5 Tips to Avoid Hiring Highly Toxic EmployeesShannon Hall
According to SHRM a toxic employee is an employee who exhibits “problem behaviors” such as gossiping, incivility/insolence, bullying, and insubordination. These behaviors decrease productivity and morale and can have a negative impact on your company reputation. SHRM reports that 87% of workers say that workplace incivility has an impact on work performance. It often takes several weeks or months to terminate employment in these cases. The best way to deal with toxic employees is to avoid hiring them in the first place. Unfortunately, identifying toxic employees might be easier said than done. As references are often unable to provide reliable information, employers need to take extra steps. Below are our tips for spotting toxic candidates before you hire them.
1. Personality Profiles
When it comes to knowing who you’re hiring before you hire them, it’s important to understand a person’s specific personality traits and how they relate to their success in a particular role. We recommend the use of personality profiles in order to ensure your candidates are a good match for their role as well as the culture of your office. These profiles can also uncover characteristics that might indicate a toxic personality. Some services such as Omnia will generate interview questions based on the results of the personality test so that you can address specific concerns during the interview. Analyzing and understanding personality can help you identify toxic people before you hire them.
2. Use Interview Questions to Get Positive or Negative Answers
Design your interview questions with the intention of receiving an answer that can either skew positively or negatively. Some questions prime an interviewee to answer with a positive example (ex. What are your strengths?), and other times questions set up for the recollection of a negative experience (ex. Tell me about a time you made a mistake). Neutral questions include questions like: How do you handle pressure? How do you communicate with your peers? How would your former boss describe you? These questions can generally be answered in a more positive or more negative way and can help test candidates on their overall outlook. The way a candidate answers a neutral question can tell you a lot about them. A candidate who answers neutral questions in a consistently negative way might indicate a toxic attitude or behavior.
3. Off-Site Interview
Holding an interview off-site can help give you an idea of how a candidate interacts with the world outside of the door to your office. A popular test is to meet up with candidates at a restaurant or coffee shop to see how a candidate treats the staff. Walt Bettinger, CEO of Charles Schwab, has told the New York Times how he tests the character of his candidates by asking restaurant staff to mess up the candidate’s order on purpose. The way a candidate reacts will tell him everything he needs to know. While it may not be necessary to go to such extremes, an interview that is held off-site offers some unpredictability and can be a good opportunity to observe how an interviewee interacts with others and reacts to problems.
4. Use Unconventional References
References are not always the most reliable resources when it comes to getting information about a candidate. Many employers are reluctant to share important information for liability reasons. This means it would be beneficial to look for outside sources in order to get an idea of a candidate’s character. Sometimes it’s worth asking a candidate to talk to a candidate’s best friend as a reference. Friends are often more open to answering questions about personality and character, and the impression you get of their friend is just as important. A friend who is negative or unprofessional can be an indicator to you of the type of person your candidate is. Another strategy is to ask the front-office staff about a candidate’s behavior. Your receptionist will be able to tell you how a candidate acted in the moments before their interview. Any kind of tension or rudeness towards the receptionist should be a big red flag. It may be worthwhile to involve reception in your interview process by giving them a heads up when candidates will be coming in and asking them to be your eyes in the waiting room.
5. Online Research
A candidate’s online presence can give you a good idea of their character. A person who is toxic online is often toxic in life. It’s always a good idea to skim a candidate’s Facebook page for red flags. However, when it comes to getting an idea of character, it’s often more helpful to look at how the candidate interacts with others. Look at their comments for aggressive language or negativity. Look at their Google account to see their reviews of restaurants and other businesses. Is their feedback constructive? While it might not be possible to see everything a candidate posts online, you can often find just enough to determine whether or not they are a toxic person.
Hiring a toxic employee can be an extremely costly mistake. Toxic employees create an unpleasant working environment and decrease morale and productivity. This toxicity can even spread among employees if it isn’t kept in check. The best way to avoid these problems is to avoid hiring them altogether. Remember: an employee’s character is just as important as their qualification for the job.
Bradley Staffing Group is a full-service staffing firm based in Wayne, PA. We are committed to matching A-level talent with best-in-class businesses. Our knowledgeable and well-trained staff brings a combined 70+ years of staffing experience to our clients and candidates alike. https://bradleystaffinggroup.com/contact-us/