New hire not working out? What did you miss during the interview? Here’s our rundown of key warning signs to look out for when assessing candidates.

Huh. Your new hire’s not working out. They’re short on enthusiasm, missing deadlines and dragging down team morale. But they had an outstanding resume and passed the interview, so what went wrong?

With practice, spotting certain warning signs (as well as top qualities) during an interview can help you avoid bad hires. Here are six red flags that indicate a potential hire is not as ideal as they initially seem.

1. arriving late for the interview

Time management is a key skill, so an organized candidate will have planned their journey to make sure they arrive 10 minutes early. It’s the same with remote interviews, where you should expect candidates to log on well in advance in case of last-minute technical glitches. Punctuality is also a huge tell for how much applicants value this opportunity and how seriously they will take the job.

2. goals that don’t align with your company’s

The candidate could have all of the skills and experience that the role requires. Their personality may even be a good fit for your company culture. But if their goals don’t align with your capabilities or offerings, you’re at risk of losing them when a more suitable opportunity arises.

That’s why it’s important to dig into a candidate’s interests and side projects. Ask them about the kinds of projects they want to work on in the short and medium term, and where they see themselves in the future. Then think hard about whether your company can provide those opportunities.

3. being unprepared

If a candidate doesn’t have a basic understanding of the role or your company, then they clearly aren’t that interested in working for you. Every potential hire should have done their research and prepared insightful, specific questions.

Give interviewees a chance to demonstrate how prepared they are by asking direct questions that require clear responses, such as “What’s one thing you really like about our company?” or “What’s one thing we could improve on as an organization?”

4. refusing to own past mistakes

Learning from failure is integral to career growth, so watch out if an interviewee deflects ownership, makes excuses or blames former colleagues for mistakes. This could also indicate how the candidate would react to failure at your company. A good potential hire can explain clearly how they learned from a past mistake and what they would do differently in future.

5. complaining about their previous employer

What a candidate says about a former employer may reveal their general attitude towards work and relationships with their colleagues. If they openly complain or gossip in an interview, chances are they’ll be doing it on a day-to-day basis at your firm.

Of course, some negative feedback may not be unexpected, given the candidate is looking for a new job. What’s important is how they responded to and dealt with the difficulty, so pay attention to how they frame their negative experience and ask how they managed it.

6. being a poor listener

In a good interview, both parties are engaged and leave feeling excited about the possibility of working together. A candidate who repeatedly loses the thread of the conversation, or has to ask for repetition of basic points, may have trouble focusing or lack attention to detail — or worse, simply doesn’t care whether they get the job.

Ready to find your next great hire? Check out our other interview tips to further sharpen your Q&A skills, and browse our extensive database of qualified candidates today