Identifying Red Flags in Engineering Candidate Interviews

This blog provides a comprehensive guide to identifying red flags during engineering interviews, offering practical advice and real-world examples to help employers make informed hiring decisions.

September 28, 2023

If you're on the lookout for new engineering talent, you've come to the right place.

Coburg Banks is your go-to partner for engineering recruitment across the UK.

In this blog, we will delve deep into the topic of identifying red flags in engineering interviews.

This isn't just another box to tick; it's crucial for recruiting the right person who fits into your team like a glove.

Why Identifying Red Flags is Important

Interviewing candidates can be a laborious process, but the devil is in the detail.

A CV only gives you a snapshot of a candidate's qualifications and experience.

It's the interview where you get to dig deeper. Ignoring red flags can result in recruiting someone who might be a poor fit or even detrimental to your team.

It's better to spend more time now than regretting a bad hiring decision later. If you're thinking about the bigger picture, you should check out our article on building a strong engineering candidate pipeline.

Common Red Flags

Lack of Technical Knowledge

Let's say the candidate fails to answer fundamental engineering questions or solve basic problems. This should ring alarm bells.

Engineering roles are technical; there's no room for bluffing here. If they stumble on questions about basic equations, concepts, or engineering software, think twice.

There’s a difference between interview jitters and fundamental gaps in knowledge.

Overemphasis on Money

While it's entirely reasonable to discuss compensation, a candidate overly fixated on money could indicate that their interest in the role is largely financial.

This might not necessarily be a bad thing, but engineering roles often require a high level of commitment and passion for the subject matter.

Vague or Inconsistent Answers

Consistency is key. If a candidate gives vague answers or contradicts their CV, that's a major red flag.

We all know how critical attention to detail is in engineering.

If you’re wondering about how to conduct interviews effectively, our piece on effective interview techniques for evaluating engineering candidates might be of help.

Negative Attitude Towards Previous Employers

Negativity can be infectious.

A candidate who badmouths their former workplace or colleagues may carry that negative attitude into your team. It also shows a lack of professionalism.

Poor Communication Skills

Engineering isn't just about crunching numbers; it’s about collaborating with teams, explaining ideas clearly, and sometimes even liaising with clients.

Poor communication skills can become a stumbling block in all these areas.

Advanced Red Flags

Lack of Curiosity

A curious mind is a growing mind. If the candidate shows no interest in learning about your company or the role, it's a red flag.

Good engineers are always keen to learn, and their growth aligns with your company's success.

For attracting the brightest minds, you might want to look into our strategies for attracting top engineering talent.


An overconfident candidate may seem like they can tackle any problem, but in reality, this attitude can lead to overlooking important details and disregarding team input.

In engineering, humility and teamwork often yield the best results.

Avoiding Accountability

If the candidate is shifting blame onto others when discussing past projects or responsibilities, consider it a red flag.

Accountability is crucial in any role but especially in engineering, where mistakes can have significant consequences.

How to Address Red Flags During the Interview

Dig Deeper

If you notice any red flags, probe further with additional questions.

This could help you determine if it’s a genuine issue or just a one-off slip.

Check References

Never underestimate the power of a good reference check.

It can either confirm your concerns or set them to rest.

Trial Projects

For certain roles, consider setting up a short trial project to gauge the candidate's actual skills and teamwork.

Our guide on utilising technical assessments in engineering recruitment might give you some ideas.


Spotting red flags in engineering interviews is an art that can save your company time and money in the long run. It's better to be meticulous now than to regret a bad hiring decision later.

If this seems like a daunting task, Coburg Banks can help.

Our experience as engineering recruitment specialists ensures that we only put forward candidates who are a good fit for your company.

So why go it alone when you can have an expert by your side? To know more, check out our article on the role of engineering recruitment agencies in talent acquisition.

Ready to find your next engineering superstar without the stress? Coburg Banks is here to assist you every step of the way.

Contact us today for bespoke engineering recruitment solutions that meet your specific needs.

There you have it, a comprehensive guide to red flags in engineering interviews.

Knowing what to look for will not only save you time but will ensure that you only bring in individuals who will positively impact your organisation.

Coburg Banks Engineering Recruitment Agency
We help great engineering professional get brilliant jobs in top companies.

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