Finding Strong Candidates: Red Flags

Finding Strong Candidates: Red FlagsTo keep your staffing agency going strong, you need to find the best possible members of two groups: clients and candidates. Clients, you often have to track down, but candidates tend to come to you, especially in these high-unemployment times. But how do you find the strongest candidates?

This is the last post in a seven-part series over the next few weeks sharing tips for finding the diamonds in the rough of your waiting rooms.

Over this series, we’ve covered a lot of the ways that candidates can tell you, “I’m not that great a candidate, really”:

  • Dodgy referrals who don’t know them that well or have never worked with them
  • A job history with lots of gaps, short stays or both
  • A career path that looks like one of those Family Circus “where Billy went” cartoons
  • Answering the question “How have you spent your time between jobs?” with “Mostly watching Maury.”
  • Lies on their resume or major problems in their background
  • References who have no memory of them or praise them way too much
  • Horrifying interview attire or behavior
  • Inconsistent, hostile or odd answers to interview questions

But there are also two more subtle ways a candidate can remove themselves from the “Strong” category: by appearing to be way too good to be true, and by appearing to be adequate, but nothing more.

A candidate whose resume sparkles, whose skills are off the charts, whose references gush about them might, in fact, be the answer to your client’s prayers. But they might also be gaming the system. Just about everyone has some weak points; ask your candidate to describe some in the interview, and if they give the standard “I guess I’m a bit of a perfectionist” line, your BS detector should start going off loud and clear.

Candidates who are perfectly adequate but nothing special aren’t necessarily worthy of dumping from your pool. It could be that they’re merely adequate for the particular job you’re considering them for, but they’ll be very strong for future positions. Keep them in your database, and encourage them to keep strengthening their skills.

We hope this has been a helpful, fun series. If you have any other red flags you’ve learned to notice over the years, please share them with us in the comments!

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