7 Warning Signs to Watch for During Candidate Interviews

By Alicia Geigel on February 17, 2024

A formal interview is a huge part of the hiring process that can seal the deal for a prospective candidate and add a fresh, qualified person to your company. No interview is picture-perfect, and there are sometimes candidates who are less than ideal for the position you are seeking. If you are an employer and recruiter, look for these seven red flags while interviewing job candidates.

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1. They Constantly Reschedule: Setting up a date and time for an interview can take some effort. Working around work meetings, everyday tasks, and the candidate’s schedule isn’t always easy, and this can sometimes lead to conflicting times and even rescheduling. Rescheduling can happen on a handful of occasions, but if you notice the candidate constantly has something “come up” and always needs to reschedule, this is a sign that they aren’t truly committed to moving forward with the job application process and are avoiding the interview for several reasons, ranging from fibbing on their resume to prioritizing other activities over the interview.

2. They Are Late, Poorly Dressed, etc. In a job interview, first impressions mean everything. When a candidate gives off a bad first impression, it is difficult to shake off what they have already put off. For example, if the candidate is very late for the interview, like 20 to 30 minutes late, this is definitely a red flag. Granted, there are legitimate reasons why someone could be late to an interview, including traffic congestion or something sudden in their personal life, but nonetheless, this is something that can give you a bad impression of the candidate.

Another sign that is a red flag is if the person is unkempt or poorly dressed. There are instances where the person being interviewed may not have the nicest of clothes, and that is more than acceptable, but if they arrive to the interview with their shirt sloppily untucked and wrinkled, their pants stained or ripped, and their hair disheveled, it shows a lack of seriousness on their end of taking the interview seriously.

3. They Have a Negative Overall Attitude: When considering a candidate for a job position, there are a number of different factors and characteristics to weigh. A significant characteristic to consider is the person’s overall demeanor and attitude. Ultimately, you want a candidate who is motivated, driven, positive, communicative, and a team player. A person who doesn’t have at least some of these traits can be a detriment to your company and overall work environment. If you can detect that the candidate has either a moody, arrogant, or downright disrespectful attitude during the interview, it is best to take this sign and move on to another prospect.

4. They Lack Eye Contact: Most job interviews are conducted with a candidate sitting across from an employer or recruiter like yourself, with a desk or table separating the two of you. Body language is an important factor to look for when interviewing a candidate, and eye contact should be considered in addition to body language like crossed arms, hunched shoulders, etc. Eye contact is one of the simplest but important ways people can connect with one another. It shows respect and attention, and if your candidate can barely hold eye contact with you or frequently looks at the floor, their lap, or at the wall, it can show that they are either uncomfortable or are trying to hide aspects of themselves from you.

5. They Have an Inconsistent Job History: In the world of employment, it is common for people to have multiple jobs over the course of a few years. Some people stay at the same job, while others take on different jobs in the same career field. In any case, a candidate who has an inconsistent job history, whether this is a significant gap between jobs, short-lived jobs, or unrelated jobs in different fields back to back, can be unreliable and may not be the best fit for the job. It is important, however, to understand the circumstances of their inconsistent history before making a judgment. Perhaps they were a stay-at-home parent, a caregiver, or overcame an illness, which they should not be punished for.

6. They Gossip About Prior Managers or Jobs: A horrible sign that a candidate is not someone to bring to your company is if they gossip about their previous managers, bosses, and jobs. There is always a possibility of having a bad experience at a job, but this bad experience should not be rehashed to an employer or recruiter during an interview. If your candidate starts going to the terrible person their former boss was, the horrible management they experienced at their prior job, etc., it shows not only a lack of maturity on their end but also a likelihood that they will badmouth your company if things go awry in the future.

7. They don’t know your company or ask questions: A great job candidate should do a little bit of homework before an interview by researching your company, your mission statement, and your company staff. Using this information and the information from the job listing, your candidate should have at least a few different questions lined up to ask during the interview. If you find that they give lazy or short answers to questions about your company or fail to ask you questions about the company or position, they may not care about the position as much as another candidate.

Hiring the right candidate to fill your company’s position takes some searching, but if you keep an eye out for these red flags, the process should be a bit easier and smoother!

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