5 Ways To Avoid Red Flag Candidates

Red flag candidates: these are the candidates that show you before you hire them that they aren’t right for the job.  However, an interviewer may miss these or a candidate may be exceptionally good at interviewing. In short, red flags can be easily missed. Overall, interviewing a candidate is known to be ineffective. According to this study, 81% of new hires do not succeed in their positions. The most utilized method of evaluating candidates today is the job interview.  Candidates are brought in, questioned, and leave in short periods of time.  Companies then repeat this process in a few weeks or months when candidates leave their positions. So, what can you do to improve their retention rate and get to know your candidates? Little Fish has outlined the things that have helped us to discover red flag candidates in our interviews and has led to better success in candidate retention rates.

1. Check Basic Qualifications

You can hire for personality and train for skill, but in an interview you can’t find out much about a person’s real personality.  So, the first thing that is important is making sure that a basic skill-set exists. For example, if you’re hiring someone to be a director of a department, picking someone you like will have nothing to do with whether or not they can perform the basic tasks required of them.  Don’t just look for experience (although that is as plus): look at the pieces of the job that must be performed.  Once you have a pool of people that can perform these tasks, move onto choosing the right personality for the job. Also, recognize the value of translatable skills. Some candidates adapt faster than other candidates. If you fall into the trap of only considering candidates with exact matches of your list of qualifications, you will miss out on candidates that may actually be above average performers. If you have a complex job that includes skills you don’t understand, talk with an expert in that field. If possible, keep them involved so that they can tell you tell you more about the job skills needed. Doing this helps you to truly hire a person that can achieve these tasks.

2. Ask Open-ended Questions

Asking open-ended questions allows you to gauge the candidates response. You can tell if they are 1. Prepared 2. Nervous 3. Prone to over-share 4. Practiced.  Sometimes they will have no answer.  While these are not in themselves indicators of an individual’s personality, they add factors into the person’s puzzle of who they are and who they want you to think they are. Sometimes, these open-ended questions will lead to candidates saying things that disqualify them for the job entirely or make it clear they have no interest in the position.  In actual interviews, Little Fish team members have had candidates say they “just need a job and don’t care where they work.” This kind of response speaks volumes because it immediately shows the candidate doesn’t care about this position.

3. Ask Candidates To Tell A Story

Photo Credit: Bill Smith. Byzantium Books.
No, this isn’t a bed-time story. Red flag candidates will often share a tell by sharing a story about a time they did X.   This is a way to get candidates to share with you a proof of one of their qualities. For example, a candidate informed me that they, “Got along great with everybody.”  Next, I  asked the candidate to tell me about a time they had a conflict and how they managed it.  Their response was a huge red flag. They informed me that they’d “really gotten into it” with a co-worker.  Then, the candidate had gone to the manager, but the manager didn’t address their concerns.  So, then the candidate and the manager, “really got into it.” Finally, the candidate revealed that the manager fired them for fighting with their coworkers. The candidate finished by stating that the manager was just, “out to get me.” This candidate story exemplified poor conflict management skills. This candidate ended up being a red flag candidate that was not hired.  Candidates will often reveal truths that will otherwise remain hidden when they are asked to exemplify their claims.

4. Use Assessment Tests

There are many assessments online that allow you to learn more about your candidate outside of the interview.  It is up to you to decide how to best select these assessments. Sometimes, the most important aspect of a job is a candidate’s personality (such as in a customer service position) other times it is their skills with in-depth thinking and problem solving.  In the first-case, a personality test may be helpful.  In the second case, you may want to give the candidate a problem to solve and ample time to create a theoretical solution. Remember: if you give the wrong test, you may disqualify an excellent candidate. Make sure you consider what you actually need to assess about your candidate.The right assessments provide extra insight into the candidate. If  you want some good candidate assessments check out our list of candidate assessment tests.

5. Get To Know Your Type

startup-593341_1920.jpg If you’ve ever had someone fill this kind of role before that was an all-star player, take some time to consider the traits of this prior (or current) employee. Their success has a cause.  Make a list of traits, skills, and achievements of this employee. Then, look for similar traits in other candidates.  Make sure to observe both hard and soft skills of this employee. Soft skills are extremely important (but often overlooked). The most successful companies type-cast their candidates.  Right down to the schools they come from and the grades that they receive. They make recruiting a systematic process that takes very little internal time and helps them to better target their recruiting dollars towards getting the candidates that are most likely to succeed in these types of roles.  So, collect data on your successes and apply them to improve your recruiting and reduce your pool of red flag candidates.  

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