Funny Recruitment Stories for Executive Search Consultants

Everybody loves a good story. If you’ve been an executive search consultant for any length of time, then you know the profession is replete with funny recruitment stories. In fact, you’ve probably heard some funny recruitment stories and you might even have told a few, as well. For all you know, something might happen on your desk TODAY that will result in a story.

Top Echelon has been in the business of serving search consultants since 1988. That’s when we started our recruiting network. We thought the members of that network would be an excellent place to mine for funny recruitment stories.

After all, candidates do crazy things and clients do crazy things. How can recruiters NOT have such stories?

Recruitment stories: funny AND crazy!

After sorting through all of the entries they submitted, we have a list of the top six recruitment stories. And since today is April 1, we thought this would be an opportune time to share them with you. But trust us, these stories did happen. We’re not just spinning these yarns to “pull your leg.”

So without further adieu, below is a six-pack of funny recruitment stories. Keep in mind that these stories are told in the first person, by the recruiters involved in the tale.

Also, we’ve listed our recruitment stories in ascending order, from the least crazy on the list to the craziest. So that’s right: #1 is the craziest story! (And, for all intents and purposes, the funniest, too.)

#6—“The Girlfriend of Arnold Schwarzenegger”

“I’m just finishing a search for a regular client adding a new COO position. At the beginning of the search, they provided me with 10 names of people they wanted me to check out that were names referred by some industry people they knew. I talked to one of the referral sources (a CEO at another company) and she said this one particular person used to work for her and was fantastic, but she hadn’t talked with her in a few years.

“When I called that person’s company, I was screened much harder by the initial receptionist than I would expect. I was told I wouldn’t be able to contact her, which was strange because she wasn’t a high executive. After doing some more research, I found out why they wouldn’t let me through.

“It turns out she was currently the girlfriend of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“Upon telling the hiring CEO the news, he told me that should I get through to her, I had the authority to offer her the job on the spot.”

#5—“Don’t Stand Too Close to Me”

“I received a resume from a Case graduate—Master’s Degree, BSEE, Putnam Fellow honors, etc. This was about 1986 or so, when I worked for another agency in Beachwood. The interview rooms faced south with a window about 8’ x 8’. The secretary said that there was somebody to see me, but that I should hold my nose. I went into the room and shook the guy’s hand.

“He was about 6-4 and as skinny as you can get, with a button-down shirt that was buttoned all the way to the top with no tie and flood pants. There were salt stains from his armpits to within about four inches of his pants. I thought I was going to die from the smell. By policy, we closed the door for an interview, but I did not do that because I wanted to live.

“It turns out that the candidate was a very brilliant engineer, so I decided to market the guy, knowing that I would get job orders and interviews. Anyway, I got some interviews. I asked my boss what I should do with this guy. He said to send him out and tell him to take a shower, which I did over the phone. He goes on the interview and gets the job.

“But wait, it gets better. This guy becomes a bit of a cash machine. I have the guy on six interviews, get him four offers, and place him three times. It turns out he had a gland problem, and there wasn’t much he could do about his sweating. He works at Cisco in California now, I believe. The lesson here, at least in Engineering, is don’t let appearances stop you from setting up an interview!

#4—“The Boa Constrictor Interview”

“My client was a very large telecom company in need of an excellent software developer. Many recruiting calls were made, and I felt that I found the perfect candidate. He answered all of the ‘test’ questions very well, was available, and had wonderful references from his past three positions. He admitted he was shy in a crowd, loved animals, was an excellent marksman, and had hockey tickets to the [Colorado] Avalanche pro hockey team. He even offered to take me to their next game. He also mentioned that he suffered from Asperger’s Syndrome. According to him, the effect was that he was very very good at discussing one topic at a time with people, but if he was in a crowd of people and had to jump from conversation to conversation, it was incredibly difficult for him.

“Though his comment about being awkward in a crowd gave me pause, I did not feel it would be a problem, since the position would be dealing with people over the phone and not face-to-face. I felt the position would fit him well and introduced his credentials to the client. They loved his background and immediately asked me to set up a face-to-face interview for the very next day. The candidate was kind enough to call me from his cell phone, saying he was en route to the interview and was on schedule to arrive about five minutes before the appointed time. Thoughts of invoicing the client before the end of the day entered my mind as I commenced making my routine phone calls.

“About five minutes before the interview was to begin, and right in the midst of a rather in-depth marketing call, up pops an instant message on my computer from the guy who had recommended our firm for the search. All it said was, “What’s up with the freaking snake around his neck?” As you can imagine, my attention was diverted to this issue, and I called my contact immediately. It turns out that the candidate loved animals so much that he took his pet boa constrictor most everywhere—even to a job interview. To make a long story short, he cleared out an entire floor of workers as he entered the building. I did NOT get the placement. The upside is that two days later, the candidate called as if nothing was wrong and asked if we were still on for the hockey game.”

#3—“Recruiter Places Candidate . . . Police Arrest Candidate”

In 2000, I received a call from a large automotive manufacturer that wanted our help in filling a variety of engineers and technician positions. They were rapidly expanding, their business was good, and they didn’t want to add to their human resources staff.

“In my initial meeting, they ‘held out the carrot’ that if we did a good job, there could be a large number of placements coming in the next couple of years. They explained that we would be their outside partner in filling the positions and that they would stop using advertising and Internet postings and use our firm exclusively. An opportunity of a lifetime was landing in our lap!

“The first candidate we presented was interviewed, and they immediately went to an offer. They wanted him to start even before references were completed. Not having any issues in the past with references, I was not concerned and told them I would get going on it. The candidate started the next day.

“Phone calls to the references weren’t returned at first, and the candidate’s degree verification was not checking out. The college had no record of him. When confronted with that information, he responded with, ‘My mom has my diploma hanging on her living room wall. I will get a copy of it faxed to you.’ No surprise when the fax machine never rang with an incoming message over the next couple of days. I did speak with one reference who gave an okay, but not glowing, recommendation.

“During all of this, I kept my client informed of the challenges I was having and that my concerns were growing. They told me not to worry about it and that he seemed to be doing fine so far in the job, but for me to keep at the process. With all of what happened so far in trying to verify his degree, who would have been surprised by the phone call that I received from my client at the end of his first week on the job? ‘Hey, the police just came to our site and arrested our newest employee.’

“Not one, but two police officers showed up to haul my first placement with my newest client away in handcuffs. Later, I was told by a friend of mine who is a police officer that they only send out two officers if the guy is REALLY bad. My heart sank and my embarrassment level was at its all-time peak. I knew that this wasn’t good for customer relations and would never lead to continued business or satisfied customer referrals.

“The good news is that my client knew that they had pushed the process forward before due diligence. The better news is that they had a sense of humor about it. The best news is that we went on to make multiple placements with them in the next three years: $74,000 in 2000, $70,000 in 2001, and $34,000 in 2002 for a total of $178,000 in fees.

“The lessons learned . . .

#1. Really good things can come out of a seemingly dark situation.

#2. Make sure that all of the details are taken care of before a candidate begins working for your client.

#3. They only send out two police officers to arrest your candidate if the guy is REALLY bad.”

#2—“Interview Fists of Fury”

“Several years ago, I was in general recruiting here in [Mobile, Ala.] I had a long-time client that I recruited sales people for. I had set up an interview one afternoon for a candidate who I felt was a ‘shoo-in.’ I felt his background was excellent and also that he and the hiring manager, who I knew quite well, would hit it off. They had the same interests, personality, etc. Later, I found out just how much they had in common! I was really feeling good about this one.

“The interview was at 3 p.m. and knowing the hiring manager as I did, I knew I would get a call after the interview. I waited in my office for the call until almost five o’clock, and since I had not heard from the hiring manager or the candidate, I called the company.

“I was told that the hiring manager was out of the office, and knowing him the way I did, I understood why he didn’t call me. I decided to speak with the office manager to see if I could get any information. Since I had worked with the client for so long, I also knew this person quite well. As we were talking, I knew something odd was going on. He finally ‘spilled the beans.’

“The hiring manager’s wife was apparently having a long-term affair, and during the interview, he somehow discovered that the candidate I sent was the person his wife was seeing! He came over the desk and the fight was on! They both ended up in the emergency room. It was nothing serious, but apparently each of them got in some really good punches.

“My candidate was not hired—not a big surprise—but I managed to keep the client and that certainly WAS a surprise! What I never understood was why the candidate took the interview. He had to know who he was seeing. I never spoke with him again. He did not return my call.

“And now you have ‘the rest of the story’ . . .”

#1—“My Candidate Was Kidnapped!”

“In doing a search for a plant general manager for the Juarez, Mexico operation of an Indiana company, I recruited and placed a candidate who was living in Monterrey, Mexico. The Saturday before his start date, I called him to see if everything was okay, and he was prepared to start the following Monday. He assured me all was well and said he would be driving from Monterrey to Juarez on Sunday and would be at the plant Monday morning to start his new job.

“Late Monday afternoon. I received a call from the client asking if I had heard from my candidate since he had not shown up for work. My efforts to contact the candidate over the next several days were unsuccessful. He finally called me and said that he had driven to Juarez on Sunday, as he had said he was going to do. Upon his arrival, though, he was abducted by a gang and held overnight. He said they told him that if he did not cooperate, their people in Monterrey would kill his family.

“The next morning, they accompanied him to a local bank and cleaned out his accounts. Once that was finished, they released him unharmed. He said that he immediately called his family, who were all okay, and then he called a security firm, who told him to get rid of his cell phone. This is why I could not reach him. He then got some money wired to him from friends, rented a car, and drove home to Monterrey to be with his family. He told me he was glad that he was NOT abducted by drug cartel people, but rather by a local gang emboldened by the success of cartel kidnappings.

“Despite all of this, he still took the job, starting two weeks later.

“About six months later, he resigned when his wife refused to move the family to Juarez. The client called me, and I was fortunate enough to have another similar candidate, who I placed into the position for another full fee.”

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Share YOUR funny recruitment stories!

Speaking of endings, we have reached the end of our funny recruitment stories. However, the fun does not have to end quite yet!

That’s because if you have a crazy or funny recruitment story, then we want to hear about it. All you have to do is include it in the comments section below. OR if you don’t want to be anywhere near the story, then you can send it via email to marketing@topechelon.com.

Keep in mind that by submitting your tale, we might include it in a future blog post containing even more crazy and/or funny recruitment stories. And when contemplating whether to do so, also keep in mind that your story does NOT have to include the police, physical violence, or the committing of a felony.

But is absolutely wouldn’t hurt.

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