Warning Signs of a Bad Candidate that you should never ignore

As businesses find it more and more difficult to hire for their team, they can sometimes out of desperation hire someone that they normally would stay away from.  Sometimes they even choose to ignore the early warning signs that the job candidates display during the interview and selection process.  Even though you may solve the current problem at hand of filling the position, this may lead to much more costly problem further down the line once they join your team. For Example:

  • The cost of not having someone in the position for even longer and the time lost in having to redo the search and finding another suitable candidate
  • The opportunity cost of selecting a bad candidate while other good candidates may have been available
  • Having someone join the team who is a bad fit to the group and disrupts the company and team culture


These are just a few examples, but the longer a bad candidate is hired with the team, the more problem that it can cause for the company.  Luckily, this can all be easily avoided if you stay consistent with your interview and screening process and you keep an eye out for the red flags.  More importantly, you do not ignore the warning signs and address them immediately.  Below are a few warning signs from candidates that you should never ignore:


1) Scheduling and Punctuality

A candidate’s inability to interview except for weekends and unwillingness to work with you on scheduling is early signs of problems that could follow.  Unless they have a good explanation for the limited scheduling availability, someone who is interested in a job opportunity (or say they are interested should keep their schedules flexible to meet for the opportunity.  If they’re late to their interview or miss it completely without reaching out, it should tell you where their priorities lie and it’s not with your job opportunity.  Even if they need reach out just minutes or hours to their interview, they must provide a good explanation and not simply because it’s become an inconvenience for them.


2) Arrogance

Those who make it to the interview is off to a better start, but it’s just the beginning.  There are some individuals who can get very defensive in an interview setting.  Even simple questions can trigger their responses to be very combative and they take offence to your questioning even though that’s what an interview is meant for to ask each other questions and get to know one another better.  They tend to not take constructive criticism well as any comments directed towards them that are negative would be responded with a defensive stance.  It is a bad sign if the candidates only talk about themselves when going over their past experiences and there’s little mention or acknowledgement of the team and other members he’s worked with.  Furthermore, some are even blind to their shortcomings and believe they have no weaknesses and this will become a problem if they join your team as they will not learn and grow.


3) Short employments and Job hopping

Sometimes people end up with lots of short employments on their resumes and it’s out of their control, but when it dominates their career and it becomes a pattern and you may become another part of that pattern.  Be sure to ask why someone may have lots of short employment and listen carefully to their explanation to each.


4) Lack of preparation

When someone is scheduled for an interview, there is usually some time for them to do their research about your company.  When someone arrives with little to no knowledge about your product / service and industry and they do not have any questions for you to learn more, this lack of preparation tells us that there is little interest in the opportunity.


5) Poor listener and avoiding questions

Some people go into an interview with an agenda in mind to tell their interviewer everything that have prepared for but forget to actually listen to questions properly and respond to the questions.  Or they have something to hide and they’re avoiding your questions.  Do not let the conversation get off track and keep digging for the answers until you’re satisfied.  Sometimes they’re answers even contradict themselves and you know they’re lying as they go along.  Or they’re simply unwilling to open up and share more details about themselves.  If they become a key member of your team, you’d like someone who has strong listening skills, who are transparent, and able to open up to the rest of the team for a cohesive and collaborative work environment.


6) There’s no weight behind their responses

Sometimes people give textbook responses but are unable to provide any solid examples or detailed solutions to problems.  Make sure to ask open ended questions so that they can elaborate on their answers and if they can’t, chances are they don’t know the answer or solution.


7) Critical of past employers and colleagues

We mentioned that when someone doesn’t talk about their past colleagues or team members, it could be that they’re centered around themselves.  It is also no a good if when they do talk about their former employer or colleagues and it’s only negative or they blame everything on others if things didn’t go smoothly.  A good team player will take all the praises and blame  with the team no matter good or bad.


8) Money is the only motivation

When a candidate’s interest only lies with the money, there will be low energy or excitement when talking about the company and position, and a genuine concern when it comes to the time to talk about the salary / compensation.  They will quickly be disengaged if they find out the compensation is much lower than expected or very energetic if the salary is inline or beyond their expectation.  Be sure to notice any changes in behaviour after the discussion on salary.  When more money is offered, nothing else will keep the candidate.


9) Interest out of desperation

Sometimes people may tell you they are interested, but pick up on the cues as to whether the interest is genuine or simply out of desperation because they need a job and can’t find anything else.  The concern is that the moment something that they like comes around, they will leave.  They’re simply applying everywhere and see where they will get lucky.


10) Lack of Transparency and Communication

When a candidate does not get back to you and goes silent for days or weeks at a time, that should be a sign that they are not interested because otherwise they’d be following up each step of the way and are engaged in open communication throughout the process.



Just because it is tough to find the right fit for your team shouldn’t mean that you need to turn a blind eye to any warning signs that you see.  In fact, by doing so can create bigger problems in the long run.  If you spot warning signs at any point of your interview and selection process, do not ignore it in the hopes that it’s nothing major or it will go away.  During the interviews, you shouldn’t only focus on asking questions, but also pay attention to the candidate’s behaviour, demeanour, and how they present themselves can tell a lot more than what their answers tell you.


Contact Us today to speak with one of our Recruitment Specialists and let us help you make 2022 a year where build your team with stronger talent.


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