Red Flags for Interviewers

You are looking at a wonderful resume, a candidate who has all the experience, skills, and background you need. The interview will be a breeze, right?

Maybe so, but there are still a bunch of red flags to watch out for before you make an offer to that candidate.

1. It looks like they left more than one previous job because of the hours or workload. There are many reasons for leaving a job, but if it's the same reasons repeatedly, you should start wondering whether this is a secret prima donna who won't help out with extra work when needed. (Hint: Have them tell you how they handle it, with specifics, when the workload gets to be too much.)

2. They don't offer any past managers as a reference. If the reference list is stocked with peers, you have to wonder why the candidate doesn't want you talking to the people who supervised their work. Do they have something to hide? (Hint: Call those past managers before you make any hiring decisions!)

3. They come across as overly confident. Confidence is wonderful, but an inflated sense of their abilities and value should make you wonder what they will be like to work with. Will they be able to take input and feedback, or will they insist they know best? Some jobs are easy to learn and for them it is appropriate to believe the candidate will be a master in just a few weeks, but most jobs take a minimum of three months to learn well enough that the employee qualifies as 'good'. (Hint: Give a specific, work-based scenario and ask how they will handle it.)

4. They dismiss (or "breeze by") concerns about their level of experience. It is not enough, generally speaking, to  trust a candidate's assertion that they can "learn anything." It may be that you have a savant, able to acquire any skill in record time. But it is more likely you are looking at someone who isn't being realistic about the job's challenges and how they will approach them.

5. They are oddly 'salesy' in their verbal mannerisms. If they seem more interested in pushing their way into the job than making sure that the fit is right on both sides, be afraid. Interviewing is a two way conversation, not a beauty pageant. (Hint: Try to specifically say "I see interviewing as an opportunity for you to learn as much about the company and the position as we do about you." And then give them a chance to ask questions.)

6. They check in and ask for updates a lot. "A lot" is tricky to define, but you know exactly what it feels like, don't you? If you were clear with them about your interviewing process and timeline (and you were, weren't you?) then a weekly follow-up call or email from them is just plain annoying. Is that what they'll be like in the office? (Hint: Be specific about the time frame, and ask them not to contact you again -- you'll contact them.)

7. They don't have any questions about the job. It may be that you did a great job explaining everything in your discussion about the job, and the company. Even so, if they don't have any questions about the job they'll be spending significant amounts of time at on a regular basis ... that seems more than a little cavalier or disengaged. How will you know if they understand what they are signing up for?

8. They mention that lawyers are working out their departure from their last job. No matter how warranted their lawsuit might be, it is pretty spooky to know this candidate is suing (or sued) a past employer. Fair or not, you may not want to hire anyone who might be litigious.

9. You catch them in a lie, about anything. At first thought you might think it's minor to change the last job title or misrepresent the salary history, but this should be an instant deal-breaker for you. If they can't show integrity during the hiring process, you can't trust they will show it on the job either. (Hint: Be absolutely sure they are lying, but don't feel like you need to confront them about it. Just make a note and move on to another candidate.)

10. They sound angry or bitter, about anything. Like lying, this is a major red flag. Whether it's being angry at a previous employer or bitter over the job market, this is not an employee you want. People who are upbeat and pleasant are much easier to manage; why hire a grumpus?

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