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If you've unlocked the ultimate secrets to hiring, you’ll be left with many job candidates to choose from, making final decisions challenging. Below are some tips to help you identify who to reject to narrow your pool of finalists.

1. Sloppy application

Sloppy job applications are the fastest way to send job candidates into the “no” pile. Spelling errors, formatting issues, 5 page resumes, and generic cover letters are all solid grounds for a rejection.

2. Wrong skill set

Many job candidates have quality skills, but their skills aren’t always the right fit for your job. Be sure to consider transferable skills that could enable the candidate to thrive in your job environment, despite an apparent lack of experience in the field.

3. Unsuitable personality

Beyond the right skill set, the job candidate needs to exhibit the right personality for the job. For example, a customer-facing job likely requires an outgoing personality. Hiring an introvert in this circumstance is likely a mistake.

4. Bad fit

During the interview, you should ask questions to understand the job candidate’s motivation for applying. This is important because it helps you assess whether the job you’re offering fits within the job candidate’s plans. If it doesn’t and you hire the job candidate, s/he will likely leave your job in short order.

5. Not on time

This is an easy one. If the job candidate can’t be punctual for the interview, how can you expect the candidate to arrive to work on time? If the job candidate shows up late for the interview, ask why to see if there is a reasonable story.

6. Sloppy appearance

Although it may not be the first thing you think of, serious job candidates should know what to wear to an interview. Sometimes a job candidate’s dress can be inappropriate for the job. 

For example, if you’re hiring for a bartender at a dive bar, it wouldn’t be appropriate to show up to the interview in a suit. Likewise, if you’re hiring for an administrative role in a law firm, it wouldn’t be appropriate for a job candidate to wear a tank top.

7. Lack of passion

Part of the most effective interview strategies for successful hiring is to pay attention to nonverbal cues. Observing the level of passion that a candidate puts into their interview goes a long way. If a candidate isn’t enthusiastic during the interview, why would they be passionate on the job? 

8. Poor follow-up questions

Good questions imply that the job candidate has done their research and is serious about the position. Conversely, bad questions can show a lack of interest. Put another way: the candidate didn’t do his/her homework.

9. Not responsive

A good job candidate is hungry for the job and will respond to emails quickly. The wrong job candidate, on the other hand, may be slow in their responses or not respond at all, expressing their lack of interest in the job.

10. Co-workers don’t approve

Don’t forget about the valuable opinions of your coworkers. These are the folks who will work with the new hire. Ask your co-workers their opinion of your potential hires — if they don’t approve, going ahead with the hire could negatively impact team dynamics.

11. No references

There are very few circumstances in which it’s OK to not provide references from a past supervisor. At the very least, the job candidate should provide character references from former coworkers. Providing no references is a red flag; this could indicate they may have something to hide.

12. Weak recommendations

It’s hard to ignore negative feedback. If a reference wouldn’t hire the job candidate again, why should you? The only thing worse than a bad reference check is multiple bad reference checks.

13. Story doesn't check out

Reference checks are your last chance to figure out if a job candidate is telling the truth. If you sensed earlier in the application process that the job candidate was lying, ask the reference to clarify these points of ambiguity. If their story checks out with the reference, great! If not, it’s time to move on.

14. Unaffordable salary expectations

Salary is where the rubber hits the road. It’s possible that you will like a job candidate, but won’t be able to afford them. If this is the case, part ways amicably and look at your other finalists to fill the position.

15. Job shopping

Respect your time. If a job candidate didn’t tailor their resume and cover letter to your position and/or they did not express great interest in your position during the interview, it is likely that job shopping is at play. If this is the case, save yourself the hassle and move on to more serious candidates.

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