Four Difficult Candidates and How to Handle Them

As a recruiter, you’re guaranteed to work with every type of person, for better or worse. While most applicants let their winning personalities shine through, others come off as self-righteous, timid or even rude. As a recruiter, it can be difficult to navigate this mine field of temperaments, so below, we share four common interview scenarios you’re sure to face and how to handle them.

The Unprepared

The candidate is excited to meet over email, but once you’re face-to-face, you’re met with a blank stare and a lot of “umms”. You’re not convinced the applicant even knows what position they’re interviewing for. At best, it’s awkward. At worst, it’s a deal breaker.

As much as we’d like to fill in the silence of an interview, resist the urge to prompt the interviewee after asking them a question. Give them some time to think, even if the silence is painful. Moreover, cut the interviewee some slack if they’re inexperienced, especially if they look good on paper. Some young professionals need to work out their nerves in the beginning of an interview, but gain confidence the longer they speak with you.

The Overly Confident

On the flip side, there’s always one candidate that thinks they have the job in the bag before the interview even starts. Sure, his or her resume blew you away, but out of the gate they’ve already tried to negotiate salary and more vacation time! The best way to handle the type of applicant whose confidence  is borderline smug is to throw them off their game. Be sure to ask difficult questions at the onset of the interview and if they’re as good as they say, they’ll be able to play hardball.

The Cyber Stalker

Nearly every recruiter has dealt with the pushy, borderline stalker-ish candidate. The one that emails, LinkedIn messages, and calls every day without fail. After each interaction, you find yourself looking over your shoulder, worried they might show up at your office.

With this type of candidate, recruiters run into trouble after the interview. While it’s important to make sure a candidate feels valued and heard through consistent communication, the best way to handle the pushy candidate is to lay down some ground rules – including making it clear that you’ll check in regularly, with or without news – and that you won’t be able to respond immediately to every message.

The Wallflower

The wallflower candidate is great on paper and has the perfect response to every question you ask. But they’re timid, soft spoken and maybe even stutter and stumble over their words. The key to handling this candidate is to create a comfortable interview environment where they can calmly communicate their experience. A shy personality is not usually a deal breaker, especially if the role you’re recruiting doesn’t have a huge focus on public speaking. Remember, not every perfect candidate is the extrovert with the loudest voice in the room.

Applicants come in all shapes and sizes, and as a recruiter, you’re sure to encounter an interesting cast of characters. The key to handling every type of difficult candidate is to recognize what kind of person they are and act accordingly – whether that means shutting down a braggy Brian or empowering a shy Sharon. After all, the end goal of every interview is to make it one step closer to pairing a great company with its dream employee.

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Nexxt is a recruitment media company that uses today’s most effective marketing tactics to reach the full spectrum of talent – from active to passive, and everything in between. Learn more about hiring with Nexxt.

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