Strategies for Spotting a Bad Candidate

How do you spot an inadequate candidate before that person becomes a bad hire? A new hire who wreaks havoc throughout the assigned department while simultaneously exuding a sapping effect on morale across the entire company? A scenario straight from the HR director’s worst nightmare, right?

Some of the most obvious warning signs are pretty easy to spot, including—

  • Arriving late or dressing unprofessionally
  • Displaying a lack of preparation by not researching the organization and being unable to answer questions
  • Cannot provide data to back up claims made on their resume. For instance, a Director of Nursing should be able to thoroughly explain how the last building survey went, including what went well and what went wrong. In addition, this candidate should know how many staff members he/she managed and how many beds the center has for patients.
  • Projecting negativity via complaining and disparaging remarks about co-workers, the leadership, or the company in general. It’s an undisputed fact that not every job opportunity works out, but the attitude about the situation and how the story is relayed will speak volumes about the person.

The following red flags may not be as glaringly evident. However, the attentive interviewer would be wise to tune into these signs and symptoms.

1. A lack of passion

Genuine passion and enthusiasm are difficult to hide as these emotions tend to ooze via facial expressions, body language, verbal exchanges, and an overall vibe. A candidate doesn’t have to bounce in his/her seat to raise the “passion barometer.” But, his/her demeanor should demonstrate a genuine interest in working for the company rather than a ho-hum, I’m-bored lack of enthusiasm. If the possibility of joining the team doesn’t bring about a degree of excitement, the candidate isn’t likely to show passion for the job responsibilities after an offer has been made.

2. A heightened focus on “What’s in it for me?”

Of course, one expects an interviewee to inquire about the compensation package. But if money and perks appear to be the candidate’s only interest, that too is a red flag. Likewise, if his/her concern with how quickly vacation days accumulate seems to be of greater interest than the teamwork dynamics across the company, take heed. Seek candidates who have at least as many questions about the company and the position as they do the paycheck.

3. A take-credit-for-everything-but-responsibility-for-nothing attitude

When sharing about his/her previous employment opportunities, be wary if every accomplishment was obtained by “me” because “I” did an outstanding job, with no mention of a team effort anywhere. (Until less-than-stellar results enter the conversation, the focus is now on how the fault rests with everyone else –the classic blame game.)

4. A lack of questions

About anything. The position, the company, the team members. Leaving one to wonder about the candidate’s critical thinking skills and why he/she didn’t feel compelled to prepare for the interview, and if passion and enthusiasm may be in short supply as well. Don’t let a bright smile and engaged facial expressions push aside concerns that the candidate lacks in other areas. 

With so many healthcare organizations having multiple openings, it can be easy to ignore some of these simple warning signs just to place a body in a position. However, the cost to hire someone who isn’t a good fit and then have to start the entire job posting, interviewing, and hiring process again with new candidates can take weeks and cost your organization thousands of dollars. Save your company the misery of a bad hire by heeding these warning signs so you can hire the very best person for the position and your organization.


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LeaderStat specializes in direct care staff, interim leadership, executive recruitment, travel nursing and consulting for healthcare organizations nationwide.