Like dating, the hiring process can be somewhat difficult at times, leaving hiring managers wondering if there really is a light at the end of the tunnel. You invest endless hours meeting with multiple candidates, conducting numerous interview rounds filled with nervous jitters and anxiety on both ends, engaging in cordial small talk, worrying about making a good first impression, playing the field, refusing to settle and making an all-out effort... only for it to potentially not work out in the end. Eventually, you find “the one”—the dream candidate that you’ve been searching for from the beginning.
Although sometimes hard to spot, candidates reveal many red and green flags throughout the hiring process. Here are some to keep an eye out for.
If something in your gut feels off after the initial meeting, pay attention. First impressions matter when interviewing candidates. Look out for:
• Illogical career progression, or career regression/plateaus
• Inconsistent dates or things out of chronological order
• Unprofessional email addresses
• Being dishonest about hard skills, employment history or education
2. Not Doing Their Research
Candidates showing up to a job interview with zero knowledge of the company or why they would want to work there should set off alarm bells. At the bare minimum, candidates should be informed about recent company news, the type of clients you deal with and what drove them to apply to the job listing. Hiring, much like dating, requires an immense amount of effort, so these candidates should be willing to put in the work to land their next position. Candidates who are unenthusiastic in the interview process are a recipe for disaster when they become employees.
3. Mixed Messaging
Candidates who reschedule last minute, consistently show up late without a valid excuse or even “ghost” you are obviously eliminated from consideration.
On the other hand, employers should focus on designing a streamlined, consistent, efficient and fair hiring process. This is vital to allow for an easy and objective assessment of candidates. Honestly communicating with candidates on where they stand in the process is one of my top recommendations—applicants should never be left to just assume they didn’t get the role. No one appreciates getting “ghosted.”
1. Putting In The Work
Applicants who have worked at reputable companies and have a stable work history and strong job references are front-runners to continue moving through the hiring process. In my recent experience, job hopping, or spending less than two years at one company, is less of a concern now. Millennials and Gen-Z are switching jobs more frequently than previous generations. Employment gaps are not always considered the red flags they once were. The gig economy and the pandemic and its fallout play a considerable role in this changing sentiment.
The bottom line: Be open to hearing a candidate’s story when it comes to their work history and education. If they have the exact skills you are looking for, gaps in employment are not a total dealbreaker.
2. Good First Impressions
Candidates who join a job interview with knowledge about the company they’re interviewing for and why they want to work there are already making great first impressions. If they reference any recent company news or previous work with clients or can provide specific examples of what drove them to apply, they have an advantage over the competition.
3. The Stars Are Aligning
What kind of work environment is the candidate looking for? If it aligns with your company’s workplace policy (either remote, hybrid or fully in-office), this is a good sign. In addition, make sure to look for parallel core values and culture and personality fits.
Put an emphasis on company culture. Employees who feel empowered, happy and fulfilled in their current position will be loyal to their job and company. The interview is a great time to share the company’s core values.
4. Good Chemistry
Hard skills can be developed if someone wants to learn and be successful and is equipped with the right personality and mindset. But it’s almost impossible to fake soft skills like communication, teamwork, problem-solving and a positive attitude, and it's even harder to teach them. Candidates will either have interpersonal skills or they will not.
Be open, but know what you’re looking for when hiring for an open role. Leave your ego at the door when interviewing candidates. It’s not often that an applicant will come along and check off every single one of your boxes.