Recruitment Issues – The 5 Most Annoying Candidate Traits (And How To Work Around Them)

Recruitment Issues – The 5 Most Annoying Candidate Traits (And How To Work Around Them)

So: you’ve found the perfect candidate. They have the skills, they have the experience and they’re raring to go when it comes to interviews. Brilliant! But as you know, you’re never immune to a let-down, even if the candidate seems completely perfect. Unfortunately, sometimes the person that walks through the door for their first interview just isn’t what you’d hoped for.

Sounds familiar? Of course it does. Let’s take a look at the top candidate bugbears, and what you as a recruiter can do about them.

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The Make-Up Artist

Number one, we have the make-up artist: no, not somebody with too much make-up on, but somebody who couldn’t help themselves and ‘made-up’ half of their CV! According to YouGov, a staggering 40% of Brits admit to lying about their education and work history- and that’s just the people who actually admit to fudging dates and ‘expanding’ their past roles. The real total is probably a whole lot higher.

What You Can Do:

First off, you can immediately sense whether a candidate’s personality matches their CV the moment they walk through the door. Quiz them on what kind of worker they are during interview, and see if their answers reflect your gut instinct.

When it comes to spotting inconsistencies in a candidate’s work history, that’s less about the interview stage, and more about referencing and background checks. Make sure to double check with each of their references whether the dates match up. If you don’t feel that to be reason enough to dismiss a candidate before interview, then you can always challenge them on it when you’re talking face to face to give them the chance to explain. It could always be a typo!


Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do to weed out people who have a tendency to be late before the interview stage. ‘I’m late for every meeting I’m scheduled for’ isn’t something that people put on their CVs, although it would help if they did! There are two grades of Johnny-come-lately: those that update you to let you know they’re running behind schedule, and those that don’t. Those that don’t are the worst, because you’ll be sat waiting in the interview room looking like a mug!

What You Can Do:

Don’t treat being late as a reason to completely dismiss the idea of hiring a candidate. There could be a very good reason, like a Tube strike, a crash on the motorway or a car that just wouldn’t start. Again, don’t be afraid to challenge them: ‘Why are you late today?’

Can’t Be Bothered

Unprofessional, dressed down, scruffy with a scrubbly beard (the men, at least). Again, there’s nothing you can do before the interview process to weed out people who just won’t put the effort in to looking smart. Going for a new job or trying to climb the career ladder is important, which is why you want to see people who’ve genuinely gone to the effort of looking smart or suave.

What You Can Do:

Bear in mind that not every position you’re hiring for is going to need an employee that puts 110% effort into their appearance. If you’re looking for a high-flying exec, then of course it is. But if you’re hiring for an IT position, for example, appearances are less important. That being said, there’s nothing wrong with treating scruffiness as a negative, if not a disqualifying factor for every position.

The Know-It-All

Next, we have the know-it-all. Everyone knows one! These candidates have a number of qualities that make them unsuitable for most roles. Know-it-alls are happy to talk over you, ignore the questions you ask and talk about whatever they like, and think they know everything there is to know about whatever field you’re hiring for. Even if they are an expert (and they really do know it all), it can still be infuriating to deal with somebody who thinks they’re better than you. It’s always such a shame, because if it weren’t for their attitude, they’d be the perfect fit!

What You Can Do:

There’s no point trying to argue with a know-it-all. Make a note that they’re an unsuitable candidate, and black ball them!

Didn’t Do Their Prep

Last but not least, we have the candidate who simply didn’t do their prep. These candidates look great on paper, but when you start to ask them questions- questions they should really know the answer to- you’re greeted with blank stares and awkward silences. These could be questions to do with the field you’re hiring for, or just your basic interview standards, like ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’

There are also the candidates who don’t know anything about the role they’re applying for, or the business they’re applying to join. This is a sign that they’re sending off CVs willy-nilly, rather than making any real effort. To weed them out, just ask them what made them apply for a job at this business, and why they suit this particular role. A lack of prep is a sign that they don’t take the interview seriously, especially if you tried to help, so it’s a major no-no.

What You Can Do:

Ultimately, we’re talking about questions they really should know the answer to. You’re not asking them to remember the Trigonometry they took at A-Level: these are the basics, and you just can’t invite them for another interview if they fail on them. There’s no law against pushing them on their lack of prep by asking more questions, and even asking directly how much time they spent preparing for interview!

And there you have it: the top bugbears that every recruiter has to deal with. Of course, that’s not every single one: you also have to deal with rude candidates, pushy candidates, needy candidates and the ones who just can’t bring themselves to reply on time. But hey- nobody ever said recruitment was easy!