3 Major Red Flags for Hiring

This is a blog where we focus a lot on the ‘shoulds’ of the hiring process. We’ve had articles about how you should hire for potential, move past interviews, start hiring as soon as possible, and ask weird questions in your interviews, but today, we’re moving on to a slightly less pleasant sort of should; things you should look out for when hiring.

There are some things that show up on resumes that should set a hiring manager’s hairs on end. Some red flags are obvious, others are subtle, but it’s the mark of a good hiring manager to spot them all and figure out whether to take a chance on the person displaying them or pass them up.

While hiring dealbreakers are highly contextual and change between businesses and candidates, these are couple of constant and major red flags for hiring that managers should be on the lookout for.

Job hopping

Turnover is extremely expensive. Every time a hire decides to leave for greener pastures, you have to set your entire work process on hold while you screen through applicants, interview prospects, and just decide who you want to take your place. Keep an eye out for people who look fickle about what job they want. There are certainly explanations (temp workers, freelancers, etc.) for why they’ve been playing leapfrogwith the job market, but if they don’t have one, think long and hard about if they will leave you in a lurch; if you have any suspicion they might be a fast turnover, give them a pass

Unexplained unemployment

With market fluctuations and a so called Great Recession in recent memory, there’re plenty of valid employees that have spent a stint unemployed. The real sticking points of this one is when the stint of unemployment looks long and mysterious. Huge spells of unexplained absence are one major mark of an unreliable employee or an employee who is hiding an unamicable departure from a previous job.

If you have an applicant with a long spell of unemployment, don’t immediately assume the worst. Anybody can leave the workforce for a few years for any number of reasons (freelancing, parenting, illness, etc.) and most of them will have no problems telling you about their reasons if asked. If your applicant has no answer or is otherwise evasive, you’ve spotted a major red flag.


So you’ve got an applicant that is everything you’ve ever hopes for and a whole lot more. That sounds perfect, right? Maybe not. Be careful about hiring overqualified candidates.

Hiring an overqualified employee leads to one of those, “it’s not you it’s me,” kinds of situations in a hurry. The feeling of being underemployed is pure psychological pain. It’s the feeling of not living up to your potential mixed with the pain of feeling professional backslide. In short, an underemployed employee will never feel happy in their position and it will show, either in their their output or in their turnover. This isn’t always the case, some overqualified people know that their shooting for a job beneath their league on purpose and they will likely let you know. Regardless, be careful when you hire an overqualified person. If they feel underemployed, you will probably be back to hiring shortly.