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Red Flags in the Hiring Process

For business
Mar 07, 2023
Red Flags in the Hiring Process

Many recruiters wish to close open positions as soon as possible. In some cases, however, searching for the proper candidate might take some time. Despite being a tiring search, it's still worth fighting for the best fit. Pay attention to these key points that can help prevent you from hiring the wrong person and avoid big headaches for the team in the future.

The hiring process typically starts with a job posting. Next, the recruiters study applicants’ resumes. At this stage, a too-vague resume or irrelevant experience and skills might lead to rejecting a candidate immediately. 

In some companies, candidates are asked to follow a particular resume template or provide specific information. If a candidate neglects these directions, it shows they have little enthusiasm or interest in the open vacancy.

But what are further red flags that a manager might run into?

Red Flags During Screening Calls

Once you like a resume and decide the candidate is a potential fit, it's high time to contact the person. Here's a list of possible issues, however, that might make a few warning bells go off in your head:

  1. The candidate is hard to get a hold of.
  2. They exhibit poor communication skills.
  3. They demonstrate an inability to listen.

Again, there are exceptions, but in most cases, a low interest at the very start will likely not change for the better in future interviews.

Red Flags during the Interview Process

Interviews are meant to review resume points with the candidate and confirm their experience and expertise. The discussion should always include checking both hard and soft skills.

The key points that might trigger a warning for you as a hiring manager during an interview include:

  1. The candidate arrives late.
  2. The candidate’s attire doesn’t fit the situation (this includes both on-site and online interviews).
  3. The candidate is careless in answering questions.
  4. The candidate appears desperate. Some candidates apply for tons of open positions and hope to get the job ASAP due to personal expectations.
  5. The candidate is overqualified. 
  6. The candidate cannot provide references.
  7. The candidate has too-low or overly high pay demands.
  8. The candidate has no questions about the open position.
  9. The candidate didn't research the company and instead applied "blindly" to the open position.
  10.  The candidate has significant gaps in their work history.

Again, think of which of the points listed above are okay and which are more or less bearable for your company. Some issues might be flexible, but it's up to you to decide and get a feel for the person's attitude—this is crucial at all stages of the hiring process.

Background-Check Concerns 

Once the resume is verified and all interviews are successfully passed, the next stage is for the hiring company to conduct a background check to verify a candidate’s eligibility for a particular job.

The background check includes pulling the candidate’s education, employment history, credit history, etc. The hiring company chooses the parameters individually and has no obligatory list. This check is designed to paint a true picture of a candidate and outline their psychological type, including levels of responsibility and honesty. 

Reasons to Decline a Candidate Based on the Background CheckLies on the resume

Even if a resume shines, a single white lie may cost a real job opportunity. It's always better if a candidate picks the most relevant experience and omits life events and employment periods that have nothing to do with the position the person is applying for. Making up stories about nonexistent job experience or education is always a bad sign.

The hiring party will likely contact the references provided on the resume or a cover letter to confirm basic facts about a candidate’s previous place of work, past positions, and education. Any inconsistent data found will very likely disqualify the candidate.

Short Job Lengths or Long Breaks in Employment

It’s true there are times when people struggle, give up their jobs for maternity leave, etc. And many otherwise hard-working people have lost their jobs due to the pandemic and are still struggling to build their careers up again from scratch. Because of this, it's always a good idea to ask for the details about previous employment mentioned on the resume before doing any checks to understand the whole picture.

Suppose a person frequently changes their place of work. In that case, it might signify a hard-to-work-with personality, trouble with management, a lack of dedication, or an inability to handle conflicts. The minimum amount of time considered “normal” is working for at least six months of a continuous full-time or part-time job before moving on. 

But be aware that short-term internships, training, and contract positions usually last for less than a year, and that is okay when hiring for an entry-level position.

Constant Career Switching

Switching careers is a two-sided coin. On the one hand, we appreciate people eager to improve their lives and who put the effort into starting a new career from scratch in an attempt to find success. On the other hand, if a person constantly changes industries, it should definitely be a red flag. Those who have switched careers more than two times are likely to show poorer performance and treat the job opportunity as a stepping stone. The chances they will stay at the company for a long time are low, and the company will need to look for another hire sooner than they would like.

Criminal Record

A criminal record is a standard part of any background check. Depending on the severity of the crime, some companies will still hire candidates with a dark past. In most cases, however, the companies are likely to decline the candidate. Sometimes events that took place years ago may be overlooked, but this is the exception, not the norm.

Poor References

Most of the time, candidates are motivated to provide a hiring manager with the best references possible. A good recommendation, earned over a long time after a lot of work and successful projects, is worth a lot. By contacting a previous place of work, you can learn more about the company, the role the candidate performed there, and the candidate's character during that time.

But what if a manager speaks poorly of a candidate? What if the conversation doesn’t go as well as you expected? If this happens, think positively and try to contact the other references. It’s only when all of them are bad that you should reconsider hiring the candidate.

According to standard company policies and past lawsuits, most of the references will happily share the minimum amount of information: employment periods, job title, and salary, unless it is under a nondisclosure agreement (NDA).

Poor Portfolio

A developer or a tech designer should provide some work samples. While a candidate might need help answering some technical or theoretical questions, a decent portfolio and a few small tests will shed some light on their actual skills. 

A professional hiring team will evaluate portfolios on platforms like Dribbble or GitHub and estimate the candidate's chances to fit the role straightaway or estimate the possible time needed for the candidate to be trained on another required skill. But if a company doesn’t have the resources to train a candidate, a low-skill portfolio might be a sign to continue searching elsewhere.

Credit History Issues

A financial history check is obligatory for those working on federal jobs. Fintech projects might also sometimes require a credit history check since it influences the candidate’s ability to work with money.

Social Media Activity

Social media activity can be both a positive and a negative for a potential hire. On the one hand, social media can paint a picture of the applicant’s personality. A LinkedIn profile might highlight participation in some relevant discussions. A recruiter can also easily track whether (and how) a person participates in conversations on sensitive topics like gender, religion, race, and politics. On the other hand, there are regulations that protect the candidate's freedom to post anything they like. Regardless of legality, however, foul language and the use of hate speech might also cause the hiring company to pass on a candidate.

Overall, it’s not required to check someone’s social media activity. Still, employers tend to include this parameter to get more information on a person they are about to hire. 

Eligibility to Work in the US

Once the candidate has the right to work legally in the United States, the doors are open. If not, the company can do nothing to help. Some immigrants believe a job offer is the solution, but the hiring party can do nothing to change the immigrant's status. A candidate’s eligibility is checked while completing an Employment Eligibility Form (I-9). This is obligatory for both citizens and noncitizens. Documents proving the identity and work authorization of the applicant are also attached.

The red flags mentioned above are flexible and should be defined before starting the search to fill a certain position. The most crucial criteria remain the desired skill set and honesty. Any mismatches on a resume should have a logical explanation and be proven by the references. The hiring team should not hire only based on the facts but also listen to the candidate and evaluate their personality—after all, great people make great teams.

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