Recruiting Red Flags: Beware of the Subtle Warnings

Evan Warning_blog_OPBeware of subtle warning signs and know when it’s time to move on.

In the 13 years I’ve been recruiting, I will be the first to admit that I don’t have it all figured out. In fact, most of us will never figure it out, at least not to a perfection.

In this blog post, I want to provide you with the subtle clues I’ve noticed over the years that can help you determine where you should be spending your time and when you should move on. While these topics are general to recruiting, my focus lies in technical recruiting.

As agency recruiters, we tend to open up more to our candidates and everything these days.

We trust our candidates with our client base. When we ask a candidate where else they are interviewing and they refuse to disclose this information, this is an early warning sign that the candidate has a better option than yours. You tend to guard what you want most. If we’re still in the same boat and the candidate has an offer with a “guarded firm,” then your chances are close to zero. As far as my memory has served, I’ve never won a deal where a candidate had another offer with a firm they would not disclose. Don’t hope for the best here. Confront the issue with your candidate, and find out why your option isn’t number one.

How often have you owned a candidate with an offer and you’re up against a competing offer?

You ask the candidate which direction they’re leaning and you get this response, “Well, I don’t know. Its close. I’d say it’s 50/50.” In most cases, the candidate doesn’t want to let you down with the bad news, but I’ll tell you right now, 50/50 in a candidate to agency relationship is more like 80/20, and 70/30 that your playing to lose.

At this stage in the game, you’ll really need to work overtime to figure out how to get the odds back in your favor. You can start by searching for ideas outside of baking up the offer with more money. Despite what most people think, money doesn’t typically fix the problem.

Get creative:

  • Can your client make this person a lead?
  • Do they offer tuition reimbursement?
  • Can you work from home?
  • Is there paid training?

You get the point. From my experience, engineers are far more concerned about the culture, career path, and what they will get to work on. Money does not come first.

Does your candidate follow up with you or are you doing all the correspondence work?

It’s no different than dating or any other relationship, how would you feel if you put all the work in and weren’t getting anything back?

In most of the placements I make, my candidates will email, text, call, before and after their interviews. Typically, this remains constant throughout the process. If you see a drop off in communication, and you notice that you’re doing all the follow up, then there’s a rock you need to flip over. Be direct and get right to the root of the problem.

You’ve got a great resume, the client is interested, and they ask to interview your best candidate. You reach out to your candidate and they provide availability for 2 weeks out. It’s your job to call this out. In most cases, candidates that push out their interviews far in advance are more risky to drop out of the process.

What to look for:

  • Has your candidate rescheduled their interview multiple times?
  • Do they talk more about their job then their own search?
  • Does it take them days to return emails or calls?

If you think there’s a problem, trust me there is. Sounds like a high risk for a rejected or counter offer. Again, it’s up to the recruiter to confront this. Maybe the job description you are working with isn’t that interesting. Can you make it more appealing or should you move on and find the next candidate waiting in line?

It all boils down to basics.

Understand what your clients needs are. Get your hands on a motivated candidate, build that relationship, and find a role that matches their desire. Don’t chase that rock star candidate that isn’t getting back to you. Spend more time with the rock star candidate that gives you their time. Be on the lookout for behavioral changes in your candidates and confront them head on. Win more deals by being pessimistic, not optimistic.


Evan Pollock, Objective ParadigmEvan Pollock, Managing Partner and Recruiter at Objective Paradigm, helps all types of firms looking to hire the best technologists in the world. Evan’s hot spot is with rapidly growing tech-based organizations and Financial Technology firms, a large percentage of the candidates he places are relocated to different parts of the US and beyond. Stay tuned to the OP blog where he offers insight to both technologists and the hiring managers that need them. If you have questions around work authorization or compensation, connect directly with Evan at epollock@oprecruiting.com