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Red Flags During the Interview Process, Part 1

It goes without saying that we look to hire executives who possess the required professional skills and qualifications that we set forth during the recruiting process. Beyond the resume, however, there is the important question of whether a candidate is a good cultural fit for your organization. Smart executives know that whether or not they get hired, making a good impression during an interview process may open unforeseen doors later on. On the flip side, exhibiting unprofessional and ungracious behavior during an interview is a sure way to burn bridges in the long run.

As executive recruiters, we have seen “model” candidates, as well as those who leave us scratching our heads in dismay. There are certain candidate behaviors to keep an eye open for during interviews, which should be considered “red flags.”

  1. Circumventing the established search process such as not meeting application deadlines or not working through your designated search consultant. Such actions are disrespectful and indicative of some measure of arrogance. While some might think that this behavior demonstrates creativity, perseverance, and/or out of the box thinking, what it actually suggests is that the candidate thinks that established rules, norms, and standards don’t apply to them. Will the same hold true when they become employees?

  2. Not responding promptly to e-mail or voicemail messages. This raises concerns about a person’s true interest in the position, as well as how responsive s/he will be to customers or colleagues once employed with your company. Busy, high-achieving professionals in demanding jobs will take the time to respond quickly when they are truly interested in a position. This bias toward action demonstrates that they are responsive as a matter of form, a valuable characteristic that their new employer will undoubtedly appreciate.

  3. Being rude or disrespectful to your office staff. Great leaders recognize that every employee has a part to play in the success of the larger organization. If a candidate exhibits rude behavior to any staff member before being hired, you can be assured that they will do the same once employed with your organization. This exact behavior will negatively impact morale and productivity.

It is our experience that good candidates are on their very best behavior during the interview process. Thus we urge you to be on the lookout for these and other warning signs, even in candidates whose resumes appear picture perfect. Stay tuned for next month’s blog in which we will review several additional “red flag behaviors” that can help predict and prevent a bad hire.


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