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Signs of a bad candidate - mistakes not to make

Blog   24 05 2019

Matt Darvill Blog, Interviews, Work...

As recruiters, we’re trained to spot the signs of a bad candidate during an interview. These can vary from glaringly obvious to much more subtle. To put you ahead of the crowd we’ve compiled a list of some of the more common candidate mistakes, so you can avoid making them!


One of the most common mistakes is unreported lateness. Recruiters expect you to be able to plan your journey to an interview and make time allowances. If you’re late for an interview, it doesn’t give much hope that you’ll be on time every day for work. If something does happen, and you are going to be late, make sure you ring ahead and give as much notice as possible.

Lack of Enthusiasm

This is commonly the way you talk during an interview. If your voice is quite monotone, and you struggle to show eagerness and energy, just try and make a conscious effort. Obviously, avoid going over the top, but some extra pep in your talk will certainly resonate with the interviewer.

This can manifest itself particularly at the end of the interview. Not preparing any questions, or asking something rushed and vague can indicate a lack of enthusiasm. So make sure you get some pertinent questions lined-up.

Disparages Former Employers

One of the most important things to avoid is talking negatively about former employers. This can be quite an easy trap to fall into, with such a large proportion of the interview revolving around your current employers. Interviewers are looking for you to display discretion and professionalism when discussing any of your previous employment.

Unclear of the Job Description

A big red flag is a lack of research or understanding of the job description. Ensure you arrive on the day with a clear understanding of the main duties and responsibilities. If you come across as too relaxed or even careless, the recruiter will think that these things will show up again when in the role.

Unable to back up CV claims

Many candidates will embellish their CV with unsubstantiated claims in an effort to appear more desirable to the hirer. Don’t get caught in this trap, it is far more beneficial to be honest, and be able to provide real working examples during the interview, than to try and get through with something that isn’t true.

Generic Cover Letter

Lastly, a generic cover letter is a sign that someone is ‘bulk applying’ for as many jobs as they can, irrespective of their fit into that role or company. Take more time and find roles that are right for you, with a tailored cover letter, you can demonstrate your suitability straight away, getting a leap on the competition.

These are some of the main things to be aware of when going through the application process. Ensure you’re taking enough time in your applications, and applying for roles you are genuinely interested in, this natural enthusiasm will only help during interviews. If you’re currently in the process of applying, why not check out all our roles here.