Time to Rant About Those who CONDUCT Interviews — Part 1

I write this blog, as a recruiter, marketer and career development coach, to help you — the job seeker — with some down-to-earth advice on how to secure a new position.  But, for the last couple of weeks, a cauldron has been brewing inside my brain.  I keep hearing job seekers complain that the folks sitting on the OTHER side of the desk could use some hard-hitting advice as well.  Those who are conducting interviews need to learn a thing or two about simple etiquette and treating candidates with respect.  So here’s part one of my rant.  I hope it helps some of you feel better.

The other night I was at a party, talking to a Producer friend of mine who is looking for a new gig.  He got a call out of the blue last week from an unknown recruiter.  After introducing herself, she explained that she had a confidential search she was working on in which she was looking for a Senior Producer.  (Often times a confidential search means that the company wants to replace a person and needs to keep it on the QT until that person is notified.)

This recruiter proceeded to speak in broad strokes about a job she was peddling and requested my friend’s resume. Then, after about two-minutes of conversation, she point blank asked him “what do you make?”  He was thrown off balance by the probe.  Here’s a strange woman calling him on the phone, telling him about a job without mentioning specifics and then asking one of the most personal questions you can ask of someone.  My friend answered her by saying “I don’t feel comfortable giving you that information at this time.”

I could just see the recruiter on the other side of the phone, rolling her eyes.

You now what I think?   I think my friend should have said “I’ll tell you what, I’ll let you know what I make after you tell me what you make.”  I wonder how that would have gone down.

Just like Doctors lose their bedside manner after many years in a practice,  recruiters sometimes forget their manners.  They’ve got jobs to fill and money to make and too many of them just neglect to recognize that the individual on the other end of the phone is a person – not a number.  Recruiters need to slow down and foster relationships with their candidates before they start asking for personal information.

My friend wanted to know if this type of questioning was standard practice and I told him that, unfortunately it happens more often than not.  But, if you, as the candidate, have the credentials and present yourself well, the recruiter is going to want to work with you.  Keep it professional but don’t be afraid to show a backbone.  If you don’t feel comfortable answering a monetary question, it’s because the recruiter has not done his or her job in building trust with you. There are lots of recruiters out there.  Find the ones that treat you with dignity and work with them.  The others?  Tell them to go dial another number.

Stay tuned for more ranting in my next blog.

Carpe Diem…


  • Tom OB
    September 29, 2009

    Jane– I agree, the recruiter should know the ballpark for a Senior Producer. IMO, I think recruiters boast to potential companies that they can get a certain person/fill a position for less money than the market will bear, especially in this environment where the employer has the upper hand. If they’re a good recruiter and the candidate is right… Read More then the compensation should be a non-issue. I think that practice is deplorable and I never worked with those recruiters. Don’t get me on a rant either.

  • MJ
    September 29, 2009

    I got into a very similar situation just this morning. A company that contacted me, out of the blue, via my LinkedIn profile, finally had a “senior enough” HR person call me. She asked what I make, and my salary history, as part of a pre-pre screening interview.

    I told her that I wasn’t comfortable discussing; that I make market; etc. and she threatened to END the discussion and not speak with me further, right then and there, if I didn’t spit out my salary. I still want to hear more about the job, so of course, I lied and told her more than I make now, and told her that we’d negotiate around salary if we got to that point in the conversation.

    The NERVE!!! I wanted to jump through the phone and strangle the overly-important, Dilbert-esque HR recruiter, WHO by the way, didn’t know enough about the job to even speak to it. So annoying!

  • Tracy
    September 30, 2009

    Why exactly is salary information so personal? I’m a recruiter who regularly asks that question in a very non-threatening, matter of fact way, expecting a matter of fact big picture response. Maybe it’s different in the legal field where I work and salaries are often “lock-step,” but I don’t happen to think it is (or should be) such a personal issue. We’re all big boys and girls operating in the business world. I’m a consultant, and salary is one piece of business information that can make or break a deal. I often need to know salary basics to know if the deal is going anyplace. And yes, I’m going to roll my eyes if the person on the other end is not confident enough to share basics without drama.

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