7 Things that Should Disqualify Job Applicants

Hiring new personnel can be a frustrating and time-consuming experience. Trying to find the perfect candidate for the position often seems downright hopeless. For every job on the market today, it's estimated that between one hundred fifty and two hundred applications will come in. That means you've got to weed through one hundred forty-nine to one hundred ninety-nine to find that perfect fit for your business. What you need is a way to separate the real standouts from the ones you wouldn't want representing your company in any way. Here are seven things to consider to disqualify job applicants from your company.

1) Appearance

"Never judge a book by its cover" has met its match in "Image is everything." If an applicant doesn't care enough about the interview to look appropriate for the job, that is an immediate warning sign that this individual is wholly unprepared to fulfill the requirements of the position. A person interviewing for a labor-intensive construction job shouldn't show up in a three-piece suit, any more than a person interviewing for a banking job should interview in a Metallica T-shirt. Consider the image you want your company to present, both in the office and beyond it.

2) Experience

Experience isn't necessarily an automatic deal breaker, nor should it be. A great deal depends on what you're looking for in a candidate. Do they have the life and other experience to make up for their lack of knowledge in the field they're applying for? Can they learn quickly and adapt to rapidly changing scenarios or needs? If they have verifiable experience in the field you need, this should put these applicants to the top of the field. Merely having experience does not mean a prospective employee has the common sense and other qualities to be a good choice.

3) Education

As with experience, education doesn't mean much in and of itself. Just because a person has a master's degree in finance doesn't mean they can balance a checkbook. A college degree is an excellent demonstration of theoretical knowledge in a given field, but if the task involves other skills their field of study dismisses or gives only minimal attention to, such as writing reports, you might want to ask what other skills and talents they possess that make their degree a good fit for the position you're seeking to fill. A degree makes a candidate worth considering, but it doesn't guarantee they understand the practical aspects of your business well enough to be worth considering.

4) Resume

Seventy percent of all job applicants lie on their resumes to one degree or another, according to some estimates. If an applicant's resume is too diverse (they have an MD in psychiatric medicine, a juris doctorate in corporate law, a construction background, and can type seventy-five words per minute) this should be a red flag. Asking about key parts of an applicant's resume and requesting documentation can help establish whether the candidate is legitimate quickly and easily.

5) Basic writing skills

Penmanship is important, of course, but writing skills here mean spelling, grammar, and punctuation. A poorly written cover letter riddled with typographical errors or that isn't suitably direct gives a glaring and unfavorable indication of what kind of quality of work you can expect from this person. At best, it shows inattention; at worst, these kinds of letters indicate inability. While a cover letter like this may be a useful object lesson, red-lined and hung on your wall for amusement and teaching, the candidate who wrote it is probably best shown the door before they ever set foot in your office to interview.

6) Body language

An unsure or overly confident candidate can be equally bad. The candidate who can't get through a three word answer without stammering nine times and the "slick" interviewee who has a ready and well-rehearsed answer for every question you ask can both be warning signs. Someone who's sure of themselves without setting off your alarms and can answer field-specific questions readily but isn't afraid to admit they don't know an answer either is a good candidate to consider. If they sound like they're reciting from rote or can't answer at all, absent other mitigating factors, these interviewees should go to the bottom of the list.

7) Personality

Does an interviewee appear alert and pleased to have the chance to explain why they'd be a good fit for your business, or do they slouch like they don't care? Do they present themselves as intelligent and open? Do they look eager or bored? These are all critical factors to consider in choosing good candidates. A good personality can overcome a multitude of other interviewing sins, but this should be taken as an adjunct consideration to other factors, not as a stand-alone qualifier or disqualifier.

Choosing the perfect candidate, one who possesses all the skills and qualities you need in your employees, isn't easy. A great candidate for your business will set themselves apart by having all the traits you'd expect from any employee. The bad ones should be easy to pick out, but appearance can often deceive. The first and most important aspect in choosing candidates for a position is your own gut instinct. If someone shows up to interview and you immediately take a dislike to them, ask yourself why? Then trust your instincts and do what you believe is best for your company.

Note: This is not legal advice and should not be taken as advice for whether or not to hire any person.


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