5 Ways to Deal with a Difficult Recruiter

We recently just received this inquiry from one of our coaching members here in New York and she is very frustrated communicating with a difficult recruiter. 

Here are a few ways you can deal with such a difficult person.


This is a little frustrating. At every turn, the company that I am interviewing with right now has done a “temperature check” of —if we made an offer at $100,000 + 5K workable but we cannot get you more than that. 

From the beginning, I have said this is a pay cut and you are pressuring me to give you an answer on a hypothetical.  TODAY the conversation started with how are you feeling about the role and the team you met with everyone and we are still talking to people but I THINK that the hiring manager and I would like to propose an offer to you of $100+5K if you got that would you say yes?  

They are basically asking me to commit to a number that is still hypothetical and telling me if my breaking point is $110K for me to let them know or if I am still stuck on a $110K to let them know that too. I’m more than irritated at this point that he is so pushy using hypotheticals-if you want to make an offer, then do so.  I’m perfectly fine chalking this up to an offer and rejecting it but I told him the following:

  1. You’re looking for a commitment from me without anything concrete on your side
  2. It’s STILL a pay cut
  3. You haven’t moved or given anything
  4. This is a pay cut I’m going to need to take 24 hours to discuss with my fiancé because it’s a pay cut

The Recruiter also knows exactly what he’s doing because he basically acknowledged it. I know I’m asking you to comment on something that isn’t real, I know I’m putting you on the spot etc.

I DON’T appreciate these tactics as it sets me up for entering the job feeling resentful and quite frankly they’re obviously more than aware that they must be paying below market rates otherwise they wouldn’t have structured the HR conversations this way.  

I’m not going to accept something that clearly underplays my level of experience.  

Need your thoughts on what I should do. 

 – Jamie


1. Never Make it Personal, Because It’s Not

The first thing is to appreciate that this is not personal. This person is doing their job and you are doing yours. A recruiter is here to fight for the interests of the company they are recruiting for (especially when they are working for them directly). Sometimes those interests conflict with you as a job hunter and this is unavoidable.

2. Create More Opportunities

You do not have to take this job if you do not want to and honestly, if they are going to be this difficult in the beginning, chances are they will also be difficult after you start working too. This is where people get stuck, and this is precisely why you have to play the numbers game. The reason you are feeling frustrated is that there may not be any other interviews lined up for you right now. Go and generate some more. Interviews cure all when it comes to job hunting, just like Sales Cure All when it comes to owning a business. Get back to controlling what you can control.

3. Go for the Reach Around 

If you feel that this person is being viciously unprofessional, forward the email over to his or her superiors along with the Head of Product over there. Let them know that you do not appreciate being treated like this. Companies should never create a negative interview experience for anyone. This is not about the money, so much as it is about being valued. Nobody has the right to belittle, disrespect, or insult you. Make it known this is not okay.

4. Stand Steady

Do not be fearful of voicing what you want. Write down exactly why you feel the justification for a higher salary. Do not make it about you at all. Make the entire argument from the perspective of how you are going to add value. The company does not care if you are taking a pay cut or not. That is your pain, their pain is trying to figure out how to solve the problem they are hiring a Product Manager to fix. Make your argument about what how you can help.

5. Move On 

There is only so much you can do. If you can’t change people, then change people. There is a lot that is beyond our control when it comes to interviewing and we can only do what we can. You may not feel like quitting, but just know that everything happens for a reason and you just might have dodged a bullet.

Please schedule a call today or RSVP for our next event to see how Product Gym can help you land your next Product Manager job.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Access Our List of Product Manager Job Openings, Updated Daily

Short-cut your search process, free with our list with full links to the product job, company and application link.

Not hearing Back on Job Applications?

Speak with a PM Career Coach

Don't Know Where to Apply for Product Manger Roles?

Get FREE access to our list of Product Manager job openings. Updated daily.

Schedule a Call with Us

Interested in learning more about how Product Gym can help you secure your dream Product Manager job?