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The Telltale Signs of a Bad Hire


I believe in having a sixth sense, spidey senses, a gut feeling. Whatever you want to call it, I think intuition is real and it’s an important part of the hiring process. There is an internal alarm system that we are built with that causes us to feel put off or scared when meeting certain people. Particularly when it comes to hiring, you shouldn’t ignore those senses.

Aside from that sixth sense, in case you haven’t been in tune to it for a while, there are other telltale signs that the candidate you are interviewing might not be up to the task.

History Never Lies

Would you accept a marriage proposal ON THE FIRST DATE from someone who was married and divorced three times in one year? No? Then, why hire someone who has been terminated, restructured or quit his/her job three times in under a year?

Examining a candidate’s work history and longevity is crucial in determining whether her skin is thick enough or her attitude is personable enough to last as an employee. Asking questions about her choices will give you tremendous insight into her way of thinking and work ethic. If she is complaining about her previous employers, or blaming colleagues for everything ‘going wrong’, alarm bells should sound in your mind.

Walk the Walk

A candidate who brags about what she can do should be put to the test with regards to her skills. Never take a candidate’s word for it. What you consider acceptable and what she may consider acceptable can be the difference between night and day.

For example, I used to assess all candidates who claimed to have graphic design skills on their ability to use Photoshop, during an interview. I quickly learned which candidates knew the software like the back of their hand and which needed to Google for tips. The portfolio presented might be stunning, but who knows if it took four 4 hours to design or 40 hours?

Quality of References

If a candidate is giving her coworker’s name as a reference or a manager at a job from 5 years ago (and not the most recent employer) then you should be raising an eyebrow or two. She may not be able to give her most recent employer as a reference if she hasn’t yet given her notice, and that’s understandable, but if she hesitates to provide references beyond her current employer, then you should be concerned.

Listen for Issues

One of the biggest pitfalls realtors make during an interview is that they do all the talking. They talk about what kind of candidate they want and need and what hasn’t worked in the past. The candidate, who isn’t being put through her paces, happily nods in agreement. The realtor then asks simple, close ended questions like: do you know how to write CMAs or Broker Load a listing? Yes or no questions without a developed answer don’t lead to any real insight on the candidate.

To get that intuition flowing, a hiring manager needs to look at behavioural interview questions. These are all about getting the candidate to talk as much as possible. An example of a behavioural type of questioning is asking the candidate similar questions over the course of the interview to see if her answers change, therefore judging the consistency and accuracy of her statements. Another method is going forward and backward in asking about work history, not in a chronological line of questioning. All these tricks give you a glimpse of what the candidate is made of and how she would handle a situation that is slightly out of the ordinary.

Some people have a great cover story, so the key is to use your instincts and dig deeper than a scratch of the surface to make sure that you’re hiring slowly and accurately.

If you would like a copy of our behavioural interview questions, please contact us at We offer a complimentary recruitment assessment and the interview questions.

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