June 1, 2017

5 Tips for Weeding Out Bad Employees During the Hiring Process


We recently talked about ways to identify employees who may be bringing the rest of your team down. But what if there was a way to identify these potentially hazardous employees before they cause any damage?

Well, there is a way! The best way to keep your team productive and happy is to make sure that you are picking the right people during the hiring process. As a small business owner, it’s pretty impossible to have a perfect hiring record. But while missing on a few candidates is certainly unavoidable, there are still ways that you can hone your hiring process to weed out the people who simply aren’t right for your team.

We’ve all seen the stats about how much money it costs to replace workers these days. According to this study by the Center for American Progress, the cost of losing an hourly, non-salaried employee and replacing them can cost up to 16% of their salary. The numbers are, naturally, much greater when it comes to replacing managers and executives.

When an employee turns out to be less than impressive, you’ve probably asked yourself “How did I not recognize this right away?”

Don’t sweat it. Spotting potentially toxic employees is not easy to do, simply for the fact that most of them are very good at hiding their problems. They’ve certainly put a lot of work in making their issues undetectable during initial interviews.

However, there are things that you can do during the hiring process to significantly decrease the chances of hiring a bad egg. Here’s where to start.

Don’t Wait Until You’re Desperate

If you’re rushing your hiring process, you’re increasing your chances of hiring the wrong person. As with anything in life, rushing what you’re doing is almost always going to lead to oversights and errors.

That’s why it’s always a better idea to start looking for the right candidates well when you don’t really need them. By taking the time to find potential candidates ahead of time instead of scrambling to replace an employee you’ve lost quickly, you’re significantly decreasing your chances of hiring the wrong person.

Best practices stress that your recruiters or HR staff should always be keeping an eye out for great potential candidates. Naturally, you’re not going to be interviewing people without actually having a job to offer them, but it certainly can’t ever hurt to put together a list or archive of people who appear to be excellent candidates.

The best way to avoid hiring bad employees is to be proactive and seek out potential candidates who appear to be “management material” well ahead of time. As we all know, turnover rates are skyrocketing in just about every industry – especially when we’re talking hourly workers.

That’s why it can never hurt to have a list of potential hires that you can reference at any time instead of being unprepared and having to rush the hiring process to try and fill an open position as quickly as possible.

That’s the difference between companies that hire “anyone available” and “the best available” employees.

creating a job description

Bad Job Descriptions Lead to Bad Employees

If you’ve ever used a dating website before, then you’ll know that your chances of finding a great match increase greatly if you make sure that you’re honest when writing not only about yourself but about the type of person you are looking to meet.

Writing job descriptions is a very similar concept. By creating better job postings that are more detailed and clear, you are increasing the chances of finding the right team fits and avoiding bad employees.

Clarity is of the utmost importance when you are putting together your job descriptions. Make sure that you are very clear not only about what type of people you are looking for, but what type of job you expect them to do as well. It’s important to very clearly state the type of qualifications and experience you are looking for from a candidate. It’s equally important to outline all of the employee expectations and responsibilities that the position will entail.

By getting the job description right, you are essentially narrowing your search down to make sure that a smaller pool of people are going to be applying, which will make your search for the right employee much easier from the get-go.

Stress Company Culture to Find the Right Fits

According to this study, companies that are able to find employees that fit well with the culture that the company promotes are more likely to achieve a high level of job satisfaction. This not only leads to avoiding drastic turnover rates, but it also encourages greater productivity and an overall higher level of motivation and performance.

That’s why putting in the effort to not only define your company culture but also articulate it well and get it to properly function is well worth it in the long run. A positive work culture is imperative to achieving teamwork and cooperation across your entire business.

Once you’ve established the company culture that you desire, the next step is to make sure that you are hiring people who fit into the values that you are promoting and nurturing in the workplace. Clearly defining your core values will make it much easier for you to avoid hiring potentially problematic employees.

For example, if you are clearly stating in your job descriptions and interviews that your company is all about transparency and every employee owning their responsibilities and being responsible for their contributions to your company, these are red flags that many bad employees look to avoid.

People who are interested in simply getting a paycheck and cutting corners wherever they can at work are less likely to apply for a position at a company that clearly defines these types of cultural expectations, which once again gives you a better and more qualified group of potential hires to choose from right at the start of the hiring process.

Get a Second and Third Opinion from Trusted Colleagues

Whether you are a business owner, manager or you’re part of the HR team, being responsible for making the final decision on new hires doesn’t mean that you have to make these decisions on your own.

Even if this is your main job or you are the business owner and you certainly believe that you know what’s best for your business, you should be getting input from other trusted people around you. No matter how good you believe you are at evaluating potential hires, it’s always a good idea to collaborate with other colleagues at some level because there’s always something that you might be missing during the process.

Make sure that some of your most trusted and important coworkers are included in the interview process on some level in order to add fresh perspectives to the process that will decrease your chances of being fooled by a potentially toxic employee.

calling to check references

Toxic Employees Leave Trails of Negativity: Check References

Always require your candidates to provide you with a list of references that you can contact during the hiring process. Make sure you ask for at least three because one is certainly never enough. Bad employees leave their fingerprints all over their former companies.

The effects of hiring problematic employees aren’t just felt in the money that you lose to replace them, their behavior and influence on your workplace can affect relationships throughout the company.

Checking references is not only important for avoiding hiring bad employees whose personalities and behavior at work tend to be problematic, it’s also important for finding out whether or not the candidate is lying about his or her experience, skill set and qualifications.

Many business owners look at checking reference as a simple, final protocol that you go through before offering someone a job, which often leads to the process being handled less thoroughly than it should be. When checking references, make sure that you have a list of questions that you’re going to ask so that you can get all of the information you need from these former employers in a short amount of time.

Remember, even though it’s important to dig a bit deeper when making these calls, you are also obligated to respect the time of these people who are helping you find out whether this person is a good fit for your workplace.