Seven Job Candidates You Should Never Hire

Seven Job Candidates You Should Never Hire

My clients are usually experienced hiring managers. They know what skills they need from a candidate and believe they can assess important personality traits in an interview. I’ve given them ideas about what to ask during the candidate search and about what they should hear from a job applicant who will fit their culture. And I’ve mentioned to more than a few the opinion of Google SVP of People Operations Laszlo Block: interviews are generally useless.

Sure, interviews can give an unrealistic picture of a candidate (some just don’t interview well and some have practiced just the right answers and win jobs at which they will fail). And though interviews sometimes misrepresent the hiring company or boss, interviews still help hiring managers weed out awful candidates.

Awful? Did I really say awful? Aren’t all candidates worthy in some way?

Well…no. Some interview behaviors reveal so much about how ineffective or self-absorbed a candidate will be as an employee that they disqualify a candidate automatically. I won’t hire people who make really rude choices when I interview them, and I urge hiring managers not to, either.

Steve Cody wrote a listicle for Inc. about the 13 types he will never hire. My list is a bit shorter.

I tell my clients often to absolutely reject the following seven types of people:

1. The candidate who asks about vacation policy in the first interview. When they’re worried about time off, they’re already anticipating wanting to get out. Don’t hire someone who thinks more about taking a break than about offering you their best.

2. Anyone who can’t be succinct. We can always answer follow-up questions if they want more information. But a sentence or two in response is all you need. Endless stories and explanations show they don’t value your time.

3. The applicant who won’t elaborate. Distant cousin to the longwinded, an applicant with monosyllabic answers tells me that I’m wasting her time. Don’t hire someone who forces you to ask them to explain the “yes” or “no” answers in an interview.

4. The professional who exaggerates. Though they’ll tell you how great they are, they’re not the best at anything. Everyone knows this, including them. They already know from my resume post that they need a concrete example of value they’ve added. If they try to get by with superlatives or bragging, ditch their application.

5. Unprepared candidates. If they didn’t read up on your company, review their own experience, and prepare a succinct answer to how they will fit with your organization, thank them and get them out of your office.

6. Anyone who checks their phone during an interview. If candidates have a potential emergency outside your office in the course of a single hour, they’d better make sure someone else is taking the call and going to the E.R. for them. There is literally no way an applicant is so important she can’t shut off her phone for an hour.

7. A candidate who blames others for their failures (or who claims they’ve never failed). We all fail. Those who don’t aren’t trying hard enough, at anything. Those who blame failure on previous bosses, equipment, colleagues, or market forces simply aren’t the right people for the job. Ever. Candidates who will exceed your expectations in whatever role you’re offering will have an exceptional ability to learn from mistakes, gaffes, bad bosses, and unsuccessful efforts. And they’ll be able to tell you how failures were lessons they can apply to your organization.

Of course, my clients don’t have to reject these candidate types. Because Agency a la Carte vets all our professional candidates, I don’t send a hiring manager candidates who commit these egregious job-search sins. But if you come across one in your search, politely show them the door.

Then call me and I’ll send you someone who exceeds your expectations.