Employees “out of office”

What do employees do when they’re not in the office it’s something that often may seem irrelevant to their ability to do a job, but this could not be more untrue. Who they are outside of the office inevitably has an influence on what they do when they’re on the job.

by Martha Tintin

The companies should never forget that a candidate is also a human being with a specific personality and with different interests and hobbies.  Eventually how much does a candidate’s life outside work weigh in the hiring process? The life outside work certainly plays a role when assessing a possible candidate. Keith Jones, Country Managing director of Antal International Brazil, confesses “In our business it is imperative that we provide our customers with a choice of talented individuals that fit the given criteria for specific roles,” both employers and recruiters benefit from analyzing life of candidates outside of the office, because if you know them better, you are better able to determine their real strengths and talents in terms of potential suitability for hiring. Life outside work does play a factor when assessing a possible candidate, as Artur Skiba, Managing Director of Antal International Poland puts it “having been in recruitment for more than 10 years now I can admit this is the basic requirement” and continues “what surrounds a possible candidate when they’re not in the office corresponds to how they find themselves in the office.” “The outside life of a candidate definitely does have an influence on the business” suggests Alan Russell, Managing Director of Antal South Africa he then adds “family life has an effect on a candidate’s day-to-day work as well as a sport or any other outside interest which could have a negative impact on the candidate’s productiveness at work,” an example it could be someone that is going through a divorce or any other family related trauma, a situation like those could cost a company time and money due to the fact that the person is much more distracted. There are also those who think that personal life however important, it is not necessarily a key factor “depends on the company,” Leticia Herran, Managing Director of Antal Spain says, and progresses “some companies may want someone that has a 24/7 connection, so it is important that the candidate has a ‘personal life’ as well as be ‘on’ in a permanent basis while doing or having spare time.”  

According to Max Price, Managing Director of Antal Germany it plays a factor, but firstly it’s all about the ability for someone to do the job and he then says ”if a potential candidate is borderline, or a risk, then external factors would play a larger part in decision making. Someone who is more stable is more likely to be happy and a positive influence in the work place.”  James Darlington Managing Director of Antal China considers it a factor, but not the most important one. Clearly what surrounds a candidate outside work enables a company to tell their personality, their morality and their work style, but still not if a person is qualified for the job, he says “as headhunters, first of all, we’ll take all professional aspects into consideration. Such as education background, working experience, career achievements, language skills, because those are the basic capacities to make you finish your job” after having analyzed these factors, it is imperative that motivation is analyzed. Professional aspects, however crucial, are not enough to establish the complete suitability of a candidate for a specific job; infact others should be taken into consideration.  These may vary a lot depending on companies needs. In other words the idea of a ‘good employee’ has different meanings depending on the organization.  Keith Jones and Alan Russell mention criminal records and psychological profiles.  Mr. Jones explains “it is now common practice for organizations to use tailor made psychometric tests that specifically assess a potential candidate and their suitability for working within an organizations culture and environment.” It is also true that investigating a candidate, depending on local human rights law, it can prove to be a difficult task, because as Mr. Jones says “questions relating to race, gender, religion, marital status, age, disabilities, ethnic background, country of origin, sexual preferences or age could be deemed illegal.” Max Price considers family life and location other important “outside the office” factors explaining that if someone is relocating specifically for the role, hence leaving the family in a different location, it can prove to be a stressful and disruptive influence on the performance. He also adds that commuting can prove to be cause of a less than brilliant performance, especially if a candidate is young and not very motivated, anything over 45 minutes of commuting could be a problem. 

Mr. Darlington refers to non-professional aspects as the “Fit-in” problem, which includes motivation, family background and relationships in and out of the office. According to him motivation can be defined as the reason for leaving and joining a company, motivation shows a candidate’s needs and is closely related to relationships and family background. He explains “the family background shows your growing environment and current family requirement; it will influence how much pressure you can bear, your working style and personality” and then progresses “Relationships are a general reaction and reference of all the before features.” Since we have clearly identified the importance that lies in the personal life of an individual, which is inevitably projected to their professional performance, it becomes crucial to investigate what kind of tools are implemented to analyze the suitability of a candidate in the hiring process. Leticia Herran trusts personal interviews as well as references checks, asking those that the candidate has reported to in the past. Specific tests are also used, but only for some positions. Mr. Darlington gives a very deep insight when he explains, “we will use a professional designed Reference Checking Form, which will be answered by his/her line manager and other colleagues via phone or email.” He then adds that other assessment test tools are used such as DISC (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness & Compliance).  A recruiter experience is another great tool to use as Mr. Darlington suggests. “There is a standard question list for candidates, of course you can develop on the basis of your personal experience, but it’s a core, we can evaluate most of the non-professional features by answers” and then finishes “how deep you can get depends on your HR experience and skills.” Companies that do not run full and complete tests and analisis when assessing candidates can incur in multiple risks. Mr. Darlington of Antal International China believes that risks can take two directions. First being company information security and the second being public reputation. He states that if a person is not precise or his family and friends are not trustworthy, companies have to be careful with what business “secrets” are shared. On another level reputation is fundamental for business. The risk is that an “off” behavior of an employee could result in being recognized as the style of a company, so if a company hires a person with a bad reputation that instance could then be projected to the company itself. According to Mr. Price the risk is mainly financial, “the cost of a bad hire is phenomenal,” he exclaims.“It can cause wasted salary budget, legal issues, but also a huge business cost in terms of loss of a key client or clients.” He also refers to risks related to the company’s image, so it is important to analyse how an employee could represent the organization. A few concrete examples are surely essential to better understand how dramatically significant a good or bad analisis prior to hiring is for business. Alan Russell tells a situation he experienced “I worked with an ex-military man who suffered from Post Traumatic Stress, which was never disclosed to the company.” “One day he snapped at work, damaging property and slightly injuring fellow employees.” He then adds, “this was a personal issue which was left undiagnosed as he never dealt with it, and which ultimately cost him his job, all of which could have been avoided with the correct checks and help.” Mr. Darlington gives his example talking about a candidate at General Manager level of American MNC. He says “all of his professional backgrounds and soft skills are qualified for the position, but when I talk with his friends and understrapper, I felt he has a code of brotherhood – once he got a new better job, he always brings all his understrappers to share his success.” “This is bad for any company, so I did not recommend him to any new position.”


Antal International  is a global executive search consulting firm, was founded in the early 1990’s to service a gap in the market and the trend of globalization Antal’s International Network has assisted numerous clients in over 75 countries. The new millennium has seen Antal’s services become the solution in demand by clients from SME level to Fortune 500 corporations who seek a knowledgeable and professional business partner with scale and global reach.

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Published in the hard-copy of Work Style Magazine, Spring 2011