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Red Flags to Look Out For When Hiring

Published on Tuesday, 09 Aug 2016

The hiring process for a job can be a long and tedious endeavour. If you’ve ever hired the wrong person for a role, you’re aware of the costs of hiring mistakes, specifically the loss of time and energy spent, as well as a missed opportunity of not hiring another promising candidate who may have now found another job. While you can’t avoid all hiring mistakes, there are warning signs to be on the lookout for when reviewing resumes and conducting interviews. Poor spelling and grammar on resumes are common deal breakers, but here are other red flags to watch out for hiring. 

You want a future employee who can stay on task and complete their work in a timely manner. The best prospective employee will be someone who has had experience making things happen or accomplishing growth for their past employer. Watch out for candidates who talk in hypotheticals about what they can achieve rather than being able to tell you what they have already achieved.

If your candidate provides you a list of references and no one on the list is a previous manager or supervisor, you should be cautious. The only time this can be acceptable is if the role is an entry-level position. Otherwise, the omission may indicate that the candidate knows their past managers will not speak positively of their work relationship and they are trying to keep it from you. Keep in mind that you are not limited to the reference list they provide; ask the candidate to put you in touch with the specific people you would like to speak with if they do not readily offer it themselves. 

If you have ever had an employee who regularly forgot to send you documents or did not remember to respond to emails, you are aware of how frustrating this can be. Thankfully, this is a behaviour you can screen for during the hiring process. For example, if an interviewee mentions that they will send you an article they discussed in the interview or will email a phone number for a reference, but then does not do it within the expected timeline, you can be sure that will be the same type of unreliable behaviour you can expect on the job.

You may come across prospective employees who are charming with those who they perceive to be the decision-makers in the company, but will show a different side to others who they deem “less important.” If a candidate does not treat the receptionist or interns with the same respect shown to high-level managers, that is cause for a real concern. You should stop and consider what values the company holds and whether or not the candidate truly embodies it.

If you were to ask ten hiring managers about bad hires they have made, at least nine will tell you they had a bad gut feeling during the interview, but ignored that feeling because of other factors. A candidate may sound great on paper, but when your instincts are trying to warn you of something, pay attention and try to figure out what may be causing the negative reaction. That may very well be the clue to why the candidate is not a right fit.

While you may not be able to determine whether each prospective employee you interview is a good hire within the first meeting or conversation, there are always little cues with respect to how they handle the interview process that can steer you on a better course. With these warning signals in mind, you are better 
equipped to make the right decision for your company when it comes to hiring your next employee.

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