No quantifiable answers on the resume. I always say that good job applicants who really want the job should put forth a nice resume that shows they've accomplished something. And quantifiable information gives the interviewer some information that says, “this guy knows the industry has some knowledge of numbers” rather than just some strong but meaningless adverbs and adjectives like “very”, “highly”, and “substantial.” If I see one more resume or LinkedIn bio that says “seasoned” I am going to gag. Substantially.
Positions with no months, just years that are the same or one off...and lots of them. I know about this one because, unfortunately, my resume looks like this and it's been pointed out to me by interviewers. Because have been independently consulting for quite awhile but have accepted some direct hire work in between as well AND due to a series of unfortunate job acceptances with organizations that weren't as stable as I thought, I have held several great jobs for a very short period of time. So, I long ago abandoned months on my resume and just went with years. But when you have held 5 of those types of jobs over a two year period, it makes you look either like a job hopper or a frequent firee. And if you're the interviewer, this is going to be a red flag. Interviewers... if the candidate seems otherwise like a great catch...proceed with caution. If not, then move on to the next applicant...fast.
A candidate who has no questions to ask you. It's a question you almost always ask...”do you have any questions for me.” If the drone on the other side of the desk can't come up with one single thing to ask, then completely disregard this individual. Obviously they've done no homework on your company and are not generally an interesting or good communicator. If they really wanted the job – or wanted to show that they want the job – then they can come up with at least one question.
Eye direction and little to no eye contact. I won't lie. I like shows like Criminal Minds and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. One of the things I learned early on with those shows...it is a general perception that when someone is being questioned if they are looking to the left they likely to be lying. I've tested this a bit on my own – I won't say on who – but it tends to generally be accurate. Blank stares and little to no eye contact are also bad signs. They don't necessarily indicate lying, but do you really want to hire someone who just gazes blankly at you or can't maintain eye contact with you? I don't.
No follow up. The great applicant that doesn't at least follow-up with a thank you email isn't the great applicant you thought he or she was. Move on. It shows that they either...
- don't really want it
- are too busy with something else (like consulting work that will ultimately get in the way with what they would be doing for you)
- are poor communicators
- just have poor manners
If any of these four are true...do you really want them in your organization? No.
It is never easy dredging through the pool of applicants for the right candidate. More often than you'd like to think, you'll probably end up with a bad hire. But if you use some tips and cues like what I've listed here, at least you may be able to weed out some duds that you might otherwise let slip through the cracks and into the corner office. Don't do it!