Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire

What Typical Job Seeker Mistakes Can Reveal About a Candidate

As a human resources professional, you’ve probably seen more than your fair share of nervous candidates and have a story or two to share about embarrassing mistakes you’ve seen job seekers make. Are these harmless mistakes, made by almost any job seeker, to be tolerated? Or can their foibles give you insight into their work place behavior and performance? What can those blunders say about the candidate whose employment you’re considering?

Most likely, you’ve seen a number of sloppy resumes. Misspelled words and grammatical errors are almost inexcusable in an era of electronic word processing programs. Formatting issues or other glaring mistakes reveal that a candidate is not detail oriented or meticulous about the work they present. Those characteristics would certainly carry over into their regular work, possibly affecting deadlines or inhibiting them from accomplishing small but important tasks.

At times, a candidate can be so entrenched in their job search that they do not do the necessary research to answer questions in the interview. This is often blatantly obvious by the generic tone of their resume and cover letter and further in their answers to interview questions. If a candidate hasn’t taken the time to adequately prepare for the interview with you, it may show their apathy or carelessness. If they haven’t taken the time at the outset, will they show dedication and interest in the position once they’re in it?

Job seekers should know that at the end of an interview there is typically time for them to ask questions of the employer. A genuinely interested candidate will have a number of questions which reveal something about their professional character. Are they concerned about the growth of the company? Are they interested in the tasks they would be expected to accomplish? Do they inquire about the work atmosphere to determine if they would fit in well? A candidate who seeks to understand the details at the outset shows their dedication to seeking the best job for themselves and offering the best candidacy to potential employers. If they don’t have thoughtful questions prepared at this point in the interview, they may lack the enthusiasm you’d like in an employee.

Perhaps one pitfall that all job seekers experience is an inability or hesitancy to speak about themselves confidently. Counter this by asking questions which encourage them to give examples of their accomplishments or ask them to offer reasons why they are uniquely qualified over their peers or colleagues. This article from The Huffington Post encourages older job seekers to set aside their modesty in order to sell themselves. You’ll get a better idea of a candidate’s qualifications if you ask questions that push them past their reticence.

These small job seeker mistakes, and many others you’ve probably experienced, can tell you something about the type of employee a candidate could become. As an employer, know the signs which point to poor performance, beginning with a candidate’s performance as a job seeker.

Are small job seeker mistakes a big deal to you when you’re hiring? Is there a common job seeker mistake not mentioned in this post that you’ve come across? Comment below to share your experiences.

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by Victor1558

Kailyn Baum

Kailyn is a recent college graduate with degrees in English and Political Science. She is currently working in the publishing industry, where she loves the fact that she is paid to immerse herself in talking and thinking about books all day long. When she isn’t working, she enjoys reading, cooking, line-dancing, and writing short stories and poetry. Her sincerest hope for contributing to Spark Hire’s job seeker blog is to provide job seekers of all ages with the tools and sense of humor necessary to stay calm and carry on.