I received an email from a headhunter for a corporate job in the afternoon with the proposed phone interview time and responded that night I would be available during lunch or after work in their specific timezone. The next email I received was 45 minutes before the meeting that they wouldn't be able to change the time as they were completely back to back on interviews (understandable), so I was prepared to take the interview at the proposed time. I assumed that she would fill out the necessary information to setup the interview but apparently didn't pass my phone number on to the interviewers. The time passed and the headhunter sent me an email saying that the meeting has been cancelled. My contact with the headhunter has been sparce and when I needed information, I was given it at last possible moment. I have signed a right to represent if that makes any difference in this decision.

The headhunter stated that my options could be to try to phone interview on the next day or to fly to said city on one of two days next week.

My dilemma is that I really want this job but I want to be as professional as possible about the situation with the possible future employer.

Should contact the employee giving the phone screening (someone I slightly know in my field), the person doing the scheduling (an email that I have), or attempt to continue scheduling with the headhunter?


If I were to CC the headhunter to a email directly to the person doing the scheduling would that be acceptable? I'm in no way wanting to go behind the headhunter's back. I'm fine with the headhunter getting their commission for letting me know about the job. I'm very concerned about not getting an interview with a company due to miscommunication.

  • 1
    If the headhunter screwed up, you handle with them how they are going to resolve it.Bypassing them and going to the future employer directly will probably not be appreciated by either. But note that you have a responsibility too: you "assumed..." which does not fit in 'professional' - so I would not point the blame finger too strongly.
    – user8036
    Commented Dec 13, 2014 at 14:13
  • If a recruiter is involved, one cannot bypass them. If the company is to pay the airfare (which seems reasonable), make sure all your i's are dotted, or they may not actually reimburse you. Commented Dec 8, 2022 at 13:35

2 Answers 2


When I'm dealing with recruiters who are not directly affiliated with the company I'm applying to (third party basically), I make sure that while they are employed/paid by the hiring company I am the valuable resource in the equation. In a nutshell, while the process is going on, they work for me and their conduct reflects directly on me. If a recruiter makes a mistake like this, I let it be known. I'm never rude or aggressive about it. I simply indicate that this is not acceptable to me and that it needs to be rescheduled properly. If they can't (or won't) accommodate this, then the "right to represent" needs to be nullified. That may ultimately end up requiring legal assistance, but it needs to be an option to consider.

Whenever I'm dealing with a new recruiter, I bring them onto my page. I vet them as much as they vet me in so much as I try to get as good a sense as I can to how much they value me as the resource and how they will deal with me. I let them know up front that I'm diligent, punctual and I need them to represent me in a similar way. The recruiters I've had the most success with all know this, respect it and adhere to it. The recruiters who fall out of my contact list or end up in my "junk filter" don't seem to get it.

All of that being said, it is never acceptable during a third party recruitment to go around the recruiter directly to the hiring agency [+ see below for footnote]. Beyond just being a little rude on your part, if the hiring company deals directly with you their agreement with the recruiter could be subject to penalties, legal action or other things you don't want to be responsible for. Your recruiter has placed you in a bad position, and your recruiter is the one who needs to correct it for you.

+Footnote: If you have been given the email for the scheduler by the headhunter or from the company with the express instructions of using it for scheduling, then this kind of contact would be perfectly acceptable so long as you include the headhunter in the communication and do not overstep the bounds of that contact.

Anecdote: Several years ago a recruiter failed to get me a second interview because she had broken her arm the day the company contacted her about me. Understandable, but the other two candidates in her portfolio who were also up for the position received their appointment notices that same day. I refused her next offer.

  • 2
    If it was copied into the email that I received from the headhunter, I'm assuming that it is acceptable to contact the scheduler?
    – Zach
    Commented Dec 12, 2014 at 18:22
  • 1
    It depends on the nature of the copy. If it was just in a CC I'd say no. If it was included as part of the text of the communication (i.e. - the recruiter typed it in or intentionally included it) then I would say it is perfectly acceptable so long as you retain the inclusion of the recruiter. Commented Dec 12, 2014 at 18:24
  • 1
    It was a copy and paste of a section of the original email. I definitely intend to retain the inclusion of the recruiter. I just know that if I don't act I might not get the chance to interview.
    – Zach
    Commented Dec 12, 2014 at 18:35
  • 1
    I personally would do it in that context. Keep it specific to scheduling, and retain urgency. Commented Dec 12, 2014 at 18:37

If you found out about the job through the recruiter, then it's definitely polite to not go around them. If you signed a right to represent then you definitely should not go around them, as it can hurt your chances for the position, and possibly get you into other trouble. My advice is to be very persistent in contacting recruiters regularly for new information to prevent situations like this. Recruiters are frequently bad about communication, and while it might be an annoyance to them to be regularly contacted, as long as you are polite, it shouldn't hurt your chances, as they're very invested in anyone that might possibly get hired through them.

  • if I were to cc: the headhunter in an email to the person doing the scheduling would that be fine?
    – Zach
    Commented Dec 12, 2014 at 18:12
  • I would ask the recruiter first if it would be okay to directly contact the person doing the scheduling.
    – Kai
    Commented Dec 12, 2014 at 18:14
  • Isn't a recruiter's primary job communication?
    – daaxix
    Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 4:10
  • No. Their primary job is filling jobs for the company. Sure, you'd think that communication with potential candidates would be important to them, but yet they're still frequently poor at this, from personal experience. And my advice to anyone job searching is to not let your opportunities depend on hoping the recruiter regularly communicates when it doesn't even matter to them if you as an individual get the position or not -- just that the position is filled.
    – Kai
    Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 16:41

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .