How to Spot Untrustworthy Job Candidates


by Samantha Keefe, The Staffing Stream

untrustworthyOne of the universal banes of the hiring world, no matter what field or part of the country, is the untrustworthy candidate. Most recruiters have a horror story or two about a candidate who has lied to them, wound up backing out of a job after taking the offer, or worse. Sometimes the outcome turns out fine, and sometimes a candidate has scarred a relationship with a client irreparably. But what is the best way to avoid all of this in the first place?

There are a few major red flags that can be seen as warning signs about a job candidate’s flightiness:

The first is evident upon your first conversation with them: they won’t give much information. Candidates who are probably dishonest will hold back basic items of information, like where they live, what they currently make or where they’re currently working. Their intention of holding back this information is generally to be able to edit it to suit their needs later. If they’d like a particular salary at their next job, giving you their current (likely much lower) one won’t be advantageous. Choosing to omit this information until they are ready to give it, or give false information, is far more advantageous to an untrustworthy candidate. If your candidate is holding back a great deal of basic information, push for it or end the conversation.

The second immediate red flag that should make you rethink hiring a candidate is if they give a vague answer or skirt the question if you ask about their other ongoing interview and job search activity. Not having at least some clear idea of where a candidate is in their job hunt puts your hard work in danger of obsolescence. If a candidate is using you as a backup option and is close to an offer elsewhere, you want to know about it. You also want to know about it far in advance of the day they receive an offer from somewhere else.

While some signs of an untrustworthy candidate can be seen early on, some are revealed a bit later in the process of working with them. It’s important to notice these signs immediately and determine if they’re an indication of potentially bigger problems later. If your candidate suddenly becomes difficult to reach and provides no or unsatisfactory reasons, this is worth paying attention to. It’s also potentially problematic if you notice that even if you can reach a candidate, they become more reticent and seem to withhold information.

Taking all of these signs into consideration may be uncomfortable or awkward at first, but a little skepticism is an employers’ best friend. It’s important to protect yourself, your company, and your clients. Not all candidates have bad intentions, but it’s better to ask a few additional questions of some or all of your candidates than to be burned horrifically by a few.


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