9 red flags candidates are looking out for in the recruitment process

It can be challenging to secure the best talent, and certain red flags can deter top candidates from hitting the apply button or signing a contract.

To help you avoid losing promising candidates during the recruitment process, we’ve asked recruitment experts about the most common warning signals that people look out for and how you can avoid them.

  1. Spelling mistakes in job ads
    Do spelling mistakes in resumés signal a red flag for you? If people spot typos in your job ad, they’re likely to feel the same way. In fact, research for SEEK shows it’s among the top job ad-related red flags for people.

    Matthew Dickason, CEO of Hays Asia Pacific, says poorly written ads can deter strong candidates and reflect negatively on an organisation’s professionalism and employer brand.

    “To address this, hiring managers should proofread an ad before posting, use a clear format so candidates can easily navigate the information, use clear and concise language and a professional, respectful and inclusive tone throughout.”
  2. One-sided job ads
    Job ads that reveal little about your organisation and culture can deter people from applying.

    “Recruitment is a two-way street, so candidates expect to see some top-level details about the environment they’ll be working in, the caliber of the team and even the kind of technology that they will be using,” says Nicole Gorton, director at Robert Half.

    “Job ads need to show a level of openness and transparency to attract good talent, so don’t just list your requirements. Make sure you include what’s in it for them.”
  3.  Too heavy on the jargon
    Job ads full of corporate jargon, such as ‘wearing lots of hats’, ‘self-starter’ or being ‘results-driven’ can cause people to question the true requirements of the job.

    “A job ad is your opportunity to create attention and interest in a role and in working for your organisation, so don’t waste space with buzzwords,” says Gorton. “Be clear about the responsibilities of the role so that candidates feel confident about applying for it.” 
  4. Requirement overload
    Most jobs have prerequisites, but ads with lengthy lists of requirements can come off as unreasonable, says Gorton.

    “If the job ad lists a requirement for excessive years of experience or qualifications that are disproportionate to the role, it indicates the hiring organisation does not understand the market,” she says.

    To address this, Gorton suggests regularly benchmarking your job requirements against industry standards and trends.

    “You should also prioritise the essential skills and qualifications and remove any unnecessary prerequisites that could limit the pool of qualified candidates.”
  5.  Disorganised job interviews
    Interviewers who are late or are unprepared for a job interview can send the wrong message to candidates.

    “We’re all busy, but we encourage the hiring managers we work with to try to make a concerted effort to clear 30 minutes either side of an interview,” says Dickason.

    “This allows them to walk into the interview prepared and ready to start building a rapport with a candidate right away. Ultimately, the candidate should feel like the hiring manager is organised and views the hiring process as a priority, not a taxing task on their schedule.”
  6. Rescheduling interviews multiple times
    Rearranging interviews multiple times can make an employer seem disorganised or disrespectful, says Gorton.

    “Not only does it inconvenience the candidate, it suggests that your time is more important than theirs,” she says.

    “While you may need to shift an interview from time to time, you need to communicate clearly to candidates,” says Gorton. “Call them and explain why you need to move it and ask them to suggest another time that works for them, so they can see that you value their time.”
  7. Bait and switch
    When a role in a job ad doesn’t match the one described in the interview, candidates are likely to see a red flag. Gorton says the practice is known as ‘bait and switch’ and can indicate poor communication or an inability to manage change.

    “Candidates can feel that they’ve been misled,” she says. “If the scope of a role changes after you’ve received applications, be upfront about it when you invite candidates for an interview.”
  8. Unclear expectations
    Dickason says interviewers should clearly define the expectations of a job and what success looks like.

    “If they can’t, it can indicate a rushed hiring process and unclear organisational direction,” he says. “It could also lead to misalignment between a candidate’s skills and the organisation’s expectations, which can create dissatisfaction on both sides.”

    To address this, Dickason suggests sharing a detailed job description, asking specific questions related to the key duties, explaining what success in the role looks like and being transparent about the timeframes of larger projects or key responsibilities.
  9. Negative comments in interviews
    You may not like all your competitors, but don’t mention it to candidates during job interviews.

    “It makes you seem unprofessional and negative,” says Gorton. “It’s best to remain neutral, avoid engaging in negative conversation about current or former employees or competitors, and stay focused on the candidate, the role and what your organisation can offer.”

With people more aware of their options and more confident in their workplace demands, you could miss top recruits by sending out the wrong signals. People are attuned to red flags in the recruitment process, so if you can avoid them, you’ll be more likely to attract the best talent.


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