How to spot problem candidates in the interview process

Nolan Gray Corporate Recruiting

Let’s say you’re halfway done with the recruiting phase. You put out a job post, you’ve selected a few candidates out of the database in your applicant tracking software. Now it’s time to do some interviews and separate the wheat from the chaff.

When it comes down to it, recruiters have a risky job. While it’s exciting to track down awesome talent, there’s always the potential you could find the wrong person. Making the wrong hire can have serious and lasting consequences. According to the Society for Human Resources Management, one hiring mistake could cost up to five times the hire’s annual salary.

Bad hires can do anything from creating a toxic work environment to running a department into the ground. Keeping a sharp eye out for bad seeds can prevent this from happening. Here are some signs to look for:

They don’t understand the job
According to Allison Green, writer of the Ask a Manager blog, this is a very bad sign. In a post for Intuit, she wrote that not understanding the position communicates that the candidate is unprepared for the interview. It could be that your job description was unclear, but it’s more likely this person isn’t taking the opportunity seriously.

They don’t give direct answers
When you ask a clear and direct question, you should expect a clear and direct answer. As Green puts it, their answers reflect on future job performance. You want someone who will be straight with you and be able to articulate things in a concise way.

None of their references are managers
This should immediately raise some questions. Managers should be the best equipped to talk about your previous performance. If they don’t have this, you wonder what’s going on. Keep in mind you aren’t limited to their given references. If you want to, dig deeper.

They’re arrogant
In most environments, you need team players. According to Inc., you should listen to how candidates describe their accomplishments. When an project was clearly team-based and the person consistently says “I,” you have to wonder whether they give credit where credit’s due.

They don’t understand your office culture
If a new hire doesn’t fit in with your company culture, they are probably going to clash with your staff. In many ways, it’s the recruiters responsibility to root out a good culture fit. If your company values transparency, coworkers will balk at someone who keeps his door closed at all times and makes decisions without communicating why.

You moved too quickly 
Often, bad hires are made because you need to fill a position quickly. You have a hole in your operations and you feel like you’re running out of time. Rather than hiring someone who you feel will be good enough, take the time to find the right fit. Consider making better use of your applicant tracking software, so you can catch up with candidates who may not have been a perfect fit the first time around.

Bad hires have serious consequences. Look out for warning signs during the application process and save yourself from wasting time and resources on a bad hire.

Jobscience | Beyond the Applicant Tracking System

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