Hire-Sense: Treating senior level candidates like “job applicants” can have very costly unintended consequences
By Dennis Troyanos
Founder, The Troyanos Group, Ltd.
Journal entry: September 12, 2013
Several months ago, our firm was retained by a highly regarded marketing services firm to recruit a very senior professional to lead their marketing technology practice.
We were fortunate to identify and recruit no less than six stellar candidates who were currently employed but saw the opportunity as the outstanding one it was, and as a result threw their hat into the ring.
Due to the senior nature of the assignment, a number of interviews with these candidates needed to take place in order to determine which of the six candidates would make the “short-list.” This is generally standard operating procedure in the executive search field, but in this particular case, the hiring manager at our client firm (although a very decent guy) was always “too busy” to provide meaningful feedback to us as to why he selected one candidate to move forward and why another would be put on the “do not continue” list.
Although we sought his feedback on numerous occasions in order to be respectful to ALL the candidates, (those he was interested in and those he was not), this manager simply continued to ignore our requests (and in one case the candidate’s direct e-mail request) for the kind of constructive feedback that a senior professional, who takes time away from their jobs and personal life to interview deserve.
This turned out to be an unfortunate misstep on the part of our client; here’s why.
Shortly after the search was complete and the new senior leader was in place, one of the candidates who did not make the cut (in fact the one who respectfully requested feedback but was ignored) was ultimately hired by a very large enterprise to assume the role of CMO. As one of her first initiatives, this individual (in conjunction with her procurement department) put out a very significant RFP to a short list of leading marketing services firms. As luck would have it, the hiring manager at our client firm was in the awkward position of being in a competitive pitch for a piece of business from the same person he ignored during the interview process!
So what was the outcome? Ironically our client’s company won the business, but it was conditional on one thing … that the manager not be part of the team that works with the client. When the CEO of the marketing services firm inquired as to why, the answer came back. Character, trust and professional courtesy were major factors in the list of requirements of this CMO and while she trusted the marketing services vendor to deliver, her experience proved that this particular manager did not fit the professional courtesy requirement.
Needless to say, the CEO of the marketing services firm, while pleased to get the business was less than thrilled to understand the reason for getting the business under this conditional restriction. We can only imagine what the conversation was between the CMO and the hiring manager as a result of this awkward and embarrassing situation.
Dennis Troyanos is the Founder of The Troyanos Group, Ltd. a retained executive search firm specializing in marketing, advertising and marketing services. He can be reached at 914-479-1801 or firstname.lastname@example.org