I’ve seen it myself while trying to place candidates: on paper, it looks like a perfect fit, but after the interview, I hear surprising news that it went terribly! As a digital marketing recruiter, I need to maintain my relationships with hiring managers, and it’s equally important to keep an open line of communication so I can keep connecting the best candidates for the role.

To help me out, I asked a number of hiring managers: “What are the biggest red flags you see during the interview process?”

Here’s what they had to say:

Late to the Interview or Not Showing At All

This one is obvious, and yet it still happens. If a candidate is late to their interview or doesn’t show up at all, it’s an instant red flag.

Unprepared for the Interview

How often do you schedule an interview and realize that the candidate hasn’t even looked at your website? We all understand that sending out job applications is a numbers game, but if a candidate hasn’t prepared, they may as well follow red flag #1 and just skip it — it will save everyone time.

Being Arrogant or Abrasive

Nobody likes a know-it-all, and arrogance is an instant turn-off. This goes double if the candidate is rude or abrasive to you or your team. If the candidate can’t keep a lid on their attitude during the interview, can you imagine what they’ll be like as a coworker, or on a high-pressure project?

Lying on Their Resume

We’ve all stretched the truth a little bit on our resumes, but there’s a big difference between saying you have “intermediate” Excel skills and claiming you’re a “power user.” If a candidate lies about their skills or experience, it’s only a matter of time before they’re caught in the act.

Sidestepping Direct Questions

Some candidates are so focused on making a good impression that they avoid answering questions directly. This can be frustrating for hiring managers who just want to get to the bottom of things. This may be a sign that they’re not being truthful or misrepresenting their qualifications.

Talking Badly About Former Employers

If a candidate bad-mouths their previous employer, it’s a huge red flag. Not only does it show a lack of discretion, but it also raises questions about the candidate’s character. Would this person say the same things about you behind your back? 

Obvious Disinterest in the Role

Hiring managers can spot a candidate just going through the motions from a mile away. If a candidate seems disinterested or unenthused about the role, it’s a good sign that they’re not the right fit.

No Questions For the Interviewer

At the end of the interview, most hiring managers will ask if the candidate has any questions. If the candidate doesn’t have any questions, it’s a red flag. This is an opportunity for the candidate to learn more about the role and company, and it shows that they’re not really prepared.

Treating the Role Like a Stepping Stone

Some candidates treat potential roles like a series of layovers on their way to their dream job. We’re all focused on advancing our careers, but this is a huge red flag for hiring managers who want to know that the candidate is committed to the role.



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