Are You About to Hire the Wrong Job Applicant? 8 Signs

Are You About to Hire the Wrong Job Applicant? 8 Signs

Piles of applications and résumés represent time to sort through applicants, attempting to match a position with a person’s expertise and skills. It would be so much faster if the unsuitable job applicants walked in with a label on their forehead: “Reject.” Then you could spend time with the best qualified candidates.

The top candidates have unique qualifications, while the worst candidates share common flaws. Here are the glaring warning signs that will help you short-circuit those time-wasting interviews in the hiring process and move on to the top talent quickly.

8 Warning Signs While You Interview Applicants

The Applicant Asks About Salary Before Knowing Job Details

Often a support person has done a pre-interview on the phone or by email before the in-person conversation. If the candidate’s primary interest is “what’s in it for me?” before they “bother” with an interview, that’ll be their attitude about work in general: “I never do more than what I get paid to do.”

Their Résumé Has Misspellings, Typos, or Grammar Errors

Such errors suggest a lack of attention to detail and a careless attitude about the job search. Expect them to be even less concerned after hired. Can you afford to let things “fall through the cracks” when they promise your customers or coworkers to handle things?

The Candidate Asks Directions to Get to the Interview

If you need a resourceful employee, this is not your candidate.  (If you’re located in some confusing place that perplexes even Siri and Alexa, then you’ll know you’re the exception to this rule and can cut the candidate some slack on this one.)

The Applicant Arrives Dressed Inappropriately

Dress communicates much about an applicant’s attitude and self-awareness. What’s job- appropriate may be difficult to judge when the candidate is unfamiliar with your company culture or all the job responsibilities. But inappropriate dress shouldn’t be difficult to decide. If the candidate can’t figure that out for one job interview, do you really trust them to decide 365 days a year?

The Candidate Walks in Empty-Handed

While you probably don’t expect them to show up with their academic transcripts and portfolios of past work, they certainly should at least arrive with something for note-taking: pen, paper, or iPad. The better candidates will bring along extra copies of their résumés in case there are several people in the room, as well as a list of references, and maybe even a list of questions.

The Applicant Treats the Support Staff Unpleasantly

The way the candidate treats your support staff signals how they’ll treat coworkers whom they consider “beneath them”—and possibly how they’ll treat your customers.

The Applicant Uses Profanity

If the candidate can’t get through a 20-minute interview without obscenities and profanity, imagine the lack of sensitivity around customers and coworkers. If you’re about to hire an instructor who drops “what-the-h---, right?” into every other question he answers during the interview, don’t think his safety training sessions will be any different.

The Candidate Can’t Put The Phone Away—Answers a Call, Reads Texts or Emails During the Interview

For some candidates, their smartphone has become an addiction. How will they get work done with this constant distraction?


Take these warning signs very seriously. These missteps suggest a lack of interpersonal communication skills, emotional intelligence, or self-awareness. Hire at your own risk.