According to a study from the Society for Human Resource Management, 41% of hiring managers estimate that hiring the wrong person costs the company thousands for dollars.
The problem is, it’s not always easy to figure out who’s a bad fit — especially if they look good on paper.
“Some people really excel in the interview setting,” says Joe Weinlick, SVP at Beyond, a career network. “They’re personable, charismatic, and able to provide specific examples of past experiences that make them qualified for the job. But just because it’s printed on their résumé doesn’t mean it’s the absolute truth.”
So, how can you spot a disastrous prospective hire before you actually make them a job offer?
Here are four subtle signs that the person’s just not a good fit:
1. You have conflicting communication styles
Chameleon Résumé managing director Lisa Rangel says that even solid candidates might not be ideal hires if they have work style that doesn’t match your organisation’s culture.
“For example, you learn the candidate likes to work alone, but you have a team-based, collaborative culture,” she says. “Or your team works virtually over Slack and the candidate never worked over a real-time messaging team-based app, preferring face-to-face chats. Or you have a work-anywhere-anytime-just-get-your-work-done culture, but the applicant values structure, such as the consistent team meeting every Friday at 10 a.m. to recap the week and plan the next week. These are also signs for a candidate to realise the job may not be the right fit, too. The wrong hire is a two way street both parties need to look out for.”
2. You’re not happy to see them
When you’re vetting the candidate, make to sure to listen to your gut. Do you actually feel comfortable around the person?
If the answer’s an easy no, then beware, says Jason Hanold, founder of executive and board search firm Hanold Associates.
“When you have a work-related discussion, you feel the sense of energy-drain, versus talking with someone who energizes and inspires you?” he says.
That’s a bad sign.
3. They don’t ask good questions
Denis Parkinson, director at IT recruitment firm RWA Technology People, says there’s a surefire way to pick out candidates who are “just not into you.”
“A recruitment process is always most effective when it’s a two-way exchange of information,” Parkinson says. “So, you should be concerned if at the end of the interview they haven’t asked any questions. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security in thinking that it’s simply because you’ve provided them with everything they need to know. If they’re serious about joining your organisation they should have plenty of questions to ensure that not only is this the right job now, but it’s an organisation in which they will thrive.”
It’s not just the absence of questions that’s the issue, here. Résumé Writers’ Ink founder Tina Nicolai says that “baseline questions” are also a bad sign.
“Candidates who are sincerely interested in being part of the company culture and brand show up for interviews having researched the company,” she says. “This includes reading and viewing videos produced by the organisation. Candidates who use the interview to ask baseline information that could be found on the internet may be seen as lacking initiative.”
Nicolai says that exceptions should be made for candidates who are being recruited — and therefore may be excused for getting caught off-guard.
But, as a general rule, don’t be impressed with insubstantial queries like “How many countries is your organisation in?” A simple Google search would have turned up an answer.
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