First is appearance and demeanor. Is the applicant appropriately groomed? Is he/she excited to be here? And especially, did the person show up on time?
Second is there a disconnect between what’s on paper and what comes across in the interview? Many applicants push the envelope in their resume and I often find that they don’t have the command of a subject or skill that is implied. As soon as a candidate starts backpedaling, I can sense trouble.
Third is the inability to focus and articulate what they are saying. There is a big difference between being slightly nervous, which I believe is a good sign, and not answering questions clearly. I find very direct questions that require clear responses help me separate good applicants from the rest.
Two questions I’ve always asked potential employees are:
Tell me one thing you really like about my company.
Tell me one thing you think my company can improve?
If they can’t give me an answer to those questions, then I know that they haven’t done their homework and aren’t really serious about working for me.
President, Business 360 Northwest