5 years ago
April 30, 2019

Don’t Hire Them! 11 Job Candidate Red Flags to Watch Out For

All companies have made a hiring mistake. Most hiring managers will admit they’ve made a regrettable hiring decision in the past. Recruiting in the sales industry is challenging. There are…

Rhys Metler

All companies have made a hiring mistake. Most hiring managers will admit they’ve made a regrettable hiring decision in the past. Recruiting in the sales industry is challenging. There are countless factors in play when assessing a job candidate.

But the reality is a bad hire can have a huge impact on your sales team. Employers have a lot to lose if they consistently hire the wrong people. Hiring mistakes cost time, money, and risk productivity, not to mention the negative impact it can have on the culture and performance of your current employees.

The bad news is hiring isn’t getting any easier. Finding the best candidate is increasingly challenging for sales organizations. There are fewer candidates and more competition within the industry. All companies are on the lookout for top sales talent.

Separating the Good From the Bad Isn’t Easy

The ability to tell the difference between a good candidate and a bad candidate is not easy. You have limited time to assess a candidate pool and identify the top contenders.

The challenging part is some poor candidates are great at selling themselves (they are sales professionals, after all) and good at interviews. Some great candidates are not good at the interview process. Other candidates fall somewhere in the middle.

This is why having a strong recruiting, assessment, and interviewing process is so important. One way to separate the good from the bad is to be aware of the red flags that exist. There are certain traits that a bad candidate possesses. Here, we’ll help you identify the bad candidates you want to avoid hiring.

Here are red flags to recognize a bad hire:

1. The Perfect Candidate

The perfect candidate may present themselves from time to time. They have exactly what you are looking for – a great resume, lots of experience, and all the skills you are looking for. They don’t seem to have any weaknesses. This is why you should proceed with caution. While it’s entirely possible the candidate could be exactly who you are seeking, there is also a good chance the candidate may be trying to game the system and tell you what you want to hear.

All candidates have weaknesses, and there is usually an area or two where they need to ramp up a bit. If things seem too good to be true, they usually are.

2. They Are Late for the Interview

Tardiness says a lot about a person. If they are late for an important job interview, this could be an indication they are not strong planners, fail to prioritize important meetings, and it could be a sign they will do the same with work or client meetings. It could also be a sign they are not completely interested in the job. You need dependable people. If they can’t show you the respect to be on time, they likely won’t be on time for other things.

3. Lack of Preparation

Candidates should show up for an interview prepared. If they don’t, it’s a red flag. It’s standard practice for candidates to come to an interview with additional copies of their resume, portfolios, and additional documents to provide more insight as to why they are a qualified candidate. If they don’t, it may be a sign they are not serious about the job. They may be treating this job as a backup plan.

Similarly, if a candidate shows up and does not present a professional appearance, you may want to reassess their candidacy. All candidates are expected to show up and look the part. If they don’t, it could be a sign they didn’t research the role well enough, lack experience, or they are not organized and well put together.

4. They Give Vague or Canned Answers

You find a candidate with a good resume and you want to bring them in for an interview, but during the interview, they are very generic. They provide vague and typical answers to the questions you ask. This could be a sign they don’t have the experience or skills you need for the role. They could have studied the job ad, looked up questions online and are trying to appear more experienced than they really are.

5. They Have No Questions at the End of the Interview

All candidates should have questions about your company. It shows they have an interest in the role, company culture and their fit for the job. A lack of questions is a sign they may not have a strong interest in the job.

Alternatively, if they only have questions about money and compensation, it could be a sign they do not have the best motivation or intentions. Compensation is important, but there is a time and place for that conversation.

6. Online Presence Is Questionable

Candidates today should be well aware that potential employers will look at their online presence. They will Google them, look at their social media accounts, read their blog, and more. If a candidate has questionable photos, comments, and has performed actions that could reflect negatively on the company, you may want to move on to another candidate. Bashing a previous employer, speaking negatively about people, and having a bad attitude are huge red flags. Online actions can be a reflection of their actions in the workplace.

7. Lack of Eye Contact

A lack of eye contact can mean a couple of things. It could signify the candidate lacks confidence, but it could also mean they are lying about what they are saying. Both are red flags. If a candidate can’t look you in the eye, they will likely have the same demeanor when trying to sell to clients. If the candidate is lying about one thing, what else could they be holding back?

8. Holes in Employment History

Glaring holes or suspicious work history is a red flag and should be investigated in more detail. Candidates with large gaps in employment, job hopping, or an inconsistent career path could mean candidates have issues keeping jobs or get bored quickly and seek to move on. If you notice something questionable about a candidate’s work history, ask them about it. Sometimes, there is a reasonable explanation; other times, it’s a sign of a shortcoming in the candidate.

9. They Have Demands

There is a big difference between negotiating reasonable employment conditions and making upfront demands. Even though candidates tend to hold the upper hand today, making demands right away is a sign the candidate will continue this behaviour and could be high maintenance.

10. They Are Way Overqualified

While the idea of adding an experienced professional to your team is appealing, you need to ask yourself why they are applying for the role. Overqualified candidates may also request more money, expect to be promoted quicker, have issues with management, and they may only see the job as a short term fix until they find something better.

11. The Lack of Basic Social Skills

Top sales professionals are social people. They are strong communicators, they are skilled listeners, and they understand how to follow a process to complete the sale. Candidates who are poor communicators, seem to have difficulty following directions, and are not good listeners may not be cut out for a sales role.

Take a Deeper Look at Red Flags

While some types of behaviour from candidates may sound alarm bells, it’s important not to make assumptions. Look into these potential red flags during the interview process. Don’t wait until you hire them to address an issue. Remember, making a hiring mistake could cost you now and for the foreseeable future.

Read More About Hiring Sales Professionals

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The Best Way to Hold Interviews for a New VP of Sales

Don’t Make These Hiring Mistakes! 4 Mistakes Sales Recruiters Should Avoid in an Interview

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Rhys Metler

Rhys is a tenacious, top performing Senior Sales Recruiter with 15+ years of focused experience in the Digital Media, Mobile, Software, Technology and B2B verticals. He has a successful track record of headhunting top performing sales candidates for some of the most exciting brands in North America. He is a Certified Recruitment Specialist (CRS) and has expert experience in prospecting new business, client retention/renewals and managing top performing sales and recruitment teams. Rhys enjoys spending quality time with his wife, son, and daughters, BBQing on a hot summer day and tropical vacations.