The ultimate nightmare candidates

Most recruiters have had the unfortunate experience of interviewing candidates who looked great on paper but in reality turned out to be anything but. However, a little less common – thank goodness – are the nightmare candidates who are just downright odd. These are the guys that might even manage to persuade you during the interview process that they’re a completely normal person, but as soon as you hire them turn out to be the recruit from hell. Here are some real life stories to possibly put your own into perspective… get in touch if you have your own to share.


Liar, liar

We’ve probably all been guilty of the odd white lie or exaggeration on the CV, but complete fabrications are the stuff of nightmares for many recruiters. One tells us of a candidate “exaggerating” the truth on their knowledge of a particular programming language for a senior web developer role. Turns out they’d boned up on some terms from Wikipedia before the interview and had managed to successfully convince the employer they knew the basics, without realising just how crucial it was to the job role. Fast forward a few weeks and the employee had to come clean that they just didn’t have the knowledge, resulting in a hasty dismissal and the recruiter having to start the expensive and time-consuming job search from scratch.

Employers should ask to see concrete evidence of any skill which is *essential* to the role, never take at face value what a candidate desperate to bag the role says.


Bad mouther

One of the worst things an employee can do is to create tension between different groups in the office. One (seemingly) perfectly affable recruit seemed to fit in really well at a London based advertising agency, until the boss started noticing some ill feeling between different departments. After a little digging, it soon turned out that, in an apparent effort to build up relationships no matter what the cost, the new recruit had been doing the classic playground trick of turning people against each other in clever but subtle ways. When questioned about it, the recruit said that it was just “harmless gossip” and didn’t understand the problem. Needless to say, the probation period wasn’t passed.


Check those references

It stands to reason that nobody would put somebody likely to give them a bad reference on their CV, but if you find yourself with a candidate who fails to list his most recent employer – ask yourself why that might be. One employer found out the hard way that his new hire had actually been fired from his most recent job for fraudulent activity – something that only came to light when he committed the same crime at his new place of work. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about references, who they are, and why they’ve chosen them. In the age of Facebook, it also shouldn’t be too difficult to find somebody who’s worked with a candidate before, so there should be no excuse for not fully checking the facts.


How long is my lunchbreak?

Some employees take the concept of “flexi-time” to a whole new level. One HR rep told us, “Perhaps the alarm bells should have rang a little louder when the candidate asked us all kinds of questions about the length of lunch breaks, working hours, starting times and so on. We thought they were just checking the facts. After a promising couple of weeks, the new recruit started turning up later and later each day, each with a completely different and more bizarre excuse. Lunch breaks turned into two hour long lunches and she’d often be slacking off by 4pm. We’re quite a flexible company, but she took that way too far. We had a word, and she did change her ways – for a month. Before long she had slipped back into her old ways. Luckily (for us) she was still within her probationary period, so we were able to let her go with relatively little hassle.”

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