“HI! I’m a red flag!” and other interview enders – Written for Appfolio’s Property Manager E-Zine

The process of interviewing for a new property team member can be nerve racking for many managers.  While the hiring process is laid out in many policy and procedure manuals, the fine art of  hiring is something that a manager can only come to appreciate over time.  With so many jobs cut back this last year, the pool of applicants has never been bigger and the resumes have never been more flowery and descriptive, not to mention misleading.  And even when you do weed out your best candidates, you run the risk of sitting down with someone who “interviews well.”

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I’ve probably conducted well over 500 interviews, either sit down or by phone, over the last few years, and there are little tells that everyone has.  When I’m asking an interview question, my main goal is to elicit that “Hi!  I’m a red flag!” response.  Most people, given enough rope, will not be able to avoid hanging themselves.  And I want to caution you that just because you may get that red flag response, that’s not a reason to scrub the candidate all together.  Now, if you get more than three, I wouldn’t bet heavily on that hire. You can also tell many things from the application that they fill out or the resume they submit. I’m going to share with you a few of the amusing red flags I’ve seen pop up in my interviews over the last few years.  Some of them are the kind of thing that make you laugh when you get back to the office.  Others are the kind of things that make you want to just end the interview on that question.

  • One applicant I remember turned in an application that was written in lime green ink.  I asked the receptionist if she had given her a green pen, and the woman said, no, and that the applicant had stated to her that she always filled out applications with her “lucky green pen” to be “memorable.”  I remembered not to call her back.
  • I had an applicant ask me if he committed a felony while he worked for me, if he would lose his job.  It took everything I had to not ask him just what kind of felony he had in mind to commit.
  • During an interview, one applicant forgot the name of the company they were applying with, and began telling me all of the reasons they would be an awesome addition to my competitor’s company.
  • I received a resume that listed the position they were applying for with my company using the dates “ASAP to Later!”
  • Anytime they brought up the drug testing policy before I did and asked me about what kinds of tests were run, it was a pretty good indicator that they weren’t going to pass
  • Not one of mine, but an application that went to a colleague read under the emergency contact field, “the police – 911”
  • An applicant told me how he wanted a new job since his relationship with his boss had gone sour ever since he broke up with her.
  • One applicant asked me when I was working as a staffer, that out of all the jobs I had open, which was the one he’d be most likely to get hurt at.
  • I’ve had people who text messaged during interviews, but the most annoying one was the guy who actually answered his cell phone 4 times during an interview process, once with “Dude, I’m in an interview.  What do you need?”
  • I recall an interview where the applicant dropped the f-bomb no less than 6 times in 25 minutes
  • An applicant mentioned how she was a good writer, citing her blog as an example during an interview with me, so I went and checked it out afterwords.  It talked about how much she hated her current job and coworkers, naming them by name, and naming her workplace specifically.  Bad Juju.
  • One applicant I met with may have thought she was interviewing with a man, because the shirt she was wearing just barely covered her nipples.  Being courageous with your cleavage will probably not get you hired.
  • There was also an applicant who was trying to join my company from a competing company.  During the interview, she aired all their dirty laundry, both professional and personal.