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Interview Red Flags: Horror Stories from Hiring Managers

Samantha Spano

Ask any hiring manager for a list of interview red flags, and they could provide a laundry list of “don’ts” they’d like every candidate to know before meeting with employers regarding an openings.

With that in mind, we reached out to several hiring managers at small businesses across industries today to see if anyone had ever experienced a hiring nightmare. Their responses did not disappoint.

13 interview red flags from today’s hiring managers

1) “Years back, after hiring a new staffing specialist, and conducting training with her over her first 30 days, it was becoming evident that she wasn’t able to do the basic functions of the position, and she had poor judgment when interacting with our clients. About this same time, she approached several of her co-workers about where she could procure various illegal drugs, and then asked about networking to hire a hitman to take care of her current husband’s ex-wife, as evidently the alimony thing was a problem for her. She also told her co-workers how she had manipulated her hiring references in order to get the position. I called the police about the inquiries she made about the hitman, and they responded. At the same time I let her go as she was still in a trial period, citing to her that she was unable to perform the basic functions of her position. The day I let her go, I drove a relative’s car to work knowing she wouldn’t recognize the car, and fearing she could retaliate in some way. Although we couldn’t prove it, unfortunately two of the coworkers’ cars were left with flat tires, which we also reported to the police. They investigated and said the tires were ice-picked through the sidewall, and were not repairable. To my knowledge she was never arrested, and moved out of state shortly thereafter.”

2) “We had a new hire who was provided a company direct billed credit card to pay for food and lodging when attending new hire training in another office location. When the bill arrived, there were a number of charges on the card from an adult novelty store located close to the hotel in which the employee was staying. When asked why there were charges unrelated to the food and lodging expenses, the employee stated he did not want his wife to find out about the adult novelty items he purchased because they were for her birthday.”

3) “I was in the middle of an interview and the candidate said he had to make a quick phone call. They didn’t come back for an hour and still wanted to proceed with the interview!”

4) “I have had several past candidates start to look extremely confused mid-interview. When I would ask them what the problem was, they would ask me to tell me who I was and what the company was they were at. Apparently they had applied to multiple jobs and could not keep them straight — they had no idea what company they were interviewing with!”

5) “Shortly after I hired what I though was a top-rated candidate, they began arriving for work later and later each day; up to 4:30 p.m. Their work suffered, as well.”

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6) “We hired an employee who seemed like he would be a great fit. Two days before his agreed on start date, he called and asked if his start date could be moved back a week. We agreed. His new start date arrived, but the employee did not. We called, left messages and sent e-mails with no response. We waited an additional week, thinking maybe he miscommunicated, and meant the following Monday. Still no employee. Again, calls, messages, emails with no response. We moved on, interviewed again, hired someone else. Two months later, the no-show candidate called and asked if he could start now, he had to leave the country for an emergency, and wanted to start. He did not, however, have an answer to “Was the destination without cell coverage entirely?” Phantom candidate.”

7) “A recently hired team member insisted they move the desk in their cubicle. Of course, there is only one way for the desk to fit comfortably in the space. So, he blocked the entrance and had to climb under his desk anytime he needed to leave his cube.”

8) “Recently hired team member decided they were allergic to carpets, air system, and their desk. They asked multiple times for everything to be replaced.”

9) “While recruiting for a medical group in a Health System, I once recruited the son of a well-known Physician within our Health System. Although this candidate didn’t quite have the hands on experience we were looking for, it was one of those hires that we had to handle carefully. Long story short, the gentleman interviewed really well and appeared to be very coachable so we found a home for him within the medical group. After conducting a drug test, we found traces of marijuana in his system. While this may be normal in some states, it is not permitted in ours and a certainly not permitted within a health system. I’m sure you can imagine how awkward it was trying to explain to a physician why we could no longer hire his son.”

10) “Mid-interview I thought I had the perfect candidate for the position. As I was about to extend the job offer, he began to sweat profusely. I offered water, turned the air conditioner to a lower temperature as he began to mumble. I thought,Oh No, I’ve got a medical emergency on my hands.” He excused himself to go to the restroom but didn’t return after 15 minutes. I asked a male staff member to enter the men’s restroom to check on him. The door was somehow locked and barricaded. The applicant wouldn’t answer our calls to open the door but began rambling aloud. I called the fire department and after another 20 minutes the applicant emerged totally intoxicated (empty bottle in hand) and possibly under the influence of “something” else. The next day his wife called me requesting to know when his start date would be… no job offer was extended to this candidate!”

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11) “Spooked by an assistant in the dark. I had obtain a temporary Administrative Assistant with the intent to eventually hire her. I was in my office and I knew she was in the leasing office. I needed something in the filing cabinet in the leasing office, when I entered the office the lights were off, it was before lunch, so I thought it was rather odd that she was nowhere around and the light was off since I didn’t see her leave. I proceeded to turn the light on and walked towards the filing cabinet, when ALL OF A SUDDEN the desk chair moved. Talk about scaring the heebie jeebies out of me, the temp proceeded to climb from under the desk. I when I asked her why she was under there, she proceeded to inform me in a very calm and even voice that she was taking a nap.”

12) “I phone interviewed a candidate and ultimately ended up not advancing him to the in person interview stage. I sent him an email to tell him that his qualifications did not meet what the Company was looking for. When I explained that there was another candidate who was a closer match he started leaving voicemails and sending emails demanding what he was missing. He also accused me of hiding something from him because I rejected him so early on in the interview process. On the 3rd or 4th voicemail he said that he hoped it wasn’t because I Google searched him and found his hacked Facebook page with pornographic images. As if the voicemail wasn’t enough, he proceeded to send an email with a screenshot of the hacked Facebook and explained that he was trying to regain control of the account, but it wasn’t working.”

13) “I made a job offer to a candidate, then he ghosted for 4 days. Then he reappeared and said he’d been camping and accepted the offer to start in 2 weeks. Then 10 days later he contacted me to say he had a doctor appointment on his first scheduled day of work, and also would it be okay for him to leave early every Tuesday and Thursday for the next few months? Needless to say, he did not end up working here.”

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