Having the experience doesn’t mean you’re entitled

I’m in the middle of yet another recruitment campaign. As with all the ones I’ve administered, this one too has its stories to be shared. The latest of which is an interaction with an experienced candidate who’s applying for an independent contractor position.

I went through his profile and writer’s portfolio. Was quite impressed by the work he’d put together. Seemed like a good fit, at least for the next round of our hiring process. So I asked when can he schedule some dedicated time for a written assessment a process that both me and my client agree is non-negotiable.

The response that I got was sort of surprising.

I am sorry to say that I will not feel at ease to give the written assessment. I feel that having 17+ years of working experience with renowned organizations and my write ups are good enough to make anyone understand about my feats. Therefore, I do not intend to take the test. If you still think I can be a suitable candidate, please let me know and then perhaps, I will be glad to fill in the pre-screening form.

He has a point but he’s still missing a major point — if there was a way I could exempt him from this one step, I would have done it already. The candidate experience is just as important to me (and should be in general) as the client’s mandate. They’re not to be taken lightly.

That said, I felt his response could’ve had more details than an outright refusal. And given that I was in the middle of so many profiles, all of whom were just as talented, I decided to move on.

No problem, ! I totally understand. Since this is an individual contributor role skipping assessments is non-negotiable.

Also, we’re an equal opportunity employer and believe that nobody’s entitled to a position regardless of their age, experience, affiliation or endorsement.

I hope I’m making sense.

Thanks for taking out time for this, nonetheless. I wish you the very best for your job hunt.


I went on with my little busy life until I got another response later during the day:

Sunil, thanks for your email. But I must say that I have been working in an IC role for the last 17 years because communication and content roles are mostly like that. Moreover, I have stopped giving assessment tests because I did see that my work has been misused by others and also it has not been appreciated because whenever one does a test, the examiner who is checking may not have the same thought process like that of the candidate who has given the test, eg, one same topic can be showcased in two different ways due to two different outlook.

Anyways, it is very surprising to see that an experienced candidate is not valued in your company.

Like I mentioned, he does have a point. But he’s still missing a major point that despite our beliefs, opinions, and ideology we have to follow the process that the employer wants us to. There’s no way around it particularly at this stage when both trust and rapport are the lowest. You’re just another candidate to them and despite what you think, there’s absolutely nothing special about you compared to the others in the pipeline.

Moreover, since I’m hiring for a client it’s imperative that I follow the dang process no matter what. If you’re wondering, “okay, Sunil, what would you have done should this be one of your referrals?” It’s simple. I would have asked him/her to take the test and do their best! There’s no way around the process. I’m sorry, that’s the cold hard truth.

Since I’m the kind who would always reply back, I did:

Hi, !

Thanks for sharing the context. It would have been so much better if you’d shared this upfront. As with most experiences, the mileage varies and that is okay.

I’m sorry if you got the impression that we don’t value experienced candidates. That is not the case. We do. What we do not appreciate or value is entitlement. And that’s what came off of your response. Perhaps, sometime later you might want to revisit this thread, understand what really transpired, and reflect on what could have been done differently. Or perhaps not.

I would really like to close off this conversation so I can focus on other candidates in the pipeline.

Thanks again for your time. Wish you all the very best.


In retrospect, I think I was better off not responding. But if I hadn’t this person just might have escalated the matter to, well, my partner at work, whom I’d run this by right after I received the first response. Here’s the final response I received from his person.

Sunil, please learn to respect a woman which I don’t see in your mail. Also, you are much junior to me so I don’t indulge with juniors like you who doesn’t have the courtesy and proper behaviour to talk to a senior.I am not interested to work with people like you who seems to be very arrogant.

Your colleague, <name> who is an Operation Director in your company used to report to me in <a major global insurance company> so he knows me better than you. So whatever you say and think doesn’t bother me. Don’t reach me further! I have much better work to do than to talk to ill tempered people like you!!

I was rolling on the floor in anger and laughing. This dude’s got it all wrong and still doesn’t have a clue who’s she’s talking to or about. All I knew was I just might be accused of rape if I respond to this one! So, I didn’t.

The lesson learnt is pretty simple — you don’t have to engage to convince candidates about the process. They can believe what they want to but that doesn’t have to influence your process. A simple response: “I’m sorry, , unfortunately the Written Assessments are part of our recruitment process. An exemption on account of experience isn’t possible. Thanks for your time and efforts, we deeply appreciate it. Wishing you all the very best.” would have been just fine. I should’ve known better but didn’t. Now I know, thankfully.

Another lesson, perhaps this one’s greater, is that your experience doesn’t make your entitled to something you think you deserve. That’s just as stupid as it is annoying. Stop demanding for things just because you’re experienced. Remember that when you’re starting at a new position, you start at ground-zero. This is universal irrespective of your experience.

Finally, assuming that all experienced professionals can take in feedback well is silly. They can’t. Not all of them. Else they wouldn’t be looking for a job.

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