As the Gulf Coast’s recognized leader in staffing solutions and the largest provider of staffing and HR services in two counties, we’ve screened and interviewed thousands of candidates over the years. We’ve seen every red flag a candidate can raise – from flat-out lies to major attitudes, from laziness to lack of wardrobe sense. Here is a list of the top 10 red flags to watch out for when interviewing prospective employees:
Red flag #1. The candidate has zero knowledge of your company. If the candidate hasn’t conducted some basic research about your company before the interview, then they’re probably not serious about the job. If they can’t ask relevant questions due to this lack of knowledge, then you’ll want to look elsewhere. A strong candidate will know what kind of company you run, what products and services you offer, and who you serve. They should also ask pertinent questions, such as “Why is this position open?”
Red flag #2. The candidate talks badly about a previous manager or employer. Whether this is an indication that a) the candidate has an issue with authority, b) the candidate has a hard time getting along with others, or c) the candidate doesn’t have enough sense to know not to speak badly about others in a job interview, it’s not good. No matter what.
Red flag #3. The first question the candidate asks is about vacation days. Obviously a candidate will want to know about benefits, including paid time off. But asking this question first, or too early, could be a sign of a weak work ethic.
Red flag #4. The candidate was dismissed during the first round of layoffs at a company. When cutbacks occur, the less productive employees are usually among the first to go, while the mission-critical workers are usually held until the end.
Red flag #5. The candidate can’t give you details or examples about resume or cover letter claims. Candidates should be able to offer proof of their claims. If a candidate says she increased sales by 5%, then she should be able to offer a clear explanation as to how she did so. If a candidate says she managed 10 employees, she should have good answers for questions about how she handled performance issues.
Red flag #6. The candidate treats employees who have higher level jobs differently. If you hold first and second interviews, you may receive a range of viewpoints about the candidate. First interviews frequently include the hiring manager, HR, and a potential coworker or two. Second interviews involve these interviewers, more potential colleagues, and possibly several reporting team members. If the candidate responds rudely or poorly to employees such as receptionists or fellow employees, but turns on the charm for executives, this means “No.”
Red flag #7. The candidate arrives late, or not at all. Getting to an interview late is not only careless, but it shows a lack of respect for other people’s time. There could be a reasonable explanation, and you can take that into consideration once. In most cases, tardiness is a hallmark of a bad candidate, the kind of person who keeps clients waiting and arrives late to meetings. If the candidate cancels more than once, that means their priorities are elsewhere.
Red flag #8. The candidate doesn’t take responsibility for failed projects, teams gone awry, or mistakes. They blame coworkers, bosses, a lack of resources, and the lack of skills in their team members for every failure they describe. You want to hire employees who admit errors, make thoughtful mistakes and fix them, but always take responsibility while they own and repair the problem.
Red flag #9. The candidate exhibits poor communication skills to interviewers. Yes, an interview is an anxiety-producing event, and you can’t expect every candidate to have the communication skills of a top salesman or presenter, but effective communication is one of the skills most frequently listed by employers in their job postings. Because it’s critical.
Red flag #10. The candidate fails to dress appropriately and with care for the interview. Appearance, appropriate accessories, and especially, cleanliness and good taste matter. In the case of a candidate at an interview, what you see is exactly what you get. You don’t necessarily need a fashion plate in expensive clothes, but dirty, unkempt, wrinkled, and inappropriate are loud signals to skip this prospective employee.
From lies to lack of preparation, poor attitude, and insincerity, you can collect evidence during an interview that a potential employee is not for you. If you know what you are looking for, you can successfully spot these job interview red flags before making a job offer to a prospective employee.