Hiring the right employee: 10 red flags to watch out for

Hiring the right employee: 10 red flags to watch out for

Finding the right employee can often be similar to finding the right partner.

Someone who looks good on paper, is not necessarily the best person for the job.

Here are some common deal-breakers to consider when looking at hiring the right employee.

Arriving late for an interview

Turning up late is a major no-no when looking at hiring the right employee. Tardiness may demonstrate that they are complacent about the role, have poor time management skills and little respect for people’s time.

First impressions last when hiring the right person

If a candidate appears to be short or abrupt with the receptionist or co-workers, it might be an indication of how they treat potential direct reports and support staff within the business – a telling sign they are not a keeper.

‘Good on paper’ candidate

It’s easy to fall for the perfect applicant on paper, but the person who doesn’t necessarily meet all your criteria may be the stronger candidate. Make a distinction between must-have skills and nice-to-have competencies. You can show someone how to use a program, but you can’t teach them to be a good cultural fit.

'Job hopper'

Hiring new employees is a big investment in both time and money. A candidate with an unstable work history could suggest they are likely to move on sooner rather than later for a variety of reasons. While there may be good reason for the candidate to have hopped so much in their career, you have to consider the potential risk to your business, including the costs incurred of re-hiring and re-training new staff if they walk.

Me, me, me

While the hiring process is an opportunity for a candidate to explain their skills and history, it is of equal importance to see whether they can define what contribution they will make to your business. A candidate who spends more time talking about themselves is a red flag to look for. Ask the candidate about past projects and how they worked in a team environment. A good candidate will give examples on how he or she was able to achieve an outcome by working together with other team members, rather than focusing solely on their own contributions in a work situation.


Confidence is good, but cockiness is not. There is a difference when you are looking at hiring the right person. For example, calling an interviewer by a nickname or term of endearment is rude. Inappropriate jokes or language, or oversharing in a job interview could also indicate you should move on to the next applicant.

Talking negatively about previous work relationships

Like badmouthing ex-partners, talking about previous work experiences in a negative manner can be awkward. Revealing company secrets may make for an interview experience that keeps you on the edge of your seat, but probably not in a good way.

They’re just not that into you

Having a date with someone who shows more interest at the table setting can be off-putting. Similarly, candidates who avoid eye contact, display poor body language, lack enthusiasm and ask no questions about the role are probably not the right pick.

Looking for ‘Mr/Ms Right Now’

If you’re yearning for the ‘one’ rather than a short-term commitment, avoid ‘stepping stone’ candidates. An employee who is in it for the long haul will tend to ask more questions about workplace culture and career advancement opportunities than remuneration. If you need the support urgently, you can always consider working with a temporary professional.


Like retouching online dating pics, job seekers may embellish resumes to show themselves in a better light. But applicants who are cagey or sketchy about details in their resume could be hiding something. You should cross-check resumes with references before extending a job offer.

You know what they say: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Next time you’re looking to expand your team, keep an eye out for these red flags. Hiring the right employee with these tips could really save both you and your business in the long-run.

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