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What is a lesser-known red flag in a new hire?

Advice from entrepreneurs on what to watch out for in a new hire.

6 min read




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What is a lesser-known red flag in a new hire?

1. Lack of positivity

While some people may be quiet, you can still tell the difference between reserved and just an overall lack of enthusiasm for the idea of work or the new job. If you don’t see smiles and some type of positive language from a new hire, you might need to worry if they are going to go the distance or not. — John Rampton, Due

2. Inability to provide hard data

If the candidate cannot back the accomplishments and other talents described in their resume with actual facts and quantifiable data, they could be fudging when it comes to talking about their work history. That could come back to bite you if you don’t dig a little deeper. — Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

3. Not asking questions

I expect new hires to not know everything and to have questions. If someone doesn’t have any questions during the interview process or during the initial weeks of working for your company, chances are they aren’t really understanding things and they’re either too afraid to say something or think they can get by without asking. — Kelsey Meyer, Influence & Co.

4. Slower pace

Some job applicants look good on paper but can’t handle a fast-paced environment. Before you extend a job offer, get a sense of how quickly your candidate can start on projects and complete them. Understand how they handle roadblocks and how fast they realistically expect to deliver value to your company. Avoid hiring talent that frequently drags their feet and becomes a bottleneck to growth. — Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep

5. Inflexibility

Change is what keeps a business moving forward and successful. An inflexible person can’t see the opportunity to improve when faced with challenges and problems. You want a new hire who is open to change and continuous improvement to help you build a team that’s not afraid to agilely make changes for the better. — Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now

6. B-level work

Especially if you’re crunched for time and talent, it can be tempting to hire B-level players to fill desks. However, I’ve found that “good” is a world of difference from “great.” Every employee matters, and although B-players can deliver acceptable work, they often don’t take the initiative to go above and beyond. Being exceptional is necessary as a startup, and that all starts with your team. — Elle Kaplan, LexION Capital

7. A bad impression on others

When you notice that a lot of people are not feeling the new hire, there’s a red flag. Often, one or two people may not get along, but when many people start to feel uncomfortable with the new hire or mention things to you, there is a concern. — Drew Hendricks, Buttercup

8. Lack of curiosity

Curiosity (i.e., someone who asks “why?”) is one of the most important traits in a new hire. Curiosity indicates a vested interest in the underlying “why” that drives what we’re doing. — Brian David Crane, Caller Smart Inc.

9. Long periods without advancement

A good history of promotions is often a good sign, while a complete lack of them can be an important red flag. While some don’t advance because they like a particular task or because their previous business didn’t manage talent well, long periods without a promotion can also point to a lack of direction or a disinterest in performing duties at the highest level. — Matt Doyle, Excel Builders

10. Poor health habits

Hire people who actively take care of their health, either through dietary diligence, regular exercise, or team sports. In them, you’ll find employees who are diligent, persevering, and collaborative team members. If they have goals that have them working hard in their personal lives, they will bring the same energy and drive for results at work. — Diana Goodwin, AquaMobile

11. Perfect candidates

The perfect candidate can often be the biggest red flag; you’re rarely going to find someone that fits the bill to the letter, so when you do, you should be diligent about really digging in and checking the validity of their resume, experience, and competencies. The perfect candidate is often too-good-to-be-true, and you’re likely to end up with a less capable employee than advertised. — Blair Thomas, First American Merchant

12. Unwillingness to learn

A major red flag for me is if a new hire has a dismissive attitude towards reviewing important documents such as the company procedure manuals. If they are not willing to put in the effort initially to learn, and grasp all the company’s various policies then it’s likely that their career with the company will be only short-term. — Luigi Wewege, Vivier Group

13. Lack of initiative

I expect new hires to take time to understand the company before pushing things forward on their own, but that doesn’t mean they can wait for responsibilities to come to them. If they don’t actively pursue their own onboarding and learning and aren’t striving to assume duties, it’s often a sign that they will never be someone who drives initiatives. That is not someone who will succeed. — Kevin Yamazaki, Sidebench

14. No self-awareness

You know that the right hire won’t be great at everything under the sun. Ask an applicant what they know they’re not good at, and they should be able to answer this questions quickly and specifically. Generic answers will tell you that they have weak self-awareness. Hires who don’t already know their own weak points require heavy management, because they won’t know when to stop and ask for help. — Roger Lee, Captain401

15. Personality nuances

Personality is key for me. Even if a candidate may exceed expectations on paper, that doesn’t necessarily mean he or she is the best fit for the job. This is especially true with us being such a close-knit company. In particular, if someone shows a short fuse, is easily annoyed, or has difficulty working closely with others, these are glaring red flags that will usually lead to problems. — Justin Lefkovitch, Mirrored Media

16. Pretending to understand or know something when they don’t

When I interview people I always bring up something random that does not actually exist, such as a book, company, or publications. I will ask the person if they have heard of it and if they say yes, I immediately remove them from the list of potential hires. If a person will play along with me to get a job, then they will probably do the same to keep it and I need to know when I am wrong. — Renato Libric, Bouxtie Inc