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Interview Red Flags

Only you know understand your own hiring criteria, and only you (and the rest of your hiring team) know exactly which specific traits and credentials you’re looking for as you staff your open position. But as long-standing experts in the field of financial hiring, we’ve seen a vast range of both successes and failures, and we have a strong understanding of what you’re probably NOT looking for in a candidate.

Chances are, you’d like to avoid candidates who 1.) lack the technical skills necessary to execute on-the- job tasks, 2.) lack the basic certifications and licensing credentials the job requires, 3.) are unlikely to get along with your clients and fit in with your current teams and 4.) are unlikely to remain with the company long enough to make the transition from liability to asset. As you conduct your interviews, keep an eye out for these red flags that can suggest any or all of the above.

1. Candidates who seem reluctant or unprepared for the interview

Candidates who seem hesitant or unenthusiastic upon receiving an interview invitation can be a sign of trouble. A lack of preparation also suggests one of two things: either the candidate has no plans to accept the job if it’s offered, or she doesn’t plan to stay very long once she comes on board.

2. Candidates who have plenty of volume but very little substance

The most enthusiastic candidates sometimes use enthusiasm and ambition to cover up a lack of real experience—or genuine interest in obtaining that experience. Listen for excessive empty buzzwords and lots of talk about the future, plans, and potential instead of an existing solid track record. These candidates may be a positive bet at the entry level, but for mid-career positions, avoid those who seem to get by on their million-dollar smiles alone.

3. Integrity problems

Ask open ended questions that allow candidates to speak freely about their ethics and personal principles. Positive signs include a willingness to think before speaking and the ability to reflect honestly on past lessons and mistakes. Red flags include fast answers packed with clichés and tired quotes instead of genuine philosophies based on personal experience.

4. Signs of tension or anger

Of course you should never consider a candidate who displays open hostility or resentment during a job interview. But since this rarely happens, you’ll have to read between the lines and listen closely in order to assess his or her feelings about past employers, clients, and the industry in general. Excessive negativity is a bad sign and may demonstrate an unwillingness to take responsibility for personal decisions.

For more on how to read your candidates and interpret both red flags and signs of high potential, reach out to the financial and accounting staffing experts at Cordia.