Stop Hiring the Wrong Candidate! 5 Interview Warning Signs


When it comes to hiring great people, the interview process is often more of an art than a science. A candidate who’s great on paper can be a mess in person, and someone with thin credentials can really blow you away in the meet-and-greet. Once your candidate has made it past the initial resume screening, the interview can tell you a lot of what you need to know about a potential hire — that is, if you’re paying attention.

You know what qualities are on your wish list when it comes to the perfect candidate. In the interview process, you’re most likely looking for someone well-groomed, well-spoken and knowledgeable about the position. But it’s a smart idea not to focus so much on your list of “do’s” that you completely overlook your list of “don’ts.” Considering a bad hire can potentially set your company back as much as $50,000 (or more!), it’s important to look for signs your supernova candidate might actually just be full of hot air.

Many candidates are telegraphing huge red flags without even realizing it in the interview process. Here are some of the major warning signs to help you avoid hiring the wrong person for the job:

Your Candidate’s Nonverbals Are Speaking Volumes

As a hiring manager, you’ve become adept at reading between the lines. Nonverbal communication is a huge aspect of any interaction, but it’s an especially large part of interviewing a candidate. In fact, 33 percent of recruiters claimed to know within 90 seconds whether or not a candidate is a good fit for the position.

You don’t have to be The Mentalist to pick up on sketchy nonverbal communication. Just watch closely how the candidate acts and reacts during the interview. For instance, eye contact is a huge nonverbal cue, with 67 percent of hiring managers citing failure to make adequate eye contact as a nonverbal deal breaker.

According to an old myth, there’s a correlation between eye movement and lying. While this has since been debunked, good eye contact can still give you a better feel for a candidate’s personality, professionalism and confidence level. Look for candidates who have no trouble looking you in the eye and being direct about their experiences and qualifications.

Your Candidate Isn’t Filling In The Details

One of the biggest problems for employers in today’s job market is the skills gap. By 2020, the difference between the skills employers are searching for and the skills candidates possess could create a gap as large as 21 million workers.

Clearly, it’s important to make sure you’re hiring candidates with the right stuff. But that might be easier said than done — for every corporate job opening, employers are inundated with approximately 250 resumes.

The best way to avoid falling in the skills gap is to pay close attention to what candidates are saying in the interview process…and what they’re not saying. Avoid candidates who don’t delve into specifics when talking about their skills and experiences.

If candidates are willing to get concrete about what they know, you can feel confident in their skill level. Candidates who spend their whole interview being as vague as possible about their specific skills probably aren’t the superstars they want you to believe.

Your Candidate Is More Interested In The Perks Than The Position

Great company culture perks can help you attract the kind of top-notch candidates you need in your organization. However, once in the interview your candidate should be much more interested in the position than the perks. A big interview warning sign is when your candidate’s questions revolve more around vacation and benefits than day-to-day activities.

The questions your candidate chooses to ask in the interview process can tell you a lot about their priority levels coming into the position. Candidates who ask about job functions are thinking about their role in the company. Candidates who ask about the next rung on the career ladder are thinking about their future with your company. Candidates who ask about your company’s generous vacation policy are thinking about their next vacation, not their next project.

Your Candidate Has No Questions

Speaking of questions, a flashing neon warning sign goes up whenever a candidate doesn’t have any questions after an interview. You might have answered many of their potential questions while discussing the company and position, but the candidate should have still come prepared with specific, tailored questions.

As we’ve mentioned, these questions can help you evaluate what’s important to the candidate. But the question portion of the interview can also work as a period of time to evaluate just how much the candidate knows about your company, culture and mission statement.

Smart, prepared candidates will ask you about a recent news item, an overseas expansion, or a new policy you’ve implemented. A candidate with no questions to ask is someone who didn’t do their homework before showing up at your office.

Your Candidate Is Holding A Grudge

While this might seem like an obvious warning sign, it’s still important to watch out for vengeful candidates. People with a bone to pick with a former employer can let their hurt feelings get in the way during the interview. If you’re talking to someone who was downsized, fired, or left their last workplace on bad terms, it’s important to watch closely how they handle the subject.

Candidates who handle the topic with grace and poise have learned from their experiences. Candidates who fly off the handle and begin ranting about their former workplace are hotheads you’ll want to avoid. If these candidates are comfortable disparaging their former employers, one day it might be your company they’re complaining about in an interview.

The interview is a great testing ground to see what skills, confidence, and poise candidates bring to the table. While looking for items on your ideal employee wish list, make sure you’re not ignoring these interview warning signs.

About the Author: Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.


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