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Recruitment red flags: Spotting the signs of a bad hire

Oct 21, 2019

Wendy Kennah
Wendy Kennah

Recruiting, hiring and training new employees is arguably one of the most critical aspects to an organization’s success, and the cost of selecting the wrong candidate during the interview process and then onboarding that wrong fit is an expensive one -- about 30 per cent of an employee’s first year salary.

Recruiters and hiring managers can often miss the red flags and errors that signal a candidate may not have the experience that they (and their resume) claim to have on their resume or during a job interview. 

Here are four steps you can take during the hiring process to rule out any questionable candidates:

Check for resume vagueness
 A candidate's resume will be as detailed as the amount of years of experience they have. A qualified candidate should have the relevant buzzwords to match the skill set that their hiring manager is seeking. If the resume is too general and is not specifically tailored to the position they are applying to, it is very likely that they are applying to multiple jobs and waiting for the first fish to bite.

Additionally, lack of detail and mention of applicable tools used in the job description tells a hiring manager that they are not experienced at all. Candidates should not be afraid to go into detail of the work they used to do. This is always what makes a good candidate stand out from a great one. 

Candidates may also include lots of "noise" in a resume to distract the hiring manager from their lack of actual experience. Noise can entail run-on sentences, irrelevant information, exaggerations, and ambiguity.

Assess for deceiving employment dates
Dates on a resume can often be deceiving, especially if dates are stretched out to appear as longevity in a position only to cover up employment gaps. Running verification checks with their previous employer can debunk these cover-ups and give more insight into who your candidate is. 

Long periods of freelance work with a personal company name may seem convenient to a hiring manager, however; it can also show the inability to acquire a job. Pay close attention to the dates, and ensure that freelance work is paired with other employment. If not, verify with your candidate the clients that they worked for while freelancing.

Run a social media sweep
Use LinkedIn as a primary channel to pre-screen candidates, and ensure all dates and company names match up to the information they have sent you. Candidates are more likely to be honest with their profiles, as they'll have connections with their previous companies and coworkers. With an average of 92% of Fortune 1000 companies using LinkedIn, there is a higher chance to be caught in a lie by a large- enterprise company looking to maintain its credibility than to get away with false job titles or job duties. Unrecognizable company names can either mean that they are illegitimate companies or nonexistent. Run Google checks on the names of companies that you do not recognize and asses their online presence.

Put their skills to the test
Soft skills are important to observe during the interview process. Candidates who are fidgety, avoid eye contact, have bad posture, etc. may be nervous about going into an interview for a position they really are not qualified for. On the other end, a candidate who may come off as over confidant might be overcompensating for their lack of technical expertise. Charm and wit may go a long way, now put their skills to the test. 

"Skill stretching" is common among both ineffective resumes as well as false ones. Often times, candidates who used an application a couple of times or only in school might have it appear as a professional skill on their resume. Highlight these skills and inquire where and when they were used. If needed, send them a test or offer a real-life scenario and have them walk through it with you. Don't be afraid to put your candidate on the spot!

It is so easy to look beyond the red flags of a candidate who may come off as the right one- a risk far too many hiring managers take on. You are the expert- follow the pre-screening steps, ask the right questions. Remember, do not be afraid to put your candidate on the spot both over the phone and in person. An honest candidate is more appealing than a perfect one.

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