• Jack Sharp

What are the biggest red flags in a candidate interview?


A recruiter’s biggest strength is judge of character. Getting to know someone’s work experience and personality in the short space of an interview is a difficult skill to learn, especially if a candidate is confident and can shield their weaknesses.


But, there are signs to watch out for to ensure you’re recruiting only the best talent. Here are four red flags to look for in a candidate interview.


1. Victim mentality

Victim mentality is an ugly trait. Not only does it portray a level of self-involvement that doesn’t bode well with teamwork, but its also a sign that you (or your client) will be blamed for a lot of failure.


To make matters worse, you can predict that this personal failure will encroach on your company’s overall culture, and that the candidate will, for use of a better expression, ’turn employees against you’. Of course, this is a dramatic realisation. But, if you’re asking questions like…


‘So tell me why you’re looking to leave your current position?’


…and the response is…


‘Well, I work at [insert large firm here] and have run out of opportunities to chase. There’s nothing more for me to learn and nothing that the company can give me anymore.’


…you can expect that this candidate will cause problems down the line. We’ve all worked mundane jobs in the past, but the best employees are those that constantly seek out new opportunities and look for new ways to challenge themselves and grow. Regardless of their company size and structure, good candidates have initiative and heart. Don’t hire one without.


2. Arrogance

There’s a fine line between self-confidence and arrogance. Arrogance involves inflated egos, self-confidence does not. If you’re interviewing a candidate who is looking to pat themselves on their back at every corner, you’re hiring the wrong person.


Business success is less about individual employee success and more about the success of a company overall. Those with inflated egos fail to see this. Arrogant employees cause red tape, put other employees down and showcase their self-worth all too often. And although this usually comes from a place of deep-scented insecurity, it’s not a quality any business should be supporting. It certainly isn’t the mindset of a mature, entrepreneurial and motivated employee.


3. Short terms of employment

Hiring is like playing the stock market, you need to look at previous trends and predict the future. And CVs are the perfect giveaway. Candidates with lots of experience are, undoubtedly, stronger than those without, but if this experience has been collected in an unreasonably short space of time, this could be a warning sign.


In today’s workplace, one of the biggest strengths a candidate can have is persistence and commitment. The new generation of millennials are too much flight and not enough fight. Ask your candidate why they’ve had X amount of roles over the last year or two and examine the response. Perhaps there has been excusable personal complications, but then again, perhaps not. Candidates who move jobs too regularly are not those you want to be hiring, especially if your commission is based on the candidate serving a minimum term.


4. Lack of passion for the industry

There are three things to look for when hiring a candidate. They are:

  • Personality

  • Experience for the role

  • Passion for the industry they’re working in

The first two are self-evident. The third is not. It requires a little more prying into why a candidate does what they do. Lets say you’re hiring a sales executive at a technology firm. You first need to understand why they’re in sales and whether they’re qualified, and then you need to understand why they want to sell technology. Can you honestly expect a salesperson to be good at their job role if they don’t enjoy the thing they’re selling?


Ask questions around the industry and see if the response is positively engaging. In technology, for example, that might include questions around where technology is going, the implementation of AI, how self-serve is dominating every industry, or if they’re really into it, how virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) will change the landscape of the working world. If the entire interview is an engaging debate about the industry you’re recruiting for, that’s a positive sign.


Turn to outside help

Recruiters working in fast-paced environments are often under-resourced, lacking time and unable to effectively source strong candidates. Outsourcing to experts can make or break recruitment campaigns.


By the time it comes to interview, work experience and qualifications are almost irrelevant. You need to focus on personality and passion. Outsourcing your recruitment, then, means you can hire with an objective pair of eyes, letting experts focus on discovering which candidates are well-suited, and which are not. I’ll finish this as I started: A recruiter’s biggest strength is judge of character.


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