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When This Happens, You Know You’ve Got a Questionable Job Candidate

March 12, 2016, 4:30 PM UTC
Cropped close up of mature businesswoman interviewing candidate at boardroom table
Photograph by Getty Images/Cultura RF

The Entrepreneur Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question “How do you avoid hiring the wrong people?” is written by Feris Rifai, cofounder and CEO of Bay Dynamics.

First and foremost, when I meet with candidates, I want to understand their perspectives. That includes what they value, how they interpret challenges, and what they see as their ideal career situation. I ask questions such as, “If you start working here tomorrow, what will you do?” and, “What’s important for you to have in your next job opportunity?”

Those kinds of questions create a window for me to see inside of a person. They enable me to determine what’s really important to the candidate, and then compare that information with what’s important to us as a company. If I ask a question such as, “What do you prefer—leading a large team or small team?” that leaves room for candidates to fudge the response based on what they know about the open position. However, if I ask a question such as, “What is your ideal work situation?” that gives them the opportunity to describe what they want so that I can see if it fits into what we want, and if I can provide that for them. I don’t want to be in a situation where the candidate and I are selling each other for selling’s sake. I want to get to know the person in a meaningful way. After all, a company is a group of people working together. I need to know if a candidate will be happy being a part of our group—and vice versa.

See also: Why So Many Employers End up Hiring Awful Job Candidates

Aptitude is also important, especially for higher-level positions, but perspective still outweighs experience. In the ideal situation, the candidate has the right body of experience and the right perspective for our company. Even if the person has less experience—but still the right attitude—that will go farther when I make my final hiring decision.

Too many companies rush into bringing someone on board because of their skill set and body of experience. That’s a mistake. The perspective side—making sure the person interprets situations like the rest of us on the team—is an essential ingredient. I don’t care if the person has a near-perfect level of experience. If he doesn’t have the right attitude, my experience tells me he won’t be a fit in the long run. I always look for candidates who are smart, who want to learn, and who do not accept mediocrity. I prefer to hire someone who has that kind of attitude with less experience vs. someone who lacks in positive attitude but has more experience.


I like to have candidates interview with multiple people on my team. Getting a variety of opinions from my trusted team members helps me decipher if someone is being genuine during the interview. If each of us comes in with a different impression of the candidate, that’s a red flag, and I’ll reassess the situation and try to get to the bottom of why that may be the case. It’s important that employers do their due diligence and don’t make a rushed hiring decision, and equally important that they acknowledge and address any hiring mistakes as quickly as possible. Taking immediate action on mistakes is what’s best for you, your company, and the candidate.