And, how not to be a bad hire!
We’ve all done it, and we usually kick ourselves when it becomes obvious. Whether HR, or hiring manager, bad hires are troublesome to us and we often don’t know how it happened. I mean, they were fine when we were done with them! What happened after that? The resume looked good, the candidate seemed to interview well, she said all the right things, and the references were good if not great. So, what happened?
The painful reality is that there are times when there are no obvious tells during the interview and hiring process, and there’s no way to know how someone will work out until they’ve actually been on the job for a while. But, there are some things we can watch for, and pay attention to in order to avoid some of these bad hires.
On the flip side, if you’re the applicant, these are things you should avoid.
A few things to keep in mind:
Know who you want to hire. I don’t mean the specific person, but the type of person who will be successful in the job. What are the qualifications you need? What experience? Look at your most successful employees and ask yourself what makes them successful? Use that information to craft your recruitment process, your interview questions, and your decision making process.
Don’t move too fast. Resist the feeling that you need to fill the job quickly. Don’t take the first applicants who cross your desk. Take the time needed to find the right person for the job. We all have times when we need to get a body in the chair, so to speak. We feel the pressure because we’re short-staffed and overtime costs are creeping up. But, when those rush hires fail, you’ll only be spending more time and more money to fill the job again.
Always check references. This is the one part of recruitment that makes me the craziest. We HR people need to get a clue and stop passing bad employees around, and stop making it hard for good employees to find a new position. We need to get better about giving appropriate references! Regardless of how hard it is though, it needs to be done, and it can be done. You can learn a lot from reference checking by listening to what is being said, how it is said, and what is not being said. Listen between the lines.
So, what are some red flags we should watch for in interviews?
Unprofessional behavior even before the interview. Was the candidate rude or otherwise unprofessional to the receptionist or anyone else he saw before sitting down with you? Listen to what your receptionist has to say about candidates while they’re waiting for you. It can tell you quite a bit. If he’s rude to someone at this stage of the game, he may well be a general PITA after that.
Appearance. Not every company or every interview requires a suit. However, being dressed appropriately is still important (clean, neat, etc.). If they don’t care (or don’t know) to present themselves well, do you really think they’ll care enough or know enough) to do a good job?
Bring children, parent(s), spouses or others with them. Even if those other people are left in the lobby, this is just wrong. If they can’t manage to get to an interview without their family or friends in tow, they’re probably not mature enough or responsible enough to handle a job.
Knowledge of your company and/or the job. If they know nothing about your organization, why are they even there? This indicates they may only be interested in any job, and that can be a real red flag. Taking a few minutes beforehand to research the company is such an easy thing to do. It shows interest and commitment. Lacking that should tell you something.
Inconsistent. If there is a disconnect between what’s listed on a resume or application and what an applicant’s answers are during an interview, it can indicate she overinflated her background and experience. While we all want our resume to look great since that’s often what gets us in the door, it’s quite telling if a candidate cannot provide a detailed answer or an example of the experience indicated on the resume.
Bashing a former employer. If your candidate spends time telling you how bad his former employer was, and how he was always blamed for everything that went wrong…………..there’s a good chance the candidate was at least a good part of the cause of things going wrong. This is a huge red flag waving in your face. Pay attention to it.
Unable to provide any details or examples of prior experience or accomplishments. If unable to describe skills and knowledge adequately, suspicion is raised whether they actually have those skills/experience.
Does not ask any questions. While it might be nice to think I’ve done such a thorough job during my description that the applicant simply can’t think of one thing to ask, it’s not too often that happens. Not having any questions or having the wrong questions (see below) should be considered. Does the person really understand the job for which she’s applying? Does she really care what the job is and what it entails?
Focusing too much on money, benefits, time off, etc. During a first interview, if the applicant asks about these things and nothing much else, her commitment to the job and your company could be lacking.
Other signs: being late, ringing cell phones during the interview (or worse yet, answering the phone during an interview!), arrogance (I came in for the interview, you must give me the job!), unable to provide any references.
Other than recruiters, maybe, I don’t think I know anyone who actually likes to conduct interviews. We all know they’re important and absolutely necessary, but that doesn’t make them fun. However, if we keep our eyes and ears open, we might put ourselves in a position of not having to do them more than necessary.