What Are Some of the Biggest Red Flags in a Job Candidate?

Don't try to drastically change who you are to slip through interviews.

This question originally appeared on QuoraWhat are some of the biggest red flags in an interviewee? Answer by Adam Seabrook, a former recruiter for Bigcommerce, Atlassian and others on Quora.

I rarely give candidates feedback on red flags they give off during interviews, mostly because it is really hard to deliver this feedback without offending them. I spent 10 years as a recruiter and interviewed thousands of candidates. Now as Co-Founder of Betterteam, a recruitment platform for small businesses, I have access to real world data across many industries on why candidates fail interviews.

These are the top 7 that I see most often in why our clients reject candidates.

1. Talking about compensation too often

Generally I will raise this once at the beginning of the interview and if you are within the range for the role we can move on and talk about other things. I wrote more about this in a recent Quora question "Adam Seabrook's answer to How should I respond when an interviewer asks what your current base salary is?" Once salary has been discussed, try not to keep going back to this as a candidate who is primarily motivated by money rarely gets past the first interview.

2. Bad introduction

I wrote a lot more about this in "Adam Seabrook's answer to How should you introduce yourself in an interview?" on Quora. Most people form their opinion of you in the first 30 seconds so if your introduction is not great, it impacts the rest of the interview.

3. LinkedIn profile does not match their resume

As a LinkedIn profile is public, candidates are less likely to fill it full of half-truths or outright lies. It is very common for me to find roles on LinkedIn that are missing on the resume, massive differences in start/finish dates, and huge differences in title. I question candidates on this and it is very uncomfortable for them when they get caught. My own LinkedIn profile has roles missing but I happily volunteer why that is the case.

4. Low energy/motivation

I don't expect candidates to blast into the interview like a 100m sprinter but if they come across as low energy I find it very hard to get past that. When digging into details of how they work, it is often clear they are happy to coast along and are not a great fit for a company that likes their staff to be very self-motivated and driven.

5. Strange things in the background during video interviews

I won't list some of the horrendous things I have seen in the background of candidate video interviews. You really don't want a boardroom of people seeing half the stuff you have laying about your house. Be sure to check behind you and make sure there is nothing there you do not want the interviewer to see. Also make sure you have privacy so nobody wanders into view. If you want to dramatically improve your video interview quality, follow this video on how to set up your lighting.

6. Weird things on their social profiles

I always do a bit of Googling before I interview a candidate. In most cases it is fine but there are times where I find things that are going to impact the candidates’ chances of securing the role. Assume anything you post online is public and you won't have this issue.

7. Not 100% sure what role they want

Many candidates start hunting for a job before they have a clear view of what role they want. When interviewing, I probe on this point and if I feel the candidate is interviewing across too many incompatible roles then I usually decline. Normally the candidate will get to the offer stage then withdraw, or accept and then switch jobs very quickly when they realise they made a bad career move.

Final Thoughts

Don't try to drastically change who you are to slip through interviews. Often what one person considers a red flag others will see as a positive. In general, though, anything you do that consistently comes across as dishonest, abrupt, rude, lazy, uncomfortable, etc., you should work on as that rarely has a positive impact on your interview.

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