As a recruiter, you will come across many talented and attentive individuals. However, there will always be candidates who display red flags. It’s important to not only understand these warning signs, but when to walk away from the situation. We’ve listed a handful of checkpoints to note during the recruiting process and how to assess if or when it’s time to cut ties with a candidate. 

Lack of response 

The recruiting process is a two-way street and communication has to be equal. If a candidate is serious in their job search and truly wants this job, they will respond to your inquiries. While we are all busy, we’re also in a market that is moving much faster than usual. Slow response times, or complete “ghosting,” is a huge sign that they aren’t taking the process seriously enough.  

Bad attitude 

LinkedIn refers to this type of candidate as a “talented jerk.” They say, “We all know the type: The candidate has a great pedigree, stellar work experience, and all the skills necessary to ace the role. The only problem is that he or she may also come across as abrasive, hostile, or difficult to work with. In other words, they’re a jerk.” If you encounter someone like this, it’s advisable to get a second opinion from the hiring manager, but ultimately, if this person remains the same, you will have to let them go. 


Recruiters often refer to honesty and transparency as one of the most key parts of the recruiting process. This goes both ways, as a candidate should be just as truthful about their experience and interest. A recruiter interviewed for the Society for Human Resource Management says, “If I feel like candidates are giving me something inauthentic, like talking in generics, or talking about accomplishments they didn’t own themselves, they lose credibility and my trust.” 

Can’t agree on anything 

Unfortunately, there will be moments when your candidate does not agree on the requirements for the role. This can be true for compensation, location, or experience level. Any talented recruiter will do their best to accommodate and communicate these issues with the hiring manager, but if the hiring needs don’t align with the wants of the candidate, it might be time to let them go. Realism and fairness are crucial in this process.  

In conclusion 

Don’t be afraid or ashamed to cut ties if a candidate is not working out. Everyone in the hiring process deserves respect. They are job hunting, but you are still doing your own job. Be sure to always maintain professionalism and identify the negative signs if they come up.  

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Green Key