Red Flag Candidates: Tips to Separate Contenders from Pretenders

It’s easy to be wowed by a candidate who presents well. A pristine resume with all the right experience. Before offering the job, consider: this person will spend more time with coworkers than their family. You need to be sure the match is correct. Read below for spotting red flag candidates and some tips for moving past some of the red flags to gain a greater understanding.

Nine Red Flags and Nine Tips to Uncover More Info

1. Candidate Presents as “Perfect”

Great resume, experience, and all the skills you seek. They don’t seem to have any weaknesses. There is a chance the candidate is just telling you what you want to hear. If things seem too good to be true, they usually are.

Tip: Ask the candidate, “Tell me about a time you struggled with some aspect of your job,” then: “How did you overcome this struggle?”

2. Candidate’s Cover Letter/Resume Lack Customization

A candidate who chooses not to customize a resume and cover letter is a red flag. Well-qualified applicants write a custom cover letter or resume that draws a direct connection between the skills and experience you seek and the applicant’s qualifications. In addition, poor grammar, spelling, and punctuation is also a red flag.

Tip: Have the candidate complete a writing exercise during the interview that forces them to make connections between experience and the present opportunity.

3. The Candidate is Unprepared for Interview

If a candidate doesn’t show up for an interview prepared, it’s a red flag. If a candidate does not present a professional appearance, the interview may be brief.

Tip: If the unprepared candidate still impresses you, ask them to explain what materials they’d bring if they had the opportunity for a second interview. If attire is questionable ask about their choice; perhaps there is a good explanation for the Chicago Bulls jersey.

4. Candidate Provides Nondescript Answers

They have a good resume & experiences but provide vague and typical answers to the interview questions. This could be a sign they don’t have the experience or skills you need for the role. Probe for more original and perhaps, honest answers.

Tip: If they say: “I don’t have an example of a time of conflict at my previous job,” ask: “When you do have a disagreement, how do you go about finding the middle ground?”

5. Candidate Has No Questions at the End of the Interview

All candidates should have questions. It shows they have an interest in the role, company culture and their fit for the job. Additionally, a lack of questions is a sign they may not have a strong interest in the job.

Tip: If the candidate asks no questions, allow a moment of silence to pass in case they recall that asking a question or two is the best interview practice.

6. Candidate’s Online Presence Is Questionable

Candidates today should understand potential employers will look at their online presence. In addition, online actions can reflect their actions in the workplace.

Tip: Share your company’s social media policy with the candidate.

7. Candidate has Holes in Employment History

Ask about it. Some experience gaps in employment due to circumstances beyond their control. However, some employment gaps are simply a red flag.

Tip: Give the candidate an opportunity to share what value-added experiences took place during the gaps.

8. Candidate Makes Immediate Demands

There is a big difference between negotiating reasonable employment conditions and making unusual demands. While candidates tend to hold the upper hand, making immediate demands can be a red flag.

Tip: Nod politely and then act like you are writing down something very important. Move on to the next candidate.

9. Candidate is Overqualified

Try to figure out whether the candidate is attracted by your job, workplace, industry, or company culture to take a job for which he or she is overqualified.

Tip: Acknowledge their qualifications and ask what parts of this job piqued their interest. Then, ask what potential challenges they’d anticipate in this role.

Looking Closer at the Red Flags is Worth It

It is vital not to make assumptions: if you have concerns, investigate the red flags. Then, probe for more info and listen thoroughly to the candidate’s responses. The extra questions will help to separate the pretenders from the contenders. Finally, the right (and wrong) candidates will reveal themselves through their answers. Contact Quovis, a professional search and recruitment process outsourcing firm, specializing in the placement of high-caliber executives, as well as tactical recruitment services that address a full range of talent search, sourcing, and screening needs across multiple industries.