Are you about to interview someone for your company or on its behalf? If so, you might be a little nervous. After all, you have been entrusted with selecting the right candidate. This is a serious responsibility and puts your discernment skills on display. 

Passing a candidate who goes on to be a great fit for your organization is a massive plus point for you. On the other hand, if you approve someone and they become a terrible employee, the person who gets blamed is you. 

Picking the right candidate out of the many applications requires you to know precisely what to look for. Moreover, an average interview lasts from 45-90 minutes, which may not be enough to assess a candidate.

In this article, we will discuss three aspects that can help you spot red flags about the candidate. Let’s dive in. 

lack of ownership or accountability
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1. Lack of Eye Contact

This is arguably one of the most important aspects you want to keep an eye out for. However, it is also possible to misread things or look too much into what a lack of eye contact means. Essentially, people tend to break eye contact or (and the keyword is ‘or’) make extreme eye contact when lying or bending the truth. 

In the latter scenario, extreme eye contact occurs because the candidate is aware that lack of eye contact is a red flag. However, it’s not really possible to practice natural eye contact in the time span that they generally prepare for an interview. 

Remember, you are looking for red flags, and a lack of eye contact on its own isn’t a problem. It is merely a sign that might indicate that the candidate isn’t being completely upfront with you. Once again, this isn’t a foolproof indicator, which is why you want to confirm any hunches with other observations.

2. There’s a Disconnect Between How They Present Themselves and Reality

This one is more about picking up on how serious or motivated a candidate seems to be for the position they are applying for. Oftentimes, the words they say may sound fine, but try to pick up on disconnects between the way they present themselves and what they are verbally saying.

You can actually pick up many things about the candidate indirectly. From choosing what to wear to an interview to the tone of their voice, the inferences you make about them can be surprisingly accurate. This is because, for a candidate, an interview is a combination of a performance and an audition. 

They may nail certain aspects but fumble others. That’s perfectly fine. Everyone wears masks to try to present a better image. You are likely to do the same thing when you meet important people or apply for interviews yourself. The problem comes when the mask is an attempt to manipulate you in order to get selected. 

It’s a fine line between impressing and deceiving, and paying attention to not just the words they say but their entire projection is key. 

3. They Bad Mouth Past Employers and Coworkers

Speak to any HR professional, and you will know this is one of the biggest red flags that exist. For one, it displays a pattern of bad mouthing employers and co-workers. Everything wrong that’s ever happened to them or in their work has been the cause of other people. These are the kinds of candidates that become a pain to deal with when they become employees. 

Of course, it is possible that their previous job was indeed toxic, and whatever they said could be true. If that’s the case, there’s no point in them trying to lie about it. Even so, you can easily discern exaggerations and bias with pointed questions

This would be a good time to pose the ‘what would you have done were you in your employer’s position’ question. 

4. You Notice Inconsistencies in Employment History

Another red flag to watch out for is inconsistencies or gaps in a candidate’s employment history. Inconsistencies in employment dates,  job titles, or responsibilities warrant further investigation, specifically if they do not have a plausible explanation for them. 

Unexplained or prolonged gaps may raise questions about the candidate’s commitment, reliability, or reasons for leaving previous positions. Check the candidate’s resume and LinkedIn profile to seek an in-depth view of their work history. In fact, nearly 87% of recruiters use LinkedIn for candidate vetting. 

If you notice any discrepancies, clarify them to ensure a candidate is presenting an accurate representation of their professional background.

5. There is a Lack of Ownership or Accountability

Do you notice a lack of ownership or accountability in a candidate’s actions and decisions? The indications of this attitude are visible in different ways, from making excuses for their mistakes to deflecting blame onto others and failing to take responsibility for meeting deadlines. 

A person demonstrating a pattern of avoiding ownership or shifting responsibility lacks the reliability, integrity, or initiative required to contribute to an organization. Watch out for this red flag and avoid hiring such people.

Instead, look for ones who are ready to take the onus and acknowledge their areas for improvement. They can be valuable assets for any business. 


Hiring the right candidate for a position is not something you do every day. The person that you hire is often someone you wish to see grow in your company or business. Bad hiring, on the other hand, costs businesses $14,900 on average

It’s okay to be a bit choosy (as long as you have sufficient, qualified applications) because the company’s interests are your priority. 

At the same time, remember that red flags aren’t always what they appear to be. Interviews require a specific style of communication, which people aren’t used to. 

Before making quick judgments about the candidate, you can at least give them the benefit of the doubt. In other words, trust, but verify as much as possible.