Ok. We’ve all been there. You work hard to profile a very difficult position to fill, go through the entire interview and search process, and you think you know your candidate better than their own family, because they confide in you and tell you EVERYTHING. A true bond begins to form and you and the candidate have a very good relationship way beyond your search assignment. You know TONS about them personally – what makes them tick, and they’ve shared with you the people in their company that they admire and… the ones they HATE. You have tons of data points. Well… you certainly think you do.
Then, without notice, your rock star candidate does something that really amazes you and changes everything from that point forward. Yes. They single-handedly blew the search you had already "counted" completely out of the water. KABOOOOOM!!!
This ranking of my 3 greatest stories to-date are in no particular order. They just stand out as BAD. Really BAD… I mean painful. Sharing them in an open forum like this helps the healing process.
Not really. Anyway, here we go:
#3 – This star candidate (and I mean star) lost over 75 lbs and won the weight battle that had troubled him his entire life. To remind him of where he had been – he refused to buy new suits. He looked like he was in the middle of a college fraternity initiation gig by dressing in big clothes to steal food and booze from the local grocery store! Yes – he dressed for what looked like a game of weekend shoplifting competition – not an interview. He opted to wear suits that were 3-4 sizes to big. It made him feel skinny, reminded himself of how he used to look. And YES – his wardrobe alone helped disqualify him in the final round. He was much more qualified than the others in the final slate but he refused to make changes to his wardrobe. Go figure.
#2 – Lost and found. This candidate flew to NY and did not believe in being a member of the Hertz Gold Cub. What’s the best way to get from La Guardia to Manhattan? Cab right? Not my guy. He had to be in control and drive his own vehicle. In Manhattan? C’mon!! This rock star NEVER found the location of the interview or could not find adequate parking (depending on which version of the story you hear). So GUESS what he did?? Yep – you guessed it. He bagged the interview in frustration and instead, went back to the airport and flew home. What a knucklehead.
#1 – This one is beyond belief. This star candidate had all of the requisite experience for a VP, Marketing role. Ivy league education, good-looking, well liked, great performer and multiple letters of recommendation. More letters than I had ever seen from a single candidate and I wondered why she felt compelled to send me that many letters. OK – now I GET IT. She made it to the final dance and had what was supposed to be a "closing the deal dinner" with my client – the SVP of Marketing. I can only assume she had too much wine and felt a certain "trust" with my client. Apparently she decided to tell him things I certainly did not know. When he questioned her as to why she was leaving her current employer she came clean. During a recent sales meeting where all of the sales representatives were present she got wasted. I mean wasted. She told my client that she decided to ‘flash" her chest during dinner to "HAVE SOME FUN". My client listened in amazement and could only muster up two words… "Check please". Unreal.
This business will always give us plenty of stories to tell. I can only say that each one of my stories resulted in NOT placing any of these has-been rock stars. God – I love this business!!
Tim Tolan is a partner at Sanford Rose Associates and specializes in Executive Search in Healthcare IT. He’s a closer, and you really don’t want to call him unless you’re ready to bring out the bazooka to bag some big game. When I started Fistful, I checked four references on Tim – his wife, his kids, his pastor and a client. The references were great, even if it sounded like they were reading from a sheet of paper. I just chalked that up to them being “detail oriented” in their feedback….