The Internet is rife with tales of interviews that border on horror or slapstick in genre, but fortunately, most candidates manage to show up at an interview fully clothed.
However, the signs of a poor fit aren’t always as obvious as inappropriate dress. There are ways to avoid wasting valuable time interviewing what turns out to be a “nightmare” candidate, or worse, hiring them.
The first line of defense, of course, is using an independent Recruiting firm like Phoenix Partners. When you spend the majority of every day pre-interviewing candidates as we do, you become expert at weeding out “problem” individuals. The “nightmare” candidates described below do not make it through our screening process.
But even companies that do use expert, external recruiters don’t always use them for all hires. Here’s a look at some tips to help you “screen like a recruiter” when that’s the case.
1. The candidate who lies.
This type of candidate might think he or she is only padding his or her resume, but if the candidate is ready to lie on the “first date,” the relationship is headed south before it has started.
You can avoid liars by asking deep technical questions during a phone interview before inviting a candidate for a full interview. Some companies also perform pre-interview testing to determine if the candidate really does have the necessary experience. Also, during the interview, make sure that you ask to see a candidate’s original paperwork for any certifications earned.
Identifying and screening out resume-liars can be something of an art form. This is a clear advantage of independent recruiters, who are specialized in the disciplines for which they’re recruiting, and have achieved expert “lie detection” skills thanks to the “10,000-hour” expertise phenomenon.
2. Potentially Toxic Employees.
A complainer is the least productive employee you could bring on as part of your team. Avoid one like the plague. However, complainers might be difficult to identify in advance of the interview, and sometimes even during the interview if there are not questions designed to probe for this tendency. Again, a pre-interview by video or phone can give a better sense of whether a candidate is worthy of a full-board interview.
Also, if during pre-interviews, the candidate complains readily about his or her current employer when asked why seeking a new role, that’s another red flag.
A more subtle subset of the toxic employee persona is the perpetual victim who feels that anything that went poorly was someone else’s fault. Check for this by asking candidates to describe an experience in which things did not turn out as planned. If they only blame others for the problem and never acknowledge their own responsibility, it’s a sign they may not be the kind of player you want on your team.
3. Outrageous Salary Demands.
There’s nothing worse than investing time and energy in the recruitment of a candidate who seems like a good fit, and then discovering during the interview they have wholly unrealistic expectations of compensation. That’s why independent recruiters are upfront about the salary range early in the process.
If you go it alone and have not published the salary range, you may encounter a candidate with unrealistic expectations. There are many tools for candidates to research how much they can reasonably expect to be paid. Asking for a salary outside of industry norms for your location represents either a lack of research, inadequate experience, or an inflated sense of value. Proceed with caution.
Another word of caution: Existing or pending state legislation may prohibit asking prospective employees for a salary history so it is unwise to engage candidates in discussions about salary history.
4. Poor Fit with Company Culture
This candidate might talk a good game during the courtship, but could be disruptive to the company’s mission and vision. “Fit” is one of the hardest distinctions to make. One tip for avoiding candidates who don’t fit with your company culture is to consider the types of companies the candidate previously worked for, and pre-determining what values are important to them through video interviews or phone conversations that probe the topic of fit more deeply.
External recruiters have a definite advantage in screening out candidates who don’t fit the company culture by virtue of being external to their client companies. As a result, they develop a strong sense of cultures across employers in their specialty industry by working with candidates and hiring managers across the board. Like a good matchmaker, they develop an uncanny ability to quickly, and objectively, assess whether a candidate is a good “fit” for a company’s culture.
For internal hiring managers, the best way to assess true fit is to go beyond the interview series itself. A day packed with meetings with a number of team members and managers will give a deeper sense of a candidate’s “fit factor.” Anyone can maintain a veneer for an hour. Few can sustain it for a day.
Have you had a nightmare candidate? If you need help weeding out the fodder from the fit, talk to Phoenix Partners today!