Ever wonder what makes a good or bad job candidate? It’s all about making a positive impression from beginning to end, remaining professional and enthusiastic through the entire job-seeking process. Recruitment agents can spot an unreliable, flaky or arrogant job applicant within five minutes of meeting them in person, speaking on the phone or even reading their CV. Want to avoid these pitfalls? Then read on for examples of big red flags for recruiters!


A bad candidate…is either abrupt and won’t meet the eyes of their interviewer, or is too chatty and overshares. Not only do they forget to switch off their phone, but they might even answer it during the interview! They either respond to questions in monosyllables, or, at the other end of the spectrum, will launch into a five-minute monologue about their drinking habits when asked about their weekend.

A good candidate…strikes the right balance of being friendly and polite, and keeps the conversation work-appropriate and fluid. They answer questions with enthusiasm and offer concrete examples when asked about their skills and experience. A recruiter knows that a candidate with this balance is likely to be a good fit for any company culture.


A bad candidate…turns up late, disorganised and flustered, and then rants about what made them late in the first place. They didn’t call ahead to let the recruiter know – because they didn’t think to bring the contact details along – and they forgot their CV and references at home too. These are all huge red flags for recruiters, who value reliability in potential employees.

A good candidate…will do everything in their power to arrive on time; planning ahead by mapping out the route and having contingency plans in case of the unexpected. Recruiters value people who actively anticipate, avoid and mitigate problems, and a prompt and well-prepared candidate is likely to be a reliable and organised employee.


A bad candidate…doesn’t do their homework about the company they are applying to. When they are asked why they want to work for the company, they won’t have a good answer because they didn’t research the organisation beforehand.

A good candidate…has more than just a basic knowledge of the company. They’ve taken the time to read up on the business, their history and their industry. What are the company’s values? What are the company’s goals? A tailored answer to the question of why they want to work at this company will show that they have a real interest in the business, and not just looking for any job.


A bad candidate…has a sub-standard CV and cover letter, riddled with typos and sloppy grammar, or with inaccurate information, such as the wrong employment dates or exaggerated experience. A recruiter will assume that they are incompetent or too arrogant to have someone double-check their application.

A good candidate….isn’t too proud to have someone look over their application before they send it off. They know that a CV is the first opportunity to make a good impression – it takes a recruiter only two minutes to decide whether a CV makes the cut – so they make sure it’s perfect. They know better to exaggerate their skills and experience, knowing that this will most likely backfire.


A bad candidate…brags about their achievements without crediting their teammates, or when asked how they’ve dealt with making a bad decision, say they never have. Instead of thinking they have the perfect candidate on their hands, the recruiter will wonder how they deal with setbacks on a day-to-day basis. And a bad candidate won’t hesitate to criticise their former employer when asked about their previous employment.

A good candidate…knows that recognising weaknesses and being willing to work on them is key to self-development, and will provide an example of a bad decision they learnt from. They also realise that being a good leader is also about being a good team player, as recruiters are looking for people that can fit into a team culture. And when asked, will only have good things to say about their former employer, knowing that loyalty and discretion is valued by recruiters.

Now that you know the red flags, you’re ready to avoid them! Contact Saro Recruitment and visit our vacancies today!

16 January 2018