Spotting a Bad Apple Before it is Too Late: How to Spot a Bad Hire in an Interview

By Jezabel Southard

Posted on February 19, 2013

Many hiring managers have their unique stories to share about “bad apples” – the employees they hired only to discover they were poor team players, lacked the necessary skills, or were a bad fit for the company’s culture.

Making a bad hire costs a company both in the short term and the long term. In the short term, productivity and motivation can suffer not only in the “bad apple” but also among those he or she works with. In the long term, your company may have to replace a bad hire, which costs time and money better spent on achieving your business goals.

The best way to avoid bad hires is not to hire them. To do this, you’ll need to hone your skills at weeding out bad hires in the interview process. The following tips may help:

  • Invest time. Take time to learn about your candidates. Call their references and ask questions not only about their technical skills, but also “soft skills” like personality and their “fit” in the culture of their former or current jobs. If you don’t like anyone in the current candidate pool, don’t be afraid to start the search over. Time spent now will save you time and money later.
  • Pay attention to details. Personality and communication skills matter, especially when you’re hiring someone to take on a managerial position or a role working closely with others on the team or with customers. While it’s important to ensure candidates have the skills you need, it’s crucial to ensure they can relate to others well enough to communicate and perform effectively on a team.
  • Focus on the current job. It’s tempting to focus on work history as a measurement of how well a candidate will do in the position you’re hiring for, but the best way to predict performance is to focus on the current position. Consider using job inventories or job shadowing to get a clearer picture of how well each candidate will handle the actual tasks ahead.
  • Find out why the candidate wants the job. Not all managers want to ask the abrupt question “Why do you want this job?”, but the answers can reveal a great deal about whether and how much a candidate has thought about the requirements, and how he or she will handle them. It’s a good way to separate candidates who want this job from candidates who want any job – and who are, thus, more likely to leave the moment a more attractive offer emerges.

At TERRA Staffing, we know how much bad hires cost. A bad hire is expensive not only in earnings lost or time spent, but also in damaged motivation, organization, efficiency, and morale. That’s why our experienced recruiters are dedicated to helping you sort the bad apples from the good, focusing on candidates who are likely to do the job well. Contact us today to discuss how our expertise can be of assistance to you!

Categories: HR and Management Advice, Staffing Tips & Recruiting Trends

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