Atlanta Recruiting Fun and Surprises

Whether you are part of a staffing agency or Atlanta recruiting firm, or hiring for your own department in a company, recruiting can be fun. And there are always recruiting surprises.

There are always fun and surprising experiences in recruiting talent for your company or through your staffing agency. Sometimes it’s the interview that’s surprising, but what happens before or after the interview can also be amusing. We share here four unusual outcomes that could be also be characterized as learning experiences.

Atlanta Recruiting – The Ear Ring Job Interview

Atlanta recruiting fun - the Earnest Candidate Who Wore an Ear Ring.

The Earnest Candidate Who Wore an Ear Ring

In the very late 80’s I was recruiting on campus and in our near-campus offices for C++ developers with a BS CS or BS EE degree. We advertised, put up flyers, did on campus interviews through the career office, and spread the word through our co-ops as well. Everything except beer-mixers.

We invited one of the promising candidates, sight unseen, to come out for a tour and interviews. Our receptionist called back to announce that our candidate had arrived. I collected our candidate in the lobby. He was a nice young developer, very personable, very shy. He got to meet our other developers and did a good job in his interview. He was very reserved in the interview, but he had the things we liked: just a normal person, smart, good development skills, went straight through school with steady decent grades and a lot of hands-on projects. The other developers liked him right away.

The one thing that concerned me as the interview concluded was that the candidate didn’t ask for the job directly. He seemed glad to be there, but left without asking for a start date.

As soon as the candidate left the lobby and elevatored down to the parking lot, the receptionist grabbed me. She said “He sure was nervous about the interview … Just as you were walking out, he realized that he had an ear ring on, so he took it out quickly just before you came out to the lobby”.

In the late 80’s, ear rings were not yet “corporate”, so our candidate thought he’d blown the interview. From this I felt confident that he really cared about the job. We hired him to start right away and he turned out to be one of our best developers, fitting right into an established team.

So, taking time to understand the candidate paid off. Also staying on excellent terms with the receptionist turned out to be a good idea too.

Friendly No-Hire Yields Results

While interviewing recent graduates an established developers for various roles in our development teams, I found a lot of technically qualified candidates who just didn’t have quite the right personality, interests, or approach to work to fit into an existing team.

I sent many of the candidates that we could not use to friends. I sent some to good quality Atlanta staffing agencies who “horse-traded” with me to match people and jobs. At that time, every development group had its own personality, so it was just a question of getting the right person and job connected.

On one occasion, I turned away a candidate but gave him two good leads. He landed one of them.

Two weeks later, I got calls from two excellent upcoming graduates that we hadn’t talked to earlier. Both liked what they’d heard about us from the guy we sent away, and we ended hiring both of those candidates, and both worked out to be good developers and team members.

So taking the time to help a candidate, not just screen the candidate, paid off. Also, staying in touch with other HR directors and staffing agencies helps you keep in touch with the market as well. If everyone else is hiring a new skill set and you aren’t, it’s worth learning more about it.

Hi-Tech HR Director Rudeness

I got a call from the HR director with a high-tech company near Norcross, Georgia. The HR director needed several developers and wanted to be on my list of companies where we referred candidates that we couldn’t hire. We had sent one prospect to him that he hired right away, but needed more.

At the time, we had a great pipeline coming out of Georgia Tech and Purdue for recent graduates, and a good stream of candidates arriving from word of mouth, so it wasn’t unusual. We also worked with a handful of really sharp Atlanta recruiting firms and staffing agencies who understood what we were all about and what kind of candidate we liked.

Without an appointment, I stopped by to visit the HR director in Norcross. I just wanted to check out the setup so that I’d know what they were looking for and what kind of work was involved. The receptionist told me the HR director was coming back from lunch any minute, so she’d announce me when he returned.

While I waited in the lobby , a job candidate arrived and asked the receptionist to let the HR director know that the candidate had arrived for his interview with the HR director. The candidate sat down in a chair that was partly hidden by a partition from the reception desk.

Just a minute later, the HR director stuck his head out of a door.

Before the receptionist could say anything, the HR director said, in a booming voice that could be heard all over the lobby, “Get rid of that interview guy. He looks like a loser. I don’t want to waste time on him.”

I bailed out right behind the flabbergasted job candidate, and I never sent any more people to that HR director. The HR director was soon replaced, I heard through other an Atlanta recruiting agency.

So, taking time to network a little with other HR directors and recruiting firms turned out to be a good idea. You find out who the good guys are.

The PhD

Atlanta recruiting fun - The PhD

The PhD

While recruiting for a bare metal (hard-core) development team, our CEO brought in a candidate that the CEO had pretty much already hired. This was far outside our normal process, but our CEO was always very excited about hiring smart developers, and the PhD was very smart. Nice guy too.

What didn’t turn out well was that the PhD really wanted to work on more theoretical and strategic work than we were doing to make money. Our approach was to figure out what would be the top product feature set 24 months out, and then try to deliver that in a year. We usually got it done in 12 to 15 months, and led our market ahead of bigger competitors like Microsoft.

After a month of trying some way for our PhD to fit in, we realized that he wasn’t a hands-on, grind-it-out, developer. He was more of a big picture dreamer, but interested in some layers of work that sat above what we were doing to fill orders. So, we had our PhD look at our application and the operating environment to see if he could help us find a way to make our product run faster or use less memory by optimizing the contents of segmented memory.

To our delight, our PhD went dark for a couple of weeks, then came back with a plan that would do both. He had a plan to develop two tools to optimize our memory use – one tool for planning, and one runtime tool. Our developers looked at his plan, then built those tools immediately. They also built a third realtime diagnostic and display tool.

The tools were an immediate success and the results achieved were very good. The product ran lots faster, users liked it, and we stayed competitive in the market. Years later, through professional friendships with friends at Microsoft, we found out that Microsoft developers had also built the same tools at the same time on their own to perform the same memory segmentation optimization we did. Such things happen in a free market competitive environment.

Alas, despite this success, our PhD moved onto a job with another company that was a lot more theoretical in nature, closer to the kind of work he liked to do.

So, when you are hiring, it’s always worthwhile to compare the candidate’s approach to work to see if it lines up with the team. There’s a job for every working approach, but you might not have what the candidate really needs. If you are not sure, you can use right to hire staffing to try out a candidate before committing to hire the candidate.

Jacki Neal
Jacki loves solving the worlds issues over lunch with industry professionals. She is a self proclaimed non- recovering technology junkie and Diet Coke addict. As the owner of an INC 500/5000 Staffing and Placement firm since 1997, she has helped her clients grow by locating Top Talent to join their teams. She has been known to totally blow the Peak marketing budget by 'grabbing' a bus and taking 75 clients and employees to see Jimmy Buffett. Funny, how relationships change when you see executives in grass skirts.
Jacki Neal
Jacki Neal
Jacki Neal

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