Finding The Best Hire – Part 1: Job Interview Red Flags

A bad hire – it’s an employer’s worst nightmare. 

They looked great on paper, and aced the interview.. but after joining, it turns out all was not as it seemed. Now you’re left with the costly task of hiring a replacement, plus difficult procedures to remove them from the company, all whilst not getting closer to your key business aims because the right team is not in place.

With our years of experience in recruiting the best talent in the oil industry, clients often ask us what are the ‘red flags’ to look out for when interviewing a potential employee, to avoid the dreaded bad hire. They work in niche industries such as Lubricants and Fuels, where it can take over 2 years (!) to get a return on investment, so the right employee and retention of that hire is imperative.

To answer these requests, the ABN team have come together to compile a useful red flag checklist for the next time you’re interviewing. Some red flags are obvious but still get ignored, do so at your peril!

Avoiding a bad hire – the interview red flag checklist

It is best not to leave things to chance, and you should have a robust and structured interview process to make your hiring decisions consistent and fair.  Whilst gut feeling and first impressions are valid indicators toward the right hire, you do need to build more into your decision-making process to get the right result.

In addition to graded competency interviews, another area we have seen as a big help to customers is the use of professional behavioural assessments. It’s a great way to uncover the real character and behavioural traits of the interviewee that you may not identify through interview questions.

A clear brief and list of key questions mapped out before the interview and grading each candidate’s answers also helps build consistency in analysing who the right hire is. Thorough reference checking and due diligence before the offer is made is an important last step to minimising risk, too.

But before all that, if the candidate has done any of the following ‘red flags’ things usually don’t end well.

1. Turned up late with no courtesy call to make you aware of the delay

We are pretty zero tolerance for being late to an interview that could be a massive deal to your career, but we understand things out of the interviewees’ control do happen. But what does it say about a person’s planning, priorities and interest if they can’t make it somewhere on time for such an important event even if there were issues? How would this behaviour manifest itself in the workplace?

2. Lack of clear and direct answers with specific examples

If the interviewee can’t recall basic information critical to their current day job, what will they be like reporting information to you? Or, in fact, are they really achieving what you thought they were capable of?

3. Lack of professionalism

A tricky question can be – why do they want to leave your current role?  A socially intelligent employee knows the line between being comfortable and honest to downright gossiping. For example, we don’t expect candidates to like all of their previous managers, and it’s completely reasonable to touch on previous issues faced, but there are lines you don’t cross. If they bring that sort of drama to the interview, imagine what they could bring to your office.

4. Incapable of honest self-evaluation

Everyone has weaknesses, and everyone makes mistakes at some point. Valuable employees are learners, and not short-sighted to think of themselves weaknesses or mistake-free. The ability to self-evaluate is vital in growing as a person, team and business.

5. Not aligned with your company values

Whilst it’s important to have diversity in your team so that you get a broader range of perspectives and ideas, a future employee shouldn’t be in disagreement with the company culture and core values. For example, one of our key values is perseverance – we specialise in filling hard-to-find vacancies, so we have to put a high level of effort in and dig deep to deliver. This means we can’t hire a recruiter to join the team who’s only after the quick, easy wins – this misalignment will only cause headaches for everyone down the line.

6. Have they misunderstood some basic fundamentals of the role?

You have shared a job brief, perhaps had a pre-interview phone call to advise your needs clearly or told a recruiter to brief candidates. Then your interview turns up and demonstrates a clear lack of understanding. Are their listening skills, attention to detail, and ability to research and understand really to the level you require it to be if interviewees can’t grasp the fundamentals? Clearly, employers and recruiters have a responsibility to be clear in their communications. However, if 3 candidates on your shortlist understood your need and one didn’t that’s a pretty good indicator of who took the time to understand you and who didn’t.

7. Lack of compromise

Most companies encounter times when compromise is needed. Do interviewees give good examples of this trait, or are they set in their ways? If the candidate is adamant they’ll never answer emails when they leave the office or work past 5, and you work large projects that at times require some extra input, then they’re potentially not the best fit for your team.

8. Upfront demands

A good interview should have both parties showing why they are right for the role. An interviewee sitting there with upfront demands probably says a lot about their motivation and gives some insight into how they might be in the role. ‘I won’t take anything less than a 30% pay increase and 30 days holiday’. Of course, it’s important to get across what you want from a role early on. Still, a worthwhile employee understands the importance of building a mutually beneficial partnership with their employer and will negotiate fairly. Even if you can’t meet all their demands – they should be able to come to an agreement that’s beneficial to both parties.

Recruitment Redefined

If you’re recruiting in the downstream oil industry, then speak to our team today. Using our award-winning recruitment technology and extensive industry contacts, we can work with you to find the right person to achieve your business goals.

Email us at enquiries@abnresource.com.