5 Red Flags to Watch for During an Interview

5 Red Flags to Watch for During an Interview

There are so many stages and hurdles before a candidate ends up in a face-to-face interview. After applying, their resume will be screened — by software or an actual person — and many applicants will not survive this initial stage. After that, there will be phone interviews, skills tests, pre-employment assessment — during this time some candidates may be hired for different companies as well, and drop out of the process. 

You’d expect the candidates who make it to the interview to be the cream of the crop, the best of the best, and the only thing you’d need to worry about is which one of them is better than the other. However, during the first 90 days, 1 out of 4 employees will usually quit, costing US companies an average of $4,129 per hire. While this can be helped with a good onboarding strategy, many times it’s simply because we hired the wrong person. Learning to spot some less obvious red flags during the interview will not only save that money but will also ensure your employees will be retained longer.  


Interview red flags for employers: Don’t ignore these warning signs


1. Dismissing your colleagues or receptionist

Just because something doesn’t happen in your line of view, it doesn’t mean it’s not a part of the interview. When you seek out red flags from job candidates, it’s always good to look at how they treat people around them, on all levels of the company. You want to work with someone who’s a good leader and a team player, and if the candidate is dismissive towards your front desk clerk, or barks orders at your intern before they’ve even been hired, just imagine how hard they will be to work with.


2 .Poor listening skills

An interview should be an hour or so where both you and your candidate spend time getting to know each other, figuring out whether you make a good match. It’s just as important for the candidate to understand whether they want to work for your company or not. For that reason, they should be on the highest alert for all of the details, trying to soak everything in. 

If you keep finding yourself having to refresh their memory about something that was just said, it’s one of the most common red flags during an interview. It means that they are not paying attention and don’t care that much about the role. It can also reflect on their overall lack of listening skills, which will suggest they will be an unproductive employee. If they are not paying attention because they are looking at their phone or taking calls — this is one of the biggest interview red flags of them all.


3. Talking badly about past employers

Employees may not always get along with their bosses, and that is completely understandable. However, it is entirely unprofessional to complain and talk badly about a former employer during a job interview. Main interview red flags for employers include candidates that complain about being passed over for promotion, being disregarded during meetings and mainly acting as the victim. You want your employees to have a positive attitude, and that starts with the interview, in every aspect of it.


4. Can’t provide real-life examples

Everybody exaggerates in their resume to some degree, so this may not be considered as one of the biggest interview red flags for employers. However, if a candidate can’t back up most of their soft skills or qualifications with accomplishments and experiences from their history (both professional and personal), then they have exaggerated too much. It may be hard for them to come up with situations to share for every single question you present, due to stress or anxiety, but given the time and encouragement, they should be able to back up most of their skills.


5. They don’t ask any questions

As we’ve mentioned before, the interview is as much for the candidate to decide if they want the job, as it is for you to decide if you want the candidate. This is why one of the major red flags during the interview is a candidate that has absolutely no questions. This can indicate that the candidate is simply not interested in this role at all, and has other, better things lined up. Conversely, it can imply that they will take any job that they are offered, as they really need work — but it doesn’t mean they will be good at it or remain if something better comes along.


How to say no to an interview candidate

Once you’ve recognized a few of these red flags during the interview, you may decide to reject the candidate. Remember to let them know as soon as possible, so they are not left hanging and reject other positions in the meantime. The best way to do this is by keeping the rejection email brief, yet personal. Include the reason for rejecting them, so they know where they can improve for the next time. Be honest about your intentions, if you wish to keep them in mind for other roles, otherwise, there’s no point in leading them on. Finally, ask for feedback, so you can improve your process and keep building the best candidate experience possible.