Secrets of a Brighter Workplace


Tips on how to understand, recruit and keep the best people for your business


Staying sane in the crazy world of recruitment

'Are you mad?'

crazy world of recruitment

Sometimes, in recruitment, it can feel like you’re the only sane person in a world gone mad.

Why, you wonder, would someone who sent a really strong, well-put together application then not show up for their interview? Why would someone with no work experience apply for a technical manager role? Why do you get calls from people asking when the application deadline is when it’s spelt out clearly in the advert?

You’re not alone.

The thing is, recruitment is all about dealing with human beings. And sometimes human beings behave in weird, perplexing and even self-sabotaging ways.

Here are 8 examples of what might seem like crazy behaviour but which are, in my experience, quite normal for recruiters to encounter.

When it comes to recruitment, it’s perfectly normal …

1. to get a lot of (stupid) questions from potential applicants

Even if the information you’ve provided – to your agency, on your website, in the job description – couldn’t be clearer, you’ll still have people with questions.

A client of mine had someone ask them what their address was – despite it being clearly shown on their website. Possibly around a third of candidates do little or no research when applying.

My advice: be prepared. Do you need to identify a member of the team who can field these enquiries?

2. for applicants to simply disappear from the process

We’ve all been there. You receive a good quality application and are keen to interview the applicant. But however hard you try and contact them they can’t be reached.

My advice: don’t take it personally. Sometimes people just sift themselves out of the process before you get the chance to talk to them. Try three times by email and phone, and if you still haven’t got through, give them up for lost.

3. to receive applications from people who are completely unsuitable

Excited by the volume of applications you’ve received? Then disappointed when you realise how poor the quality is? It is, I’m afraid, the way things are these days. People have to apply for jobs in order to receive jobseekers allowance and that might mean applying for jobs they haven’t got a hope of getting.

My advice: the only thing you can do is make sure your job description is as accurate as possible and maybe consider some form of online sifting tool that will reject unsuitable candidates before CV stage.

4. for people to fail to turn up for interview

It can be shocking when people don’t show up for their interview. But there are a myriad of reasons why they might have changed their mind about the role. They might have done more research now they’ve been invited for an interview and realised it’s not what they’re looking for. They might have got another job offer. They might have decided to stay where they are.

My advice: plan for it. Recognise you’ll have dropouts when working out how many interviews you need to do.

5. for candidates to apply to multiple jobs at the same time

Ever had a candidate ask ‘which company are you?’? Sometimes candidates have applied to so many jobs they’ve forgotten which is which! Understandable if you’re actively job-hunting.

My advice: make it very clear on any communications to candidates who you are and what the job is.

6. for candidates to complain about how they’ve been dealt with during the recruitment process

Every so often it’s normal to get a complaint from a candidate. (If it’s a frequent occurrence there may be a real issue with your process that needs investigating.) Candidates take the process very personally. So if they feel hard done by in any way they may complain.

My advice: make sure your recruitment process is structured and fair and provide feedback. And take care around areas of potential discrimination.

7. for your ideal candidate not to accept the job offer

You’ve found your perfect employee – but they don’t want you. In my experience, around one in five offers are rejected by the candidate.

My advice: consider whether you gave them enough to make an informed decision prior to interview. And don’t reject other candidates until you’ve had a firm acceptance from your first choice.

8. for candidates to ask for feedback

It’s understandable that after taking the time and effort to apply for a job, candidates want to know why they weren’t successful – to help them do better next time.

My advice: be clear about how you’re going to go about it beforehand. Be upfront so people know what to expect in terms of feedback.


Sometimes it feels like people don’t behave in very logical ways but with a bit of understanding, pre-planning and zen-like calm we can work through the weirdness and get the result we want.

What bizarre behaviour have you had to deal with when recruiting? I’d love to know.

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