Interviewing, selecting, and hiring a new employee is risky business. Employers know that some job applicants will stretch the truth and some will even outright lie about their past to cover up problems that might knock them out of consideration for the job.

So, most interviewers find it easier to look for reasons not to hire a job seeker than to focus on reasons why they should hire that person. Employers assume a person's past behaviors are the best predictors they have of how the applicant might perform on the job at their company.

Let's examine several of the most common knock-out objections employers hold. If you have any of these red flags in your background, be prepared to respond to employers' questions about them during a job interview.

  • You Have No Experience
    Experience is not necessary for many entry-level jobs or jobs requiring few specialized skills, such as stocking shelves in a store or bagging groceries at the check-out counter.

    But for many jobs employers do prefer or even require experience; without experience, an applicant will not even be considered for the job.

    Employers see experience as an indicator the applicant has the ability to do the work and will not need as much training as someone with no similar experience.

  • You Received Poor Grades
    Employers like job candidates who have a reasonably good academic background and a record of success.

    Good grades are not only an indicator of your level of intelligence and your capability to learn, but also are thought to be an indicator of your drive to succeed - your motivation to stick to a task, complete it, and do it reasonably well.

    Really poor grades (mostly D's or F's) are bright red flags!

  • You Don't Have a Diploma or Degree
    Having no diploma at an age when most people have been graduated from high school, or failing to pursue a GED is another red flag.

    If you attended college or a special school and never completed the degree or certification work, be prepared to explain to the prospective employer your reasons for not finishing.

  • You Have Been Fired
    If you have been fired from a past job, a potential employer will have real concerns about what kind of problem(s) you will bring to his/her company.

    He will wonder why you were fired, and will be afraid your former employer.s problems will become his if he hires you.

  • You Have Been a Job Hopper
    Except in a few high-turnover employment fields, such as restaurants, hospitality, and construction, if you have had several jobs in the last year or two, the interviewer will wonder why.

    Frequent job changes raise questions about your real reasons for leaving. The employer may assume you will continue this pattern of behavior and leave this new job after a short period of time.

  • Your Past Jobs Were Unrelated to Each Other
    You may have stayed at each of your previous jobs for a significant period of time, but you did a lot of things in different workplaces, making it appear as though you take almost any job offered to you.

    This lack of focus or continuity of a field of work will raise a red flag with many employers.

  • You Have Poor References
    Recommendations that carry the most weight with employers are those that come from your past employers. Many former employers, though, are reluctant to go into detail about your behavior at their companies. Thus, they may only verify employment dates.

    If you have no reference or if there are no employers you can count on receiving a good recommendation from, this will raise red flags with prospective employers during an interview.

  • You Have a Criminal Record
    Having been convicted of a felony (a question frequently found on employment applications) will definitely raise red flags. Again, the problem is the assumed pattern of behavior.

    To get around this, you'll need to acknowledge responsibility for your previous acts and present a convincing case that you have significantly changed your behavior since your conviction.

  • You Are Over-Qualified
    Even though this is a problem many job applicants think they would be happy to have, being or appearing over-qualified for a position will raise a red flag with most employers. They will wonder what motivates you to take this job and whether you will stay on the job for long.

    They will wonder why you would be willing to take a position lower than your skills/experience qualify you for, and perhaps speculate on what deep, dark secrets about your past work life you are keeping from them.

    SOURCE: Adapted from Caryl and Ron Krannich, Ph.D.s, Job Interview Tips for People With Not-So-Hot Backgrounds (Manassas Park: Impact Publications), pages 14-20. Copyright 2004. All rights reserved.