5 Red Flags to Watch Out for When Hiring

Hiring is one of the most important parts of your startup’s journey toward growth and success. The right set of hires can help boost your team’s morale, max out productivity, and even lead to industry-disrupting innovation. 

Hiring is also a place where pretty big mistakes can be made. The wrong hire could disrupt your team’s workflow, damage your productivity, and even put your business’s ideas in danger. We’re here to tell you about 5 red flags that all hiring managers should look out for when bringing people onto your team

Suspicious or unexplainable criminal record

One of the first things to worry about when hiring someone is whether they have a suspicious or unexplainable criminal history. Some criminal records might be forgivable – maybe it was a stupid mistake ten years ago, or a misunderstanding. 

However, others are definitely cause for alarm. For instance, if your applicant has a history of intellectual property theft, that is a serious red flag that any startup or small business should look out for, especially if your profit model hinges on the uniqueness of your idea.

Hackers who have a history of sticky coding fingers are also major red flags. Someone with advanced knowledge and ability on computers shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near your sensitive files and secure data if they don’t have a completely clean and unsuspicious record. 

Unfortunately, though, criminal records are just the tip of the iceberg. 

Worrying financial history

Financial history can also matter for some jobs, too. If your web designer has a habit of running up a bit of credit card debt, that’s really not an issue that you should worry or even care about. But if your accountant is deep in the red and has a serious issue with gambling, it’s fair to worry about whether your books will be safe under their care. 

What can you do about it? Use a credit check for employment to see whether any troubling items from your applicant’s history come up. Depending on the job, this should be a standard part of the hiring protocol. Any financial manager, accountant, bookkeeper, investor, or other financial professional should undergo a credit check. 

Not a team player

Another huge red flag that many employers miss during their pre-employment screenings and interviews is whether their applicant is truly a team player. Team players are workers who are happy to work alongside other people, give and take feedback, and listen to what their coworkers have to say.

Of course, nobody says on their resume that they’re not a team player, so it can sometimes be tricky figuring out whether someone actually is. How can you? Try these tips:

  • Ask for specific examples of times where they both gave and received actionable feedback.
  • Have them tell a story about a time they worked with a team to finish a project.
  • Test their ability to work in a team by having multiple applicants work on an applicant test project together. 

Team players are vital to your workflow, especially when employees help correct each other’s pitfalls. That brings us to our next item.

Can’t admit mistakes

If your potential employee can’t admit mistakes, that’s a pretty serious red flag. Everyone makes mistakes, even seasoned professionals who are experts at their jobs. So, no matter what level you’re hiring for, it’s important that you ask about a time when they’ve made a mistake and what they did to fix it. 

This shows you two things: the applicant is humble enough to learn from errors, and can take feedback and grow from it in the future. 

Won’t answer questions directly

Lastly, you should always be on the lookout for applicants who refuse to answer questions directly. Interviewees who wind around in circles, change the topic, or don’t get to the heart of the matter you’re discussing quickly could be hiding something. 

This red flag is one that might indicate that there are even more red flags lurking; for instance, they might be avoiding questions because they have a history of intellectual property theft. 

Your hiring process should be a reflection of your company’s values, its commitment to hard work, and your respect for your team. With that in mind, it’s important to look for the best hires you can, to ensure the integrity of your company for years to come.