Red flags to watch out for when hiring

Are you hiring? Watch out for these red flags during interviews

6 Sep 2017

Are you hiring? Looking for the perfect candidate can be difficult, but Hays’ Christine Wright is here to help you avoid some red flags before you hire someone new.

Hiring a new recruit is always a risk, no matter how sure you are about your decision.

After all, there’s only so much you can realistically gauge about a person during the interview process and, sadly, in the long run, you may well find that the candidate isn’t delivering or simply doesn’t click with the team.

There will always be an element of risk when hiring – this is unavoidable. However, some risks can and should be avoided at all costs. So, which red flags should you be looking out for when hiring new talent?

The candidate isn’t properly prepared

The vast majority of candidates will research the company and the role, and understand that this is a key part of their interview preparation. They will demonstrate this interview preparation by being able to confidently answer what they know about your organisation already and why they want this role, at this company in particular.

A well-prepared candidate will also have come armed with a number of questions to ask you at the end of the interview. This is basic interview preparation, and something we reiterate to our candidates time and time again.

If the candidate doesn’t display the above behaviours during their interview, then it is clear that they haven’t thoroughly prepared, and you should view this as one of the red flags. This shows a lack of organisation as well as enthusiasm for the role – two traits that you definitely don’t want to compromise on.

The candidate lacks ambition

Take note of whether or not the candidate can tell you where they want to be in one, three or even five years’ time.

Can they articulately tell you what their career goals are, or what they hope to achieve from this role? Are they interested to hear about the career progression opportunities available at your company? If not, then they could lack ambition and drive – another one of the red flags.

Ultimately, if it’s obvious that the candidate hasn’t been instrumental in driving their career success thus far, chances are they won’t be a rising star within your organisation.

Things just don’t add up

Upon digging a bit further, you have noticed some things don’t add up. Perhaps there is a lack of consistency between the employment dates on their CV or LinkedIn profile, and what they say in the interview room.

At best, this implies poor attention to detail and organisation; at worst, it could mean the candidate is dishonest about their employment history. Neither traits are preferable in your new recruit. If they have been dishonest about this, what else could they be lying about? I certainly wouldn’t risk finding out.

The candidate is negative about previous employers

There will be multiple opportunities during the interview process for the candidate to discuss their current or previous employers; for example, when you ask them why they want to leave their current organisation.

I firmly believe that how a candidate describes their employers when answering these questions speaks volumes about their character.

For instance, a smart, professionally astute candidate who holds themselves to account for their own success would answer with something like: ‘I am looking to leave because, as close as I am with my team and as much as I like the company, I personally need to develop my skills within a larger organisation with more scope for career progression.’
However, a negative, less professionally astute individual may say something like: ‘I have no choice but to leave, as this company is too small and stuck in their ways. They won’t give me the career progression I deserve.’
Not only does the second answer demonstrate a lack of maturity and professionalism, it also shows that the candidate is quick to point blame at others. Needless to say, this is not the type of person you want on your team.

The candidate can’t back up their claims

Use the interview to ask the right competency-based interview questions to help you accurately understand the candidate’s level of skill and experience.

Upon asking these questions, if the candidate struggles to back up their claims and tangibly demonstrate their successes to you in a concrete way, chances are they aren’t worth risking the likelihood of disappointment a few months down the line.

The candidate is lacking key soft skills

A candidate’s hard skills come from training and experience, and can be taught. Therefore, to a certain extent, these can be negotiable when hiring new talent, depending on how essential the hard skill is to the role.

Soft skills, however, tend to be inherent to a person’s character. These will include things such as problem solving, communication or interpersonal skills. These skills are harder to teach and, therefore, I would suggest, harder for you to be flexible on when hiring.

If a candidate clearly lacks the essential soft skills for the job, then there is little chance that you will be able to change their habits of a lifetime once you’ve hired them.

You’re not sure it’s the right fit, for either party

study by Hays Canada actually revealed that fit is one of the lowest considerations in the hiring process, yet it is the main reason that people are either let go or choose to leave a company.

If your instinct tells you this person won’t fit in, then you’re probably right. Hiring this person could negatively impact the team dynamic and, as a result, affect productivity, workplace happiness and staff retention.

When you look at it this way, it’s hard to see why anyone would risk hiring someone who is a bad ‘fit’. This article shows how you can effectively assess fit during the interview.

The candidate has poor interview etiquette

Lastly, if the candidate simply has poor interview etiquette, then this could be an indication that they lack basic manners, professionalism and respect for the interview process – all of which are red flags.

  • The candidate arrives late
  • The candidate uses inappropriate language
  • The candidate’s body language is poor
  • The candidate is rude to your receptionist or other colleagues

As I said at the beginning, hiring new talent is always risky. However, you can limit these risks by being aware of the above red flags. I therefore urge you not to take these warning signs lightly, and be sure to settle for only the best talent.

By Christine Wright

Christine Wright was appointed managing director of Asia operations in April 2012, the latest function in her extensive 23-year career with Hays.

A version of this article originally appeared on Hays’ Viewpoint blog.

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