Monday, May 25, 2009

Candidate superstitions!

Well, here’s an interesting question from a recruiter that got my attention.

“It’s a known fact in the recruiting world that a lot of offered candidates push their date of joining a new firm for various reasons. It could be personal travel, vacations, not getting relieved on time from the current company, etc., However, I’ve got a weird request (it is, at least to me) from a senior candidate who has asked to postpone his date of joining to a week later. He believes that a certain day next week would bring him good luck (superstitions) in his new role! He is a very good candidate and we wouldn’t like to lose him for this reason. However, the management & I are a little wary of a couple of things, (a) is the candidate buying time to check on other potential offers, or (b) would his beliefs have repercussions later on the job too. What are your thoughts?”

Let me see, Tom always wears his fave wristwatch to marketing forums (he claims to generate more leads when he wears it!), Jane says she needs to always have coffee in her fave coffee-mug at the start of her day, for better results, while John always wears his fave red tie to close a deal. Would I we ask them to stop believing their superstitions? I would say, NO. It’s because their beliefs are helping them achieve positive outcome at work. However, if the same set of beliefs has a counter-effect on their individual performance, or if it ends up affecting the team’s or company’s morale/performance, I would have a formal talk with them to let them know & take necessary actions. For instance, if John (same sales guy as mentioned above) has another belief that he wouldn’t sign a deal with blue ink & he’s at the table making the client wait while he searches for non-blue ink. That’s trouble and a serious one.

I’ll answer your query in two parts. Your first query or doubt is whether the candidate is buying more time to check on other potential offers. If that happened, it would be a really bummer! And major portion of the fault lies at your end. It’s a situation that you needed to control. I had written about post offer discussions
here. These discussions are critical and it ensures that your time & effort spent will reap good returns. Get on that phone and start talking to the candidate. Make your discussions valuable and one that will help the candidate take an informed decision.

Your second query was on repercussions of superstitious beliefs. Let’s give the benefit of doubt to the candidate. Maybe, he associates that day or date, whatever, with initial success in his career. Now he wants to continue with that tradition. You feel he is a good candidate meant for the long haul; then would him joining now versus next week have any effect on the next 3-5 years of working for you? That’s just one way of thinking. Repercussions are hard to predict at the start. Unless off course he said something drastic during the interviews and you/other interviewers didn’t catch it then. It’s never too late to talk to employees when their superstitious beliefs are hurting the company. It’s important to check on his references. You say he’s a senior candidate, which means that his role may require him to take decisions, manage teams or even manage clients, among other activities. It would be best to have a well constructed reference check that will tell you how he managed his previous role & any impact due to his beliefs. Make sure you show discretion, this is a sensitive topic and most candidates wouldn’t like it discussed in the open.

Congrats on closing the position! It’s a great feeling for any recruiter. Also, hope that things work out fine with this candidate.

Or shall we just say…
knock on wood!