6 Warning Signs of a Bad Hire

2 Minutes Read

What’s more important to the success of your business than hiring the right job candidate? Sadly, selecting the best person for your open position is not an exact science. That’s why, after the initial rush of excitement, so many employers end up with a case of buyer’s remorse when the individual they thought was “perfect” for the job turns out to be a dud. And every business owner knows the cost in time, money and effort when a new hire becomes a bad hire and fails to live up to expectations.

The interview process is designed to hopefully weed out the wrong candidates, but if you fail to see (or willfully ignore) certain troubling indicators, the chances increase that you’ll make the wrong choice.

Signs of a Bad Hire

Here are six warning signs to watch for when assessing promising job-seekers:

1. They arrive late. A candidate who arrives late for an interview may have the best excuse in the world (“My car broke down” or “My babysitter cancelled at the last minute”), but tardiness in this situation is a huge red flag. For one thing, it suggests a tendency to be disorganized and irresponsible. A person who wants to impress will show up ahead of time, planning against unforeseen circumstances that might delay his or her arrival. This demonstrates the type of maturity you’re likely looking for.

2. They lack knowledge about your company. There’s simply no reason for anyone to come to an interview lacking knowledge of your business. This displays either a lack of interest or initiative or both – poor qualities in any job candidate. It’s foolish to expect this person to demonstrate the attributes you’re looking for further down the road.

3. They don’t strive to be part of a team. A job-seeker who describes his or her achievements solely in terms of what they themselves accomplished is a clear warning sign that being part of a team isn’t a priority for them. But most businesses depend on employees coming together as part of a cohesive team. Anyone who prefers to work on their own probably won’t develop the collaborative spirit so essential to most companies these days.

4. They ask the wrong questions or don’t ask any at all. A strong candidate comes to the interview with questions about your business – how it works, what the culture’s like, what are the long-term goals. If instead a prospective employee chooses to focus on topics like sick leave, paid time off and vacation plans, consider yourself warned.

Also, after you’ve concluded your questions and the candidate fails to respond with any of his own, you’re looking at an individual who has either failed to prepare or is hoping to get by on charm alone.

5. They play the victim card. If the job-seeker discusses her past experiences in terms of how badly she was treated in previous positions – or suggests that circumstances prevented her from becoming better at her job – she’s demonstrating an inability to take responsibility that could well manifest itself in your business in the not-so-distant future.

6. They trash their former employers. You’re working hard to instill a positive, upbeat and collaborative culture in the workplace. A person who talks down his former employers demonstrates a tendency toward negative thinking, as well as a lack of tact and discretion. What’s to stop them from trashing you and your business at some later point?

It’s impossible to predict for sure when you’ve made a good hire. But there are sufficient warning signs about bad hires to keep you on your toes and continuing to look elsewhere for the right person for the job.

Learn how CEOs and business owners like you are overcoming strategic and operational challenges to grow their business. We invite you to download a free white paper, “Real-Time ROI: The Value of Participation in a Professionally Managed Peer Advisory Group.”


Brad Mishlove