5 Ways to Spot a Bad Hire During an Interview

5 Ways to Spot a Bad Hire During an Interview

During the recruitment process, the interview stage can be rather stressful for both the candidates and employer.

Get it wrong and you could make one of the worst hires like these sorry people.

While checking for grammatical errors and conducting keyword searches are good starting points during the initial shortlisting stage, there’s no better place to gauge whether a candidate is a right fit for your business than in an interview.

Sure, some candidates might not be the best at interviewing, but it would be foolish to discard them on this basis alone.

Instead, you should look out for the following five red flags before making your decision.

It might just save you money and a whole lot of aggro.

Attending unprepared

You know the famous saying: “fail to prepare, prepare to fail.”

Well, if a candidate turns up and hasn’t done their homework, it will soon show. At an absolute minimum, all candidates should research your company’s history and study the job spec.

To find out if they have, try asking questions like:

  • “What attracted you to apply for this position?”
  • “What do you know about [Company]?”
  • “What excites you about this role?”

If they give a generic answer or stare blankly back at you, then it’s a major tell-tale sign that they haven’t taken this opportunity very seriously.

Me, me, me

While an interview is predominately all about getting to know the candidate, you should always pay attention to their tone.

For instance, if they are talking about a specific contribution or achievement, do they throw other colleagues under the bus and take all of the plaudits? A candidate who acknowledges the collaborative side of working is undoubtedly a team player.

Another element to consider is whether they’re asking you questions throughout the interview. An eager candidate should be naturally curious about the company they’re interviewing for.

Too brief

Brief answers are one of the biggest red flags to look out for during an interview – especially when it comes to discussing relevant experience and skills.

If a candidate doesn’t have much to say about their previous roles and responsibilities, this may suggest that they’re either lying on their CV or simply don’t have the knowledge to succeed in this particular job.

(Ironically, this point is actually rather brief!)

A lack of growth

Career growth is a huge factor for a lot of ambitious professionals. Try asking them:

  • “Why did you want to leave your previous role?”
  • “What lessons have you learnt in your previous role(s)?”
  • “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

These interview questions will give candidates an opportunity to tell you how ambitious they are, explain why career growth might have stagnated and whether they have the initiative to want to learn new skills moving forward.

On the flip side, if a candidate comes across like they want to grow at an unrealistic rate which doesn’t suit the particular job role, this might be a cause for concern as they will probably become restless and leave early on.

Not owning up to their mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes during their careers, it’s just a fact of life. But where the red flag lies, is when a candidate doesn’t admit them or fails to turn the experience into a positive.

For instance, if you ask them to explain a scenario when you’ve made a mistake and they either blame someone else or simply state the good parts, this isn’t an honest reflection on events.

Ideally, a candidate should tell you how they rectified the problem and learnt from it.

If they waste time bashing their old employers, they won’t have any issues doing the same to you as well.


Making the right hiring decision is absolutely integral to your business’ success. During the interview, try taking notes on each candidate.

If you think there are too many things to take into consideration, you could always get a colleague to sit in and observe the interview to see if they notice any of these red flags. At least this way you can focus on the question side of things.

For more top tips on assessing candidates or for other recruitment advice, subscribe to our weekly blog today.

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