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3 Job Candidates You Should Stay Away From

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Every company, no matter the industry, is going to be plagued with less-than-stellar applicants when trying to fill a job opening. The same rings true for startups.

As cited in Economic and Workforce Development: New Realities for a New Millennium, 60 percent of new jobs being created will require skills held by only 20 percent of the population. As much as you’d like to think your startup can always identify the cream of the crop, there’s no denying that some of the candidates you interview are going to be duds.

To help you better identify and reject these lackluster applicants, here are three types of job candidates you should probably stay away from:

1. The Bait and Switch

You’re pouring through a myriad of cringe-worthy applications when you finally come across a resume that doesn’t make you want to rip your eyeballs out. His social media presence seems great, and his emails are very professional. When you meet him, he gives off a very likeable, charming vibe from the get-go. You can’t wait to interview him.

If you think he sounds great so far, just wait. The Bait and Switch is great at one thing — deception. He’s a master at being able to mask all his bad qualities as good, and he can breeze through a traditional interview with ease. Since the Bait and Switch is a master of deception, by the time you find out who he really is — a lazy, destructive, incompetent worker — it will already be too late and cost you loads of time and money to replace him.

Luckily, there’s a way to prevent the hiring of these destructive forces. Since Bait and Switchers excel in traditional interviews, try mixing it up. Give them challenging role-play scenarios that force them to ditch the canned responses they flawlessly give, and uncover their true personalities.

2. The Participation Award

Continuing your quest for great talent, you come across a resume that looks impressive at first glance. She graduated from an Ivy League university and is active in a number of relevant professional organizations. She even has certifications in the skills required to do the job. You can’t wait to interview her.

When you finally get the chance to talk with her in person, you find out she is just another Participation Award. She only got into an Ivy League university because her dad is a prestigious alum. In fact, she was on academic probation for the majority of her college career. Those professional organizations she’s in? Never went to a single meeting — just paid the dues money so she could plaster it on her applications. And while she did attend the certification courses, she cheated off the guy next to her.

Participation Awards don’t usually make it past the interview since they’re incredibly easy to identify. They have all the prestige but none of the actual knowledge to prove it. And with more than 78 percent of applicants putting misleading information on their resumes, you’re lucky if you never encounter a Participation Award in an interview.

3. The Homecoming Queen/King

You’ve found a candidate you think might finally be a good fit. Her experience is fantastic, and her application was flawless. When you interview her, she is very professional and gives great answers to your questions. But near the end of the interview, you hear a faint buzzing sound.

The interviewee is talking but stops herself mid-sentence, pulls her phone out of her purse, excuses herself, and leaves the room to answer the call. You sit there, stunned, for 45 seconds before she comes back, apologizes, and continues where she left off. After she’s done talking, you politely dismiss her and commence banging your head on the desk.

If you’re an amateur recruiter, you may think this is a wildly unlikely scenario. But in a CareerBuilder survey of 2,400 hiring managers, the top interview mistake made by candidates was answering a text or call — with an astonishing 71 percent saying they’ve encountered it themselves. Needless to say, even if a person is a qualified candidate, if they call/text during an interview, they’re done.

What rotten job candidates would you add to this list?

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About the Author

Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010). Find Heather on Google+.

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