Warning! Red flags ahead!

Recruiting is a lot like dating. Just like you wouldn't want to jump into a long-term relationship without checking for red flags, recruiters need to be vigilant before committing to hiring an employee. After all, they are the company's ultimate hype squad, responsible for showcasing the best features and luring in potential candidates. This requires excellent communication skills, a deep understanding of the company culture, and the ability to identify the perfect candidate.

Hiring is tricky and we have been constantly talking about it. Vini Khabya, Co-Founder Unberry, says “I joined at the leadership level at an organisation, and it had a personality test during one of the rounds. I joined in and set up a whole consumer-based vertical. During my 3-month conversation with my peers, I was told that the irony is that your personality test said you do not have a knack for consumer behaviour and this is completely opposite to it.

This happened when I hired too, and realised how the portfolio was not of candidates and they may have borrowed it from someone else. 80% of resumes have exaggerated truths. 83% of people who go through hiring don't like the experience. There are a lot of gaps and it’s equally flawed at both ends.”

Recruitment is an essential part of any business. Finding the right candidate for a job can make all the difference to a company's success. However, the recruitment process can be challenging and full of surprises.

To make the company an irresistible place to work, recruiters need to create job descriptions that are impossible to ignore, present a clear vision and mission, and highlight the perks and benefits. However, even with all of the right steps, there are still red flags that can appear during the recruitment process. Join us as we explore these red flags and learn how to avoid them for a successful hire.

Resume screening

Resume screening is like the pool-cleaning process of the hiring world. You start by skimming off the debris - the under-qualified candidates and those who have missed the mark on the job requirements. Then you dive deeper, looking for any potential hidden dangers or warning signs that could come back to bite you later on. By the end of the process, you're left with a sparkling pool of top-tier candidates who are ready to make a splash in the job market. Just remember, a little screening can go a long way in ensuring you don't end up with a pool full of flops!

Are they interested in the role? Recruiters can see what other roles candidates have applied for in the company’s ATS. If they applied for, say, 20 roles ranging from entry to C-level at locations across the globe, we take it as a sign that they aren’t serious about any one job.

Vini says “In the age of AI and technology, recruitment has undergone a significant transformation. Keyword stuffing, once a popular technique, is now a thing of the past. Today, recruiters need to focus on multivariate analysis to evaluate candidates and find the right fit for the job.”

Too many typos or errors: According to a survey by CareerBuilder, 58% of resumes have typos. If a candidate can't take the time to proofread their own resume, how can you trust them or to pay attention towards details on the job?

Frequent job-hopping: If a candidate has jumped from one job to another every year or two, it could indicate a lack of commitment or a tendency to get bored quickly.

Breaks on Resumes: While there are plenty of legitimate reasons for employment gaps, such as illness or family obligations, it's worth asking about them to ensure there are no underlying issues.

Initial Screening

Background: Vini says “Gone are the days when vertical movement was the only option. Lateral shifts have become more common, and recruiters should be open to accepting candidates from different backgrounds for most jobs. Furthermore, recruiters need to be more sensitized to the needs of candidates with career gaps, diversity, and other unique circumstances.”

More than a resume: Vini further mentions “A resume is merely a map of someone's skills and not who the person is. To truly understand a candidate's potential, recruiters need to adopt a trait-mapping approach. This involves evaluating a candidate's skills, cognition, communication, behaviour, and personality through objective analysis.

The ideal way to evaluate candidates would be to have a trait map or competency map of the person. A small test with the resume can help measure important traits for the role beyond just skills, such as cognition, competencies, communication, and more. This would result in the right choice for the role.”

Lack of enthusiasm: If a candidate doesn't seem excited about the position or the company, it's worth exploring why. They may just be having a bad day, but it could also be a warning sign that they're not a good fit. Vini says “Recruiters should also look out for candidates who drop in resumes but are not actively looking for jobs. It's important to gauge their level of curiosity, their knowledge about the role, and their overall fit for the job.”


Interviews are like first dates, but instead of finding your life partner, you're trying to find the perfect candidate for your company. It's a make-or-break moment, where you get to see the candidate's skills, personality, and whether they're a good fit for your organization. It's the ultimate test of whether someone can handle the heat of the job, answer tough questions with grace, and show their true colours. In other words, interviews are like the Olympics of hiring - a chance to find the best of the best and bring them onto your team.

Late or No-Show Candidates

If a candidate shows up late for an interview or doesn't show up at all without a good reason, it's a red flag.

While it's not always the candidate's fault, being late to an interview could be a sign of disorganization or lack of respect for the interviewer's time.

Negative attitude towards past employers: While it's common for candidates to discuss their past work experiences, if they speak poorly of their former employers, it could indicate a lack of professionalism and a tendency to blame others for their own mistakes.

Overconfidence: While confidence is an important trait, overconfidence can be a red flag. If a candidate comes across as arrogant or overly confident, they may not be open to feedback or collaboration, and may not work well with others.

Lack of curiosity: Candidates who don't ask questions about the company or the role during an interview may not be genuinely interested in the position or the company culture. This could be a sign that they are just looking for any job rather than being passionate about the specific opportunity.

Unexplained Gaps in Employment

While gaps in employment aren't necessarily a red flag, unexplained gaps can be. It may suggest that the candidate had difficulty finding work, struggled to hold down a job, or had other issues.

If a candidate's application or resume contains inconsistencies, it may suggest that they're not being truthful, and this may be a significant issue later on.

If a candidate can’t answer who they are, what they’ve done, and why they believe they’re the right fit for the role clearly and concisely, it’s a problem.

Checking References and BGV

Once you've conducted interviews, it's time to check references. Reference checks are like the Glassdoor reviews of the job world - they give you a glimpse of what the person is like beyond their well-rehearsed interview answers. It's the equivalent of calling up an ex's friend to find out what they're really like before you swipe right. You never know what skeletons you might uncover, but it's better to find out now than regret it later. So, take that extra step and do your due diligence with reference checks - it might just save you from hiring the wrong person.

Inconsistent or vague information: If the information provided by the candidate during the interview and on their resume doesn’t match with that provided by their references /background check, it could be a red flag. Also, if the information provided by the candidate is vague or lacks detail, it could indicate that they are hiding something.

Negative feedback from former colleagues: While it is common to ask for references who will speak positively about the candidate, negative feedback from former colleagues or employers should not be ignored. This could include comments about the candidate's work ethic, communication style, or ability to work in a team. It may be biased, but who knows? Have a conversation.

Criminal history: Looking out for criminal history in a background check is crucial as it helps in ensuring a safe and secure workplace. While everyone deserves a second chance, some offences may pose a threat to the safety of other employees or company data. Moreover, employers have a legal and ethical responsibility to provide a safe working environment. So, if a candidate has a history of violence or data theft, it's better to know before they're hired. After all, it's better to be safe than sorry.

Poor credit history: Depending on the nature of the job, a poor credit history could be a red flag. This could indicate financial irresponsibility or even fraud.

From the initial resume screening to the final interview, recruiters need to be vigilant and ensure that they are making the right choice for their company. While there are no guarantees, this list will help you navigate recruiting better!

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