When I was 18, I stopped by a search firm on John Street in NYC.Â I was greeted by a friendly, smiling recruiter.Â She sat me down and we talked for a little bit before she told me about an opening at an actuarial firm.Â I must have looked a little nervous, so she told me not to worry, just to go in there and give them a big smile.Â Then she added that one of the earlier candidates who had interviewed for the position had a terrible smile with missing teeth; she shuddered as she mentioned this detail.Â I left the agency, walked over to the actuarial firm, interviewed for the position, and got the job!
Years later, I thought about this incident and realized what this recruiter had been doing when she mentioned the ghastly candidate.Â There most likely had been no previous candidate with missing teeth to shudder about.Â This recruiter had invented this appalling candidate or character to instill confidence in me; she had fluffed her candidate.Â And yes, it had seemingly worked. But had it really and if so, should fluffing be considered a best practice or an unprofessional/unethical one?
Although fluffing is a widely accepted practice in recruiting, some individuals might frown upon it, saying it is insincere or unnecessary.Â Â Â But isnâ€™t it a recruiterâ€™s job to prepare candidates for interviews?Â They need to tell the candidate about the position: job description; requirements; performance expectations; location; salary range; and dress code.Â Yes, some recruiters do go further, giving extra information about the position, perhaps even advising candidates on what to say or wear.Â Some recruiters take candidates to lunch or tell a creative tale to plump up a candidateâ€™s ego.
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If the recruiter I met years ago had not told me that story about the horrific candidate, would I have gotten the job anyway?Â Perhaps, I would have.Â However, going for the interview would have been a lot more stressful and worrisome.Â So maybe fluffing your candidate is like fluffing your pillow.Â It just makes everything better…