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25 Telltale Signs of the Wrong Candidate

Yvonne LaRose

There are a lot of ways to tell when you've got the wrong
candidate in front of you — when presenting that candidate would
be a quick step to career suicide. Some are blatantly the wrong
choice at first glance. Others will sneak through all the way up to
the offer or even a few months into being on the job.

Telltale signs of the malady they carry will pop up like daisies in a
field. Unfortunately, you'll just keep overlooking them while telling
yourself it was just a slip, an aberration, and you should pay no
attention to it. But red flags go up for a reason. Whether you like
it or not, you need to pay attention to those red flags.

Here are a few worth talking about:

1. No one on your support staff likes the candidate.

2. No one on your client's support staff likes the candidate.

3. The candidate's mouth flows with spontaneous compliments
about everything and everyone.

4. To get what they want, the candidate goes outside the
assigned staffers and comes to you instead.

5. When it's time to take the psychological examination, the
candidate's mother dies.

6. The candidate takes the psychological profiler home to
complete and return later that day (or night).

7. The candidate takes the application home to complete and
return later that day (or night).

8. The position is vice president of a financial institution, but
the candidate doesn't know what the equity portion of the
balance sheet represents.

9. You do a credit check and the candidate has no credit
history whatsoever in any of the cities where they
previously lived.

10. The resume says your candidate has earned a
post-graduate degree and written a master's thesis on an
esoteric topic, but the candidate speaks in platitudes and

11. The candidate's work history states they held teaching
positions at universities, but the candidate speaks in
generalizations and his or her speech is peppered with blue

12. The candidate's work history shows the candidate has
management experience with stellar results; however, they
cannot formulate management theories or innovations based
on any of the scenarios you toss out.

13. According to the background check using your candidate's
social security number, they are dead.

14. According to the background check using your candidate's
social security number, they are three years old.

15. Upon seeing one of the black managers in the hallway, the
candidate makes a remark about how great affirmative
action is: "At least it provides a means for those with low
skills to get off the welfare rolls."

16. The candidate throws a tantrum when the airline tickets the
firm issued for the interview four months ago are cancelled.

17. There are some parts of the resume work history section
that look very familiar. Wasn't that description part of the
template on Microsoft Office 2000?

18. After two months on the job, the candidate presents their
supervisor with a detailed plan for completely revamping the
entire department (or company).

19. The candidate goes berserk because of a small annoyance
(especially bad if they're interviewing for the company
psychologist opportunity).

20. The candidate launches into a detailed conversation about
their open heart surgery. They finish by saying they are no
longer eligible for group health insurance.

21. The subject of saving costs comes up. The candidate tells
you how to finagle and scam just about anything.

22. On the day of the drug screening test, the candidate shows
up with flaming red eyes and in an obviously agitated state.
The urine test comes back negative.

23. Although they have a master's degree in a particular study
(other than basket weaving), it takes three to five
explanations for them to grasp a concept that is part of
their stated background.

24. The interviewer is multi-racial, their minority heritage not
being obvious. During a part of the interview, they
accidentally reveal they are also white. The candidate's
response is, "Yes, [minority or ethnicity] people seem to
have a lot of difficulty in that region."

25. From the content of their conversation, it appears the
candidate's principal focus is on the prestige of the
company and its clientele, not increasing ROI or cost

No, these telltale signs were not manufactured. They are a
compilation of situations that have arisen in my own experience
during the past five years in all types of environments. The
temptation to add comments after each was great. But the
telltale signs pretty much speak for themselves.

A battery of tests to expose this person aren't necessary. They
openly walk about in the light of day as did the emperor without
clothes of Andersen's creation.

Their resume isn't going to disclose these propensities until the
actual person shows up and begins to speak. So filtering with
some type of complex screening software isn't going to help.
Unless it is also copied from someone else's work, the cover letter
may bear some hints of what to expect. The chances of this are
quite remote. The candidate just keeps going through life with this
gun in their pocket that's squarely aimed at their right or left foot.

Now the next thing to consider is what to do about a candidate
with any of these traits. It's a huge risk to hire them for any
position of responsibility. Training is definitely in order, but it's
possible this kind of candidate will cost the company huge sums in
training and damage costs.

The unfortunate matter is, as a recruiter, you have no duty to
this person if they are not part of your company. Do you,
however, have a duty to your business environment to offer some
sort of counseling so that this candidate at least leaves your
presence slightly changed for the better?


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