Our team interviewed a strong, very experienced candidate for a position that is difficult to fill.

Our interview team typically includes our HR director who was home sick on the day of the interview. We value our HR director's input because of their gift for understanding people and we asked the candidate to schedule a phone follow-up in place of the interview.

The candidate and the HR director communicated by email and loosely arranged a time to speak but the candidate wrote a reply late on the first open day that they became too busy and would call the following day after a specific time. The HR director replied that due to their busy schedule, they would block off a specific 30-minute time slot within the parameters set by the candidate to speak with this candidate over the phone. The candidate never called and did not send an email follow-up explaining the missed phone appointment.

I am confident the candidate wants the position but disappointed and concerned that the candidate's lack of attention to this follow-up implies a lack of respect for our hiring process and a lack of follow through. The candidate exuded self-confidence occasionally bordering on overconfidence during my interview but that was a compromise I was willing to make given the difficulty in filling the position and my boss' anxiety about leaving the position unfilled. The candidate's references paint a similar picture of superior work product with occasional arrogance.

My boss tends to overlook these issues to fill the open position but I am the one who manages the day to day problems created by hiring candidates with negative behaviors. Should I cut bait on this candidate and continue the search? One alternative I considered is drafting a blunt letter to the candidate outlining the positive ways he could contribute to our company while providing feedback on how this kind of behavior needs to change before we would be willing to extend him an offer.

What are your thoughts on that approach?

mrreliable's picture

Oh my gosh. I'm going to be honest and tell you the first thought that went through my mind in reading your question. I don't mean to be disrespectful or antagonistic, but it's going to sound flippant.

You haven't even hired this person yet and you're ready to put them on a performance improvement plan.

I've dodged bullets in hiring before, but there have also been hires I've deeply regretted. In every case there were warning signs I ignored. You used the words "lack of respect" and "arrogance" in describing the prospect. Don't hire a disrespectful arrogant headache. If this person treats you like this in the application process, how do you think they're going to treat you when you hire them?


EM's picture

That didn't sound flippant at all. That's the feedback I needed to hear. Your response also helped me recognize that part of my hesitancy in executing on this is due to not knowing how to best frame the decision to my boss. It's a classic "manage up" problem. Clarifying that issue has helped shift my focus from making the right decision to defending and explaining it. Thank you for your help! I really appreciate it!