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It’s often been said that elite sport is primarily played between the ears. I don’t know what research there is on the topic but for anecdotal evidence, you only have to read Open, Andre Agassi’s entertaining and revealing autobiography in which mid-career coach, Brad Gilbert, played a pivotal role in changing Agassi’s mental approach, relaunching his singles rankings from 110 in 1997 to number 1 in 1999.

It’s certainly the same for recruitment as well.

One of the most common sources of failure for recruiters is their mental state, specifically self-belief. Far too many recruiters automatically adopt a subservient position with their clients, prospects and candidates, especially when it comes to timekeeping and punctuality. And what’s worse is that they don’t even realise how easily they are defaulting to the subservient role.

See if you can recognise any of these:

1. Client, prospect or candidate is annoyingly late for an agreed meeting or interview with you. They apologise and you say ‘that’s okay’, when clearly it isn’t.

Instead… don’t say anything; just give them a small smile, or nod your head to acknowledge their apology and say words to the effect of ‘let’s get down to business’ or ‘let’s get straight to it’. In this way you have sent a clear message that you are not impressed and you are clearly in charge of this conversation.

2. You are at the premises of the client or prospect and they are running over 10 minutes late without an appropriate explanation or apology – you just sit and wait as long as it takes.

Instead… ask the receptionist whether he or she will be any longer than another five minutes as you have to go to another appointment. If the person you are scheduled to meet does not show within the five minutes nominated then leave.

3. The real decision maker, who agreed to meet with you, doesn’t attend the arranged meeting and, instead, sends along one of their minions to ‘pass on your information’. Your reaction is to proceed with meeting the minion as requested.   

Instead… politely, but firmly, tell the minion that there is no point having the meeting as there are important questions that you need to ask Mr Decision Maker and the meeting was agreed to. Tell the minion you can wait 10 minutes more for Mr Decision Maker to get himself to the meeting otherwise the meeting will have to rescheduled.

Yes, my recommended approaches are going to give a few of you a real challenge to execute but don’t you value your time? Isn’t it basic manners for people to attend meetings and attend them on time, when they have been committed to?

If you don’t stand up for yourself and the value of your time, then you are automatically adopting a subservient position and that’s both demoralising and directly undermining your credibility and professionalism.

Related blogs 

Are you sold on yourself?

Who not to hire as a recruitmentconsultant

Are you a passive or assertive recruiter?



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Laurie Williams

Ross, your comments as usual are spot on! Bad behaviour has become "normal" because too many people let the culprits get away with it. I encourage everyone to try and implement Ross' suggestions as it will make a difference!

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