Applicant being InterviewedWhile it is important that the structured interview results and other objective assessment tools are the crucial factors that should be used to make hiring decisions, there are several other pointers which can give us clues to a candidate’s all round suitability.

They are not assessment factors in their own right as they are a little subjective; they are red flags or warning signs which suggest an undesirable aspect to the candidate and which absolutely require further examination in order to confirm or refute.

Below, I have outlined 6 interview red flags to watch out for.

1.Arriving late for interview

This is the king of all red flags. It can suggest that the candidate has not put in sufficient effort to arrive on time and is therefore not sufficiently motivated by the position on offer. To remove the red flag the candidate should ideally volunteer an explanation for their lateness, (and not be prompted to explain their lateness), and you should be satisfied that it was an event beyond their reasonable control which led to them being late. Otherwise, it remains a clear red flag.

2.Criticizing former employers, bosses, teams or companies

If a candidate is critical of former employers, team mates or their boss etc…, it could suggest the candidate has: problems with authority, does not acknowledge their own responsibilities and prefers to blame others – and that they potentially lack discretion or judgement on what is and isn’t appropriate to share. Explore this further to see whether or not this is the case.

3.Not being prepared

Generally, there are three signs that a candidate is properly prepared. The first is that they can show a good knowledge of your company’s key products, services, personalities, projects and general goings on; the second is that they have a pen, notepad and a copy of the job description and spare hard copies of their resume; and finally, they will have prepared some pertinent questions ready to ask you at the end of interview. If a candidate falls short in these areas this is a red flag and a sign that they may not be fully committed to the role. Investigate further.

4.Asking about pay and conditions too early in the interview

Of course, candidates need to know that the position will meet their financial requirements, but it is usually a clear red flag if the first question a candidate asks is about salary. A salary fixation can suggest that the candidate is not truly engaged with the job and brand which does not bode well for their future satisfaction, loyalty and performance.

5.Treats employees with lower status jobs differently

Expose your managerial level interviewees to junior staff, peers and senior staff, throughout the selection process. If the candidate is relatively dismissive or disrespectful of your junior staff, how will he or she form effective relationships with subordinates or junior staff in your company? Make sure to probe deeper if you observe this kind of condescending behaviour.

6.Body Language (The Amber Flag)

In truth, this is more of an amber flag than a red flag. Why? Because body language is extremely complex and even trained observers can struggle to read it reliably – and most people are not as good at reading body language as they think they are.

Although, there are plenty of body language red flags to watch out for such as: limp handshake, failure to make regular eye contact, slouching, arms crossed etc…, they don’t always mean what we think they mean. I mean, a failure to make eye contact could mean that the candidate is lacking in confidence or even lying, but it could mean that the interviewer is perhaps intimidating. So, negative body language is more of an amber flag and, if you do spot body language amber flags, try and ask others for a second opinion before taking it more seriously in the selection process.


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