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Interview Insight: Red Flags That Should Give You Pause about a Candidate


The first step to a successful leadership search is defining what you want in a candidate. As you move into the interview process, it’s just as essential that you have your eyes open for things you don’t want in a candidate. We have three warning signs to watch out for that might portend trouble:

A lack of soft skills. A candidate can look fantastic on paper but lack the interpersonal skills that are necessary for flourishing in a company. Personality problems might even be the reason they are looking for employment at a new institution. Soft-skills are an essential part of the competency required for any position and even more so for leaders who must manage, guide, and inspire an organization.

Proficiency at the blame game. When things go wrong, leaders take responsibility. When obstacles intervene, leaders face them head-on. Be concerned if anything that goes wrong in a candidate’s career is always someone else’s fault. The challenges of 2020 provide an opportune insight into how they respond to adversity. Do they express awareness of the impact this year has had on others? Do they talk about how they’ve grown and innovated? Or do they only decry the circumstances.

They are there to talk about themselves, not the position. Obviously you want to get to know a candidate through an interview. However, the true aim of an interview is to have a conversation about a position and potential fit. If an applicant only wants to talk about themselves, not get to know you or learn more about the role, that is a tell-tale sign of a lack of teamwork and potential narcism.