By David Rose

We took a hit recently. I’m not happy about it. I’ve thought about how we could’ve done things differently. I let it rattle around. I tried not to take it personally since it’s not, it’s business.

I was working with a terrific candidate…sharp…experienced…talented. To find him, our team connected with our talent community. Since we don’t seek out candidates on job boards, we started by making calls. Funny, right? We like to talk with people about their career aspirations, so we can seek out opportunities specific to them. We left dozens of messages and scoured social platforms. It’s the digging for great candidates that motivates us.

We talked with a bunch of great people in the process of our search, including our client – the employer – regularly to ensure communication was clear. The employer’s hiring team was engaged and to their credit, attempted to move expeditiously. A vacation was cut short, business travel was rescheduled, and many others who were involved worked hard to accommodate. A final interview was scheduled after several exchanges and clarification of details. We made sure everyone was happy.

On the day of the interview, I sent a quick text to the candidate to wish him well and to offer last minute encouragement. He didn’t respond. Hours passed, and I received an alert. It was a notification of a new text. It was from the candidate. It read, “Thanks for all the hard work, but I’ve accepted another job.”

Wait, what?

I picked up the phone and called the candidate. To his credit, he took the call. To his detriment, he shut the door. I asked, “Why not wait to complete the final interview today? Maybe it’s a better opportunity. Maybe not. You owe it to yourself to find out, and you don’t want to burn a bridge.”

After an awkward moment of silence, he said, “I’m a professional, and I know the other opportunity is best for me.”

I thought his choice of words, referencing himself as a professional while behaving in an unprofessional way seemed contradictory. I responded, “No, the professional and smart thing to do would have been to see the process – one final interview – through.” I continued, “…and if you’re such a professional, why didn’t you share you were interviewing elsewhere?” Biting my tongue, I wished him well, and concluded the conversation.

After the initial disappointment faded, I remembered a crucial fact…one candidate is not representative of all candidates. Just because this candidate fizzled didn’t mean the next one would.

Three days later, I received a call. It was a prospective candidate. She was a referral, and turned out to be very impressive. We submitted her to the company that lost out on the earlier candidate. It was a perfect match. The company moved quickly through its process, showed interest in the candidate, and respected her time. The candidate got a very nice job offer for which she subsequently accepted.

When market conditions favor candidates, all candidates have options, but great candidates turn options into opportunities.

Great candidates listen and interact with companies that demonstrate courtesy, professionalism, and respect throughout their hiring processes. As companies refine candidate pools when searching for talent, great candidates refine company pools when exploring new opportunities. In this case, a great company connected with a great candidate at a great time, and we were happy to help make it happen.

A Side Note: It’s been just over a month, and guess who called? Remember the first candidate who chose not to go on that final interview? The job that he knew was best for him didn’t work out the way he had anticipated.