5 Signs That You Are Interviewing a Bad Candidate
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

5 Things To Look Out For During An Interview by Mark Stephens

When interviewing applicants it can sometimes be easy to get carried away and miss the warning signs, especially if you actually like the individual sitting in front of you. However, recruiting the right people means ruthlessly discarding those that don’t meet the minimum standards.

Here are 5 critical items to look out for when you run your next interview:


1. They haven’t prepared for the interview

As an absolute minimum, any individual attending an interview should have visited your website, know a little bit about you, and be able to explain what it is that you do. If they don’t know these basics, then how can they put forward a strong case as to why you should hire them?


2. They don’t ask questions

Some people are very good at responding to interview questions and articulating what they think you want to hear, but anyone that is serious about establishing a successful career with you will have plenty of questions for you and not just at the end of the interview. Each time you ask the applicant a question, this is a great opportunity for the best candidates to respond with questions of their own.


3. No depth to their answers

Weak candidates and those that might have expanded upon the truth in their CV’s have very little depth, and this is relatively easy to establish. Behavioural interviewing techniques will allow you to ask several layers of questions around the original question and when people lack genuine knowledge, understanding and experience, they tend to come unstuck. When you take this approach they generally start to waffle. Look for eyes that look to the candidate’s right when responding. This is an obvious sign that they are tapping into the creative side of their brain to make up an answer.


Candidate Behaviour


4. They see their job as 9-5

Some jobs are for plodders, but when most of us recruit, we want dynamic, energetic, self-motivated people who can take on responsibility and treat your company and customers with care and attention and grow with the company. The reward for this is longevity, stability, respect, progress, responsibility and remuneration that should increase appropriately. To progress faster requires more educational input and that should not stop within the confines of a working day. People who do not invest in themselves, through self-learning, reading, courses and training will only ever likely be plodders.


5. They don’t accept responsibility for their mistakes

During the interview, you’ll want to ask about a time when they had to handle a difficult or awkward situation at work and how they resolved it. You can also ask them about their previous working relationships, especially those with managers that might have held them back.

People who blatantly blame others for their own lack of success or failures will bring that blame culture and mentality into your organisation.



Getting applicants to complete a behavioural assessment ahead of an interview is a great way to help identify cultural and behavioural areas of potential conflict.

At SRO we use a fantastic tool called Prism Brain Mapping, that allows you to benchmark the most critical behavioural and cultural elements associated with the job and when candidates complete a questionnaire designed to encourage them to highlight the behaviours that are most critical to them and that motivate them, we get a clear indication of where those areas of potential conflict are.

These tools are an amazing interview aid and encourage the recruiter to dig in the right areas and uncover the areas of risk relating to that candidate, in regards to the job you are considering them for.

Many online tools that can be activated within your talent acquisition system will help minimise the risk of hiring the wrong people and help to ensure that interviews stay on point.

About the Author:

Mark Stephens

Mark has established a reputation for his passion and enthusiasm over twenty years working in the recruitment industry, both client and agency side. For the last seven years, he has been researching the recruitment landscape from both a technology and people perspective. His insights into market trends are often used and quoted across the industry’s leading publications.

His company, Smart Recruit Online, have been the winner of 5 international awards for technology innovation and Recruitment Technology in the last 18 months and currently hold the accolade of filling more jobs from direct applications for their clients than any other online recruitment service in the UK.

Connect with Mark Stephens on LinkedIn


Smart Recruit Online offers an award-winning talent attraction software that will streamline and revolutionise your recruitment strategy.

We offer a customisable software platform integrated with multiple selection and screening tools, enabling you to make well-informed recruitment decisions. 

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Mark Stephens

Mark has established a reputation for his passion and enthusiasm over twenty years working in the recruitment industry, both client and agency side. For the last ten years, he has been researching the HR & Recruitment landscape from both a technology and people perspective. A previous winner of the prestigious Chambers – Innovation in Business award, Mark is a serial entrepreneur and is the founder of Smart Recruit Online Ltd, CareersPage Ltd, The HR Resource Library and Corporate Wellness & Mental Health UK Ltd. His company, Smart Recruit Online, has been the winner of 7 national and international awards in the last 18 months for recruitment innovation. Mark has dedicated his time since 2007 researching the online HR & Recruitment sector from a user, technology, and candidate behaviour perspective, and is regularly published and quoted by leading industry publications for his research and personal opinions.

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