7 Signs a Candidate Probably Isn't Right For a Job


Hiring is rarely a straightforward process. While some candidates may offer great resumes and the perfect cover letter, their performance during an interview could make it clear that they aren’t a good match for your company.

Likewise, candidates that seem imperfect on paper can often match your company’s values and stand out in an interview. There’s no simple rule for choosing staff, but there are simple ways to learn which candidates aren’t right for your business.

From questionable work histories to interviews that involve few direct answers to your questions, below are seven signs a candidate probably isn’t the right selection for your company.

1. They don’t seem aware of what position they’re applying for. 

Many people use an apply-en-masse strategy to search for jobs, sending out a huge volume of resumes and applications to companies they know very little about for jobs that, in some cases, they aren’t particularly interested in.

This is easy to spot during the interview process. If a candidate doesn’t seem aware of the role they’ll be filling or has little knowledge of what’s required for the job, the chances are they won’t be a successful hire for your company.

2. They simply aren’t aware of your company and what it does. 

How well does a certain candidate know your company? People that take the time to research your company and become familiar with the products and services it offers are more likely to take an active and interested in role in their jobs.

On the other hand, a candidate that sees your company as just another employer is less likely to take the initiative. This makes screening for candidates that are aware of your company and its values an important part of hiring.

3. Their professional history is inconsistent or lacking in detail. 

People’s professional histories can vary hugely, from a consistent track record with one employer to a long list of different employers. The key feature of a good resume is consistency – namely, consistent performance in a demanding role.

If a candidate doesn’t have a consistent job history or has a work history with lots of long gaps that can’t easily be explained, they may not have the dedication to stay in a job when their workload becomes more demanding or challenging.

4. They can’t offer any positive references from past employers. 

While an employer may be disappointed to lose a talented employee, they will rarely refuse to offer a reference. Speaking to a candidate’s past employer is a great way to learn more about their on-the-job performance, values and attitude.

If a candidate can’t offer any positive references from past employers, or only offers a limited selection of references that aren’t from managers, they may be trying hard to hide a professional history that didn’t satisfy their previous employers.

5. During the interview, they don’t directly answer questions. 

The key to an effective interview is direct, transparent communication. Skilled and capable candidates should be able to directly answer your questions in reasonable detail, making it easy for you to understand how they can help you.

Candidates that don’t fully understand the role or aren’t confident in their skills, on the other hand, often avoid direct communication. If a candidate can’t provide direct answers to your questions, there may be a significant reason for this.

6. They just don’t match your company’s culture and values. 

Not all companies have the same culture. If a candidate seems to match your needs on paper yet doesn’t share the same values as your company, there’s a possibility that they may not fit in at the company and feel confident in their role.

From a commitment to excellence to certain values about marketing, manufacturing or design, it’s important that candidates match your company’s culture to work well in their position and contribute.

7. They’re good, but not as good as your company is looking for. 

Any company is only as good as the people it hires. One of the most effective ways to ensure your company ranks among the best and brightest in its industry is to go out of your way to ensure you hire the best and brightest.

Although hiring the first “good enough” candidate is a great way to speed up hiring and expand your team quickly, doing so can often leave your company with a team that isn’t as qualified, capable and motivated as it could be.