Skip to main content
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track on the Olympic Games
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week for 24 weeks
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track onthe Olympics Games
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

This column is part of Globe Careers' Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab.

Before bringing in job applicants for in-person interviews, the candidates' professional credentials are well screened by the HR department. In the interview, hiring managers will also focus on candidates' qualifications, but the wild card for ultimately receiving an offer comes down to which applicant displays appropriate social skills.

A 2015 study found that most social blunders during interviews result from thoughtlessness or poor interpersonal skills – and they often become deal breakers. Interviewees who can't make conversation or continually check their phones leave a bad impression that not even an impeccable resume or glowing reference can offset.

Story continues below advertisement

Hiring managers need to pay attention to any quirks in a candidate's appearance or behaviour that can portend future trouble. Pay attention to these seven important red flags when interviewing job candidates:

1. Arriving late. If interviewees arrive late, even when they have a legitimate excuse, they will have to make up for their tardiness by giving a stellar performance throughout their interview. Only if they can outshine the other candidates with their confidence, insightful questions, and relevant observations about the company will they deserve to remain on the list.

2. A weak handshake. Much can be determined about a job candidate's character from the initial handshake. If a person has a weak grip, a clammy palm, and won't make eye contact, you can imply a lack of confidence and timidity that would make a bad fit in most work environments.

3. Unusual clothing choice. Professionalism comes across immediately through a candidate's choice of interview attire. When an interviewee dresses casually, it sends a message that the person has a casual approach toward work. If the attire suggests an evening of clubbing, it implies an inability to know how to dress appropriately in a professional setting.

4. Unchecked chit-chat. Interviewees who launch into lengthy explanations, pummel their interviewer with questions, or feel compelled to fill any silences with irrelevant prattle could later become the employees everyone seeks to avoid. Save yourself and your staff from this unchecked verbosity by sending a kindly worded rejection.

5. Poor body posture. Body posture conveys a great deal about an applicant's personality. Slumping signifies lack of confidence; leg swinging equates with nervousness; and arms folded against the chest demonstrate belligerence or arrogance. Pay close attention to the cues communicated through a candidate's body posture and read them with care.

6. Offensive verbal skills. Candidates who use colloquial phrases ("I just wanna say ..."), or substitute "good" for "well," ("they did good") can't cut it in the professional world where written and verbal skills are paramount. Additionally, inappropriate or derogatory language equates to a lack of sophistication or self-censorship. End the interview as quickly as possible.

Story continues below advertisement

7. Unprofessional communication channels. After you've culled though your lineup and selected a finalist, you start to send out your e-mail with the job offer until you see "hotmama" in the handle. Or, when you call to make the offer, the voice-mail picks up and you're blasted with heavy metal music. Move on to your runner-up candidate.

Vicky Oliver is a career development expert and the author of five books, including 301 Smart Answers to Tough Business Etiquette Questions.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies