They have a gap in their resume.
They’ve had 4 jobs in 5 years.
They blame their boss for “holding them back.”
Are these valid reasons to reject an interviewee…or should you just ignore them?
In today’s tight candidate market, it can be tempting to overlook less-than-desirable qualities in a potential new hire – especially if they’re otherwise promising. And with many companies returning to growth mode, there’s serious pressure to hire and hire quickly.
But hiring mistakes can cost your business dearly. Data from Gallup estimates the cost of replacing a single employee to be anywhere from one-half to two times the employee’s annual salary.
So, what are true knock-out factors when you’re interviewing a candidate? Here are the top interview red flags you should keep an eye out for to prevent hiring mistakes:
4 Biggest Interview Red Flags
1. Vague answers.
When you ask a direct question, you should get a direct answer – especially when you’re questioning a job seeker about required job skills. While it’s essential to remember that your interviewee may be nervous, it’s equally important to get the facts you need about their abilities. If a candidate can’t provide concrete examples to demonstrate essential skills, or if they repeatedly beat around the bush when you probe for clarification, it may indicate that they can’t do what they claim to.
2. No clear career path.
It’s certainly not uncommon for talented individuals to intentionally change industries, change careers, or even take a step back to pursue a more promising path for themselves. But if an interviewee’s resume looks like a disorganized jumble of jobs, you need to investigate further. Ask questions to clarify the individual’s motivations for movements throughout their career. If you get a response that “connects the dots” and makes sense, that’s fine. But if they can’t give you a cohesive career story, they may lack sufficient drive or be a job hopper who will suddenly leave you high and dry.
Everyone makes mistakes. Responsible, accountable, professional people own up to those mistakes and take charge of fixing them. If you notice a blame-placing pattern with a candidate (e.g., their boss was unfair and evil, their coworkers were toxic, bureaucracy prevented them from getting things done), consider yourself warned. A job seeker who won’t take ownership of anything bad that’s happened in their life, and can’t provide sound examples of resolving problems they’ve caused, will likely exhibit the same behavior in your company.
4. Me, me, me.
A candidate wants to put their best foot forward in an interview – and who can blame them, right? It’s their job to convince you that they’re ideally qualified for your role, so naturally, they’ll share examples of how they shine on the job.
But there’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance. Proceed with caution if your interviewee:
- Takes all the credit for projects they didn’t lead or manage.
- Fails to acknowledge how others have supported their success.
- Shares stories where the rules just didn’t apply to them.
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