Human resource managers are often challenged to hire the right employees, but this is not always an easy task. We need to recognize both quality staff and toxic employees.
Here is a real Human Resource Manager story with a job interview.
In the second minute of my interview with Mike, I felt that something was wrong. On paper, he had all the qualities I was looking for in a job candidate – talented, smart and resourceful. When we met four eyes, however, his answers were short, arrogant, and smug, and he seemed like a man who thought he knew everything.
About 20 years ago, I started hiring my first employees for my startup. Then I was advised to focus on the search for talented people and candidates who stand out from the rest. Today, however, I do not follow this advice and prefer to listen to my intuition.
I didn’t hire Mike that day. Every entrepreneur wants his team to contain the most competent and capable people on the market. However, we often overlook one key factor that determines the success of each team – whether it contains toxic people who have impressive resumes but have a negative impact on their colleagues and the company as a whole.
The cost of toxic employees
Hiring a person who does not fit in well with your corporate culture often leads to disastrous results. The problems inherent in such an appointment come in many forms – constant complaints from other employees, low productivity, low commitment, frequent departures and a stressful work atmosphere.
Just one bad employee is enough to poison the whole situation. A 2015 study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that being rude and disrespectful was highly contagious. Negativity breeds negativity, creating a spiral of despair that one can hardly get rid of.
How can you prevent such a situation? Making wise and well-thought-out decisions is not easy. There will always be a time when you will meet arrogant and complacent candidates.
In the 13 years I spent building my JotForm company, I was able to create a four-step system for identifying and avoiding toxic employees. Here’s what it looks like:
Facilitate the hiring process
Take the time to define your company goals and values, and then create a list of business people who meet these requirements so you can always have an example of the person you are looking for.
For example, I have a list of people I’ve worked with on common projects that would fit perfectly with my company if they left the place they currently work. When it comes to facilitating the appointment process, it always helps to have another opinion and perspective. For this reason, it is a good idea to include the colleagues you trust most in the appointment process. Even if you feel that your intuition is flawless, someone else’s perspective can always help you notice details and red flags that you might otherwise miss.
Observe candidate behavior
As I said before, it’s much easier to focus entirely on the job applicant’s skill set and to omit any signs that indicate that he or she is not suitable for your company. One 100% effective way of identifying bad employees is by monitoring their behavior. The way they behave with the others shows much more about the personality of the applicants than the answers they give to the job interview.
Here are some of the questions you need to answer the moment a job applicant enters your office: Is the concierge congratulated? Did you meet some of the people in the office? How did you greet you on your first date? Also, establish Human resources policies for your organization.
Of course, you have to take into account the nervousness before the interview, which is common to most people. However, this does not prevent you from observing arrogant and complacent behavior.
Evaluate the candidate based on the values he professes
One of the best indicators of finding the right person for your company is how its values complement the mission of your company. When deciding whether to hire a new employee, pay special attention to his overall outlook.
A study published on Personnel Psychology shows that employees who fit in well with company culture are more satisfied with their job.
Test their emotional intelligence by asking them how they have responded to challenges from their past. What do their answers say about them? Do they take responsibility for their behavior and mistakes, or do they prefer to copy them to their former boss and colleagues?
Ask yourself if they demonstrate intellectual humility – are they open to other ideas and learning new things? Research shows that people who possess this quality value the strengths of their colleagues, which is key to achieving harmony in the workplace.
Do not make hasty decisions
There is nothing worse than letting desperation dictate your decisions, especially when it comes to hiring new employees. The list of brilliant accomplishments and rare skills that a job applicant possesses may be exactly what you are looking for, but more importantly, that person will fit into your team and not inspire the people around you, not destroy the team spirit. Making a hasty decision in this case can have detrimental effects on the work of your employees.
The hard part about screening toxic employees is to find the patience and willpower you need to narrow down your list of choices and make an informed decision. Whatever time you need for it, it is ultimately worth the wait.
Aitkin Tank, founder of JotForm at FastCompany.com