Is There Such a Thing as a Bad Candidate?

For the last couple of months, many professionals involved in recruitment processes – clients, talent acquisition specialist, hiring managers and of course candidates have been posting reviews and results of question asked to AI tools about what a good candidate is, a good recruitment process, a good head-hunter, or a good recruitment agency.

Corollary to these questions, AI also offers follow–up questions, to open to more subjects, and among them, a strange one redacted as follows: what is a bad candidate?

I have synthesized below the common answers provided by the AI.

A poor candidate may have a number of characteristics that do not match a recruiter’s expectations. Here are a few signs that may indicate a poor candidate:

  • Lack of technical skills: A candidate who does not have the essential skills for the job is considered to be a bad candidate.
  • Lack of commitment: A candidate who has not researched the company or shown an interest in the job is generally not well received.
  • Inconsistency in career path: Frequent job hopping, or prolonged periods of inactivity can be signs of bad candidates.
  • Poor communication: A candidate who does not communicate clearly or respond appropriately to questions may be considered poor.
  • Lack of interpersonal skills: Attitude, politeness and the ability to work as part of a team are also important criteria. A candidate who is arrogant, negative or not very collaborative may be considered as bad.
  • Negative references: If professional references give negative feedback on the candidate, this can be a red flag.

I can’t say that these elements are false, or devoid of any real common sense, and that they shouldn’t be taken into account. However, I have the feeling – and I know that artificial intelligences don’t have feelings – that there is a crucial element to consider in this whole bad candidate concept.

For 30 years, I’ve been conducting assignments to find, identify and present candidates to my clients, and I’ve always kept in mind a piece of advice passed on by one of my mentors when I started out: there are no bad candidates!!

The concept of a bad candidate would mean judging an individual, rather than assessing them. It is essential in our profession to bear in mind that we are not in a position to give such a verdict. What we can do is ensure that a profile, its development potential, its soft skills and the expectations of the company, the job in question and its internal culture are a good match.

So, there can be no such thing as a bad candidate, but rather casting errors, because in the end, every professional we meet has proven their skills in the past in other environments, where they have been able to develop and add real value. If we have doubts, it’s obviously because we’ve selected a profile that doesn’t fit the job, but it’s impossible to conclude from this that the person is bad. And at least, we shouldn’t allow ourselves to formulate the idea.

There is therefore an urgent need to train or inform artificial intelligence tools to let go of a formatted vision that is ultimately rather binary, to put aside concepts as simple as good or bad, and to convince AI users not to let these tools take up too much space in what must remain human relationships.

But maybe that’s what being a good recruitment consultant is all about. I don’t know what AI would have to say on that matter…

Article written by Stéphane Lehideux, CFR Global Executive Search France
Photo source: Freepik

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