The last thing you want to do is go through all the time and energy of finding and hiring a new employee only to find out, after you’ve extended the offer, that they’re not a good fit. It happens all of the time. People who look great on paper, and can charm in interviews, may not always be your best option. I know you’re probably thinking that identifying a bad hire may seem nearly impossible but if you learn to spot some of the early signs, you’ll save yourself a lot of frustration (and $$$) in the long run. Below are some tips to help you avoid the pitfalls of a bad hire and ensure you’re using your time wisely.
Assign the Candidate a Sample Project
To get a good feel for how well a candidate may perform should you hire them, give them an activity that would be required of them on the job. This showcases their ability to perform tasks related to the role, as well as their thought process. Each assignment doesn’t need to be personalized to each candidate, but make sure you are assigning a project that appropriately reflects the role. For example, asking a Sales Director candidate to give a presentation may make more sense than asking an engineering candidate for that. Instead, a coding challenge may make more sense for that role.
Observe Behavioral Clues
Toxic employees can be debilitating for company culture. Even if a candidate has the perfect resume and everything looks amazing on paper, if they exhibit toxic behaviors you may want to steer clear. Here are some examples of red flags to watch for:
- Negative Attitude – Observe how the candidate discusses conflict, or if they talk badly about a previous company or co-worker. If they are willing to talk negatively in the interview, this will definitely reappear when they are an employee
- Laziness – If the drive or passion isn’t there during the interview, they will most likely not be one of your top performers
- Dishonesty – Even the smallest signs of dishonesty, may be a signal of weak professional integrity
- Poor Listener – Watch if the candidate talks over the interviewer or has a pattern of not answering the question that was asked of them. This may show a lack of consideration or discernment
- Inconsistency – Repeated inconsistencies may indicate that the candidate will not be reliable
- Self Centered – Watch for candidates that are only concerned with their own needs or don’t show signs of working well in a group.
Take the candidate to lunch
When people are interviewing, they typically try to put their best foot forward. Getting the candidate into a more relaxed environment can help let a person’s true colors shine (both positively and negatively). A more intimate and relaxed situation, like lunch, is an opportunity to see how they would interact with others. I’d recommend having a potential teammate (as opposed to a manager) take the candidate out to lunch. Have that person observe their behaviors and see if the candidate exhibits the kind of behaviors you’d like to work with on a daily basis.
Have Multiple People Interview the Candidate
This absolutely does not mean having an overly lengthy, unnecessary process. I’m actually very against long interviews, but I’d say a minimum of 3-4 people should meet a candidate over a given period of time. If the candidate is ok with it, break up the sessions to multiple days to avoid fatigue. Different interviewers may have different perspectives of the candidate. Having various people talk with the candidate helps to get a more complete picture of a potential new hire. It’ll help the team have an understanding and say in their new coworker as well.
Overall, Just Be Prepared
- Read the Resume – see what areas you may want to delve into (ex. Short stints at companies, periods of not working, what were their reasons for leaving a company)
- Study the Job Posting – The interviewer needs to ensure they are questioning the candidate correctly for the necessary skills or traits that are required for the actual role.
- Focus Areas for the interview – Decide beforehand who covers what in the interview. It’s important to align on multiple factors when hiring. Ensure interviewers aren’t all focused on the same thing.
- Ask follow up questions – Is the candidate speaking too high level? Dig in and ask for concrete examples. Were they part of a team working on this project or did the candidate have sole responsibility of it?