Executive Grapevine | Executive Grapevine International Ltd

Is it ever acceptable to withhold information from a candidate?

With GDPR now in force, in a world that is already hyper-sensitive to how...
Is it ever acceptable to withhold information from a candidate?

In a world that is hyper-sensitive to how, and where, data is being used, especially with regard to new GDPR regulations, recruiters will need to be ultra-careful about how they’re using their candidate data. As concerns surrounding data protection heighten, questions such as: where it is going, who has access to it and whether they’re holding data which is suitable, will become commonplace. But, what about the client side? Ignoring the legislative changes, just for one moment, is there any reason why candidates should not know anything about a potential position that they’re applying for?

To find out, Recruitment Grapevine asked our audience, as well as recruitment industry experts, to gauge what the feeling about withholding information from a candidate was. Whilst some of our industry leaders thought it was reprehensible to do so, they also understood, if not agreed with, the reasons that recruiters withhold details from the talent they’re talking with.


Chief amongst them, was fear of losing business, underwritten by worries that agencies in the same sector may get hold of their client’s name and subsequently offer their own services. Alternatively, the client might wish to hide their name if they’ve got a history of bad press. Yet, our experts unanimously believe that this shouldn’t be hidden from the candidate. It can only cause difficulty further down the line.


Lee Biggins, Managing Director, CV-Library

“While you might have your reasons for wanting to withhold information from your candidate, this can come back to bite you in the long run, so it’s best to be transparent throughout. After all, if they accept your offer and find out that you’ve not been honest with them, this could lead to ill feeling and have a negative effect on your employer brand. Not to mention the fact that they might end up leaving your business, taking you back to square one.

“Of course, it could be argued that it depends on the nature of what you’re ‘hiding’. But, it’s best to be open and honest – after all, you wouldn’t appreciate your candidate withholding information from you.”



Alan Furley, Director, ISL Recruitment

"I'm a definite 'No, never'.

"There is only one small, technical exception at the initial stages when you might not want to disclose the name of the client. That's just so a candidate who you don't have a relationship with can't say 'thanks very much for the tip' and head off to apply directly. It's not that you don't plan to tell them.

"I appreciate some people might be tempted to hide bad news. Maybe the client had a difficult historic issue - with staff retention, for example. Much as it’s tempting to hope that this won’t be a problem for your candidate, I feel it’s better to pre-empt any problems to avoid wasted time and effort from everyone. If the company isn’t right for them it’s better to work that out sooner rather than later.”



Gyles Whitnall, Business Manager & Co-Founder, Stott & May/Agile Valley

“The short answer is NO. The ethics and reputation of a recruiter are paramount but sadly, often get neglected in both increasingly competitive markets and KPI driven cultures. Some recruiters feel the need to withhold information from candidates, most commonly to hide a client’s name for reasons such as the worry of competitors hearing the clients name and requirements in the market. These can also include the candidate approaching the client directly, or even to negate the name in the market due to a high volume ‘scattered’ approach to reach candidates, which could affect a company’s reputation in hiring.

The truth is, to be successful and to increase a positive reputation in the market stems from your ability to forge relationships with your candidates and your clients – both which need to be built on trust. This, combined with your ability to talk through any potential barriers in an honest and transparent nature to complete a uniformed decision.”