Red Flags at Work: Please Take a Detour

It has been said that hiring can feel a lot like dating in how rigorously each party evaluates the other before entering into a “relationship”. But as someone rightly said, in the initial stages of a relationship, when you’re wearing rose-colored glasses, red flags just look like normal flags. However, when it comes to hiring we cannot just rely entirely on data or our gut feeling. We need to find the right balance, build rapport, and make sure that we don’t miss anything that comes under red flags at work.

hiring red flags

While hiring it is more important to watch out for the red flags to eliminate candidates who do not fit your company culture.

How Red Flags Can Erode a Workplace

During the interview process, candidates tend to be at their charming best. Ignoring certain qualities or characteristics can later cause trouble, as once the novelty wears off, we can see them for what they are, i.e., red flags at work. We have compiled some of the easy-to-spot hiring red flags that can help an organization find the right person.

1. The Clueless Candidate

If a candidate is unaware of recent trends and updates in his or her industry of choice, it is a major indicator that they do not believe in the principle of life-long learning. They do not need to know everything, but they should at least keep themselves updated by following industry leaders or reading some periodicals or blogs. A candidate that cannot name any leading figure or magazine is the definition of a red flag. To progress in one’s career of choice, it is of utmost importance to stay abreast of the latest developments. It could also mean that they have been applying for multiple jobs and have not spent the time brushing up on the requirements of the role before coming for the interview. Red flags at work can come in different forms. Having clueless colleagues is also guaranteed to put a dampener on your work-life. 

2.  The Right Fit

Workplace culture can be defined as the personality of an organization. Hiring the right candidate involves not just finding one with the correct set of skills and experience but also someone who fits into the company’s culture. One of the major interview red flags for employers is when a candidate looks perfect on paper but seems to be ill-fitting with regards to your company culture. Studies have found that while looking for a job, millennials prioritize people and cultural fit above everything else. Founder of Stella & Dot Jessica Herrin says that, “Shaping your culture is more than half done when you hire your team.” Alternatively, the company culture can also be one of the interview red flags for candidates.  

3.  The Victim Mentality

People with an external locus of control believe that everything that happens to them is a result of luck, fate, or destiny. They refuse to take charge of their lives and find ways to blame other people or the situation and tend to have a victim mentality. People with an internal locus of control believe that they can influence their successes and failures and take the necessary steps. One individual with a great internal locus of control was African leader Nelson Mandela who refused to let his circumstances stop him from fighting for his beliefs. He said, “I am the master of my fate and the captain of my destiny.” A study by Leadership IQ found that employees with a strong internal locus of control are 136% more likely to love their careers. If the recruiter hires candidates with a victim mentality, they might as well put up some actual red flags at work.  

4. Underprepared or Disinterested Candidates

One of the biggest interview red flags for employers is candidates who turn up unprepared for an interview. If a prospective employee is unaware of the workings of the company and hasn’t taken the time to research the company, it speaks to their lack of initiative. As far as hiring red flags go, this is one of the biggest out there. People who invest time and effort in researching the company show initiative, appear enthusiastic and ask probing questions that make the recruiter’s job easier.

5. Online Background Check

These days, employers often run a quick online check before conducting an interview in person. If a candidate’s online presence shows their inherent prejudices and is peppered with negative comments and actions, it can be one of the biggest indicators that he or she is not the right fit for your company. In today’s day and age, it is prudent to run a quick Google search to see whether the candidate is someone who could add value to the company. It also helps the recruiter understand where they are coming from and tailor the interview experience. Simple background checks help eliminate candidates who embody qualities that can be red flags at work. 

Jane Harper
Writer. Human resources expert and consultant. Follow @thehrdigest on Twitter

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