The Devil’s in the Details: 6 Important Warning Signs to Note When Conducting Interviews

When recruiting for key positions, you may overlook some seemingly little red flags that really could be an indication of potentially deeper issues. Before moving forward with a candidate and overlooking these details, dive in and get more information to make a better assessment before making a hiring decision.

6 Candidate Warning Signs to Watch Out For During Your Interview Process

Be careful if:

  1. They’re late— or way too early  for the interview. The first part of this equation may be obvious. Although there may be times when being late isn’t a true reflection on the candidate, more often than not, it’s an indication that the candidate did not appropriately account for the travel required to get to your office. Candidates who arrive to your office too early (usually more than 15 minutes early) are also showing some indication that they miss social cues.
  2. They don’t have good explanations for their job transitions. Watch out for candidates who seem to be jumpy in their career, and those who seem to have been pushed out of their companies. Ask directly about their reasons for leaving each of their roles and for joining their next one, and try to determine if any company reorganizations were department or company-wide (or whether movement was based on the candidate’s performance).
  3. They don’t ask thoughtful questions about the role/company. If a candidate asks you something they should have found on your website, in the job description, or on Google they didn’t do their research to prepare for the interview. You should expect that all of your top candidates come with thoughtful questions that will help them better understand the role, the company, how they will contribute, and why they would want to join. If your interviewee is just asking questions to ask questions (i.e. only surface level, “how do you like it there?” type questions), you should reconsider them as a hire.
  4. They don’t ask about interview next steps. Asking this question is most important for sales positions, but for all positions it’s an indication that the candidate is excited about the role and is thinking ahead. Our team will often avoid telling sales candidates what the next steps in the interview process are in order to see if the candidate will “close” the interview by asking about next steps specifically, and maybe even about their candidacy for the role.
  5. They don’t follow up after an interview. Candidates should always follow up after a phone or in-person interview. The “thank you” email does not have to be long, but it should be sent to everyone who interviews the candidate, especially if you’ve given the candidate your business cards. Not only is it polite, it also shows some level of commitment to the interview process and the candidate’s drive to get the job. This is an absolute necessity for anyone in a sales role, but is something worth noting for candidates in non-sales roles, as well.
  6. They don’t give former managers as their references. Sure, candidates don’t usually give their current boss as a reference, but if a candidate does not give you their former direct managers as references, ask them why. Try to perform a backdoor reference (anyone in your network or a colleague’s network) who has worked with the candidate previously to get a better understanding of the candidate’s work ethic and reputation at the company.

Individually, these are not all reasons to cut a candidate loose immediately (although depending on the circumstances, they might be!). With each of these interview errors, however, it is important to take note and determine whether they may be a sign of a potentially bigger issue.

What candidate warning signs would you add to this list?

You might also like ...
Predictable Pitfalls of Founders and How to Avoid Them
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in People + Strategy magazine here. We have romanticized founders having their “eureka” moments, writing their...
by Alisa Cohn
Startup Strategy
The Simple Secret to Getting Ahead in Tech
A couple of weeks ago, I read a fantastic article in the Wall Street Journal about Leyla Seka’s rise through...
by George Roberts
Startup Strategy
Using Empathy to Improve the Customer Journey
Empathy is key to improving the customer journey, but to develop it we need to get as close as we...
by OpenView