Look Closely. Is This Candidate a Good Fit? 

Interviewing candidates can be a rewarding experience, and everyone wants a team they can work with, that will get the job done and help the company move forward. On the surface, it seems like a straight-forward process. You ask questions, the candidate answers. You give the candidate a chance to do the same.

But can you learn everything you need to know about a person’s personality, dependability and work habits from the few minutes you speak with him? Probably not. In fact, even hiring a private investigator to follow them won’t give you everything you need.

However, some behaviors should send up red flags and cause you to think twice about a candidate. They aren’t necessarily hard and fast ‘don’t hire this person’ traits, but they are behaviors you should investigate.

First Impressions

First impressions are not iron-clad, but they are important. Things like punctuality, appearance and eye contact will give you an indication of the kind of person you are dealing with.

Punctuality is one of the first marks of responsibility. Everyone has emergencies — a flat tire, a call from a child’s school, etc. — that cause unexpected delays. These things can’t be avoided. However, if a candidate is going to be late, he or she should call ahead or reschedule the interview. Not doing so could indicate that this person lacks the necessary mindset to be a reliable member of the team.

Not everyone has a stellar sense of style or a massive wardrobe budget. However, a candidate that comes in wearing cut-off shorts and flip-flops for a management position may not have the respect for the company and the position that you are looking for. Most viable candidates will at least try to look professional.

Everyone’s entitled to a bad day now and again, and interviewing for a job can be an intimidating process. But a candidate that sends up red flags from the outset may not be the best choice for your company.

Work History and Information

There are individuals who enjoy new experiences or who have been in one industry for so long they feel the need to try something new, but candidates who have had several jobs in one year, in vastly different fields, may not have the tenacity needed to help the company grow. According to one recruiter, “The best prediction of future behavior is past behavior.”

Missing contact information is another red flag. A candidate hasn’t yet moved may need a delayed start date, which could impact company projects. However, if he’s lived in the area for several months and not updated his license or resume, he may lack the impetus needed to complete the workload in a timely manner. If it’s simply a matter of not having the time yet, you can always direct him to your area’s facility for his license, and he should have an updated resume with him. An unwillingness to do either could indicate laziness or a lack of commitment.

A missing or outdated email address, on the other hand, especially if it’s the one on the resume, may indicate a lack of attention to detail. These aren’t generally location dependent, so there’s little reason for this information to be incorrect.


As an interviewer, you are well aware that interviews can be intimidating for some candidates and that many people get nervous. This is to be expected. However, a candidate that is sullen is one to consider carefully. Someone who is overly reserved, doesn’t smile or seems listless may be simply looking for a paycheck and not have the best interests of the company at heart, especially in a vibrant, interactive culture.

The other side of the sullen, too quiet candidate is the over-exuberant, bubbly personality that just can’t stop talking. This candidate may be trying to compensate for a flaw she doesn’t want you to notice, or she could lack the wisdom and awareness “to know when to shut up or what not to share.” This may not be best for a position that requires quiet and focus.

Either extreme in personality should be considered carefully in relation to the company culture, the position and the tasks required.

Final Thoughts

People are individuals with different ways of interacting with the world and with others, and, as an interviewer, you should be willing to embrace these differences, from the woman who just needs the location of the DMV to the guy who’s finally found his calling.

However, if a candidate consistently exhibits red flag behavior over the course of several interviews, with no reconcilable cause, then the traits may be a permanent part of a personality that will not work in the best interest of your company.