hiring managers chicken mcnuggets

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

Dawn Burke Dawn Burke, Hiring Managers, Jobvite

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 Jobvite.com.