“We love our clients,” you say. For the most part, you mean it. But there’s always one. One client who, no matter what you seem to do, brings on headaches and eye-twitches across the office. The one who turns down every candidate you present; the one who thinks your job is easy; the one who wants all of your attention, all of the time. How do you handle someone like that?We’ve identified some common behaviour of tricky hiring managers and have some tips to save you and your team from losing your rag – and your client.
The Client: “We’re going to need more time to decide.”
They saw some great candidates who came out keen for an offer. It should be a done deal but suddenly the breaks are on. Perhaps they’re waiting for someone else to get back from holiday before making the call, or maybe they want to fish around for a few more candidates first. Either way, the delay is going to put off the good candidates who have already interviewed, undoing all your hard work.
The Solution: “This candidate is great for you, and this is why...”
They’re paying for your expertise, so give it to them. Explain why waiting is going to lose them these candidates. Remind them who you think is the best fit for the position and why. If they’re struggling to decide between two otherwise equal candidates, it might be helpful to introduce a technical test or scoring system to tie-break any close calls. If they still choose to keep your candidates hanging, they might have to learn this lesson the hard way.
The Client: “Did I say that? I meant this...”
The goalposts are always moving. Maybe the salary range you’d agreed on turns out to be flexible by another 10k, maybe the driving license he insisted was essential turns out to be optional, maybe the hire he said he wanted in a seat by next week can’t come on board for another 6 weeks after all. You end up having to repeat your search again and again as he drifts further from the original brief.
The Solution: “Here’s what we agreed.”
Get written confirmation of his requirements before you begin sourcing and remind him when he’s asking you to deviate from them. Asking him to commit these to writing gives you something to refer back to when he changes his mind, allowing you to reach a resolution without any debate about whether or not the initial brief was misunderstood.
The Client: “I can do anything better than you!”
She believes she could do your job faster and better than you. She expects piles of perfect CVs to land in her inbox in a matter of days. Why? She just doesn’t understand the actual level of supply for candidates with the niche skills she’s looking for, nor the challenges around getting hold of them.
The Solution: “No, you can’t!”
She may think she can do better, but she’s never had to try. The only way forward is to explain clearly what happens as part of the recruitment process and why it’s not a five minute job. Some recruitment software will help with this by allowing hiring managers limited visibility into the progress on their jobs, giving an overview of the work involved in bringing candidates to a client. If this isn’t an option then agree on how often and when you’ll be providing updates, but try not to get drawn into promises outwith those agreed timeframes.
Ailsa is a technical writer and solutions engineer working at Instructure in London.