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Photo by {artist}/{collectionName} / Getty Images

How do you spot a bad candidate so they don’t become a bad hire? There are red flags you can watch for during the interview.  Consider these eight clues before making an offer.


1.     Late Arrival

Good candidates value your time. They usually build in time for heavy traffic or unexpected events to arrive on time for an interview. If a late arrival is unavoidable, the interviewee should apologize and explain. Tardiness probably means the candidate would arrive late to work, too.

2.     Disheveled Appearance

Despite a limited budget, sincere candidates will try to look their best for the interview. Their appearance should reflect industriousness and enthusiasm, and be neat and clean. If a candidate’s appearance and demeanor aren’t appropriate for your work culture, they’re not a good fit.

3.     Lack of Preparation

An unprepared candidate probably isn’t really interested in the job or the company. Watch out for interviewees with the following characteristics: 

  • Doesn’t know anything about the company
  • Knows little about the job applied for
  • Can’t really explain why they are interested in the position
  • Has no questions about the company or the job role

4.     Sketchy Work History, Background and Experience

Ask candidates to provide specific examples of challenging situations at work and how they handled them. If the interviewee isn’t able to provide details, consider it a warning sign.

5.     Complaints About Past Employers, Managers or Co-Workers

When you ask behavior-based interview questions, listen closely. Does the interviewee blame others or fail to accept responsibility? It could reveal the individual can easily become disgruntled, not be a team player or disrespect management.

6.     Negative Reasons for Leaving

What are the candidate’s reasons for leaving past employers? Were they fired, forced to resign or in the middle of disciplinary action? If the candidate gives vague explanations for leaving a company, consider it a red flag.

7.     Insufficient References Provided

You won’t be able to learn enough about a candidate from references who are only friends or previous co-workers. A candidate who has access to previous co-workers’ names and phone numbers should be willing to do the research and find contact information for previous managers. Beware of a candidate who doesn’t want you to contact past managers.

8.     Negative Responses to Interview Questions

Your interview should include behavior-based questions to learn about a candidate’s work ethic, problem-solving skills and reaction to stressful situations. Look for the clues the interviewee might have the following traits:

  • Unwilling to admit and learn from mistakes
  • Dishonesty
  • Rudeness
  • Uncooperative
  • Fake enthusiasm

Need Help With the Interview Process?

Interviewing to find the top candidates for a position isn’t easy. At WSi Healthcare Personnel, we’ve provided staffing solutions since 1988. Contact us today to learn why our flexible staffing solutions are the first choice for so many employers.