Hiring for Online Business: RED and GREEN flags when fielding applicants


When you are doing online business hiring, it can certainly be overwhelming when you are sorting through a large sea of applicants after posting your job. 

Here are some easy ways to sift out some applicants that could prove to be problematic or not be a great fit. And, it’s okay to be particular! As the dumb saying goes, ‘there’s plenty of fish in the sea!’- this is especially true in the online/remote work world! 

When I hire for my clients, we create a detailed job posting and start with a typeform or google form asking a few questions. Some of the responses and correspondances I’ve had astound me. I actually made this list while looking at some applicants via typeform for a client that I wanted to document and share with you! 

Here are some Red Flags when sorting through your applicants:


Applicant RED Flags: The applicant

  • doesn’t bother to give their last name
  • doesn’t answer in complete sentences
  • wants to build a business just like yours (posing probable conflict of interest down the road- this is usually OKAY for jr designers for a brand agency, but I’ve seen this as problematic in other business models)
  • will ask many, many questions–– If you are bogged down by details and have a hard time delegating, you don’t want someone who will say “I will ask you right away if I don’t know what I’m doing”- the right answer is GOOGLE and looking in Standard Operating Procedures documents first! (sorry to give away the right answer lol) 
  • fills out your website’s contact form instead of following the hiring protocol outlined on the job description or DM you when you ask them not to. The hiring process outlined in the job description applies to everyone! 
  • didn’t research and don’t seem to know who the eff you are
  • give the same copy and pasted cover letter thing 
  • seems needy or rude in written communication––if you’re in communication with them via email, they are needy (true story, I once was in contact with someone, told them that I would get back to them about a potential interview, when I let them know that we were deciding not to move forward to interview and asked if I could keep them in mind in the future, they were extremely rude and essentially burned that bridge- that’s very indicative of how they operate under duress- non merci) 
  • gives you the incorrect links to their stuff (website/instagram)

On the bright side, here are some indicators of the green flags of strong applicants!

Applicant GREEN flags: The applicant

  • DOES follow up, respectfully via email after being invited to a second round of applications or after an interview
  • seem to share some of the values that you have
  • has goals that don’t seem to compete with yours (ie no conflict of interest probably going to happen) 
  • DO make it EASY for you to see their links (ie if you ask for an instagram handle in a form, they will write link it out for you like https://www.instagram.com/megkco/ instead of “@megkco on insta” to make life easier for you
  • for designers or anything requiring a portfolio- the applicant may have spec work that demonstrates their process or gives you links to relevant portfolio work

If you know you want team and want some support and guidance in hiring and sifting through the red flags to find the shiny green flag candidates, I would love to chat! DM me or schedule a call here!

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