5 Red Flags Smart Job Interviewers Watch Out For


Are you ready to hire an employee? You've created a short list of candidates, and it's time to conduct your first employee interview. But based on just a short interview, how can you tell who will be a good employee for your small business?

Hiring experts shared six warning signs of potential problem employees.

Typos and grammatical errors in cover letter or résumé

One of the first signs a candidate could be bad news may appear before he or she even attends the interview.

If a cover letter or résumé contains typos or grammatical errors, proceed with caution, said Julie Erickson, a career coach and blogger at My Right Fit Job.

Applications and cover letters that haven't been proofread signal a lack of attention to detail.

"If they don't ask for help in this, they won't ask for help when they work for you," Erickson said. "You'll be forever proofreading their work — essentially doing their job.”

Disorganized or uninterested in your business

Is your potential new employee too unorganized to find time for an interview, or to make it there on time? Those are bad signs, said Roberta Matuson, president of talent acquisition firm Matuson Consulting. And if the candidate calls to reschedule his or her appointment more than once, forget it. "Clearly, you are not this person's priority," Matuson said. "Move on. The fit is not right."

Another red flag is an uninterested candidate, Erickson said. Watch for candidates who demonstrate little knowledge of your business and don't askquestions.

“This is a sign of someone who lacks initiative, thoroughness and curiosity,” said Erickson. [6 Avoidable Job Interview Mistakes (And What to Do Instead)]

Unprepared and unwilling to share info

A lack of preparation for a job interview is another big red flag because it signals laziness. Experts say there is simply no excuse for this.

"In this day, with access to information on the Internet and Web pages, there are few excuses for a potential employee who doesn't know something about your company and what it does," said Susan Foster, an executive coach and owner of Susan Foster Coaching.

And if a potential job candidate is unwilling to share information when answering basic interview questions, look out, as it may indicate more than a lack of preparation, Erickson said.

"Everyone should have answers for the hard questions about a failure, a challenge, something that didn't go well," Erickson said, adding that if a candidate hides something in an interview, they will likely hide things on the job as well.

If you suspect a candidate is hiding something, refer to his or her résumé while conducting the interview. “One of the biggest stop signs on a résuméis spotty work experience," said Tony Sorensen, CEO of executive search firm Versique Consulting.

Sorensen said that while a candidate's résumémay show a diverse work background and impressive positions, make note of how long they were in each role, and ask them about it. Short tenures could indicate a trend of workplace issues.

Won't stop talking

Excessive talking during an interview could also be a warning sign of future problems. Chatterboxes often have poor listening skills, nerves or something to hide, Matuson said.

If you get responses to questions you never asked, take note, Matuson said. "This is a candidate's way of avoiding answering the questions that you are asking," she said.

You should also watch out for job candidates who talk nonstop, Matuson added. She suggested listening closely to determine if what the job candidate is saying is relevant. If it is, he or she could just be nervous. However, it could mean the person has a big ego —another warning sign.

"It's a sure sign of someone who won't work well on a team," Erickson said.

Candidate is more interested in what you can do for him or her

Are you looking for a long-term employee? If so, stay away from "stepping-stone" candidates, Sorensen advised.

"These candidates are using your position to get to another role," he said. "Maybe they're looking for experience in a field that's somewhat new to them, or they're using you to get somewhere else." Either way, Sorensen said, these candidates are probably just looking for a short-term role.

How do you identify a stepping-stone candidate? If the first question the person asks about is salary or vacation, that's an important clue, Foster said.

"Potential employees who aren't inquisitive about the work they will be doing, but are only concerned about their salary and/or vacation days, aren't concerned with building your business — only themselves," she said. Promising employees should be looking for how they can use their best talents to serve you in your business, Foster said.

Choosing the right candidate now will prevent problems down the road. "Find these people, rather than settling for a mediocre employee who you spend resources to train, and have to let go later," Foster said.

Originally published on Business News Daily.