Recruiting? Watch Out for These Red Flags6 min readReading Time: 4 minutes
Assessing the potential of a candidate is a complex task. When wearing the “recruiter hat”, your main objective is to select the best possible candidate to match an open position. But not only that. You also need to determine how well the candidate fits the company culture and evaluate the long-term potential of the new hire.
There is no easy formula that indicates the best candidate among your applicants. But to improve your chances of finding the right people to hire, there are some important red flags to look out for. These red flags will help you spot the bad apples and although this system cannot guarantee you a successful hire, it can save you time and prevent major recruiting blunders.
The worst red flags on a candidate’s CV
When examining the CV of a candidate, we are usually looking for compatibility in terms of skills and experience. But there are some elements or characteristics of the CV that could be considered red flags. These are the most important ones:
1. The CV is not customised to the role
The primary objective of a CV is not to showcase the career and educational history of a candidate, but rather to demonstrate their suitability for the job they want to pursue. Adjusting the CV to match the strengths and abilities required in the job, shows that the candidate has done their homework and is really eager to take the job.
On the other hand, if the candidate hasn’t removed irrelevant qualifications and didn’t make the effort to emphasize relevant experience, it shows a lack of interest and commitment. They should always highlight their skills and strengths that match the requirements for the job. If the CV is not showing what makes the candidate a perfect fit for the specific role, be aware they might not be that interested in the job.
2. It focuses on responsibilities rather than accomplishments
Instead of listing responsibilities of their previous jobs, candidates should demonstrate their experience and expertise through an emphasis on key achievements. A CV shouldn’t look like a job description, merely documenting responsibilities carried out in a role. To prove their worth, candidates should be able to describe specific accomplishments that are relevant for the job they are applying for.
Another factor that can raise eyebrows is the lack of facts and figures that provide more context and evidence of the candidate’s achievements. Mentioning strong lead generation skills is very vague. A better way to highlight this skill would be showing how many new clients they attained in their first month, for example.
3. Candidate changes jobs too often
There are several reasons people change jobs. In many cases, it is no fault of their own. But when a candidate has held a series of jobs for short periods of time, that could be an important red flag. When you’re investing time and money to hire and onboard new people, ideally they will have long-term ambitions at your company and not being constantly on the look for the next promising job opportunity. If you are looking for a committed employee who will be there for the long-term and grow inside your organisation, beware of job hoppers.
4. Poor formatting
CV structure is as important as the content of the CV. A clear CV with well-defined format allows recruiters to access key information instantly. Candidates should also focus on facilitating reading, by using visual elements such as bullet points, bold headers and distinctive sections. A well-structured CV shows not only attention to detail but also demonstrates how well a candidate is able to organize and communicate information.
Red flags to look for in an interview
After a candidate has moved forward past the CV screening phase, here are some red flags to look out for during the interview stage:
1. Bragging about other offers
Every now and then, you will interview a candidate who will boast about the offers they already have. Although you might appreciate their transparency, arrogance puts everyone off, so it’s not surprising if you lose interest instantly.
In case you hire them, you will always worry about retention. This is often the type of candidate that has a tendency to constantly look out for greener pastures.
2. Lack of passion and drive
When you are hiring, you are not only looking for someone whose skills match your job requirements. You are also searching for people who are excited to work for your organisation. Motivation has a strong impact on growth and productivity and that’s why you should be cautious if a candidate hasn’t researched about your company and products. If they know your company and what you do, but shows no enthusiasm, you might wonder why would they spend their working days on something they don’t really care about.
3. Playing the victim card
If you ever interviewed someone with a victim mentality, you know exactly what are the warning signs. Everything is someone else’s fault for these individuals. Their former manager hated them, their former workplace had no growth chances, and they were overlooked for promotions and the list goes on… This is a clear red flag because it is a strong indication of how they will behave in the future. They might the perfect candidate from a technical perspective, but you should think twice if you want someone with this attitude in your team.
Another way to spot this trait is by looking out for candidates that left their previous work because there was “nothing to learn”. While in some cases this can be a legitimate reason, it’s typically a red flag.
4. Lack of ownership
Lack of ownership is a bit related to playing the victim. Look out for candidates who blame their colleagues and managers for their failures.
You should always look for ‘extreme ownership’. An ideal candidate doesn’t just take the ownership of their mistakes, they also won’t let their ego take charge of them. Instead, they won’t have problems in telling you their part in team blunders and how they could have overcome it. When candidates blame others constantly, it’s a red flag.
What seems like small details, like not customising a CV for a particular job, or not giving enough thought to the CV structure can actually be significant red flags. If a candidate really wants the job, they will always put their best foot forward. The level of pre-employment preparations shows how interested a candidate is in the job and could also be an indicator of how engaged they will be at work.