10 Red Flags To Watch For When Interviewing Candidates

© baranq / Adobe Stock

woman in job interview

© baranq / Adobe Stock

Elana Konstant
Elana Konstant12
Career Coach for professionals in transition
April 22, 2024 at 4:47PM UTC
Interviewing candidates can be a daunting process, especially when all of them are seemingly well qualified for the role on paper. Narrowing down the field often involves a mix of professional and personal considerations about each applicant. Given their professional experience, you obviously want to consider who can most effectively contribute to the company. From a personal standpoint, and arguably of more important concern, you need to determine if this person is a good fit in terms of company culture, mission, and work style. 
While it can be hard to tell from a one-hour meeting, here are 10 red flags you should watch out for when interviewing:
1. Lack of respect: Respect is everything in an interview. This can manifest in a number of ways, including lateness or informality in terms of dress and attitude. If someone does not put forth the effort to impress you in the first meeting, or follow up to thank you for your time, then it should really be the last.
2. Unprepared: The first rule of an interview is to show up prepared. If a candidate does not have the required documentation or is unable to speak about the company or role with any specificity, this can indicate that she is not up for meeting the demands of the job.
3. Negative energy: Badmouthing of a former employer, colleagues, or supervisor should set off loud alarm bells. Just imagine what she might say about you and your team in her next interview. You want to hire someone who can keep it professional at all times.
4. Demanding salary or other needs: Don’t get me wrong, it’s certainly important for applicants to make this information known and advocate for themselves. However, during the interview stage is not the right time. Making such requests upfront potentially signals an unwillingness to compromise.
5. Dishonesty: Being lied to is never good and it’s even worse in an interview. Even if it’s something small, catching a candidate in a lie betrays a moral character that you probably don’t want associated with your employer. If someone lies during an interview or on her resume, you should consider how and when she might be dishonest in the role.
6. Prior personality clashes: Your ears should definitely perk up if this phrase is uttered with respect to a former employer or, even worse, multiple former employers. While not always the case, it can be code for the candidate being disagreeable or overly challenging in a work setting.
7. Not asking questions: Asking the potential employer questions allows the candidate to suss out whether the role is the right one for her. If a candidate doesn’t prepare questions in advance, she may not be very interested in the job or she may not know enough to research the company. Either scenario makes her an undesirable hire.
8. Rambling answers: Of course, everyone rambles a bit in an interview. But, if the candidate can’t seem to answer any questions cohesively, you might wonder if she practiced for the interview and how much she cares about the role. Disorganized thoughts can signal a disorganized employee.
9. Arrogance: Yes, there is a fine line here between being proud of your accomplishments and bragging about them. It’s important to know the difference, as someone who is incredibly boastful in an interview is unlikely to be a supportive team member.
10. Uncomfortable body language: At the end of the day, you want to hire someone who wants this job. She should be excited about the possibility of working there and able to convey her passions, professional or otherwise. If a candidate is unsmiling, not meeting your eye, mumbling, or otherwise conveying the sense that she doesn’t want to be in the interview, then you don’t want her in your office.

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