The Importance of Responsiveness and Flexibility

February 8th, 2011 § 1 comment

This morning I was attempting to reschedule and interview with a candidate that was unable to make the first scheduled appointment. The client looked to schedule the first missed appointment with very short notice so it was understandable to me that the candidate was unable to accommodate the interview time. When getting availabilities to reschedule, the candidate told me that literally any other day or time the rest of that week would work.

I received a rescheduled interview time last evening with about 36 hours’ notice for someone who is currently unemployed. I tried to reach the candidate several times on two phones with no response, so I sent an email. Without getting a call back, I receive this email reply:

I am sorry but that time will not work for me. I am currently engaged in my own business venture and will be unable to make any early morning interviews and will need to start only after 10:30am.

When reading an email like this, red flags go up immediately. Why did the candidate originally say that any time of day would work for the, only to pull back a day later? Why is a private, personal business venture more important than a corporate interview with an investment bank that offers real career opportunities? Why wasn’t the candidate able to return the message over the phone as opposed to email? All of these are significant causes for concern.

I spoke with the candidate this morning and could tell immediately that their motivation did not mirror their words. When asking this individual point-blank, “how serious are you about your job search?” the response was “very serious, however I am unable to give you any flexibility for interview times.” If someone is truly motivated to earn themselves a new career opportunity, they’ll be as flexible as possible. This wasn’t an extremely senior candidate, simply a four-year experienced college graduate who was the victim of an economic layoff. Given the unbelievable competition within New York City’s financial services market with the unemployed contingent growing daily, a truly motivated candidate should not just jump on but seize every opportunity that could potentially lead to employment. Missed chances could result in weeks, months, potentially years of additional time without full-time work.

When I put it plainly to the candidate – make the interview or be pulled from the process – the individual had no qualms about pursuing their own entrepreneurial ventures at the expense of an opportunity that they likely could have obtained an offer on.

Perhaps that since this individual was laid off just a few short weeks ago clouded their judgment. “It hasn’t been that long,” they’re thinking, “I know something else will come up.” While this may or may not be true, what is certain is that turning down an immediate opportunity will further delay this individual’s job search and extend the time between their last job and the one they hope to land. The longer an individual is out of work, the more they will be scrutinized during the interview process. As four weeks of unemployment turns to three months, an employer will certainly question an individual’s ability to keep their skills sharp and updated without working. This perception snowballs as time goes on and can have the ultimate outcome of severely reducing an individual’s worth and compensation or pushing the candidate into a never-ending cycle of temporary work.

It’s important to realize who has the position of power during the interview process. Clients and candidates have a one-to-many relationship – one job that many people are looking to land. The need to reschedule, the failure to quickly respond to a potential employer’s requests – these are all factors that are immediately considered when a candidate is in process. With the level of competition being so high for even the most mediocre jobs, any negative indication perceived by the job seeker’s actions can and will cause the passive job-seeker to lose out on an opportunity.

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