Sneha, lead recruiter at a mid – sized tech company is fuming!

She has just got off the phone with a candidate who was scheduled for an interview 10 minutes ago and has gone to his “native” without feeling the slightest need to inform her about it! Sneha, who has dealt with similar scenarios on an almost daily basis, never ceases to be horrified and frustrated by the level of unprofessionalism that has crept into the workforce. People who are actively looking for a change on job boards and networking sites seem to suddenly develop high fever, meet with accidents or have sick or dead relatives that need immediate attention at the exact time that they are scheduled to go for an interview. To add insult to injury, she knows of other recruiters who have been at the receiving end of such gross ethical misconduct but have no qualms about doing the same when they look for jobs!!

The malaise is so deeply entrenched in the workplace culture of our country that people resort to such methods without even batting an eyelid! This happens not only with interview schedules but also extends to regular no shows after offer acceptance. Interestingly, this seems like a uniquely India specific phenomena and what Sneha is unable to fathom is why these people commit to attending interviews or joining when they have absolutely no real intention of doing so! Are we turning into a society of casual liars who have absolutely no regard for the time and efforts of other people? Is the level of insecurity so high amongst Indian job seekers that they just can’t say “no” and would rather blatantly ignore basic ethical principles just to ensure they are not letting go of even the remotest opportunity? Increasingly, individuals seem to be living only in the here and now without giving a thought to the probable long – term repercussions of their actions.

A very frustrated recruiter friend once compared the feeling to a situation when a desperate father calls for an ambulance to rescue his dying son and keeps receiving excuses of bad traffic, bad weather etc. from the driver…. who finally arrives…. 30 minutes too late.

While there is a justified expectation of absolute dependability from others, there seems to be no reciprocal desire to build a solid reputation for dependability and ethical conduct so essential for one’s long term professional growth.

What can people who are on the receiving end of this absurd phenomenon do to avoid the massive inconvenience and embarrassment that results from it? Do organizations even want to employ an individual who has evidently displayed such a casual approach to basic work ethics?

There are websites out there inviting individuals to anonymously post feedback and opinions on the work culture of organizations and this seems to be a very effective tool to keep employers in check. No organization wants to be rated low on employee satisfaction for fear of tarnishing its employer brand. Interestingly, there doesn’t seem to be a similar platform for employers to keep errant candidates in check! So much so that a few days ago, a senior recruiter who reprimanded a candidate for gross unprofessionalism while interviewing with a company, received a frantic call from the company’s founder asking him not to do so because the candidate in question was offended and had threatened to post his views on a popular website!

Not speaking out against such practices openly for fear of negative candidate feedback only adds fuel to the fire. My experience is that a negative candidate review is most often seen as a frustrated or rejected candidates rant against the company and is taken with a pinch of salt. So next time a candidate who is confirmed for an interview, or worse, has accepted an offer and does not show up, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and let him/her know exactly how you feel. Not only will you let off steam but you might also help some people understand the basic principles of decency and accountability!