6 Red Flags for Candidates Who Seem Great on Paper

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Today's Question: A candidate looks great on paper, but something feels off when you interview them. Can you pinpoint any warning signs that may not be obvious to other employers?

The answers below are provided by members of FounderSociety, an invitation-only organization composed of ambitious startup founders and business owners.

1. Their Weaknesses Become Clear When You Describe the Person to a Friend or Family Member

I once hired a woman who seemed off and I couldn't pinpoint why. Later, I realized she was overconfident in her ability to do everything we asked of her, never admitting her weaknesses. She ended up being far less competent than she had appeared.

Now, I describe candidates (without mentioning names or showing resumes) to my husband to get an outside perspective to help me see what I might have missed.

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— Lisa Curtis, Kuli Kuli

2. They Only Focus on What They'll Get Out of the Job

When interviewing, we've found some otherwise qualified candidates who seemed to focus on the job as a stepping stone to something else – asking about what we could do for them without sharing why they wanted to work for us. If a potential employee comes across as entitled from the first conversation, they'll be a challenge to work with and will likely jump ship at the first opportunity.

— Kathryn Hawkins, Eucalypt Media

3. Their Body Language Is Telling

We believe a person works best in a role that plays to their inherent personality and motivations. Studies have shown that communication is mostly non-verbal, so watching body language is imperative. Avoiding eye contact, holding an object in front of the body as a shield, scratching their head or face – these are all signs we watch for when interviewing.

— Jessica Baker, Aligned Signs

4. Eye Contact (or Lack Thereof) Indicates Confidence

If you feel like something is "off" about someone, pay close attention to how they position themselves and look especially at their eyes. Are they bad at maintaining eye contact, or do they maintain eye contact for far too long? Either one may indicate issues with confidence – either too much or too little.

— Steven Buchwald, The E2 Visa Lawyer

5. They Have an Inability to Articulate

For a digital agency like ours, communication is paramount. It's the case when speaking with partners, managing projects internally, or cultivating content. When a candidate can't clearly communicate responses to our questions during the interview process, it could indicate their inability to add value to discussions. As a result, they may potentially alienate key business relationships.

— Justin Moodley, LASANAN

6. Your Gut Tells You Otherwise

As a business owner who is not trained in HR, this can be very hard to determine sometimes. You see a great candidate's resume and arrange an interview as soon as possible. Then they get in your office and something just doesn't feel right. Whatever it is, I would suggest to go with your gut and move on. You'll be glad you did.

— Ben Walker, Transcription Outsourcing, LLC