The tech-hiring market is really weird. These job-hunters only make it worse

Fake candidates, no-shows and inappropriate Zoom etiquette - when you work in recruitment, hiring mishaps are part of the job.
Written by Owen Hughes, Senior Editor

Job candidates aren't always 100% honest.

Image: Orbon Alija / GETTY

Tech companies are often criticised for their demanding interview processes and the hoops they make candidates jump through. But sometimes it's the job-hunters that are the ones with the unexpected behaviour.

A recent reader submission to Ask a Manager told the story of "John," a new IT hire at a mid-sized company who turned up to 'his' first day on the job – only for his new colleagues to realise he was a completely different individual to the person they had interviewed.

There were a few things about John that raised the suspicions of his new colleagues. First of all, his hair was completely different to the John they interviewed. He was also suddenly wearing glasses. But perhaps most crucially, this John couldn't answer basic questions about his role, nor did he have any recollection of meeting the people he was interviewed by.

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In the posting, John eventually quit before he could be shown the door. It's a baffling story that reflects the oddities recruiters encounter every day in the chaotic hiring market – and it's far from the only example of unexpected behaviour from candidates.

One recruiter, who wanted to remain anonymous, remembers following up with a young candidate after putting them forward for an IT support role. "He called back an hour after the interview and gave detailed feedback, including his thoughts on the business and the people. I go to relay the feedback to the client and ask them what they think – and they tell me he never turned up. I still don't have a full explanation," they tell ZDNet.

"Either he interviewed for the wrong job, or proactively called me to give fake interview feedback. I still lose sleep over this."

And another recruiter recalls interviewing a candidate whose prospects may have been scuppered by failing to follow basic Zoom etiquette.  

"I was screening a candidate ahead of an interview, and when he joined, the name against his picture was [NSFW]. I told him and he panicked and told me he'd find out how to fix it before the interview the next day."

He did not: "When he turned up to the interview, his screen name is still the same – we couldn't work out if it was showing to everyone or just on our calls. We decided to ignore it and see if the client brought it up – they didn't, but he didn't get the job. I still have no idea if the client could see it or not."

A founder of one recruitment firm tells ZDNet about a candidate who was offered a role, accepted, was working through the relocation process – and then silence. The chief people officer heard from him eventually and he'd been in a car accident. 

"Two weeks later, he was working for a different company. We called to check he was OK from the accident and he did that double-take backtracking that people do when they've lied and have to remember the lie. So yes, he lied about being in a car accident rather than have an awkward conversation."

Sometimes, the excuses given by candidates defy explanation. "I once had a candidate who didn't turn up on her first day in a new role," a tech recruiter tells ZDNet. 

"She didn't pick up her phone for ages, and when she did she told me she had an accident and fell in a ditch two minutes away from the office. The office is a business park, and there are no ditches anywhere near it."

Got any weird tech hiring stories worth telling? Let us know: owen.hughes@zdnet.com

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