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How To Spot A Bad Hire

How To Spot A Bad Hire

Jan 30, 2019 / No Comments

One of the biggest issues with finding new employees for any business is that you can't be sure if they're for real. Is this Java developer really know her/his way around Reactor? Does this engineer have the teamwork mentality you need to push your company forward? Are they going to be willing to go the extra mile to meet tight deadlines?

These are all important considerations you have to make as a hiring agent or manager in order to avoid wasting time and money. So how are you supposed to know if you're talking with your future teammate or just a lemon posing as a potential hire? Well here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when you're interviewing the next candidate.

The Interviewee is Late and Unprepared


Sometimes we can't help being late for an interview, the DLR isn't running, we're having trouble finding the office, its normal. However, one should be wary of a candidate that is both late and underprepared for the interview. This is especially truer if there has been ample time for the candidate to prepare.

While it is great to be understanding in cases of unavoidable tardiness, remember to consider how the candidate reacted to being late. Has he/she called to notify you that they will be late? Was there an unavoidable circumstance that has prevented them from adequately preparing for the interview. This will help you establish a lot about the person's character and how they react in similar situations.

Overly Boastful


Confidence is key for any interview. However, there is a difference between displaying confidence in your capabilities and being overly boastful. Let's face it, in all likelihood the person you hire will have some shortcomings. These may be technical or personal, but they are inevitable so be cautious. Moreover, if the interviewee oversells him/herself they're basically saying "I could run the world, but I'll take this job."

It's your job to identify interviewees that are too self-interested, overly boastful about their capabilities, and seem to lack any legitimate weakness. Therefore, engage with the candidates that are honest and articulate the areas they need to work on or the errors they've made in past positions. After all, these can tell you a lot about how the candidate learns and deals with criticism.

They Have No Questions About the Company


While some hiring agents might believe otherwise, an interview is a two-way conversation. A great interviewee will recognize this and delve into dialogue not only about the position and responsibilities therein but about key aspects of the company. What is the job culture like? What makes your team unique? What sort of training methods are there?

One interesting question which has become more prevalent with great candidates is actually asking why they should want to be hired in the first place. While upon first review this may appear a little arrogant, it is a legitimate concern. Developers, especially, are in high demand and they have the luxury of choosing where they work. After all, if you, as an interviewer, cannot convince the candidate to be part of your team then chances are they won't.

They only credit themselves

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It's always noble to give credit where credit is due, however, you should look out for the One-Man-Band candidate. This is the interviewee who claims that all previous growth and success is solely due to their own efforts. Of course, you may come across a developer or engineer who has worked as a team of one and has carried a large burden of the responsibilities.

Yet, it would be hardpressed for a candidate who has team experience to be the sole bearer of success for the entire group. Often times this reveals a psychological weakness that they may be dishonest, overly competitive, or simply unable to offer others credit/support. A humble interviewee will know to acknowledge those who have helped them along their career path.

They're perfect!

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This one is a little harder to spot. Obviously, you will want someone perfect for the role. However, there may be that candidate who has the perfect personality, asks engaging questions, and can do the work blindfolded. They may too good to be true. At your own discretion, there are important considerations to be made about such a candidate. Finding someone with the perfect prerequisites, skills, references, and eagerness may be a tell.

This could be an individual that simply is overqualified or is qualified but may not be intent on staying long and has one foot out the door. Neither you nor the candidate should want this. You don't want someone who has nothing to learn from your company, and it most likely won't help their career either if they're stuck in a stagnant position. That's why you'll have to trust your gut and ask penetrating questions, such as "Given all your experience, why not aim for a more senior position or something with more of a challenge?"


Remember that when you interview for your next hire, you know what your company/team needs. Trust your gut, ask unique and engaging questions, and don't be afraid to say no. A great candidate is one who is knowledgable, honest, and feels like a natural fit for your team.


The Coded People Team

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