update: my recruiter is so overbearing and obnoxious that I’m thinking of withdrawing my application

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

Remember the letter-writer who whose recruiter was overbearing that she was thinking of withdrawing her application? Here’s the update.

After the recruiter said I needed to be sure about my job, I sent her an email, “It’s sounding like maybe ABC Company isn’t the right culture fit for me based on your interview prep and how reluctant they may be to reschedule an interview. I don’t want to waste anyone’s time any further so will take myself out of the running for this position.”

I got the following email back: “I apologize if I made it seem like ABC Co would not reschedule your interview, as that is not the case. I just know what it takes for them to reschedule an interview, so I just wanted to make sure we were being conscientious of their time. They were happy to reschedule, and have in fact already sent over an alternative time.

I think things are being misconstrued over email, so I apologize if at any point I made you feel like I wasn’t being understanding. That was never my intent.”

I decided to move forward with the job interview. I made sure to ask a lot of questions about the company culture and flex time as those were important to me. As mentioned above, I accepted the job. She tried to stay involved in my negotiation process, but I focused on working with the HR person at the company. Using your tips (and podcast), I successfully negotiated for the first time ever, for a larger salary AND signing bonus!

The recruiter wanted to have a phone call on my first day to “make sure everything goes well.” I never answered a call from her again. She has asked me for more referrals for my company, but my company pays a better referral bonus directly.

Also, after I was here for a few months, I sat down with our HR team to give them feedback on this recruiter. Apparently this agency has made a habit of contacting hiring managers directly (which they aren’t supposed to do), and she was absolutely appalled by what she heard about my experience. I’m not sure if we’ll be continuing our contract or not.

{ 104 comments… read them below }

  1. Half-Caf Latte*

    OP – congrats on navigating that adeptly and the negotiation success!

    I’m dying over here of curiosity though- what on earth could the recruiter have done if “things” weren’t going well???

    1. OP*

      Yeah, I’m not sure. She actually in another state. I guess usually they try to meet their hires at their location, but it didn’t work here. Who knows.

      1. T. Boone Pickens*

        Doubtful. Most companies have a guarantee period on their placements where if the candidate leaves/gets fired the recruiting company has to replace the candidate at no charge.

        1. Practice is better than theory*

          We hired a CEO for one of our portfolio companies via a recruiter. CEO did not work out. Recruiter was supposed to replace the candidate, but ghosted us. We decided it was not worth suing.

    2. CopperPenny*

      When I was a recruiter, it was to make sure the person didn’t leave at lunch time without telling anyone or no call no show the next morning. I was hiring construction workers. If someone didn’t like their bosses attitude or found the work different then they expected we wanted to know so we could see if they can get switched to a different project or have a replacement for them.

    3. Emily K*

      It kind of sounds to me like this recruiter maybe has heard about how part of being a good recruiter and earning repeat business is ensuring that the candidates you place are successful in their new roles, so it’s good to check-in with them on the first day/first week, it shows you care about them and about their new company and you’re willing to go that extra mile and provide this “value added” service even after you’ve already won the commission…except this recruiter is just going through the motions of doing The Thing without really understanding or exemplifying the philosophy behind why it’s done.

      Kind of like people who read advice to, “Ask questions to show interest,” but then come up with bad questions, like asking for basic information that was in the job description or easily googleable – following the letter of the advice without understanding the spirit of it, and thus not getting the intended benefit.

  2. Quill*

    All the applause, OP.

    (though I have had PLENTY of recruiters try to keep in contact with me after starting a position, when all I actually want out of the contract company is my paycheck and paperwork…)

    1. Leela*

      Yes, same here. Many, many follows up to “please call after work as I need to connect with you!” and then it’s just a garbage phone call where they’re clearly trying to extract any information out of me that might indicate a problem they can get ahead of, it’s completely transparent, it wastes my time, and yes, they do want it *after* work which they don’t pay for. It’s completely transparent that they don’t care about me and it’s really insulting that they think I don’t know what they’re up to when they do this. If I’ve told them that this is a work call and it needs to happen during hours I’m getting paid for, they try to schedule it on my unpaid lunch. Even when I get them to call me during actual working hours, they scold me for stepping away for the work I’m doing for the company like they aren’t the ones making me step away for nonsense.

    2. Jamie*

      Always. What frustrated me was one who needed to talk to me immediately after an interview. I don’t like phone calls and I certainly don’t like taking calls when I’m trying to decompress immediately post-interview whilst driving in an unfamiliar area trying to GPS home. After a while I stopped answering and would respond when I got home.

      1. Quill*

        Yes, what exactly do you want to accomplish and why does it have to be done by phone? If you send me an email with questions I’ll get to it and probably answer eventually. If you’re calling me I find it an annoyance.

        1. Practice is better than theory*

          Because the recruiter prefers to debrief by phone when the memory of the interview is fresh. I’m sorry you don’t like to speak by phone; get over it.

          1. Arts Akimbo*

            Wow. Lots of busy people don’t like to speak by phone, because of scheduling. Emails can be worked on and sent at any time.

          2. Ariaflame*

            I prefer not to use the phone for anything that isn’t extremely time sensitive and only use it if it can’t be done in person.

          3. Surly*

            Wow, how nasty! It’s not totally safe to take calls while driving, especially in an unfamiliar area.

          4. Zillah*

            I’m sorry the world doesn’t communicate in precisely the way you think it should; get over it.

          5. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Hey, the tone of this comment isn’t okay.

            I think it’s reasonable for a recruiter to want to debrief by phone afterwards; it’s reasonable to want an actual conversation with back and forth, rather than an email exchange, which can be more sterile/more stilted (especially with people who aren’t as good in writing as they are when speaking).

            But it shouldn’t be while the person is driving home! It could be the next day after they’ve had some time to reflect and digest, which is probably more useful anyway.

          6. Jennifer Thneed*

            I don’t like to speak by phone WHILE DRIVING.

            Which is why I don’t answer my phone while I’m driving. I’ll check that message when I get home and call you back then.

            The recruiters I have worked with all asked me to call THEM after the interview. They usually get some version of “I think it went pretty well and I’ll send you more info when I get home”.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        What is with this new(ish) expectation that candidates be available to chat on the phone while driving?! That’s not safe. I’m not answering the phone while I drive unless it’s my immediate family (i.e, “something happened”) or one of my elderly mom’s doctors/case workers/social workers (“something definitely happened”).

  3. Hills to Die on*

    Thank you for the update and congrats on the new job! So glad you said something about this recruiter as it isn’t surprising they have other issues.

  4. Captain S*

    Awesome update!

    I re-read the original letter just now and I’m not sure how “Needing to reschedule because of a personal emergency is not looking good on you as a candidate” could possibly be “misconstrued over email!”

    It’s such an obnoxious thing to say to a professional person. Glad your company heard your feedback on her and took it seriously

    1. Do I need a hard hat for this?*

      Exactly! How dare you have the audacity to have a personal emergency! Couldn’t you schedule that at a better time?

      I’m glad it worked out well for the OP in the end!

      1. PurpleMonster*

        Well, no, you just don’t let ANYTHING get in the way of the job. Because that’s more important than anything else, and to put your family first is unprofessional.

        1. Serin*

          There certainly are companies that would view having a personal emergency as “not looking good.” But if you have any options at all as a candidate, you wouldn’t want to indulge that kind of thing — you’d want to know about it beforehand so you could escape working for them.

  5. Goldfinch*

    Nice job, OP!

    My boss was so pissed to hear how my recruiter misled me during my temp-to-hire process that she demanded that our next temp be a direct hire.

    Later, I heard from a department lead elsewhere in the company that the same recruiter, while quite sick, insisted on meeting with him to reviews resumes, sneezed on the department lead, and put in him the hospital with flu that progressed to pneumonia.

    As far as I know, that agency is no longer used. That guy’s BS destroyed his entire company’s reputation with us.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      Same. But think of how many other good candidates the recruiter probably scared off prior to OP.

  6. Holly*

    I think it’s really really common for recruiters to overstep.

    I’ve also had to go through the bs of “interview prep”. I’m also in my 30s, and I don’t need someone to tell me to “dress nicely” and “research the company.”

    My last recruiter… she told me I had to write down all my research, even though it was basic things like WHAT THE COMPANY DOES. She met with me in person before the interview and literally MADE me write down obvious things.

    She also told me that my outfit was great… but as I took off my coat (DUHHHHhhhh).

    I also had to write down all my questions ahead of time and go over them with her, regardless of whether or not they are answered in the interview. I don’t understand why I wouldn’t have questions during the interview unless I write them down??? This seems like an entry-level problem where people don’t think they’re allowed to interview the company too?

    I wish I could say this was uncommon, but it’s honestly like the majority of recruiters who treat you like you’re a toddler.

    1. Holly*

      My outfit was great — but only if I was willing to take off my coat.* Lol

      She said hiring managers were really impressed if you brought notes and looked down at your notes when referencing (obvious) things. She said one time someone got hired because of his notes. The hiring manager told her, “I have no idea what he said, but he had so many notes I just had to hire him!” Whaaaaaa

    2. DataGirl*

      I once had a recruiter who sent a huge list of do’s and don’t’s for an interview- I don’t remember all of the ridiculous ones but ‘no red lipstick or red fingernail polish’ was one.

      1. Holly*

        Oh yeah that’s another common one! So many do that! I have pages and pages of do’s and don’ts from recruiters. One of my favorites is “No jewelry except for engagement or wedding rings.”

    3. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Depending on my level of desperation for the job, my snarky sarcasm may have led me to respond in a not so nice way. “Is there something specific about this company that you can tell me, because I’ve been working professionally for 25 years and I’m pretty sure I know the basics of a job interview.”

      1. Veryanon*

        I work in HR and have interviewed more than my share of candidates. I’ve been in the professional workforce, like you, for 25+ years. Yet, the last time I was in the job market (3 years ago), a recruiter I was working with had the temerity to send me articles about how to interview, how to dress for an interview, etc., etc. I basically told that person what you’ve put here. She apologized but said it was their standard procedure. I said, well, maybe for someone right out of college, but if a seasoned professional person can’t be trusted to know the basics of how to interview, that says a lot about how well they would or wouldn’t fit into your client’s culture.

        1. T. Boone Pickens*

          Full disclosure I own a recruiting firm so feel free to take this with a grain of salt. You know, you’d think you’d be right here but I’ve seen some of the most jaw dropping stuff from seasoned professional people that it would make your head spin. I do give advice on interview attire but it’s strictly from the standpoint of a know your audience.

            1. T. Boone Pickens*

              I’ll give advice on interview attire in a general sense. Dressing to your environment type stuff. Not going full suit to a casual work environment or too casual for an interview with a white shoe law firm. You’d think more people would ask about that during the interview process but it always seems to be something that slips through the cracks.

          1. techRando*

            I personally appreciate advice specific to the place I’m interviewing– “Is this a place where I should do a full interview suit? A blazer and slacks? Blazer and jeans?”
            Honestly, I wouldn’t mind more specific help personally because I am fashion-challenged and I have a very hard time reading the line between “too trendy for this” to “too frumpy/old fashioned for this”

            I think framing the general advice as being specific to a given employer and then offering more assistance if they don’t feel like they know exactly what level of dress means (for example, someone going from business professional to a business-but-really-casual employer might feel overwhelmed trying to find the right amount of formality in their interview outfit) is a really good way to give people the advice they might need while possibly avoiding them taking the advice as an insult.

            While I am not a super-experienced worker yet, I really don’t see myself learning how to navigate this better in general unless the industry drastically changes and the full interview suit becomes standard everywhere. Right now, I just explicitly ask for the dress code they recommend for interviews.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Are you in a line of work that requires you to go through recruiters specifically? Why would anyone ever accept this behavior from someone?

      You’re a professional client, not a child. I’d walk the hell out of anywhere that gave me homework. No, you’re the recruiter, you work for me and the company that’s hiring, I don’t work for you, you’re not paying me anything. Hell I could be your next check, so you need to back waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay up with that kind of boundary crossing nonsense.

      “Made me”, brings out the “You’re not my real mom.” inside of me.

      1. Holly*

        Yeah I just had to put up with it. I moved to a new city and it was the only quick option if I didn’t want to work in retail.

      2. Stop Me Now*

        Having worked as a professional recruiter, allow me to burst your bubble. The client is the hiring company. The candidate is the product. End of story. Recruiter is polishing the product to make the best impression on the client. And let me be honest — if the client doesn’t like this product, there’s another product waiting in the wings to offer up for sale. It is MUCH easier to find a new product than it is to find a new client. There is NO recruiter who will pound the pavement to find the perfect job for a candidate, even a good one. Sorry.

        1. boop the first*

          Mmm yeah :/ This is why I shrug off suggestions from others that I should try some kind of placement company to find work (I’ve been unemployed for a while). I’m so bottom of the barrel in terms of experience and education that no one out there would bother wasting their time on me.

    5. AKchic*

      I really wish interviewing were simple. I spent two weeks with my husband prepping him for what should have been a cake-walk interview for a job that was practically his. Told him exactly what he needed to review. Gave him tips on the interviewers. Offered to do mock interviews with professionals.

      He ignored me, because “I’ve been working for 20 years, I know how to interview!” He tanked his interview. He was trying to move from retail to an office sales position. He did/does not know how to interview outside of retail.

    6. Quill*

      Interview prep is often “we want to make you spend money to pre-interview for nonexistent jobs” (Hi, Aerotek!) and I will absolutely refuse any part of it that isn’t done online.

      1. Zelda*

        Spend money on what?
        I ask in part because, last time I had a temp job, my onsite supervisor told me it was a small miracle they even looked at [agency I was with], because for [my field] jobs they always hired through Aerotek. Then the whole division of [site] folded, and [agency I was with] acted like they never heard of me and had zero interest in placing me again– that one placement had lasted a couple of years, you’d think they’d want another low-effort, long-payoff candidate, but no. I was about to sign up with Aerotek, because apparently that’s The Place to Be for [my field], when my current opportunity spun up.
        So I’m interested to know what I missed/what bullet I may have dodged there.

  7. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    My favorite part is that you shared this experience with HR, they deserve to know that they may have lost out on a good candidate due to this recuriter’s obnoxiousness. That gives them the chance to look deeper into the services they are utilizing.

    1. Mama Bear*

      Same. Could ultimately be a savings for the company if they’re not wasting time with a recruiter that turns people off of the job. Glad things worked out for OP.

  8. Elbereth Gilthoniel*

    Thanks for sending in the update OP! It was encouraging to hear and seems like the best possible outcome!

  9. Retro*

    Are there any resources on how to interact with recruiters and what are the norms in regards with working with them? I’ve only ever applied to jobs directly through the website or through campus recruiting. My father has worked with recruiting agencies in the past and seemed to have a lot of troubles in general with them understanding his technical qualifications and what jobs are actually suited for him. But I also don’t trust for him to have a strong grasp of appropriate work advice because he’s given me some weird advice in the past.

    Great and wise readers of the AMA, can you help a young professional out?

    1. KayEss*

      Honestly, I’ve never had a worthwhile interaction with a recruiter, so I wouldn’t worry about it much. They’re much more valuable for high-level positions where people AREN’T going to be searching/applying on the company website and top candidates are found via leveraging the recruiter’s connections. It’s basically paid networking.

      For low and midlevel professional positions, at least in my creative/tech field, recruiters are glorified temp agencies at best and borderline scams at worst. They regularly flood job boards with fake positions to pad their stable of candidates to look more attractive to employers, then try to shove whatever warm body is available into a position. Even agencies that supposedly specialize in filling creative or technical positions tend to have very poor understanding of what those positions entail and what skills make a good fit.

      If you do find yourself engaging with a recruiter in a way that isn’t a total waste of time, the only etiquette rule different from standard job-search interactions is that once the process has begun all contact with the hiring company goes through the recruiter—it’s very improper to speak with a recruiter about a position and then go around them to contact a company or hiring manager directly.

      1. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

        “For low and midlevel professional positions, at least in my creative/tech field, recruiters are glorified temp agencies at best and borderline scams at worst.” I would not say that is true for all creative fields. My office almost exclusively fills our low and mid-level creative positions through a recruitment agency. We get a much higher caliber of applicants that way, than when we just have the position open on our website and job boards. We do both temp to hire and direct hire for designers and a variety of other creative/marketing positions.

        1. KayEss*

          It could be my area of the US, I suppose, but multiple job searches (I’d say a solid 18+ months of search time over several years) have gotten me exactly ONE viable position to interview for from a recruitment agency… and it was one I had already applied and interviewed for and been ghosted.

          Everything else was either obviously fake (or not-obviously fake, but oddly all discussion of the specific position I was interested in immediately evaporated in favor of “clarifying career goals” and “informational interviews” with their agents), not even slightly a match for my skills, or clearly a position so bad that the recruiter was desperate to shove anyone possible into it rather than tell the hiring company you can’t get a designer with 10 years of experience and a full suite of both print and web production and marketing skills for $15/hour.

          1. Quill*

            God, I still keep getting calls for $13 /hr vaguely related positions, you must be in a higher COL area!

        2. the_scientist*

          I suspect there’s a difference between the more generic “recruiter” and “headhunters” where headhunters are highly skilled, have substantial industry knowledge and are exclusively trying to fill very high level or niche positions. If you’re at a point in your career where you’re looking for VP/c-suite roles, or you live in a region/ work in a field where your skills are highly in demand, you’re more likely to have positive interactions with (good) recruiters than otherwise.

    2. Zona the Great*

      I would like this as well. There was a letter some time back about someone who was contacted by an outside recruiter about a job so the LW went straight to the company and applied not knowing there was a protocol when dealing with recruiters. I would have absolutely done the same thing, not known I made an error, and then wouldn’t be too willing to apologize for something I couldn’t have known.

    3. hbc*

      With the good ones, you just…treat them like a business partner, because that’s what they are. They say the position does X, Y, and Z, you say you’re not good at Z, they say [“okay, sounds like not a good fit”/”let me double check if this is a dealbreaker”/something else reasonable].

      The bad ones are typically very pushy/Always Be Closing types, and you just have to stay strong with them, the way OP did. Sometimes it has to be, “Look, I will not be doing a [daily check in/interview prep session/interview at that time]. If that’s a requirement, we need to part ways.” They change their tune awfully fast when you threaten to walk.

      1. 2 Cents*

        I’m in a contract-to-hire position now, and my recruiter is awesome. (I’ve dealt with a few.) She treats me like an intelligent adult. Some of the stuff (like the interview guidelines) she straight up told me she’s required to send, even though they’re common sense (wear interview clothes, wha?), so I shouldn’t be offended that she sent them to me. The on-site recruiter wanted to look at me before presenting to the client because, he told me much later, they’ve had candidates who appeared OK, only to show up completely unprepared, both in outfit and in interview prep. In all, it’s been a good relationship.

    4. Quill*

      The value of a recruiter is 100% dependent on industry and location, but here are the basics:

      – Get all details in writing, especially anything that’s scheduled, and get the full name of your interviewer.
      – Don’t be afraid to block the numbers & emails of agencies that lowball you on salary / hourly pay, or are condescending, or have zero idea of what to actually submit you for.
      – If a recruiting company cannot give you a “unique job ID” for a position it’s probably not really a position. (You need the unique job ID for unemployment purposes in some states [only ever dealt with illinois] so you can verify your search.)
      – Recruiters will double submit you to things, and also drum up huge scare tactics about double submissions: don’t deal with those.
      – Candidates do not pay recruiters, companies should. Don’t pay for any recruiting or job search services.

      Granted, I probably have the worst recruiters, because in my location and industry, companies are spoiled for choice when it comes to contract workers & refuse to hire directly for most of the entry level to 5+ years experience positions, because they just want to dispose of contractors like kleenex. The company I’m at now would actually save money if they hired me at my current rate of pay plus benefits…

    5. Quinalla*

      It really depends on your industry, but recruiters tend to be pretty aggressive and you have to be not shy about setting limits and ignoring their phone calls sometimes. But that aggressiveness can be an asset to you as well, my last recruiter negotiated salary for me and got me way more than I would have gotten myself. He got benefit from that as well, but I was glad I let him take charge of that. Doesn’t always end well for everyone though, but I didn’t need a new job at the time and wasn’t going to move without a significant bump, so it was worth the risk for me. The biggest thing is once you are working with a recruiter, if they submit you, then they “own” your submission. You can’t just cut them out of the process. But you CAN still look on your own on the side and submit resumes yourself. My first recruiters I used to help with my first job search I kept looking on the side and got a job that way. They were pretty worthless, but I did let them know when I got the job so they could take me out of their system.

      But yes, I definitely ignored phone calls sometimes because I was busy and didn’t want or need to talk to him right that second. I called back when it was convenient for me. I also cut him off if he was going on and on about something I knew how to do. He assumed I knew how to interview, but did ask if there was anything I wanted him to help prep me for and if I had any questions and gave just a couple pointers that were reasonable. He wanted me to call right after the interviews too, but again, I sometimes would not call until the next day depending, certainly not while driving home from the interview!!! He offered (and clearly wanted to) talk a little before each interview, but I declined as I didn’t need that.

      After I got the job, I ended up disconnecting from him on linkedin after a few months because he starting posting a bunch of political stuff on linkedin like it was his personal facebook page and No Thanks! He was not pushy with me after getting hired which was good.

      My interaction with recruiters right now is a polite “not interested” response on linkedin and generally not connecting with them unless I think they are a really good recruiter tuned into my industry, some messages that are clearly just they sent them out to anyone with engineer in their profile and have no clue what I do, I don’t even respond. For phone calls, I start polite and then will interrupt if they keep trying to spiel me and hang up. I don’t return voice mails unless I do have someone to recommend to them as I am not looking.

  10. Akcipitrokulo*

    Worst recruiter was one that called me for a position which had specific technical must-haves which I didn’t have. I turned it down because of this.

    Next day they called back and said they had spoken to the manager and they had said that they were willing to provide training if candidate had the aptitude. I challenged this, and explained that while I would love to learn these skills, I did not have them at the moment. At all. Recruiter said he’d pass on CV and explain.

    Later called back… they were very keen to meet me, knew I had no experience in specific field, but related field was sufficient if I were willing to train… they were having hard time finding skillset and were looking further afield. OK. Agreed to interview.

    After 5 minutes of embarrassing “I don’t know…” answers to technical questions we compared notes, realised recruiter had lied to both of us (they were expecting not only knowledge of, but expert knowledge of…) and called a halt to interview.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Whoa. I hope the company kicked that recruiter to the curb. I know you did because you’re a smart AAM reader. That’s just irresponsible, awful, and wastes everyone’s time. Did the recruiter really think that this would actually work??

    2. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      “Recruiter said he’d pass on CV and explain.” Did the recruiter also completely falsify your CV? I mean, that’s an elaborate level of fraud if they did. Otherwise the company should have been able to at least notice that you didn’t have any experience in that skillset.

      1. Retro*

        My father has worked with a recruiting agency that encouraged him to “rewrite” his CV to match the job description. But what the recruiter actually meant was to plain lie about his qualifications. Unfortunately, he had this issue with multiple recruiters.

      2. Quill*

        I’ve had those… I also have my SSN flagged by the IRS from a previous job search where they apparently think someone used it to falsely gain employment after every recruiting company on earth “needed” my SSN to let me apply…

        Fortunately this shouldn’t have any financial or legal reprecussions for me in the future but the only way for your SSN to be secure is if you DON’T use it for third party verification like recruiting companies submitting your application…

      3. Blue Horizon*

        In my industry recruiters will typically provide a candidate summary, maybe half a page or so, that covers their impressions of the candidate, what they see as their strengths, aspects of their background that might make them a particularly good fit for the position, and so on.

        Interviewers will read the CV in detail but the person who sets up the interview (HR) might just rely on the summary, especially if they lack the background to properly evaluate the CV. In theory the interviewers should review the CV in advance (if I did in this scenario I would probably cancel the interview) but if they’re busy then they might leave it until the last minute. If you’re working with a recruiter you should not normally need to worry about things like fundamental mismatches.

        (And I like that we’re using CV instead of resume in this thread).

    3. oh yeah by the way*

      What… what was their expected outcome from this? That you’d wow the company with not knowing anything the company expected you to know, and you’d get hired?


      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        Actually… maybe? Or thought that the interviewer wouldn’t ask the hard questions and I could bluff it?

        They did say they did do training… but their baseline was really not negotiable.

        1. oh yeah by the way*

          If so, I’d have hoped they’d have prepped you for that, so you could come up with your best lies.

          “What’s your experience creating financial models?”
          “Once I made a diorama out of dried pasta and poured water on it.”

    4. Chris*

      Wow, that is just wrong. I’ve heard of bad recruiters, but this one would take it so low that he/she would resort to lying. This is completely the recruiter’s fault; I hope you found something better.

    5. Essess*

      I had a recruiter send me out to a job “that was perfect for me” according to the recruiter. I showed up for my scheduled interview, and they didn’t know that I had an interview and had never spoken to my recruiter (as far as we can tell, the recruiter simply saw an ad for the job and sent me to it), and the position REQUIRED a master’s degree in a specific field and I didn’t even have my Bachelor’s degree yet.

  11. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

    I wish you had been a bit more blunt with the recruiter (especially afterward) that it was her that was the problem and not the company’s “culture fit” that was causing you to rethink interviewing. She’s going to continue to be this way because it worked as far as she’s concerned…she “coached” you and you got hired. She won’t draw the line that it’s in spite of her and not because of.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Meh. If the OP had wanted to go harder in on the recruiter, I would have certainly cheered it on.

      But it’s not required nor will it ever change a person like the recruiter with their obnoxious behaviors. Unless people are directly soliciting advice and input, with the desire to do better, most of it just goes in one ear and out the other. It’s a waste of the OP’s time to unload on someone who is probably just going to say “Yeah, whatever, I wasn’t even listening anyways.”

      You have to want to change and do better in the end.

      I’ve unloaded on a lot of people and they still suck, then I have to talk to them even more and listen to their excuses and deflection even more. Meh, not worth it as I get older and more crotchety as the days go by.

      1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

        I don’t think it needs to be “unloading” though. It can be done calmly and respectfully, which can have a better impact than unloading, and tie it to wanting to withdraw from the application process so she sees the cause and effect. I know there were many things this recruiter did that made the OP want to disengage but pick one and let the rest go. It’s not so much about telling the recruiter that she’s an awful person, but that she should tailor her approach more — after all there will be some candidates that need lots of hand-holding and want constant updates.

        “I want to give you feedback that hopefully will alter how you communicate with potential recruits in the future. I found your interview prep and constant phone calls to be unnecessary for someone with my years of work experience, and nearly caused me to withdraw my application, thinking that this position must be too entry level for me. That basic level of information is more suited to first-time job seekers.” Who knows, maybe she’s a first-time recruiter and needs to hear some constructive feedback in order to change.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Yeah, I’ve met zero people that this kind of speech would be taken to heart.

          Maybe if she’s brand new but really, it’s not worth giving feedback to people who you have no authority over in some way.

          This is just a random recruiter, out of a sea of hundreds of thousands out there roaming the world. It’s just like trying to correct a sales rep, the odds are really low and not worth the trouble.

    2. Blue Horizon*

      I think if the recruiter interprets that interaction as ‘coaching’ and believes she kept the process going through her superior people skills, she is probably beyond help. Once you parse out the polite business phrasing it’s a pretty clear-cut rebuke, and you can see she backed right down afterward. I think it’s likely that she knows she overstepped, and if she wants feedback she’ll ask for it.

    3. MCMonkeyBean*

      I think that when they sent the email about potential culture fit issues, they were at the point where they had no way of knowing if the weirdness was all from the recruiter or if they were passing on weirdness from the company. But then they took a shot and went to the interview anyway and determined that the company seemed normal. Then it seems at that point they chose to just avoid the recruiter as much as possible which seems like a reasonable choice to me.

  12. CR*

    I recently tried to work with a recruiter for the first time and it was such an off-putting experience, I took myself out of the running and will have serious reservations about working with them ever again. She was so aggressive and pushy, and wanted a ton of personal information from me when I didn’t even know the job description or if I was even interested in the job.

    1. Quill*

      My favorite is “as discussed on the phone” emails when they left me a voicemail. Sending me the Right to Represent before I know the pay or job description will get you booted off my list.

    2. MCMonkeyBean*

      I just got a job a few months ago and had a bunch of interactions with two recruiters during the application process. There could have just been some confusion… but I think one of them might have lied to me. I applied for two jobs–one was directly in line with my previous job and the other was in a related thing for which I had some experience. I told the recruiter that I was interested in both but the first job would be my preference. They told me they were pretty sure that had been filled.

      I was at a happy hour last week with a woman on the team that I had said was my preference and learned that they are pretty desperate for more people! I know that the team I ended up on was also pretty desperate (it’s a newish company looking to hire a lot of people) and they had been unable to find anyone with *any* experience in the thing that I had a little experience in so they wanted my little bit of experience pretty badly. I am wondering if because of this the recruiters lied about the other team not having anything available to get me to focus on this team instead :(

    3. JustaTech*

      I had a recruiter get super snippy with me after *they* contacted *me* about a job, wouldn’t tell me the employer and then was all “Oh, you must have [degree I don’t have] to apply for this job, why are you applying?”

      Uh, you found me on LinkedIn where all my degrees are clearly listed. Don’t act like I’m in the wrong because you needed someone with a degree I haven’t got.

  13. Sara without an H*

    Companies actually pay for this stuff???!

    This is fascinating — I have never worked with a recruiter in my entire life. It’s uncommon in higher education, except for hiring at very senior levels (think presidencies). Doesn’t look as though I’ve missed anything significant.

    1. Junior Assistant Peon*

      Having been on both the candidate and hiring side, I’m shocked that there’s a market for these services. I can do a hell of a lot better job going through a stack of resumes than someone who’s blindly matching keywords and has no idea what any of the technical terms in the job description mean.

      1. T. Boone Pickens*

        There are definitely a slew of awful recruiters out there, especially in the IT space. There are also some that know their verticals inside and out. Those people make wheelbarrows full of cash.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It’s to widen their scope for candidates. It’s usually in positions that are hard to weed through personally and in a much bigger space than higher education!

      I’ve worked enough with the temp agency side of recruiting both individually and as a company. So yeah, they have these agencies available and they pay well because recruiting in general is a huge expense that a lot of places who want to vet the best people available out there are willing to pay for a service that gets them to track down the right talent.

    3. So anon*

      My company has been trying to fill a very high level position for over a year. We’ve gone through multiple recruiters. We have had no luck with any of them.

      I really don’t think it’s my company’s hiring practices (which I can attest from experience are above average). I think it’s that the recruiters they’ve used are terrible, either at finding good candidates, or they are turning off good candidates.

  14. T. Boone Pickens*

    Sorry to hear that OP had a less than stellar experience with a recruiter. As a full time recruiter myself, it’s always interesting to hear about experiences from folks on the other side of the fence. The biggest thing I’d push back on is the contacting of managers. This is pretty common place and if I’m being honest, I almost always try to go straight to the hiring managers as they are the ones with the direct pain point of the opening and then HR gets looped in on the back end (if the company has a HR department). Have I gotten my hand slapped for doing this? Absolutely! Do I care? Nope.

    1. OP*

      My HR person said that it’s in the recruiting company’s contract they shouldn’t be contacting the hiring managers. I don’t deal with that, so can’t say for certain.

  15. Jimming*

    At least the tone of the apology sounded sincere.

    I’m glad you got the job, OP, and that you don’t have to deal with her anymore!

  16. DataQueen*

    It’s so interesting, because i didn’t find anything about the original letter or this update particularly appalling. I think the recruiter was absolutely fine! I’ve worked with plenty and the updates would be welcome for me (even “i didn’t know anything”), and i love de-brieifing and giving feedback. I think i had upwards of 10 calls with my recruiter for my current job (including facetimes) before i ever interviewed, including tons of prep (“Fergus is really looking for someone who’s into the mission, so mention how much you love beet farming in your spare time”). I appreciate the efforts! But everyone is different… just know i wouldn’t find this recruiter annoying or appalling in any way.

  17. Essess*

    Not all recruiters are bad, fortunately. I worked with one that worked for an independent recruiting firm that reached out to me even though I wasn’t looking for a new job. I was very upfront that I wasn’t actively looking but that I’d be open to job opportunities under very specific conditions (a very limited location radius, and specific conditions for overtime and salary requirements). I wasn’t a jerk, but I let them know that the job needed to be a step up from what I was currently doing to convince me to leave my current job. She was nice and we tried one or 2 interviews that didn’t pan out (I don’t recall if they didn’t choose me or if I turned them down). A couple years later on Linked In, I got an email from her doing a standard recruitment pitch from a different company. I emailed back to her and made an offhand comment about how I remember her from working with her a few years ago. Within minutes, she emailed back and said that she remembered me and that she remembered that I was looking for A, B, and C requirements. She had changed jobs and was working for a specific company in HR and that she felt that this company would be perfect for me. She got me in for an interview the next day, I had a job offer the following day and I started 2 weeks later. I’ve been there for 7 years now and I’m still happy with my job. So even though it didn’t pan out at the original time, that connection I made with her slid me right into a great job later.

  18. C Dubs*

    I had some bad experiences with a few recruiters, but the worst one of all was last year. I was supposed to start a temp-to-hire assignment but the startup I was supposed to be placed in was VERY disorganized. The FaceTime interview was not a pleasant experience. The hiring manager kept getting interrupted by other employees, he was walking and consistently getting distracted, and the environment he was in was very noisy. I ignored the red flags and decided to give the benefit of the doubt. Big mistake.

    The second red flag? On the following Tuesday when my assignment was supposed to begin, he told me at the last minute to go to the other office. I usually don’t have a problem with this, but this was ON THE SAME DAY early in the morning while I was still waking up and in my pajamas. I had no way to get to the other office; it was not public transportation accessible and my car was in the garage. If I were to go to the original office as planned, I could have taken public transportation. Plus, traffic in my geographical area is absolutely horrendous during rush hour. I would have been well over an hour late. Needless to say, I was NOT thrilled. It dawned on me that the company was completely disorganized and the recruiter knew, but covered up just to get his commission.

    I called my recruiter and told him about the dilemma of not having a car and the fact that the employer changed its mind THE MORNING OF my start date. My recruiter shrugged it off and said that it happens and that I should just deal with it. But I was not happy. I professionally told him all the red flags I went through during the interview process. He again shrugged it off. That’s when I had to put my foot down. I told him to withdraw me from the assignment because I cannot work for a disorganized company.

    His response? A bad attitude. He told me that I should have been grateful and that he will blacklist me from the entire recruiting agency. I didn’t back down. I asked him if he had known. Turns out he did and he was speechless – he was lying to me the entire interview process. He knew and he just wanted to use me as bait just to get his weekly commission since the only good thing about this assignment was a higher than average pay. I said nope, and told him I wasn’t happy about my experience during the interview process and that I wasn’t happy with his attitude. Then I hung up. He texted me an ultimatum, giving me 20 minutes or else. I didn’t respond.

    Needless to say, I blocked him on LinkedIn and refuse to work for that recruiter and the recruiting agency ever again. Being lied to is one thing; being lied to about a recruiter for a potential disaster of an assignment is completely over the hill. Never again will I ignore the red flags.

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