A Candidate’s Horror Story

Carrie Ahmad, Vice President, PeopleBy Carrie S Ahmad, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Vice President, People, Turning the Corner, LLC

 
 

Recently a friend of mine was interviewing with a major healthcare company in Denver. She successfully made it through the phone interview and was invited to come interview with the hiring manager. When she showed up for the on-site interview, she walked into a room with 7 people ready to interview her in a panel setting. The fact that this would be a panel interview was never communicated to her, so she was taken aback and nervous, but handled the surprise interview format well. Within 48 hours she received a call with an offer. The offer was $10K less than she expected for the role based on research she had done.

Responding to the Offer

Responding to the offer, my friend expressed how excited she was about the opportunity, and asked the recruiter if she (the recruiter) would speak with the hiring manager about meeting in the middle on compensation, requesting $5K more than the offer (which was $5K less than she originally wanted). The recruiter replied with the following statement, “No, we’re not willing to consider offering you more. You only have 2½ years of part-time experience, your MBA doesn’t matter to us, and I have 7 other equally qualified candidates who would gladly take this offer.”

My friend graciously pushed back and reminded the recruiter that she actually had 4½ years of full-time experience, plus an MD and a MBA. She told the recruiter that she didn’t want compensation to be the final determining factor as she was very excited about the job. She asked once more for the recruiter to speak with the hiring manager and request an increase of even $3K in the salary. The recruiter curtly closed the conversation. Two hours later, my friend received another call from the recruiter telling her that the offer was being withdrawn, and they had extended an offer to someone else.

I’m Not Surprised

Hearing this story shocked me, but didn’t surprise me. In the rush to fill job openings, too often recruiters and employers hire fast instead of hiring the right person for the job. While they fill the seat quickly, the consequences can be detrimental to a business. In my friend’s example, a highly educated, minority female was denied a job because she asked for a slight increase in the base salary. If she were someone who was litigious (thankfully for the healthcare company she is not), she would be a dream client for some attorneys. More damaging is how this recruiter’s behavior impacts the employer’s brand. A philosophy of hire fast instead of hiring smart isn’t going to attract top talent to your organization. Withdrawing an offer over $3-$5K is short sighted.

Remember This

My advice to recruiters and employers who want to hire the best people for their organizations is “go slow to go fast.” When hiring, take your time to find the right person for the role; someone who aligns with the experience and knowledge you need, someone who aligns with your culture, and someone for whom you can meet their lifestyle needs (compensation, benefits, flexibility, values, etc). And, most importantly, treat candidates the way you would want to be treated. Employ respect, compassion, clarity, and honesty in your hiring process – through every email interaction, every phone call, and every in person meeting.
 
 

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