Sometimes hiring managers miss red flags because they need to hire or like a candidate. Heed these signs you should not hire someone.
Choosing the right employee is an important decision. It can also be a stressful one. There are a lot of factors to consider.
Even when everything looks great on paper, sometimes there are red flags in the interview or upon further investigation. Or maybe your gut tells you something isn’t right. This can be frustrating, and when you need to find the right employee quickly or otherwise like the candidate, you might be inclined to overlook these flags. Don’t. Recruiting and onboarding is expensive and you want to make sure you get it right, which is why we’re sharing this list of signs you should not hire someone.
Here’s a list of eight red flags to watch for in job candidates in the interview and during the hiring process. Not every one of these should be an immediate dealbreaker, but they do indicate that you might want to take a second look.
8 signs you should not hire someone
They’re rude to the receptionist (or anyone)
This is a pretty well-known and solid test, and this one should be an immediate dealbreaker. A candidate who is only nice to the interviewer and treats others with contempt is not going to be a good hire. It implies, at best, someone who is short-sighted and oblivious, and at worst someone who is classist, arrogant, and nasty. Everyone should be nice to everyone, even those they think can’t do anything for them.
They don’t research the company and role
This should be evident in the cover letter, but if there wasn’t one or you didn’t see it, the interview is the time it will come out. A candidate who shows up to the interview not knowing anything about your company or the role for which they’re applying is a red flag. How eager can someone be for a job if they can’t even be bothered to put in some time to do this research? If they truly want the job, they’ll want to impress you. If they want to impress you, they’ll do the preliminary groundwork and come in knowing their stuff.
You smell a lie
A lot of people lie on their resumes. Often just small lies, and we’re not saying every little embellishment mean the person is a bad choice. But if you sense something major is amiss in your candidate’s experience or story, don’t ignore that, even if you really like them and want it to work out. You can check LinkedIn and also with all listed employers to verify that they actually worked there when they say they did. And you can ask pointed and detailed questions about duties and accomplishments to see if they know what they’re talking about. If they clearly have no idea, that is probably not a good hire.
When I give a reference for someone I think is great, I am enthusiastic. I fall all over myself trying to convey the greatness of that person. When I am not enthusiastic, I say very little. Professional references won’t say anything negative because they’re afraid of getting sued. So, if there was ever an application for “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all,” the professional reference is it. You can ask if the person is eligible for rehire and they’ll say yes or not, but that’s about it. So, you have to listen for what they don’t say. If they say nothing overtly positive, that could be because there is nothing positive to say. What references don’t say speaks volumes.
They don’t ask any questions
A candidate should have questions during the interview. They should ask about the company culture, what would be expected of them in the role, what it’s like working there, how success is measured, and other questions. If they don’t ask you anything, that’s a potential signal they don’t have any curiosity about the role or company and aren’t really interested in it, and could mean they won’t be terribly invested, won’t give it their best, and will move on in a short time. If someone is interested in something they’re curious about it.
They talk negatively about other people
There is no job interview situation in which badmouthing other people is acceptable (we should never bad mouth anyone, frankly, job interview or no). No matter how terrible one’s previous boss or coworkers were, it’s in the worst form to say negative things about them. People should know this and, if they don’t, that is a big red flag. Trashing others is a sign of arrogance and obliviousness. It’s unprofessional and childish (when everyone else is the jerk, it’s probably you, after all). Anyone who trashes a previous employer may later trash you and this can hurt your employer brand. Be very wary of this behaviour in a candidate.
Super short job tenures
It’s pretty common these days to move from job to job every couple of years and job tenures are getting shorter and shorter. Employees have little loyalty to employers who they know could lay them off at any moment and often will. That being said, how short is too short? If someone has been in roles for only a few months or less each time, they could be a serial job hopper who will soon hop out of your company. It costs a lot of money to recruit and onboard people. Be careful.
They don’t seem enthusiastic about the job
Some of these red flags, like researching your company and asking questions, are simply about the level of enthusiasm for the job. You want to hire an employee who is excited to work for you and to do the job you need them to do. Someone who is not excited at the start, is not going to get more excited. This is the best it’s going to get. If they’re not enthusiastic, take a second look.