So, Hiring Manager Hates Your Top Candidate: Eat a Chicken McNugget

hiring managers chicken mcnuggets

My pal and FOT contributor, Tim Sackett, wrote a blog post called Sackett’s Top 10 Fast Food Foods Of All Time. It spoke to me.  It spoke to my husband. The great equalizer for us all is fast food.  I’m not ashamed to say I love fast food.  I’m smart enough to only consume small quantities, but damn it, I’m ‘merican.  If you don’t love McDonald’s fries, there may be something genetically wrong with you.

However, there was a great omission from this top list.  One that I know, because you are my people, you will certainly agree with.  Tim omitted the greatest of all fast food items > McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets.  I was shocked. I couldn’t sleep and dare I say…couldn’t eat. Ok, that is a big fat lie, I actually went and got a nugget 4-pack for lunch.  In your face, Sackett.

Doesn’t this sound familiar?  You know, when you forward your hiring manager a candidate that simply rocked your world. When you know after the interview the candidate will be hired, like that day. And this is how each of you feels when the hiring manager not only neglects to hire your top candidate, but they don’t even want to interview them.  Wait, what?  The. Horror…the……..hor…ror…


  • “Dawn, I’m just not feeling this one”
  • “You know, I don’t like they had a misspelling on the resume”
  • “This one has 2 years of experience, I really need at least 2.5 years”
  • “Dawn, you know, we decided to change directions…”
  • Or in fairness to all great hiring managers, “I just like some other candidates better”. OR, “Dawn, you missed the mark on this one”.

So here are a few tips you need to remember when your star candidate, aka your Chicken McNugget, gets the boot quickly:

  • Take a deep breath. Go for a walk. Shake it off.
  • You are not the decision maker. Sorry.
  • I know this is hard to believe, but recruiters/HR pros are biased too. You can pick your jaw off the floor. Yes, you may have really liked that guy because you both have a pet pig and that is off-the-charts cool.
  • It’s your job to keep at it. Just like it’s their job to hire the very best person, based on their team’s needs.  Not your team’s needs.  Your team’s needs include: I’ve got to get this job closed, I must prioritize other positions, this one has been opened too long, or I don’t feel like dealing with this manager anymore.  That is not the hiring manager’s care or worry.
  • Understand the why before you react. Sometimes a manager says, “I’m just not feeling this candidate” because they don’t have the time to say quickly in an email, “I’m not feeling this candidate because I’ve worked with Joe before, and know based on my experience with him he doesn’t have the chops to handle our complex platform”. You’d be surprised how often this happens.
  • You must have a continuous feedback process in place to understand the why. (See above bullet.)
  • Don’t ask for the why in an email. Pick up the phone, jump on a video chat, walk over to their desk. Asking for a why in an email always sounds accusatory. Always. The. Horror….the…hor….ror….
  • You better show me the data.  No data – no credibility.  No leg to stand on.
  • Most importantly, continue to build up your trust bank. The more a hiring manager trusts you (and you trust them) the more candid you can be with giving proper pushback.  And sometimes, you need to unleash the dragon on your trusted partner when they are just crazy not to interview.

And if none of that works – go buy a Chicken McNugget 10-pack (up yours, 4-pack), and drown your sorrow with the most delicious fried, processed meat nuggets ever created.

This post is sponsored by the recruiting pros at Jobvite, who, each month, let FOT write about a topic that will help recruiters raise their games via continuing education. Be on the lookout later this month for the FOT video series called “No Scrubs”—also brought to you by

FOT Background Check

Dawn Burke
Dawn Burke is an HR Leader, speaker and writer, specializing in new HR practices, engagement and workplace culture.  Her HR career has spanned the last 20 years, most recently serving as VP of People for Birmingham, Alabama's award-winning technology company, Daxko. That’s right – the very DAXKO that our very own KD is an alum of, because there are only so many people in the big B’ham who are worthy of a VP of People title. A true Generalist, she’s done a little bit of everything, but recruiting and training is where she gets her mojo. She’s based in the good ol' blogging capitol of the south, Birmingham, Alabama, where you can frequently find her listening to the Beatles and REM, watching Breaking Bad reruns (and Snapped and Dateline), enjoying serious amounts of coffee (and cheese, but not together!), dreaming of where she will travel next, and wondering how in the world this theatre grad ever got into football or HR…Check out her blog at or talk to Dawn via emailLinkedIn, Instagram or Twitter


  1. Tim Sackett
    Tim Sackett says:

    Okay, I’ll admit that McDonald’s Chicken Nuggets are an original in the fast food world and I’ve eaten more than my fair share, if but only to support America. That all being said, McDonald’s Chicken Nuggets aren’t even the best fast food chicken you can get! Here’s a list of fast food chicken I stop for before McDonald’s:

    1. Chick-fil-a nuggets
    2. Zaxby’s chicken fingers
    3. KFC popcorn chicken
    4. Popeye’s tenders
    5. Culver’s tenders
    6. Wendy’s spicy chicken nuggets
    7. Sonic Popcorn chicken
    8, Raising Caine’s chicken tenders
    9. Burger King nuggets (only because you can get 10 for $1.49)
    10. McDonald’s Chicken Nuggets

    Don’t come up on me like that, Burke! You’ll get hurt!


    • John Hollon says:

      Jeez Tim, is there a fast food somewhere you HAVEN’T eaten???

  2. Dawn Burke says:


    Fast food should have an element of processed. Zaxby’s is in a whole other class since that is real chicken! Same with Chick-fil-a. BTW, I eat these regularly as well. I prefer these over the sandwich. Wendy’s spicey… not close. Raising Caine– it’s in the Zaxby’s class, Burger King, I would put the chicken fries above this!

  3. John Hollon says:

    This post and subsequent conversation makes me want to go out and get some Chicken McNuggets — and I don’t even really like Chicken McNuggets!

Comments are now closed for this article.

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