5 Red Flags in Interviewing


01 Aug
01Aug

Every hiring manager has made a hiring mistake or two in their tenure, which is a scary proposition given that the average cost of a poor hiring decision is at least 30 percent of the individual's first year expected earnings.  Too many bad hires can cost a company hundreds of thousands of dollars in a single year.  That is why the face-to-face interview (even if conducted over video) may be one of the most important skills you can hone as the person responsible for hiring decisions. The applicant screening process, while very effective for the most part, isn't a foolproof system.  Some candidates will look fantastic on paper, have all the correct answers in a short screening call, but are still not the right person for the position. The face-to-face/video interview is the time to really narrow down the pool to find a candidate who is qualified, motivated, and a good fit for your company culture. Interviewing is also an opportunity for you to assess whether the candidate would work well with your other team members. While there is no magic formula for choosing the perfect hire, a consistent, well-executed employee selection process will set you up for success.  That said, there are some red flags to watch out for during the interview process. 

1) They are unprepared for the interview.

 Preparation for an interview is a simple step, and it's a huge red flag if the candidate can't bother to try to prepare before the interview. Their level of interview prep could also be a good indicator of how engaged they'll be on this job. 

2) They are distracted and unable to focus during the interview.

 This is particularly important when conducting online interviews but is true in a traditional face-to-face interview as well. For example, suppose a candidate struggles to stay focused, consistently checks their phone, or cannot maintain the string of the conversation throughout the interview. In that case, it could indicate a lack of interest in the position or be an early indicator of behaviors that could lead to problems in the future. 

3) The candidate cannot explain their previous work.

 A critical element of an effective interview is the verification of the candidate's claims on their application, resume, and cover letter.  Nothing is as telling as a person who cannot provide specific details about their work history, successes, and failures when they're asked about them in an interview. If they can't articulate what they did at their last company, it begs the question if they are being honest about their qualifications or were genuinely invested in the work or not. 

4) They have a victim mentality.

 For these candidates, everything is someone else's fault - the previous boss hated them; their old company was out to get them; their boss looked them over for promotions and more. While occasionally there may be some truth in this those who view themselves as victims will not take responsibility for improving things on the job- which means you're going to end up dealing with problems caused both internally and externally after the hire. 

5) They don't take ownership of their work.

This is closely tied to victim mentality but often a touch harder to spot. Keep a look out for candidates who blame their failures on colleagues and managers. The best candidates are the ones who take responsibility for their own errors in judgment. They'll tell you about when they made mistakes on a project and how they were also responsible as part of the team or what other things could have been done to prevent this from happening again. These red flags are just a few of the things you should be wary of during the hiring process. But while some behaviors or statements may sound alarm bells, it’s important not to make assumptions. Instead, investigate these potential red flags and address them right there in the interview if possible. Addressing these issues before the hire can prevent you from making a costly hiring mistake!

Check out Interview Dive to learn how to hire better.