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Five candidate red flags you should be paying attention to


Friday, 5th July 2019 at 5:01 pm
Maggie Coggan
When you’re dealing with hundreds of applications for a job, you need to pay special attention to any signs you’re about to hire a dodgy candidate. So we asked Shane O’Donohue, people and culture expert at SD Talent, to break down her top red flags.


Friday, 5th July 2019
at 5:01 pm
Maggie Coggan


3 Comments


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Five candidate red flags you should be paying attention to
Friday, 5th July 2019 at 5:01 pm

When you’re dealing with hundreds of applications for a job, you need to pay special attention to any signs you’re about to hire a dodgy candidate. So we asked Shane O’Donohue, people and culture expert at SD Talent, to break down her top red flags. 

  1. Short stints

A definite red flag is someone who has been in lots of jobs for a short amount of time. If it’s because of contract work, then that can be explained. If that’s not the case, I don’t think it’s a reason to strike the candidate completely, you just might need to go in and ask some more questions. 

  1. “I didn’t get along with the boss”

Reasons for leaving are not always apparent, so you need to ask. A common response is that they didn’t get along with the boss. Again, I wouldn’t say this means the candidate is a no-go zone, because as a recruiter you need to understand the nature and the culture of the said organisation. Checking with references can really help on this one. 

  1. “I left because of changes in the organisation” 

My concern here is about how flexible this person is and how well they’re able to be managed. Do they need a lot of freedom, or can they adapt to changes that are put in front of them? Flexibility to adapt to a new work environment is important. 

  1. “Can you tell me about the job?”  

When a candidate rings to ask if I can tell them about the job, then that’s a problem. Ringing with a specific question shows me they’ve got an interrogative mind, but making me guess what they don’t understand about the job ad is a waste of time.  

  1. They are unwilling to do a video interview 

In my style of recruiting, I always conduct a video interview as the second stage of the recruiting process. There have been a few occasions where people have declined to do a video interview. The red flags that raises for me are that they don’t have a lot of confidence using a simple computer program, that they aren’t flexible in approaching new challenges and that they aren’t prepared to answer questions.  


Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.


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3 Comments

  • Avatar Geelanda Strawberry says:

    They are unwilling to do a video interview – is a red flag and such applicants should not be considered further huh?
    In fact such applicants should go to the top of the list because these people;
    (a) understand privacy
    (b) clearly grasp the fundamentals of ethics
    (c) are probably aware of the technology that exists whereby their every move and facial expression on camera can be analysed to the last degree
    (d) are more than aware that a ‘video’ interview can result in discrimination on the basis of age, sex, sexual orientation, body shape or size, race etc
    (e) may simply want to know where videos of themselves are going and to know the names of people who are going to be making ‘judgements’
    Any employer who does not understand this needs to find a good lawyer.

  • Avatar cath says:

    Please consider that some people don’t like video interviews for other reasons: eg
    they might have a disability such as a hearing impairment
    they might be concerned that they will be discriminated against based on their appearance
    they may not have a fast or secure internet connection
    Give them a go, they might turn out to be great employees!

  • Avatar Amanda Spalding says:

    I am glad that Maggie suggests that short stints and not getting on with the boss should mean further enquiry by the recruiter rather than writing the candidate off. I think this is particularly the case for migrants who are finding it difficult to find an organisation that encourages them to realise their full potential. For example, local government in England and Wales is like a combination of State and local government in Australia!

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