recruitment warning sign

Sometimes it can be very difficult to find a candidate that you’re sure is the right fit for the role. An interviewee can present themselves better than anyone else, with all the right qualifications and experience, and still be utterly wrong for the job.

Hiring the wrong candidate carries heavy costs – factoring in training, salary, lost productivity and a new online recruitment campaign – so you’ll really want to get it right the first time if at all possible. However a simple application and interview aren’t always enough to know what kind of a candidate you’re dealing with. That’s why second interviews and probation periods exist, but even with those measures, it’s best to know how to get absolutely as much out of the initial application procedure as you can.

That means looking for warning signs – little things that the candidate says or does that might seem minor, but that you can use to foresee problems you might have with them further down the line.

Asks bad questions

It’s always best when a candidate fully engages with the interview process. That means they ask their own questions as well, but some of the most-heard ones are horribly misjudged – though some are still recommended by recruiters and job blogs everywhere.

The questions a candidate asks will tell you where their priorities lie, so a question about chances of progression or the duties required of them is good, while one about the company’s drug testing policy is definitely bad. And among the worst things the candidate can ask is nothing at all – as in, at the end of the interview, there is literally nothing else they want to know.

Note that it is actually reasonable, of course, for a candidate to ask about such things as salary and benefits, but it should be done tactfully and towards the end of negotiations.

Doesn’t want to be there

The candidate should want to be in the room at least as much as you want the position to be filled. Any sign that they feel their precious time is being wasted by the whole interviewing procedure is a major red flag.

Ways this can manifest itself include lateness, impatience, fidgeting, failing to bring along a notepad and other relevant paperwork, or posing the immortal question, “How long is this going to take?” (Answer: since you asked, not much longer at all.)

Thinks they’re special

The person you pick for the job probably will have a special factor that makes them the most suited – but there’s few things worse than encountering a candidate who believes they’re the solution to all your company’s problems, especially when in reality they don’t even come close.

By all means, take on a confident candidate, but never a cocky one. Marks of a cocky interviewee include going against policy (for example, posting a gift box with their CV when the request was for an emailed copy – yes this does happen) or acting as though they have no weaknesses.

Your gut says no

Okay, so this isn’t really due to something the candidate did that was wrong, but it’s a warning sign nevertheless. People can surprise in all kinds of ways, and not everyone interviews as well as they perform, but on the other hand if your gut says that this candidate is just plain wrong for the job, you may want to listen to that instinct.

There are all kinds of indications that people give in their body language, tone, posture and more which you might not be able to put into words, but that nevertheless create a negative impression. If you didn’t really enjoy meeting the candidate, you’re unlikely to enjoy working with them either – so make the right choice.

You should also avoid taking someone on simply because they were the best person who applied for the job. If they’re not up to the standard you expected then you should run another campaign – believe us, it will take less time and money than making a bad hire.

If you’re ever in need of more advice on how to separate your top candidates from the wannabes, do take a look at our downloadable, free HR guides or just pick up the phone and ask how we can help your organisation thrive!

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