at the end of that process and you wanted your commitment to be straight with them. Because you are telling them, “I am not going to withdraw you from the process.”

At the end, it is an art form to really gain commitments so that once people say “yes” to something they do not back out of it. It is an exchange of commitments. It is not a demanding of  “This is how it is going to be. It’s NOT “My way or the highway.”