So often, we talk about how to tell if you’ve been successful in an interview ­– what it is that the client is looking for. Insider ‘tips and secrets’. We don’t talk nearly as much about what’s happening on the other side of that table (or, these days, our screens).

While it’s easy to think of the interviewer as an extension of the business, they’re just a person, trying to make a huge decision. Reading between the jargon-filled lines to pick the perfect candidate is tricky – fifty or so resumes in and they can start to look pretty similar. Time is valuable, and wasting it on interviewees who look perfect on paper but pull a disappearing act halfway down the interview process is a nightmare! (And unfortunately common lately.)

When a job needs to be filled ASAP, learning to spot the candidates who’ll waste your time will save you from the stress of interview dead ends. 

Showing up

Showing up is a start. Showing up on time and presenting well is better. You want a candidate who cares enough to take the early train because this meeting and your time are important. If they can’t show up on time: red flag.

But it’s not enough to check off attendance. How are they dressed? Clothes ironed? In the era of Zoom interviews, working from home isn’t an excuse. The change of format doesn’t mean a sweatshirt is appropriate, and it definitely doesn’t show that they’re actually committed. 

But it’s about more than just the choice of clothing. What’s their body language like? Arms crossed? Open? Are they smiling? Nodding? Do they look distracted? Even if they’re saying all the right things, pay attention to their body language. If it’s not positive, chances are they’re not as excited as they’re saying.

The Extra Mile

But a shirt doesn’t make a real candidate. Look for a clear understanding of the job. Avoid an interviewee vanishing halfway through the interview process by looking for candidates who indicate real interest – the people who can list skills that are actually relevant instead of a general laundry list. Interpersonal skills? Good. Role-centric specialties? Amazing!

And even better: did they bring a portfolio? Anyone who takes the time to present relevant past work is serious and cares enough to make it onto the shortlist.

Digging in

No one is going to be an expert on a job they’ve only read about in an advert. An interview is a conversation, and if they’re serious, they’ll ask relevant questions. What does a normal day look like? What’s the office culture like? Can you show me around?

They should show a genuine interest in the answers and know which questions to ask. Any candidate who’s serious will have researched your organisation and come with real questions. If they’re really envisioning a future there, they’ll care about answers that have more depth than generic questions anyone could think of on the spot.

The Follow-up

Once the interview is over and done, it’s not really over and done. Any candidate who’s truly interested will send an email, thanking you for your time. They’ll be eager and want to find out about the next steps in the process. Anyone who doesn’t take the time to send one probably isn’t interested in taking the time to show up for another interview.