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How to Prevent Bad Hires from Crumbling your Small Business

badhiresWhen running a small business, where a big workload is often shared amongst a small team, it can be tempting for HR and in-house recruiters to rush through the hiring process in order to fill the open desk with someone to help ease immediate paint points, such as overtime costs. Having a timely recruitment process is key to avoiding candidate drop off, however, this sense of urgency can also lead to overlooking warning signs that the person you are about to hire may be a bad apple and do more damage to your business than good. Hiring mistakes aren’t always caused by rushing, either. Just as often, critical red flags can be overlooked by new recruiters or those in HR who may not hire frequently enough to recognise them.

Here are 3 of those warning signs to look out for during the interview and what they can reveal about how the candidate may be act as an employee if you were to hire them.

1. Arriving late without notice

Arriving to a job interview late without an email beforehand or a call once they realise they are running late says more about the candidate than the circumstances that caused their tardiness.

Setting aside the reason for being late to the interview, failing to effectively communicate an unexpected circumstance to the other people who are affected by it signals a lack of focus and a degree of disrespect for other people’s time. If the candidate did not attempt to call you or leave a message with a colleague to let you know they will be late, it could be a sign that they’ll cause bigger issues for your business as an employee.

If hired, this individual may miss deadlines frequently, arrive to meetings late, take more time to complete tasks due to their aloofness, and fail to follow-up on important projects or effectively communicate with other people when under pressure. This can be especially toxic for small businesses that often rely on a close-knit team in order to grow.

2. Giving polished answers or sounding rehearsed

This doesn’t mean there aren’t great candidates out there (because there are), but if every question you ask elicits a response that sounds like it was written from a career expert, then ask a follow-up question about something specific to see if it they are being forthright.

These answers are not to be viewed as warning signs right away, as there are many good reasons why a candidate would sound polished or coached in a job interview. We certainly wouldn’t want to turn away candidates just because they sound too good to be true. However, these answers do raise the question whether the candidate sounds coached because their answers are contrived, or if they are being authentic and their polished answers are representative of who they really are as a professional.

Lying or manipulating facts in the job interview underscores insecurity in their real abilities for the position at hand. Insecure candidates may fib, but insecure employees who learned that fibbing worked just fine to get them the job can be disastrous. That behaviour can lead to hiding critical mistakes from management, reporting that tasks are complete when they are not, and other actions that prioritise appearance over reality.

If an answer isn’t as developed as you’d like or sounds too coached, then ask a follow-up question about something specific or technical in their answer to gain better insight into the candidate’s real qualifications. A good follow-up question is specific, yet open ended enough to allow the candidate to elaborate on their experience.

How they respond to this question will help you determine their truthfulness. If they stumble and cannot provide a meaningful response, then they may not have the experience or abilities that they initially claimed.

3. Passing the blame onto others

We’ve all had times in our careers that didn’t go quite as planned. When asked about these times in a job interview, a strong candidate will take a moment to reflect on past failures or mistakes and be present whilst discussing what happened. At the end of that reflection usually comes a lesson they learned or an anecdote of a time they corrected the error or were able to create a different ending to a similar situation.

A candidate who passes the blame to their former manager or an outside circumstance rather than acknowledging their role in the matter suggests that they will avoid taking responsibility for their actions as an employee and look for a scapegoat, instead of a solution when things go awry. This could also be due to a lack awareness or attention to situations they could have learned something from.

Do you want to know more about losing candidates? Read this blog.

Tony Restell

Tony is the Founder of and helps candidates and recruiters leverage social media. Having spent the last 15 years serving the recruitment industry, Tony is a frequent guest speaker on the ever-changing jobs market and how both candidates and recruiters must adapt in order to thrive. A published author and Cambridge graduate, you’re welcome to reach out to Tony on @tonyrestell

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