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Candidate Red Flags to Look Out for in an Interview

Posted on 25th August 2022

There is nothing easy about determining the potential of a candidate, and it’s something that a lot of people struggle with during an interview. In fact, a lot of recruiters and hiring managers admit to regretting some of their newest recruits, especially as talent acquisition has become more challenging in light of the pandemic. This is why it’s important to look out for red flags in an interview, to reduce the risk of making a bad decision and regretting your new hire. Below, we have listed eight of the most common red flags to look out for.

8 Interview Red Flags

  1. Boasting About Other Job Offers - If a candidate is bragging about other job offers, it could be a sign that they are not committed to the job that you’re offering. There is a chance that they will accept another company’s offer, and they could just be using your job offer as leverage. If they do decide to join your team, there is a risk that they won’t hang around for too long. Though mentioning other offers isn’t always a red flag - it’s common for candidates to mention other offers towards the end of the interview process - boasting about them can be.
  2. Not Showing Excitement for the Role - It’s no secret that employee motivation has a direct impact on the productivity and growth of a business, which is why you should look for a candidate who shows passion and excitement for the role. If you are choosing someone to spend 40 hours a week working on your product or service, you want them to be passionate and boastful about it. Though they don’t have to be an expert on your company, they should have spent some time researching the company and the role.
  3. Displaying a ‘Victim’ Mentality - It’s a red flag when a candidate tries to portray themself as a victim; their old boss hates them, the company didn’t like them, they were always overlooked for promotions and so on. Though there are certainly occasions when someone might have been a victim at work, it’s uncommon and something to look out for. It doesn’t matter how large or small a company is, there is always something left for an employee to learn. So, pay close attention to anyone who is leaving because they feel as though they have nothing else to improve upon.
  4. Blaming Everything on Other Colleagues and Managers - In an interview, you should be looking for someone who takes ownership of their own mistakes and errors in the workplace. It’s not a good sign when someone blames everything on other members of their team. Instead, you want someone who can admit to making mistakes and learn from them. Everyone makes mistakes, but taking ownership is a sign of a person who is willing to grow, develop, take feedback on board and learn. Someone who doesn’t take ownership of their mistakes is likely to be someone who is resistant to learning on the job.
  5. Not Being Able to Detail Past Roles - In an interview, you should always ask a candidate what they did in their last job. If they are unable to explain and articulate what they did, this is a red flag. It suggests that they weren’t overly invested in the company or what they were doing, and it suggests a lack of confidence in their own abilities. Though you are bound to interview introverted and quieter people, everyone should be able to detail what they did in the last role and what their responsibilities were.
  6. Not Asking Any Questions - Interviewing a candidate should flow in the same way a conversation flows, with both sides asking questions and getting to know each other. If someone doesn’t ask any questions throughout the interview, it could be a sign of their lack of interest in the job. If someone really wants a job, they should have questions and a desire to find out more. Of course, you should also look out for candidates who are just asking generic questions for the sake of it. It’s always a good sign when someone is asking unique and relevant questions to find out more about the role, rather than just trying to tick the boxes of what they should be doing in an interview.
  7. Being Rude - This is an easy red flag to spot, but it’s still something that a lot of people overlook. Any form of rudeness in an interview should be noted, as it’s usually a sign that someone is unpleasant and difficult to work with. This includes someone being late, turning up looking sloppy and unprofessional, swearing, being unprepared and being overly confident in their own abilities. Though confidence is a good sign, arrogance is not. A good candidate is someone who turns up on time, who has prepared for the interview beforehand and who is polite from start to finish.
  8. Refusing to Give References - Regardless of how impressive someone is in an interview, refusing to provide references is a huge red flag. They might try to convince you that references are not a good judge of character, or they might insist you offer them the job before letting them reach out for references. This could be a sign that the candidate is hiding something. If a candidate has nothing to hide, they won’t mind you contacting others and asking for references.