5 Red Flags Recruiters want Interviewing Job Seekers to Avoid

We all know someone who is looking for a position right now. On social media, you may be seeing a ton of content from those outside of the recruiting space talking about what an ideal candidate interview should look like, what you MUST do in your first meeting with a recruiter, how to negotiate, how to put your best foot forward, etc.  

After seeing content that is a mixture of both good and bad advice, our team has pulled together a list of the top red flags that job seekers can do in their interviews with recruiters from our personal experiences.  

Top Red Flags from Our Recruiting Team 

Red Flag #1: Not knowing anything about the company you are interviewing with.  

The worst thing a candidate can do in an interview is to not know about the company. Doing your research before an interview about the company is vital. You should know what they do, what their product is and does, and something about their culture. My best advice is to find out if they have a YouTube channel and watch a video or two about them, and then stalk the companies LinkedIn. You will be surprised what 10-15 minutes of research does for you in an interview! 

Red Flag #2: Poor first impressions are a killer of candidacy. 

One of the biggest things that destroys a candidate’s interview success rate is their ATTITUDE. That’s right- not their lack of expertise, not their lack of credentials, not their small network… their ATTITUDE.

I was once recruiting for an SDR role, and the client was looking for a candidate with extremely specific experience. We, by extreme luck, had a candidate who had applied for the role with said extremely specific experience. We were SO excited to meet this candidate. I got on the interview with them and the best way to describe their attitude was a mix of the professor from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and the genius doctor from The Good Doctor. Their attitude was very dry and disinterested, almost a CHORE for them to talk to the recruiter because they just knew they were the right person for this job, so why waste time talking to the recruiter?  

On the flip side- there was a candidate who was extremely qualified for the role and instead of thinking they were hot stuff- they went into the interview a bit underconfident that day. The executive team interviewing them agreed that they had the skillset for the role, but not the presence required to interact with important client stakeholders! 

Always keep in mind that the recruiter is the gateway into further interviews with a company that is hiring. You don’t have to have a crazy amount of energy in the interview, but you should show us in some way that you are genuinely interested in the company and interview whether that is through the questions you ask, how you answer questions, and or your body language/tone.  

Red Flag #3: Not knowing what is on your resume.
A good rule of thumb is if it is on your resume, be ready to talk about it. Your resume should highlight your experience and the candidate should be able to talk about and answer questions about it. As a recruiter, if I ask a candidate about something on their resume and they can’t answer it, it makes me question their experience. 

For example, many sales candidates have information on their quota and their past quota attainment on their resume. I was doing an interview for a sales role for a tech company and the candidate had his quota stats on his resume. I asked him a question about the average deal size and how many deals he closed. What he told me did not line up with what he had listed, and it made me question the accuracy of the things on his resume. 

As a recruiter, asking specific questions about projects or achievements on a candidate’s resume can help you determine the quality of work they have done in their past roles. As a candidate, having stories and talking points about the information on your resume can help highlight your achievements. 

As stated above, you should be able to speak about projects, metrics, achievements, and any experience you have on your resume. If you don’t know how to speak to your resume that you are submitting, practice summarizing each experience into an elevator pitch (about a minute) that hits your responsibilities, metrics, and any other important information. Recruiters will ask more questions about that experience to get the information we need out of the interview, so don’t feel the need to give us everything you have experienced in your career in one go.  

Red Flag #4: Taking the call unprepared. 

Our phones have this great feature called voicemail. You can set up an outgoing message and it takes messages for you! If you are in a job search, voicemail is your best friend. Picture this: You’ve applied to tons of jobs, maybe hundreds. Your phone rings. You are out walking the dog but you’re excited… this could be THE ONE! You pick up. The Recruiter says “This is Amy at ABC Logistics” then asks if you have a few minutes to chat. You’re excited and say, “Of course”. First question, “What made you decide to apply to ABC?”. You are unsure. You’ve applied to so many. Which one was this again?? Ummmmm 

Let’s try this again. You’ve applied to tons of jobs, maybe hundreds. Your phone rings. You are walking the dog. You let it go to voicemail where the Recruiter is greeted by your friendly voice and an empty voicemail box. You return home and listen to the message. You look up the company, check your application log, look up the role and the Recruiter’s LinkedIn before calling back. You approach the call with your best foot forward. THIS is how you want to show up.  

Red Flag #5: What we can see in your background.  

This is on the same line as taking a call unprepared, but sometimes candidates will jump on a Zoom call with me from their phones and carry me around their house while I am chatting with them. By the end of conversation, sometimes I think I have seen most of their home, a pet, and at least one roommate in the background which can be A) super distracting, and B) somewhat unprofessional.  

As a recruiter, I don’t mind if you are not in your best clothes or don’t have a pad of paper in front of you waiting to write notes, but I generally at least want to feel like we are having a focused conversation where both sides are invested. My suggestion would be, no matter what device you are doing an interview on, to sit in one spot in your house, away from most distractions, with the best natural lighting available and to focus on the conversation that you are having. Even if that is not the way that you normally take calls, it may help the person on the other end focus and develop a great first impression of you based on solely the conversation.  

We hope that these pieces of advice will help job seekers understand what red flags turn recruiters off a candidate during hiring processes.  

Please comment below or reach out to our team members with any questions! 

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