…name dropping

Our candidate seemed to be a reasonable guy… according to his resume he’d been pretty successful in the places that he had worked… we had recruited him on the suggestion from a guy who used to work with him…

During our face-to-face interview with him,  he started bringing up the names of many of the people he said he knew in his profession… some of these folks he was mentioning where two or three levels above him and two or three were CEOs and senior vice presidents of the fairly large companies he had worked for…

At first, his mannerism was a little curious, but the longer he talked the more he kept mentioning names of these people as though they were his neighbors, drinking buddies and best of friends… to make matters worse, every time he mentioned one of these  people that certainly everyone was supposed to know he did it with a little sly grin on his face followed by a pause in his speech that made you feel he was in the least ingenuous and at the most a liar… it got really old.

We got him the interview with one of our clients and, even after warning him about his name dropping tendency, he did the same thing with the client…

Other than his penchant for name dropping, he interviewed well and has the skills and experience our client is looking for… our client requested that we check his references… the very first reference that we checked was  one of the candidate’s previous managers…

The conversation began in a bit of awkward way… the manager seemed cold and distant and even though he agreed to offer a reference for the candidate, he never seemed engaged or friendly… in fact he was rather antiseptic… he did say that the candidate had done a good job for them, had gotten good reviews and had even been promoted a couple of times… but there was still something there in the conversation that just wasn’t smooth…

After about 15 minutes of this less than warm conversation, I asked the previous manager if there were any personal habits that the candidate had that he wished were different… there was a really, really long pause… I even asked him if he was still on the line and he said “yes”… there was still silence…

I finally broke the silence by saying, “you know this guy seems like a quality guy… his track record seems to be good but he seems to have this annoying habit, that both I and our client picked up on, of dropping names. It’s as though he is neighbors with or friends with some pretty significant folks. Is that the case?”

The manager on the other end of the phone breathed a sigh of relief… he said, “that’s really a problem with him. He acts like he’s bosom buddies with all of those folks and he isn’t. He does good work, but when people find out that he really doesn’t know all of those people that he says he knows, they lose respect for him to the point where they shun him and don’t even want to be around him. He’s not a bad guy, he’s just full of bull crap. Like, he says that one time he had dinner with Pres. George Bush, as though they were personal friends. Turns out that he attended the dinner where George Bush spoke along with 1000 other people who contributed to his campaign. It is just so stupid, but he keeps doing it. So, if your client can live with that kind of thing, your candidate may make a good employee.”

Of course, we reported this conversation to our client… he hasn’t decided whether he’ll hire the candidate or not but his enthusiasm for the candidate has certainly been dampened… my sense is that our client will pursue two of our other candidates… the sad lesson here is that there is just no reason for anybody to name drop like this… it has probably cost this candidate a really good job and it just wasn’t necessary…

People who are interviewing any candidate will make decisions about them based on all kinds of, seemingly, insignificant things…Name dropping is one of them

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