Hiring? Watch Out for These Red Flags

February 10, 2017 CareerBuilder

When you’re a small business leader with a need to hire quickly, it can be hard to spot the red flags that could indicate a candidate might not be the right fit. Get to know some common red flags that can tell you to reconsider a candidate and dig deeper before moving ahead in the hiring process.

Lack of Interest

Your small business needs passionate employees who routinely go the extra mile. Don’t expect a job seeker who isn’t doing his or her best to impress you before landing a position to suddenly transform upon being hired. Red flags that someone isn’t giving 100 percent might include:

  • Resume typos and errors
  • A generic cover letter not targeted to the position
  • Arriving late to the interview
  • Failing to ask questions about the company or posing ones that could have been answered with one look at your website

Job Hopping

Modern-day applicants tend to change companies more than workers in past decades. However, short spurts of employment also can indicate difficulty getting along with others, lack of loyalty, and indecision about true career goals. Thoroughly explore the issue, or risk quickly becoming the next brief entry on this person’s resume.


Some experts advise extra caution when reviewing functional resumes. Starting out with skills rather than a chronological work history can be a red flag that the candidate is trying to divert attention from a lack of experience or frequent employment gaps. Similarly, probe further when dates don’t jive or you’re unsure exactly what duties a person performed in a given role. Candidates with a solid track record are happy to discuss their specific responsibilities and achievements, while those trying to hide something prefer being vague.

Others Aren’t Impressed

Some candidates put on their best behavior for the person doing the hiring but act differently around those who seemingly “don’t matter.” Such an attitude can be disastrous to a close-knit staff, so seek input from your small business team before extending a job offer. Likewise, genuinely listen to what the applicant’s references have to say. Information contradicting what you’ve been led to believe or even a general lack of enthusiasm when talking about the job seeker in question should sound an alarm. And take any negative results from a background check seriously, even if you really like the person.

Your Gut Says “No”

Finally, listen to the most important voice in the hiring conversation – your inner one. A person can look awesome on paper, say the right things in an interview, and still be wrong for your small business. Trust your instincts; in the long run, they’ll tend to be correct.

Bottom line: Hiring the wrong person can be costly at any company, but at a small business, it can prove devastating. Beyond individual productivity problems, “one bad apple” can quickly jeopardize the morale of the whole office and the future of your small business. Know the red flags before you hire.

Get more out of the interview: Check out 5 Must-Ask Interview Questions for Small Business Job Candidates


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