Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire

5 Warning Signs a Job Candidate is Wasting Your Time

The recruiting and hiring process takes a significant amount of time and money. The last thing you want is to give tire kickers much face time. The challenge is this: how do you know if a candidate is serious or not? Be on the lookout for these five warning signs a job candidate is wasting your time.

They Don’t Follow Through on Communication or Are Sloppy About It

Let’s be honest, most interested job candidates are going to be very prompt and professional when it comes to communication. You should expect well-written emails and phone calls returned 24 to 48 hours. Be wary if someone is much slower than others to respond. For example, if you receive a post-interview email that simply says, ‘Thanks for the interview’ in the subject line and nothing but the senders’ tagline in the body of the email, that person is just phoning it in.

Being Noticeably Unqualified

It is one thing if someone applies for a job and is short on one or two qualifications. Hiring managers are often willing to make an exception if an applicant brings something else of value to the table, or can promise to fulfill a requirement within a short period of time. Then there are the cases where the applicant seems woefully unqualified.

Why does this happen? Sometimes it is purely a lack of understanding. In other instances, something else can be at play. Does your company fit in any of these categories?

  • Offers better pay and benefits than other companies in your region or industry
  • Operates in an area where job opportunities are scarce
  • Receives excellent reviews online or is considered to be a great place to work
  • Is known for providing a fun or flexible work environment

If so, you may be attracting candidates for the wrong reasons. Instead of applying because they are qualified, people may be applying because they’ve been advised to try and get their foot in the door. Others may be applying as an act of wishful thinking.

“If someone is not qualified enough for the position you are offering and doesn’t plan on putting effort into achieving these said qualifications in the near future, there is no reason for you to keep them around” – supports Ben Brychta, recruiter at FlashEssay.

Presenting a Lackluster Resume or CV

If you receive a resume or CV that looks as if it could have been sent to any company, that should set off some alarms. After all, how long does it take to customize a resume or CV? Considering other candidates invest in professionally designed resumes and composing custom cover letters, a hastily sent resume almost seems like an insult. It’s certainly an indication that the candidate isn’t that interested.

As Jack Spencer, HR manager at GetGoodGrade has said, “A professional CV must be appropriately made to fit each job description’s needs”.

Hesitation When it Comes to Making a Commitment

Most legitimately interested candidates will be very eager to start should an acceptable offer come their way. Ask them when they can start, and they should have a pretty immediate answer. Even those who may have to delay starting a position will have an answer and a plausible reason for the delay such as closing at an important project.

What you want to be wary of is a prospect which is cagey about the question. As Pat Fredshaw, blogger for EssaySupply has mentioned, “A person who is apprehensive about accepting a good work opportunity will most likely not be there for the long run”. They could simply be more interested in information gathering than a new position and that can cost you a lot of time and effort.

Longevity at Current Job

What should you do when you look at a resume and it becomes clear that they are a job hopper? Should you take them out of the running immediately? That depends. You have to do a bit of a cost-benefit analysis. Here are some things to consider:

  • How quickly can they be onboarded and productive?
  • What is the cost of hiring and training them?
  • Is it possible to approach them with a part-time or freelance offer to save on pay and benefits?

Of course, you’ll also want to explore why they’ve been job hopping. A college student working seasonal and part-time until they land their first post-graduation position should be viewed differently than someone who is simply padding their skillset or struggles with teamwork.

While it may not seem as troublesome, if you receive a resume from someone who has been at an employer for decades, you should ask some questions. For one thing, what has transpired that has them looking? Has a behavioral or performance issue cropped up? Are they truly interested in your position, or do they want to use your offer as a negotiation tool.

“Someone who wishes to land a permanent job might still have gone through many, in search of the right one. By giving your candidates the benefit of the doubt and you might end up finding yourself an excellent and committed employee” – suggests Pauline Farris, recruiting specialist at IsAccurate.

In the End

Don’t waste time pursuing job candidates who are unqualified or just not that into you. Be on the watch for these five warning signs. Then, use your good judgment. This will help you to identify the resumes that should go directly into the bin.

About the Author

Sylvia GiltnerSylvia Giltner is a career coach, HR specialist, and freelance writer at ResumesCentre. Her passion is to help people make career changes and get jobs they truly love by showing them how to take full control over their careers. She is also an active guest contributor. Sylvia’s writing has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, Glassdoor, TLNT and more.

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