Here’s How to Spot a Bad Candidate When You Hire5 min read

Ali Neill / September 10, 2019
Category : Recruitment, Recruitment advice
Caption: Here’s How to Spot a Bad Candidate When You Hire5 min read

The Process of hiring can be tricky. You can try out all the tricks in the book to get the best candidate but one misstep and you could be stuck with the wrong hire. Hiring the wrong candidate will be expensive and a waste of time not to mention the effort. In this article, we will discuss 6 red flags for hiring new candidates that you must look out for.

Check Their References

You can tell a lot about a candidate by the references they have. When a former employer or colleague talks highly of someone, you can use that as a yardstick to determine if a candidate would be fit for your company or not.

You may connect with the individuals via LinkedIn with whom candidates have worked. Ask them to spare a few minutes to have a conversation with you and share their views about the candidate. Their colleagues and seniors know the candidate better since they work with him/her day in and day out before you. You will have a clearer and more objective idea of your candidate.

Nobody gives a bad reference but look out for mediocre references because those are the ones you can skip. If they are not exceptional, don’t go ahead with that candidate.

E-Search the Candidate

Don’t be satisfied with the information a candidate gives in their resume. You must do some research on the candidate to determine if they are a bad hire or not.

Check their social media profiles or do a Google search. It will give you a better insight and help you uncover details that wouldn’t otherwise be revealed in the resume or during the interview.

Observe Their Attitude Towards Team Collaboration

One of the major interview red flags is when somebody takes sole credit for previous group projects. A good candidate will give credit to the entire team rather than just taking credit themselves.  However, the way a candidate presents past experience can also be cultural, which is something the Jobboard Finder has looked at in the past.

You want to hire someone who has a team mentality and is enthusiastic about team collaboration. You don’t want to go ahead with someone who just focuses on their own successes and takes sole credit for a team project.

Check for Unprofessionalism in the Interview

It is possible that the candidate had a good reason for why their application is incomplete or for why they arrived late for the interview. A good candidate would apologize for any instance of tardiness or what may seem like unprofessionalism.

However, if someone continues to display unprofessionalism throughout the interview, it is a huge red flag. For instance, if they arrive late and are inappropriately dressed, if they start swearing in the interview, if they ask personal questions to the interviewer or bring up irrelevant topics, the candidate should be elluminated.

If they are unprofessional in the interview, chances are that they will exhibit the same traits after joining the job.

Ask Unexpected Questions

All candidates will expect some traditional interview questions and will come prepared for them. To reveal more natural responses from the candidates, ask some questions that they wouldn’t expect.

You can ask about things they didn’t like about their previous company, skills they are missing, what they liked about the previous job, etc. This will give you a better understanding of the candidate and their personality.

Look for What They Say for Their Previous Employer

There are a few companies managed by bad bosses and with the poor workplace environment. It is worth mentioning that candidates should not bad-mouth their past employers, because that may very well be you one day. If a candidate shares pessimistic thoughts about the previous company, they might talk the same way for you.

As the qualities you look for hiring a potential candidate somehow depends on your reputation as the top preferred employer. Why would you hire such a candidate who will spoil your reputation by speaking badly about your organization?

You can spot such candidate by asking a few questions like:

  1. Did you leave your job on your own or were you fired?
  2. If you left on your own, why did you leave your previous job?
  3. What kind of relationship did you have with your boss and your co-workers?

See Their Professional Growth

Most people look for a new job if they feel stagnated at their current job. Ask them how they have grown in their past roles and if they have taken the initiative to learn new skills. If they have held one position for a long time in their previous role, it means they haven’t really made any professional growth.

When they answer these questions, you can figure out the reason behind their stagnancy. If they hit a wall due to lack of opportunities, consider hiring them if they are a good fit. However, if they got stagnated due to lack of effort, then you could be hiring a wrong candidate.

Trust your experience and instincts in the interview – if someone feels like a wrong fit, they probably are. These interview red flags for employers will help you separate the good candidates from the bad.


We would like to thank Kelly Barcelos for this contribution. Kelly is a progressive digital marketing manager for Jobsoid – Applicant Tracking System. She is responsible for leading the content and social media teams at work. Her expertise and experience in the field of HR enables her to create value-driven content for her readers – both on Jobsoid’s blog and other guest blogs where she publishes content regularly.

Author: Ali Neill

As the job board tester and blog editor for the Jobboard Finder, Ali works on job boards from all around the world and keeps a close eye on the recruitment trends thanks to a number of sources, including the website’s social media pages.

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