10 Red Flags to Watch for When Interviewing Talent

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15 May 2017
interview advice


Companies need highly skilled employees, and in some professions there aren’t enough qualified candidates in the market to keep up with demand. In some fields, this has led to skyrocketing salaries and has forced many employers into rushed hiring decisions.

However, tapping the brakes and taking the time to really get to know candidates can save a company time and money in the long run. As you interview candidates, be sure to look out for these ten red flags, which could save you from making potentially disastrous hiring mistakes:

  1. Late Arrival – While traffic can certainly be unpredictable, it could be a sign that they don’t make timeliness a priority.
  2. Disrespectful Treatment of Staff – If a candidate is not pleasant and respectful to the receptionist, treat this as a red flag. After a candidate leaves, ask the receptionist what he or she thought of the individual. You may be surprised what you learn.
  3. Dressing Too Far Down – Many people work in casual environments, but they should come to an interview dressed professionally. Appearance is a good indicator of a person’s judgment and awareness.
  4. Poor Body Language – While it’s expected that a candidate might be nervous and it is widely accepted that technology-minded people are often introverts by nature, you want to watch body language closely. A candidate should have good posture and demonstrate alertness and attentiveness. The “jitters” will ease up throughout the course of the interview and nervous gestures and voice tones will give way to a candidate’s true body language. Leaning back, folding the arms in front of the body, and other related gestures and body language can be an indication of closed-mindedness, defensiveness, lack of confidence, or even arrogance.
  5. Failing to Ask Questions – When it’s time for the candidate to ask questions, you want to be on the lookout for well-prepared individuals who come armed with questions about the company culture, departmental structure, goals of the position, current projects, etc. If the candidate has no questions, or the only question posed is, “What is the salary,” this should be considered a red flag. It demonstrates lack of interest and lack of preparation.
  6. Inarticulate Answers – One of the main purposes of a job interview is to dive into the details of a candidate’s experience and qualifications. Vague or even evasive answers should be seen as a red flag. Either the candidate has something to hide or they are unable to articulate their thoughts.
  7. Inability to Cite Real-World Examples – Some candidates give canned or ambiguous answers. Or, in the interest of time, they may give shorter answers. Dig deeper. If a candidate is unable to cite specific examples of problems they solved, this could be viewed as a red flag.
  8. Non-Accredited Degrees – Depending on the position, education makes a difference. It can matter less when a candidate has been out of school and working in the field for several years, but if a degree is relatively new, you want to make sure that the degree comes from an accredited institution with a recognized program. Unfortunately, many for-profit, online schools take advantage of students by offering them degrees that are virtually useless in the field. If you aren’t familiar with a candidate’s alma mater, do some follow-up research.
  9. Talking negatively about past employers – Even if a story is completely true, when candidates take the time to bash former employers, it shows a weakness in character. They may be the type of person to pass blame to others, or they may have trouble with confidentiality. Either way, avoid candidates who employer-bash.
  10. Talking About Money too Soon (or too Much) – While some professions command high salaries in the marketplace, you want to watch out for candidates who jump into the salary conversation too quickly. Focusing on salary rather than attempting to learn more about the position, its responsibilities and the goals of the project, shows a lack of concern for the needs of the employer.

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