It’s definitely not something we always get right! According to a recent study, recruiters would reject 39% of their previous hires!
This is a pretty weighty statistic… Nearly half of the people that you bring into your building wouldn’t make the grade if they applied again.
How do you try and reduce this number?
Well, there are a number of interview red flags that you can look out for that should help you spot bad hires. It’s not a foolproof system, but it can safeguard against major hiring blunders…
1. Bragging about other offers
Ever had a candidate who boasted about other offers he was considering in the first interview? Arrogance isn’t an attractive quality is it…
If they do join, you and your hiring manager are left worrying about retention – these are exactly the kind of candidates that tend to be on the lookout for greener pastures!
Mentioning other offers isn’t always a red flag. At later stages of your process it’s perfectly okay for candidates to be transparent and let you know that they’re talking to other companies.
What does this process look like? Something like this:
“I am very interested in your opportunity. Please let me know the timing and details for the next step, I also have another offer I am evaluating.”
2. Lack of passion for the role
You have a responsibility to hire people that are excited about what you do…
Studies show that employee motivation has a direct impact on productivity and growth, but quite apart from that
If you’re recruiting for a B2C role, you should expect the candidate to have at least tried your product (whether it’s an app or a fruit drink!).
Ideally, they should love it! Why else would they spend 50+ hours a week working on it?
At the absolute least, candidates should have read a few company blog posts and spent time researching the role in detail.
It should be immediately apparent how passionate candidates are about the role and how much they want to work at your company.
You can test how much research people have done pretty simply – a couple of questions about the company, recent projects or plans for the future should do the trick.
3. Playing the victim
Ever interviewed a candidate with a victim mentality?
Not sure? You probably have without even knowing it…
For these candidates, everything is someone else’s fault. Their previous boss hated them. Their old company was out to get them. They were ignored for promotions. The list goes on…
Want another way to spot this trait?
Look out for candidates that are leaving there previous company because there’s “nothing left to learn”. While there are occasions when this can be a legitimate complaint, it’s usually a red flag.
There is pretty much always something to learn. Whatever your company size, (and no matter how mundane the work), there are opportunities to learn and improve.
If you find yourself faced with a candidate that does nothing but complain, ask yourself how happy they’d be at your company and how much they’d have to ‘learn’.
4. Lack of ownership
This one is pretty closely related to playing the victim.
Look out for candidates who blame all failures on colleagues or managers.
Ideally what you should look for is ‘extreme ownership’, a concept Ex Navy-Seal Jocko Willink explores in his recent book “Extreme Ownership: How US Navy Seals Lead and Win“, (don’t let the title deceive you, there are many excellent leadership and management lessons to be learned here).
The best candidates don’t just take ownership of their own errors in judgement. They’ll leave their ego at the door, and tell you the part they played in team mistakes and how they could have performed better.
The problem is when people don’t learn from their mistakes.
When candidates show extreme ownership you can be confident that they’re the kind of person that learns from mistakes. When they blame others constantly, they should be avoided.
It’s a pretty simple rule but it can help you avoid making bad hires.
5. Unable to explain previous work
What’s your first impulse when a candidate can’t articulate what they did at there last job?
Usually it’s an instant no. Not being able to talk about their work doesn’t inspire confidence (and makes it seem like they weren’t particularly invested at their last company).
Now, it’s true that your interviewing process should account for introverts – not everyone can speak with free-flowing abandon.
It’s really difficult to make a solid evaluation when candidates can’t talk you through their previous role. It doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t be a good hire, but it does mean that you should be wary.
6. Asking no questions
A good interview is a conversation.
It’s almost comparable to a first date. Both sides need to be engaged otherwise it’s tricky to tell whether it’s a match.
A lack of questions suggests disinterest. It makes you question how much a candidate really wants the second date (job).
There’s a problem though.
This is a pretty well known red flag, so you’ll find most candidates just ask questions for the sake of it.
How can you spot these people?
The best candidates will ask questions because they’re genuinely interested in learning more. They also don’t flit from one question to the next like they’re ticking them off! They’re curious and follow up to make sure they understand.
Rudeness is a pretty simple red flag to spot. It can come in a couple of different guises though…
i) Sloppiness and tardiness
First impressions matter. If a candidate turns up looking untidy for an interview, what do you think?
It takes as little as 7 seconds for the human brain to form a judgement on someone. By the time you’ve shaken a candidate’s hand and said hello, you’ll already have formed an initial impression.
Being late for an interview (without prior notice) is another danger sign. It’s usually indicative of personal tardiness, and tends to indicate that the candidate doesn’t really care about your company.
Swearing in an interview doesn’t mean that a candidate will be bad at the job. What it does show though is very poor judgement and a lack of self awareness.
Interviews are auditions. Candidates should understand that there are many people that find swearing pretty offensive. As a result, certain words should be off limits.
It’s a huge red flag if the candidate can’t bother to prepare for the interview. If they’re genuinely interested in the role, they should be putting their best foot forward. Their level of interview-prep could also be a good indicator of how engaged they’ll be on the job!
Being prepared isn’t a huge investment. All it requires is:
8. Reference checking: safeguard or red flag?
There will always be candidates that perform fantastically well at interview before disappearing entirely on the job?
The ability to interview well is one thing, the ability to perform on the job is quite another! This is why you need a safeguard…
Reference checks provide a solid picture of a candidate’s actual performance abilities.
Got a candidate that’s refusing to give you a reference? Major interview red flag.
It’s worrying if:
A candidate refuses to provide references, waxes lyrical as to why their references aren’t a good judge of character or ability; or demands that the offer be granted before referencing checking.
It’s pretty hard not to worry what the candidate is hiding. If you find yourself in this position, the safest move is to steer clear and go to your second choice.
Don’t forget, if you’re on the lookout for a few new inventive interview questions take a look at these 5.
We’re not talking Google-esque mindgames here, just clever interview questions that help you make great hires.