• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • LinkedIn
a different perspective on human capital

8 Danger Signs When Interviewing New Employees


As recruiters, we have seen all of the faux pas a candidate could possibly make when interviewing for a new role. It is always disappointing when a perfect candidate makes just a few small mistakes that ultimately lead to them being passed over for the role. We have put together a list of the biggest red flags a hiring manager should look for before hiring a new employee. Remember these aren’t always cut and dry but we’ve found all of these mistakes to be a warning sign for bigger issues:

Typos: Even the smallest typo can take a candidate out of consideration for a role. Be sure to look out for errors on their resume – but also at their LinkedIn profile and any other professional documents they share with you. Typos and grammatical errors show a lack of attention to detail. A resume is where somebody is representing themselves in the very best light – and if it isn’t perfect, it might represent how they approach all of their work.

– Short Work Tenures: If a candidate’s last few roles have all been less than a year without a very clear story, that can be a big red flag. It is important for the candidate to show a commitment to their career and “job-hopping” can show a tendency to jump ship when the going gets tough. You don’t want to put all of the work that goes into hiring somebody just to have them leave before they can really make an impact.

Interview Etiquette: Here at Treehouse Partners, we use Skype in order to meet candidates and conduct interviews in a more time-efficient manner. No matter what type of interview format your company uses, make sure the candidate always conducts it at the highest level of professionalism. A video interview might seem less formal than in-person but it shouldn’t be treated that way. If it is a phone interview, check to see if they are in a quiet place and that they took the time to give you the highest level of attention. If it is a video interview, check for professional dress and an appropriate background.

Flexibility on Interview Method: A request for a video conversation will take more effort than a simple phone call. We consistently have candidates ask right away if we can “just have a phone call instead.” For us, this represents a low level of commitment to the role. Push the candidate in the beginning to see how dedicated they are to the interview process. If they aren’t willing to bend to your requests than they probably aren’t too serious about the opportunity.

Not Having a Real Weakness: The dreaded “what is your biggest weakness” question is a standard in most interviews. Candidates might think they are cheating the system by claiming they are a perfectionist or they just work too hard – but that isn’t what you should want to hear. Everybody has a weakness of some sort and you should never turn down somebody for a role because they are honest about what they need to work on. Instead, this is a great sign that the candidate cares about their performance and wants to be better!

Being “too” persistent: If a candidate is persistent about a role that isn’t always bad. However, there is a fine line! The appropriate follow-up is a thank you e-mail after your interview and perhaps a follow-up message 3-5 days later to check on the status of the role. If a candidate is calling the company right from the beginning and checking on the status of their resume, this is typically a sign that the candidate doesn’t have patience or enough respect for your time (or they are desperate for a job, which can be a flag unto itself!)

Asking about Salary: Salary is, of course, an important consideration for any candidate when discussing a new role…but there is a time and a place to ask. When salary is one of the first questions a candidate asks, that is an instant red flag that the candidate isn’t so much interested in the opportunity as they are the salary that comes with it. Look for a candidate that doesn’t mention salary until you ask about it; that is a great sign that they are more excited about your company and the role than the potential “package”.

– Form Cover Letters: A cover letter is a great way to demonstrate interest in your specific role. If a candidate sends a “form cover letter” that they have obviously sent to multiple hiring managers and just changed the title, this is a sign they are just applying to whatever role comes across their computer screen without much thought for what they are applying for. A well-written and job-specific cover letter is a promising sign that the candidate has done their research and is actually interested in your opportunity.

Anybody who has interviewed candidates for a role has had to pass on certain candidates for one reason or another. We would love to hear which signs are a no-go for you when hiring employees! In the meantime, we hope these danger signs can give some insight and help you to find your perfect candidate!