7 Warning Signs That Your Best Candidate Is Getting Cold Feet

Posted by Tony Fornetti on 9/6/16 4:48 PM

You’ve sifted through stacks of resumes.  You’ve found that elusive, perfect specimen of a candidate.  Even better, they’re just as interested in the job as you – and the hiring manager – are in them.  Best of all, they ace their interviews, leaving their competition in the dust.  Your client is happy.  You’re happy.  And you pull together a great offer. It’s all systems go.

Or is it all systems gone… along with the candidate?

There are few things more frustrating than discovering, by surprise, that your #1  candidate has dropped out of the race.  The later in the process, the worse the situation is.  You’ve not only lost the time, money and energy that you sunk into this candidate.  Your credibility has taken a hit with your client. 

You may have been caught off guard – but you probably shouldn’t have been.  In all likelihood, this candidate was probably giving some pretty strong signals that their enthusiasm .  But in your glee to get this job completed, you may have missed them.  Next time, watch for these seven red flags that a candidate is getting cold feet.

  1. Delay, delay, delay
    If your candidate is still excited about the job after the first interview, they will want to keep the process moving forward smoothly.  If, on the other hand, you start hearing a lot of excuses for non-action or slow-downs, especially after the first interview, something may have changed.  Maybe they learned things during the interview or afterward that made them second-guess the opportunity.  Maybe they’re having a change of heart about leaving their current job.  Whatever their reasons, if your candidate is suddenly unable to do second interviews or respond to an offer within a day or two, ask them if they have concerns.  If they have nothing to say, they’re probably moving on.  So should you.
  2. Your messages fall into a black hole.
    Were you getting immediate responses to your calls, texts and emails at first?  Take notice when response times start stretching from minutes to hours.  And unless you were previously alerted to a planned vacation or a last minute travel plan, any wait over a day is a screaming alarm bell.  Sure, sometimes things come up.  But these are the exciting, final steps in a getting a new job.  If your candidate never picks up the phone or only manages to sends you vague, non-committal responses, you’re losing them.
  3. New day, new demand
    A candidate who is clear on their abilities, needs and career goals will be able to share those things with you early in the process.  If there suddenly seems to be a new need at every turn, your candidate is probably looking for excuses to walk away. 
  4. You hear – from someone else – that your candidate is interviewing with other employers.
    Always, always ask during your first conversation!  It’s easy:  “Are you looking at other opportunities?”  And forever after that, check in.  How is everything going?  Are they getting other calls?  Have they received an internal offer?  By not asking, you’re failing to build a clear and open relationship with this candidate.  If they’re such a strong candidate – and if you have failed to impress them with your follow up – of course they’re probably interviewing elsewhere. 
  5. Where are those references?
    We’re quick to assume that a failure to produce references means that the candidate has big problems in their work history.  But sometimes, it just means the candidate isn’t that serious about the job you’re pitching.  They may have great references – who are ready to sing their praises.  It’s a stall tactic, keeping you waiting while they decide what they really want to do.  Or it may be a way of cooling off the discussions altogether.
  6. Money changes everything.
    Have the candidate’s salary requirements made a sudden shift in direction?  Have you presented your best offer, only to learn that their current boss has countered?  Yes, money is important to this candidate.  But if you’re starting to hear numbers that were never within your range, then face it:  the job you’re offering just isn’t worth it to this candidate.  Attempt one last conversation to see if you can uncover any other reasons for the change of heart.  But if you never get one, it’s time to say good-bye.
  7. They no-show for an interview.
    This isn’t a sign.  It’s a good-bye.  I’m not talking about a last minute cancellation.  A cancellation is annoying and, depending on the excuse, likely inexcusable.  But an unexplained, straight-up no-show says this candidate has no serious interest in the job.  More importantly, it’s disrespectful.  They’ve lost interest?  So should you.

So there are your warning signs that your top candidate may be changing their mind. Would you like access to top candidates? We'd love to hear more about the positions you are filling.

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Topics: For Employers, HR, Recruitment