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Business News/ Specials / Tank Tops, Toilet Trips and Lies: What Headhunters Can See

We spoke with executive recruiters about hiring today. Interviews have been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

Faking a car accident

We had placed a candidate in a temporary position, a light industrial role in Houston. It was his first week, and that day he was late for work. He said it was because he got in a car accident, and he ended up just not showing up at all.

We didn’t ask for one, but he sent us a picture of his car as proof that he was really in an accident. One of our recruiters noticed that the photo didn’t look like it was in the right season. I think in the picture the leaves on the trees in the background had turned, but it was summer out.

We ended up just searching “car accident" in Google Images and that picture was one of the first results that came up. It was, like, stock photography. We then informed him that it would be his last day.

He could have overslept or something, and people are pretty understanding that mistakes happen and no one’s perfect. The best thing you can do is just be honest about it, not make something up. The whole thing was so silly, because no one even asked him to send anything.

—Keith Wolf, Murray Resources

Dressing for success

Early in my career, I was recruiting for a mid-level remote developer position for a tech company. I always prepare my candidates for their interviews, so I hopped on the phone with him and went over the basics: The interview would be over Zoom, but make sure you’re still professional from the waist up, don’t wear a hat, that kind of thing. He seemed ready to go, and I had confidence—he had a great background.

The interview only ended up being like 15 minutes long, which is not a good sign, and the client sent us a feedback email pretty quickly, giving us a heads up that this candidate had been calling from inside his garage, wearing a white tank top and a backwards hat and smoking a cigar. We were like, this cannot be real.

My account manager assured me that this wasn’t my fault, and he called the candidate to give him the feedback and ask what his reasoning was behind all of it. The candidate said he just needed to take a load off, due to his nerves and stuff. He really thought that what he was doing wasn’t a big deal, which is pretty wild.

The candidate had decent longevity at other companies, so we were really confused. But we didn’t work with him after that, unfortunately.

—Molly Hansen, Hirewell

Bathroom calls

The thing I am most surprised by is when candidates are comfortable going to the bathroom while on a call with you. We can hear everything. My colleague once asked me, “Are you sure that wasn’t just a sink running?" and I was like, “No, I think running a sink usually isn’t followed by a flush." I’ve had it happen more times than I can count on two hands.

One time, I also had an initial phone screen scheduled with a candidate about a software engineer job and they picked up the call while in the shower. I could hear water running, and they said, “Oh, I’m actually in the shower right now." I asked, “Are you just getting into the shower?" And they said, “No, no I’m in the shower." I was just like, you could have just let this go to voicemail! It was pretty mind-blowing. And I told them that we should reschedule.

Funnily enough, the person ended up being a great candidate and I placed them in a role.

—Matthew Mulcahy, Hirewell


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