Warning Signs of a Bad Hire

If you’ve ever hired the wrong person, you know the consequences of hiring mistakes. Time and energy spent hiring someone and training them equals money lost.  While you can’t avoid all hiring mistakes, there are warning signs to watch for during the interview process to help you make better hiring decisions.  Here are the signs to watch for.

Warning Signs:

1.       The Candidate Doesn’t Know What The Job Is About

The applicant should have at least a basic understanding of what the position they’ve applied for entails.  If they cannot relay back to you what the position is, it could indicate they aren’t serious about the job or that they’ve applied for too many positions. This could be an indicator that the employee is willing to settle for any job they can get.

2.       Answers To Questions Are Vague Or Unclear

A key purpose of a job interview is to delve into the details of the candidate’s qualifications -past the résumé.  If they are vague, unresponsive, or evasive in their answers, then they either have something to hide or they are unable to clearly convey their thoughts.  You want an employee who won’t beat around the bush and who is an effective communicator.

3.       No Track Record Of Achievement

A prospective employee may tell you they are a great leader, problem solver, committed to their employer, and so on, but can they back it up?  How can you be a good leader with no leadership experience?  How can you be a great problem solver with no problem solving experience?  How can you be committed to your employer when the longest term of employment you have ever had was less than a year?  Make sure they can provide you specific examples and achievements they have made that demonstrate their abilities.  If you can quantify their achievements in any way, this is even better.  I.E. by what percentage did they increase sales? Etc.

4.       None Of The References Are From Supervisors

Beware the applicant whose references are all peers – and not superiors.  This could very well mean that there is something about their previous employment they don’t want you to know.

5.       They Don’t Follow Through On Minor Requests

Pay attention to the details.  If for instance an applicant promises to e-mail you contact information for references later that day, and you don’t receive it in the time frame you agreed upon or without having to ask for it again, you will likely have to put up with more of this once they are hired.

6.       They Have A Bad Attitude

It’s a standard question – what could you do to improve your performance at the workplace?  Be cautious of the candidate who sits back, and says, “I’m a perfectionist - all of my skills are at top level all the time.” Obviously, you should also watch out for a prospect who sees this question as confession time. Look for candidates who are willing to admit “flaws”—but who are actively working to correct them.

7.       Treat Other Employees Differently Than You

Some candidates will act agreeable to whomever they perceive to be the hiring manager, but differently to others in the office.  If a candidate is rude to the receptionist or fraternizes with a peer-level staff member asking about pay structure or how lenient the company is with sick leave, take that to be their true colors.

As a general rule of thumb, don’t ignore your gut. If you get a bad vibe from someone, there’s usually a good reason why.  It can be stressful trying to fill a position – especially when a deadline plays a part, but it’s better not to hire someone than to hire a person who’s a bad fit for the job. Don’t settle.

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