It’s been a busy year in Ottawa of recruiting for us as we’ve engaged with several new clients and experienced a growth in business from our existing clients.  I’ve always felt that the busier we are recruiting the more productive and efficient we become.  But now I’m sitting in my office, with Long Way Round playing in the background for the 100th time, thinking about feedback we’ve been receiving from some of our clients.  The feedback has been positive but some of the side effects have had negative consequences.

Here’s the background:  We typically recruit and screen twenty plus candidates for a given role and we recommend only the top qualified candidates to our clients. We don’t provide any “fillers” to beef-up our numbers.  We don’t have a set number of candidates to recruit and recommend – if ten of the twenty candidates are well suited for the position then we’ll submit them.  If only one of the twenty is right for the position then we only submit that one candidate.   Over the past few months we’ve been finding the best candidate early in the search.  This is the type of candidate you know is the right person for our client and we recommend them for interview ASAP.  Our candidate completes their initial face-to-face interview and our client is left with the same impression as us: this is the right person for the job.

Here’s the problem:  Our clients request to meet with additional candidates prior to proceeding with the first candidate we recommended.   This is fine and I completely understand why they want to see more candidates. We work on submitting another three to five candidates but they rarely stack up to the original candidate.   Meanwhile the top candidate continues through the standard interview process and it’s reaffirmed by others that this is in fact the right person for the job.  However, we’re asking the top recruit to wait for the inevitable offer while we interview other candidates, essential completing our due diligence.  In my experience, a few things can and do go wrong at this point:

  • Firstly, if not handled correctly, the top candidate could be left with a negative impression of your ability to make decisions.
  • Secondly, the candidate is more than likely interviewing with other companies and could be working with a couple different recruiting firms, leaving the door open for your competitors to make an offer before you.

Now I know some people will tell me that if the candidate is truly interested in the opportunity we’ve presented they’ll wait for all offers to be on the table and so on.  That doesn’t always hold true and why would you open yourself to the unnecessary risk?

The parable of Buridan’s donkey is a great illustration about the perils of indecisiveness.  In short, a hypothetical donkey is placed midway between two identical piles of hay.  The donkey can’t decide which pile he should eat first and can’t find a good reason to choose one over the other.  Unfortunately the donkey’s indecisiveness doomed him to starvation.   Don’t be the metaphorical ass standing still letting opportunities pass you by.