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5 Difficult Candidates and How to Deal with Them

Difficult Candidates

Whether you’ve been working in recruitment for two months or twenty years, you’re likely to have encountered your fair share of difficult candidates. But the good news is, there are a few things you can do to handle these tricky candidates and to increase your chances of placing them.

To make your life easier, here’s a run through of some of the most common tricky candidates, and more importantly – how to deal with them!

The demanding candidate

Often these candidates will have a lot going for them, and you might be feeling pretty confident that they’ll be a great fit for your client…but there’s no denying that they ask a lot from you during the hiring process.

These are the sorts of candidates who want allowances made for them: they’d prefer not to have early morning interviews if they can avoid them, ask to have their interview travel expenses reimbursed and immediately want to challenge the salary bracket on your job ad.

You need to have a pretty frank conversation with candidates like this early on, as trying to be the middle-man and negotiate these demands with your client will only stress you out and start things off on a bad foot. While you’ll always do your best to accommodate their requests if they are keen on the role, it’s worth pointing out that these are the terms the hiring manager is offering (and maybe drop a mention of the high number of applicants for the role). This will put the ball back into their court if they choose to continue – the choice is theirs!

The over-confident candidate

It’s likely you’ll have come across candidates who are so over-confident they’ll try to skip through the intro questions with you as they don’t think they’re even necessary. They’ll quote huge salary expectations way above the going rate for their industry and experience and finish up with questions like “When do I start?”. But while these guys can talk the talk, can they walk the walk?

It’s good to catch your over-confident candidates off-guard with some seriously tough initial questions, as this will pull them out their comfort/pitching zone. It will remind them that they do have to prove to you – a credible recruiter who has been hired to assess their skill set – that they can do the job to get through to the next stage.

If they’re as great as they say they are, they’ll understand that they have to switch their approach, bring some hard proof of their skills to the table and demonstrate their knowledge to you. If they succeed in impressing you, you’ll be their biggest advocate to your clients on their behalf and can have a major influence on whether your clients hire them.

The needy candidate

These candidates certainly mean well, but they’re partial to some serious communication overkill. Not only are they applying for every single role that comes up on your website, but they’re emailing you every day and hitting you up on every social media channel possible!

They’re constantly pressuring you for feedback that your client hasn’t come back to you on, making the continuous communication a painful waste of everyone’s time. At this stage, it helps to reassure your needy candidate that they’re top of your list, remind them that they can log into their candidate portal themselves to see the status on each role and let them know you’ll be in touch with them the minute you have anything to report. Peace at last!

The hot air candidate

These candidates sound like they’ve swallowed a thesaurus – they’re full of industry jargon and buzzwords, but provide no real substance when answering your questions. They may have impressed you with their killer covering letter and CV, but when it comes to the crunch, can they put their money where their mouth is?

The biggest issue with hot air candidates like this is that while they’re likely to sail through the interview process, they’ll be reaching out to you again in two months’ time looking for new opportunities, as, low and behold, they weren’t up to the job after all! This is bad news for you if you have a rebate clause in place with your client.

A good trick is to put hot air candidates on the spot by feigning a lack of knowledge and asking them to explain some of their jargon in simple language for you. If they can’t deliver, you’ll need to have a long hard think about whether it’s worth the risk putting them forward – and don’t be baffled by their jargon!

The self-deprecating candidate

The extremely humble candidate is one of the most frustrating you’ll have come across. You know the ones we mean – those excellent candidates who are absolutely great at what they do, but are equally terrible at selling themselves. They seize up in the interview room and struggle to talk confidently about their skills and experience, even though they boast an excellent track record.

The good news is, candidates like this just need a bit of reassurance of their abilities and some interview coaching – you can prep this candidate for interview success in a blink of an eye!

So the next time you come across one of these tricky candidates, remember there’s always a solution. Try a few of these approaches, and you’ll be sure to transform them from difficult to desirable in no time!

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