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Please Find The Exit: What to NEVER say to a recruiter


I am in finance and accounting recruitment: I try to find people employment in exchange for a tidy commission.

Ah, the thrill of the hunt. Will I ever tire of it? The endless parade of job hopefuls, each more “ambitious” than the last, marching by one after the other hoping that I’ll put them forward for a six figure salary.

This series is a short collection of things that make me sad in my job.


Name: Zac

Job he is applying for: Mid-weight consumer banking role

Qualification: Bachelor of Finance

I can tell he loves: Himself

I can tell he dislikes: Critical feedback

Our story:

Nothing makes me more frustrated than when a candidate says, “I think my biggest weakness is that I am a perfectionist.” When I ask for an example and they talk about a project that they ‘wanted to get right’ and how they ‘struggled with time management while trying to pull it together – but ultimately killed it’; all I hear is, “I believe that disguising a positive as a negative will fool you.”

It’s like when you are talking to someone you are seeing about a problem in your relationship and they say, “I’m sorry you feel that way,” just to end the discussion quickly.

Trust me, I would rather have put a gun in my mouth than hear you talk about your professional struggles. It’s an awkward chat. The underlying question translates to: “Is there something I am missing about you?”

For me, I ask the question to see whether you’ll jump into bad mouthing a previous manager, or whether you are the kind of person that won’t take to critical feedback. Both red flags. I also hate it when someone laughs and says, “hmmm. chocolate?!”.

Here’s an example: “One area that I’m continually trying to improve is prioritization. I tend to say yes to too many projects and that’s created some issues for me in the past. I need to make sure that I can meet deadlines and turn in work at the level of quality that expected from my managers, before I try to take on more work. I think sometimes in my previous role, I was so keen to progress in the company and show an appetite for progression that I’d put my hand up for tasks that I knew I couldn’t take on and that would take away from my day to day expectations – which is ultimately what I was hired to do.”

It’s honest and shows composure.

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