Top 6 Hiring Red Flags: What Causes Managers to Reject a Candidate

Top 6 Hiring Red Flags: What Causes Managers to Reject a Candidate - Style Nine to Five

When you’re dating or making new friends, you probably have a list of red flags in the back of your mind that’ll warn you to stay away. Have you ever considered that hiring managers may have one for job candidates, too? If you don’t want a hiring manager to write you off right away, avoid these six hiring process red flags.

1. Job Hopping

Leaving and starting multiple new jobs within only a few months is not a good look. Hiring managers will either think that you struggle to commit to work or that past employers have consistently seen you as a problem.

Don’t bounce from job to job, and if you absolutely have to for valid reasons (toxic workplaces, important life circumstances getting in the way, etc.), then at the very least, remove short stints of work from your resume and LinkedIn or be prepared to discuss your job history in a positive way in your interview.

2. Negative Talk

When you’re communicating with a potential employer—and this goes for interviews, emails and even casual talk—always remain positive. In particular, don’t talk negatively about yourself or your skills. For example, if you’re in an interview and the employer brings up a potential job responsibility that you don’t have much experience with.

Don’t say anything like, “I’m not experienced in that” or, “I don’t know anything about that”. The hiring manager will think that you have a defeatist attitude and you’re not doing anything to highlight the skills you do have. Remember, every employer is looking for reasons to have confidence that you’re right for the role.

Negativity goes beyond how you talk about yourself—don’t talk poorly about anything else, including former employers, co-workers, job responsibilities, workplaces, or industries. Even if you’ve dealt with toxic workplaces in your past, don’t bring it up. A hiring manager won’t be able to verify your past experience was truly toxic and would rather not take the risk on somebody who may be spinning the truth.

You don’t have to lie and say these experiences were amazing, though. Instead, ignore the negative parts and only bring up the positives. Otherwise, the hiring manager may suspect that you’re a negative person who’ll end up talking badly about their organization.

3. Not Asking Questions

The one question nearly every job interview has in common is the final one: “Do you have any questions for us?”

This is a much bigger question than it seems, so you don’t want to flub it. If you don’t have questions in mind, the hiring manager will assume that you don’t care to learn about the position or their company. Before you go into an interview, prepare a short list of two or three questions that you can ask after the job interview—things you’d like to know about your potential job’s responsibilities or workplace culture. This question is the final note you’ll be ending the interview on—make it a good one!

4. Disorganization

During the application and hiring process, be strategic and organized in everything you do. It’s always the little details that may end up tripping you up with an employer—if you’re one of two candidates that seem perfect for the gig, but you came across just slightly messier, they’ll go with the other person.

Do a lot of double checking that you have the right days and times for interviews and deadlines, that you’ve sent the correct cover letter and resume, that you’ve checked for grammar and spelling errors in all your applications.

You can show disorganization in other ways, too: showing up late to interviews, for instance, or being obviously distracted while being interviewed. The latter especially goes for phone or video call interviews – don’t check your email, look at incoming texts, or browse social media in another tab while you’re on Zoom with a hiring manager.

5. Lack of Specific Examples

Failing to provide concrete examples or evidence of achievements and skills can suggest exaggeration or a lack of genuine experience. Specific examples are important as they provide concrete evidence of the candidate’s skills, competencies, and achievements. Without them, it’s challenging to gauge an applicant’s true abilities, problem-solving skills, and the impact they’ve had in previous roles. This absence makes it difficult to assess how well the candidate aligns with the job’s responsibilities and their potential for future success.

Also, detailed examples are essential in validating the authenticity of a candidate’s claims and ensuring they possess the behaviors and skills they tout. They help interviewers understand how applicants have navigated past challenges, showcasing their critical thinking and adaptability. A lack of concrete examples can thus lead to doubts about a candidate’s experience, genuineness, and overall fit for the position, making it a significant concern in the hiring process.

6. Inconsistent Career Path

There’s nothing wrong with trying new things and pivoting into new career paths—sometimes you take on a new job and realize that industry isn’t for you, and that’s okay! But if you do it constantly, employers will raise their eyebrows at it. They’ll assume their industry is just another one that you’ll leave when something new comes along.

Try to keep your applications and LinkedIn as tailored as possible to the industry you’d like to work in moving forward, and if you find you can’t, emphasize to the hiring manager that you love the experience you gained in your past industry, but realized you’re passionate about this new one and have big dreams of growing in it.

If some of these seem like you, take action to eliminate your red flags. The skills and work experience are all there in your background and getting hired is a matter of cleaning up your applications, being more prepared for interviews, and positive thinking. Just cross out the bad and you’ll be left with nothing but good. After that, you’re instantly more appealing to hiring managers who will have nothing but good things to think about you.

Need a little more guidance? Book a Virtual Career Meeting with Style Nine to Five founder, Christie Lohr!

Emily Morrison is a media professional with passions for writing, film and popular culture.

Feature Image – Adobe Stock