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The Return of Candidate Arrogance

By August 25, 20118 Comments

This didn’t happen to me.  But it is a story related to me recently, and one that I can relate to very well.  The candidate was booked in for interview.  On paper they looked good for the role the recruiter was trying to fill and the phone screen had revealed encouraging levels of communication skills and commercial acumen.  Due to urgent deadlines and a tight work schedule, other meetings were moved to accommodate the candidate’s desired interview times.


The candidate was late for the interview by about 15 minutes.  When she arrived at reception, flushed, flustered and imperceptibly agitated, what did she say next?


A.    “I’m so sorry I’m late.  I didn’t mean to be rude but should have anticipated the central city parking challenges and unfortunately hadn’t noted your number to call ahead.  Shall we pop out for coffee instead?  They’re on me.”


B.    “Sorry I’m late but it’s not my fault.  My last meeting ran over time and it’s just impossible to find parking around here.”


C.    “….” [says nothing at all]


D.    “I couldn’t find your offices.  I finally managed to find parking in the general vicinity of where I thought your offices were but they weren’t where I thought.  And then I called the White Pages to get your address and you aren’t listed.  Why aren’t you listed?  How are people supposed to find you?”


In 2009 the answer would most likely have been “A”.  In 2010 probably more like “B”.  But of course, the actual answer in this instance is “D”.  Despite every other visitor we have come and visit us here always finding it quite easily, and coming prepared with the address and contact information that we send them each time, this particular candidate decided that it was actually our fault she was late.


Because we aren’t listed in the White Pages….



There are so many things I could say in response to this, not least of which is:  Why would anyone bother paying to list in the White Pages these days?  90% of our visitors come here wielding smart phones these days so that, even if they are not well-prepared enough to have allowed time for traffic, finding a car park and locating our offices, it would be easy to pull up our website to find our contact details and call ahead.


It looks like the return of acute talent shortages has also heralded the return of the Arrogant Candidate.  This is an interesting phenomenon closely tied into human nature and the handling of positions of power.  In 2009, during the GFC, the candidates had lost all power.  Companies were making redundancies left, right and centre and to be interviewing for a role was a position of privilege.  Amazingly, good manners abounded.  Now that the power has shifted back into the hands of candidates, some of them out there are clearly finding it difficult to assume their new status of highly in demand whilst maintaining basic levels of integrity and respect.


I saw a tweet earlier this week from @AaronDodd saying:

“Candidate no-show for interview.  #blackflag #blacklist #neverdarkenmydooragain”

And as that spread it was clear many other recruiters out there were feeling the same, and being treated the same.  Particularly, it has to be said, in the more acutely candidate short markets, such as IT, Engineering and – dare I say it – Recruitment.  An accounting recruiter in Auckland Adam Napper (@BeanyRecruiter) tweeted:

“Try accounting then. My candidates are more than obliging as it is still very tight for roles!”

We in recruitment are frequently lambasted by candidates for poor communication, lack of follow up, insufficient feedback and not having their best interests at heart.  Sadly, in some cases, these criticisms are justified.  But isn’t it interesting to see how, once the power shifts into the hands of the candidates, it is they who suddenly deem it acceptable to behave rudely and mess people around?


I suppose that’s just human nature.


Jonathan Rice

MD at New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice Consulting and co-founder of on-demand recruiter offering Joyn. Recruitment agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.


  • Candidates forget that recruiters have databases and memories. Candidate short market or not, there is just no excuse for bad manners.

  • paul jacobs says:

    The funny thing is that some of these rude, arrogant and late-for-meetings tossers with an external locus of control would make excellent employees and managers and fit with many organisational cultures – and probably perform exceptionally with their critical thinking approach and blame shifting. If you don’t place them, then another recruiter will and say they’re an “X-factor candidate”. At least the candidate had the initiative to look in the white pages 😉 I’m sure many of us have met potential clients where we got a similar vibe.

  • Johan says:

    Thats why our clients use agencies    to weed out these ….

  • Chris Mosley says:

    Had 2 no shows this week. Person A – emails with apology, advises when they are next available and suitable to is re-arranged. Person B – No email, no response, actually I still haven’t heard from them and the interview was booked for Wednesday. My market is 50/50 right now, but the turn of the tide is coming. /sigh.

  • Stewart Farr says:

    I bet she had a glowing CV too! With all the right keywords. Ironic how people are different on paper. 

  • Simone Wadham says:

    You can never be too well groomed or too well mannered for an interview/meeting/coffee/chat.  Courtesy is still very appealing from where I sit!

  • Chris says:

    This story sounds made-up.The flaw in it is that a listing in the White Pages is automatic – everyone gets a listing, unless they opt-out. You also don’t pay for listing in the White pages.

  • John Bennewith says:

    As much as I like this article I would have to agree with Paul Jacobs in the fact that these candidates are the X Factor candidates and I always so much prefer the market when there is a candidate shortage than an over supply. This is when really good recruiters with really good personal networks make the most placements and also make the most money. It is a lot better for the power to be with the people than with the corporations and clients. This makes salary negotiations and demands much easier.