When you’re interviewing candidates, most recruiters and hiring managers already know the red flags you need to look out for – bad-mouthing current/former employers, showing up late and/or unprepared, taking a call during the interview, dressing inappropriately, etc…All for good reason, of course.
Being overly skittish, however, does you a disservice – potentially letting otherwise good candidates slip through the cracks. Consider the following ‘traditional’ warning signals, which may turn out to be false alarms:
- They don’t have a lot of experience related to the specific job. One of the few upsides to this recession is that the mass layoffs have encouraged some workers to pursue careers in industries for which they may have a particular passion for and knowledge of, but which they previously didn’t have the time to do. Just because a candidate doesn’t have experience in a particular role doesn’t mean that he or she doesn’t have transferrable skills that make him or her uniquely valuable to the company.
- They have too much experience. You’re well within reason to be suspicious when someone seems overqualified for a position for which he or she is applying; however, this doesn’t necessarily mean you should write them off. As stated before, a lot of people are taking this time to reassess their career choices and genuinely want to try something different. And those with a wealth of knowledge and experience in one area can transfer their skills into a significant competitive advantage for employers, according to Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder.
- They can’t name a weakness. Ah, the old Catch-22 question, “What is your greatest weakness?” which puts candidates in the unfortunate damned-if–you-do-damned-if-you-don’t-position… If you ask this question, you’re almost guaranteed to get a canned answer like “I’m a perfectionist,” or the equally-as-frustrating “I really can’t think of any.” Take a cue from AskAManager and phrase the question this way: “What kind of feedback have you received from managers, both in terms of what they say you excel at and things you’ve been encouraged to do differently?”
- They don’t know where they ‘see’ themselves in five years. Yet another cliché interview question that usually only generates responses that candidates think interviewers want to hear, rather than what they really think (if they even know). A better question to ask: “What is the first thing you want to accomplish with this position?”
- They show up late. Okay, yes, I know there’s the school of thinking that tardiness is never okay, barring a natural disaster…but sometimes, stuff happens – even on the mornings when there’s a superimportantjobinterviewthatyoureallywantandareperfectfor. And in this case, tardiness may be less indicative of a candidate’s work ethic than how that person handles the situation. Was the candidate more than 10 minutes late? Did he/she call to warn you and give a legitimate reason for the delay? Was the candidate sincerely (but not overly) apologetic?
Not that you should ignore these things (and sometimes it is best just to walk away altogether), but they don’t necessarily have to be deal breakers. If you’re already taking time out of your day to interview, isn’t it worth a little extra time to dig a little deeper? After all, if you called the candidate in, there must have been a good reason in the first place…
What do you think? Ever had an experience with a candidate who gave a bad first impression…and later redeemed him or herself?