5 Common Interview Answers That Are Red Flags For Hiring Managers


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5 Common Interview Answers That Are Red Flags For Hiring Managers

 July 25, 2023 |  Business Tips, Franchise |  hiring, small business, business growth, entrepreneur

By Kimberly Stevens, NPI, Inc.'s Marketing & Business Coach

One skill that can be difficult to develop for small business owners is how to recognize red flags when they show up. Red flag interview answers aren’t just bad answers, they are the types of responses that should alert hiring managers that it might be time to move on to the next candidate altogether. All hires are important for small businesses, but nailing those early hires is pivotal when it comes to long-term success. This is why good business owners place so much focus on their early interviews.

Entrepreneurs likely don’t have extensive experience with interviewing prior to starting their own businesses, so they often can’t reflect on the early warning signs of lousy employee behavior. While candidates who have a talent for answering interview questions aren’t necessarily always the best people for the job, there are some seemingly innocuous interview answers that should actually be major red flags for hiring managers.

But First, A Few Thoughts On Delivery (A Message to Job Seekers)
Interviews can, admittedly, feel intense, nerve-wracking, and anxiety-inducing. Although this might add even more pressure onto job seekers, there are a few behaviors related to anxiety that can start an interview off on the wrong foot, regardless of what answers are given. For example, avoiding eye contact, fidgeting, and an overuse of filler words like “um,” “so,” and “like” can give off the impression of a lack of confidence or preparation (even if that isn’t true).

If a candidate displays behavior consistent with a lack of self esteem, this can be particularly troublesome. It’s important for workers (and people in general) to find peace and self assurance in their own skin. Unfortunately, employees that struggle with self esteem can be somewhat inconsistent in how they relate to each other, and how they conduct themselves in their work.

Great questions to better understand a candidate’s self perception include: How do you receive criticism? How do you respond to adversity? How do you self regulate?

It may be easier said than done, but job seekers should make it a goal to calm their nerves as much as possible prior to their interview in order to display their most natural self. Good interviewers should be able to look past obvious signs of nerves, but many will walk away from a tense interview largely remembering the mood in the room and the candidate’s energy over their actual answers. With that said, here are a few red flag answers hiring managers should be watching out for:

  1. “I don’t know.”
    During job interviews, it isn’t uncommon to stump a candidate from time to time. Specific questions related to the position may be more difficult to answer, and it should be expected that some candidates will have to think through their answers on the spot. On the other hand, some questions are common in interviews and are designed to simply get a candidate talking so that hiring managers can gain better insight on their personalities.

    Depending on the question, “I don’t know” can mean that the candidate didn’t show up prepared for the interview. When responding to a “stumper” question in this fashion, this could be an indication that the candidate struggles to improvise. Context is key, but business owners looking to expand their team should be wary of candidates who seem unprepared or uninterested.
  2. “I can be a bit of a perfectionist.”
    Asking a candidate about their biggest weaknesses is an important moment during an interview since their answer reveals so much. Through their answer, hiring managers can gauge whether their candidates are self aware, whether they have enough humility to admit that they have faults, and they can also learn more about what kind of interview they are about to have.

    Talking about a biggest weakness is very common in interviews, which means there are many well-known “fake answers” for this question. “I care too much,” and “I work too hard” aren’t as effective as they maybe once were because they are looked upon as dodging the question (even if they happen to be true). Hiring managers should listen for answers that are unique and honest, and then wait for candidates to explain how they have worked to overcome those weaknesses. Good candidates should be willing to be authentic during their interviews.
  3. “I discuss that in my resume.”
    Referencing a professional resume is okay to do during interviews, but candidates that point to theirs too often without expanding on the information should cause hiring managers to pause. Interviewers should always prepare for their interviews by reviewing their candidates’ resumes. Questions that point towards past experiences should aim to provide further insight on the jobs or roles.

    Candidates that avoid speaking much about their previous positions could suggest an exaggeration of their role with that organization, or it might point towards a lack of patience. Again, some questions can be used to simply get the candidate talking and to build rapport, which is crucial for success in small businesses.
  4. “My previous coworkers and I didn’t see eye to eye.”
    Speaking of discussing previous positions, hiring managers should always make note of how candidates are willing to speak about their previous coworkers or bosses. Depending on how critically they speak about these experiences can indicate anything from them having a poor attitude, to them struggling to take accountability for their own missteps. Leaving a previous position can be similar to a bad break-up, so hiring managers should also take note of how invested their candidates still seem with their previous positions.

    Maturity, accountability, and dependability are all traits that make for great colleagues. Small business owners should be looking to hire future business partners more than subordinates, so these positive traits are essential to seek out.
  5. “I saw the job ad and thought this position looked interesting.”
    Of course, candidates should think that the job opening for which they are applying is interesting, but if that is as far as they are willing to go when talking about why they are pursuing the position, hiring managers should be cautious. The best candidates will be enthusiastic about their job opportunity and should be able to speak about how it will help them achieve their specific career goals. Answering these types of questions too simply or vaguely suggests a lack of interest or investment. Disinterested and uninvested workers are sure to move on quickly to opportunities that better align with their goals.

    Small business owners should remember that some candidates might seem perfect, with ideal expertise and a valuable skill set. However, if they aren’t engaged and committed to the business, they might not be the best hire. Small businesses have less room to make unsuccessful hires considering the substantial time and money investment that accompanies the hiring process. It’s better to hire someone who truly wants the job, rather than someone who just considers the position the best option for now.

If you are looking to hire, contact the marketing team for more information on candidates in your area! Interested in opening your own inspection business? Learn more by receiving a free info packet today!


About the Author
Kimberly Stevens, Marketing & Business Coach
The baby of eight children, Kimberly learned quickly to master the art of communication in order to be heard. She has been with NPI for more than 15 years and is passionate about getting to know our franchisees. Kimberly is a certified marketing and business coach, trainer and speaker, leading training seminars, one-to-one coaching and more. She's a high-energy, fiery red head and an eternal optimist. Her greatest joy is celebrating our franchisees’ victories!

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