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Five Signs a Bad Employee Gives Off in an Interview

Every new hire is potentially a great employee or a huge mistake. Most hiring managers would like a sure-fire way to weed out those employees who are going to be trouble. No one has a crystal ball or a way to see how people truly are; however, there are some “tells” that a bad employee will have during an interview that can show you a potentially bad employee.

While the “tells” aren’t always an exact indicator of a bad employee, they should make a manager stop and consider the candidate more carefully if they observe at least two signs during an interview.

  • They arrive late, with or without a valid reason – Everyone has emergencies that cause them to be late, however, the reason for being late to an interview must be so dire that it would be acceptable for anyone to be late, including you, the hiring manager. People who are late to an interview without calling to let you know they will be late may also be chronically late to work if they are hired. If anything, prospective employees should arrive early in order to complete any paperwork that may be required. You are hiring someone because you have a space to fill. If you have an employee who is always late or absent that space still goes unfilled.
  • They have lots of excuses about their work history – It is understandable to have to explain some portion of your work history, such as gaps in employment or short-term positions. Be on the lookout, though, for excessive “job hopping”, spending only a few months at a job before moving on. Also, look carefully at their reason for leaving previous jobs. If there seems to be a lot of personal issues, such as they didn’t like their coworkers or the job was boring, you may want to dig a little deeper during the interview to get a better feel for the candidate as an employee. Remember, reasons are different than excuses. There are some very valid reasons why someone has a gap in their employment history so listen carefully to what you are being told.
  • They do not want any past employers contacted – While it is perfectly reasonable that a candidate wouldn’t want their current employer contacted, but past employers should be available for contact. If you have no past employers to contact, you may have a candidate with something to hide. Employment law varies from state to state, but many employers are limited as to the information they can provide, which is usually very general and not related to the employee’s performance. This can be very frustrating to a hiring manager, but it is a good sign if the candidate is open to the idea of you contacting their past employers.
  • They provide questionable information in their application – It is easy to see clearly outrageous information, but the smaller bits of misinformation may be harder to see. Look carefully at the job description and the duties to see if they match. If you see a major discrepancy, such as a part time clerk who was responsible for training, payroll, and scheduling of other employees, you should be prepared to follow up on it during the interview. Watch for evasive or too-quick answers which may occur because the candidate lied on their application. Pay close attention to the candidate’s body language as that will tell you more about the truthfulness of the written statements than what is spoken aloud.
  • They are extremely negative about past employers – Candidates who want to tell you everything that was wrong with their past employers definitely need a closer look.

While there is usually a reason that past employers are in the past, the candidate should maintain a high level of professionalism when discussing their employment history. You want complete answers but not drawn out explanations of everything the past employer did wrong and how the candidate was always in the right. Remember, if they are willing to complain about past employers to you, they will be willing to do it about you in the future. You are looking for professionalism and a focus on the candidate, not on how they were wronged in the past.

Interviewing candidates for an open position is stressful because of the importance of finding the right person for the job. Even though there is no fail safe way to determine whether or not a candidate will be a good employee, there are signs that a candidate may give off during an interview that should raise a red flag in the hiring manager’s mind. By truly paying attention to what the candidate says and what they don’t say, you should be able to find an employee who will be a positive addition to your staff and your company.

Jeff Arnold is a professional blogger that provides news, information and advice for small business growth, human resources and leadership team development. He writes for Reach Human Capital, the best human resources consulting in Memphis TN.


This entry was posted on Monday, May 27th, 2013 at 9:28 am and is filed under Employers, Interview, Resumes. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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Resume Help, Resume Advice. Learn
and avoid these biggest resume mistakes
Resume Help, Resume Advice. Learn
and avoid these biggest resume mistakes