Maxwell Stephens

Recruitment Red Flags

For both candidates and employers, the early stages of the recruitment process are crucial and can be a bit of a minefield. First impressions are established very quickly, and even the smallest details contribute to what that first impression is. 

With the high cost that comes with staff training and job advertisements, effective recruitment is paramount. Going through a rigorous interviewing and selection process should ensure that the best candidate for the role is hired. However, this is not always the case –  a seemingly ‘perfect candidate’ may be a disaster whom has merely slipped through the cracks. In order to prevent this, employers can look out for some early warning signs and red flags within their selection process and hope to eliminate any ‘nightmare candidates’. From our externsive experience in the recruitment sector, we know just how easy it is to end up in the reject pile. You could be the most academically and professionally qualified for the job, yet something as minor as a lack of eye contact during an interview could thwart your chances at securing the position. Here we discuss some of the most common of these recruitment red flags.

Candidate is salary orientated

Does The Candidate Have Good Intentions?

A major red flag for many employers is when a candidate immediately asks lots of questions regarding the salary, promotions, sick pay and benefits of the job. Questions like, “So how much will I be paid?”, “How many holidays can I have?”, “How quickly can I be promoted?”, can be sure fire ways to lose your chance. Although, of course, pay and promotion are important aspects of any role, it gives the impression that the employee only cares about the money, which in the minds of employers may result in a lack of motivation unless given financial incentives. Additionally, this may give the impression that the role is more of a short-term option for the employee, due to them not investing into the business’ long-term objectives. Successful candidates are much more likely to ask questions such as, “What do you think are the best attributes of your company’s culture?”, “How much collaboration is there between different departments?”, “What is the long-term vision for your company?”. These questions show that the candidate has an interest in the progression of the organisation, meaning that they are likely to invest more effort into aiding its progression and also becoming a long-term member of the team.

Low staff retention

Employment Patterns

Although not as detrimental as it used to be, having a significant number of roles within a short time-frame, known as ‘job hopping’, can be a potential red flag for many employers. At the very least it may result in them seeking justifications as to why a candidate has moved jobs so frequently. As previously mentioned, this shows that the candidate may not be invested in the long-term success of the company and instead is going to move on after a few months, resulting in employee retention falling and as a result, recruitment costs will increase, becoming a hinderance for the business’ profitability and disrupting work-flow as a new staff member would have to be recruited… again. Recruitment is quite a headache for many employers, and anything that suggests they may need to go through it all again in a few months can be a real threat to a candidates chances of securing the position.

Positive and negative interviewee traits

The Interview Stage of Recruitment

A CV is often the first impression that an employer will gain from a candidate, which shows the candidate in their best-possible light, highlighting their key skills, promotions, voluntary work and more. Sometimes it can be hard to see any red flags within a  CV, due to the candidate being able to invest hours into perfecting it and hiding any possible ‘turn-offs’ for the recruiter. These ‘turn-offs’ become must more difficult to hide when communicating face-to-face, therefore the interview stage is by far the most influential in establishing first impressions. In our many years of working in recruitment, the list of potential employer ‘turn-offs’ (other than answering questions poorly) highlighted in interviews is staggering, but the most common ones include:

– Lateness, especially without warning or a valid reason (9 out of 10 times this will end in rejection regardless of how well you answer the questions!)

– Eye contact. Too little or too much are both red flags.

– Appearance is important. Rightly or wrongly, people judge you on how you look, what you’re wearing, whether your hair is tidy, whether you’ve ironed your clothes etc.

– Inappropriate jokes/comments. You may be tempted to inject some of your personality/sense of humour into your responses, but do so very carefully! Offense is subjective, a comment you find completely fine may rub someone else the wrong way, so just be mindful of that.

– Negativity. As tempted as you are to badmouth your previous employer, or even have a minor whinge about the commute to the interview, don’t! 

Candidate is salary orientated