Learn How to Spot Toxic Future Employees During Job Interviews

“Toxic employees diminish trust while sabotaging the company, customers, and team.” Jeannette Seibly

A leader recently asked me, “How do you spot a narcissist during a job interview?” He’d just fired one. I shared that they and other types of toxic employees can be challenging to spot. “It’s why using a structured interview approach, and a qualified assessment tool are important to help you spot them.” My recommendations are shared in this article.

Learning how to spot toxic future employees before hiring them can be tricky. However, it becomes easier when you use a well-defined strategic selection system and interview process. The challenge is, listening and not explaining away apparent signs.

“Toxic employees create discord, crush morale and reduce coworkers’ productivity.” (Insperity)

Many toxic workers have the skills to do the job. But due to “you owe me” attitudes, poor emotional intelligence, and not being coachable, they create unhealthy work environments. As a result, they diminish trust while sabotaging others’ work and the company’s growth.

Tips to Conduct Interviews to Uncover the Truth  

Listen and Be Present! You are more likely to spot toxic behaviors and attitudes if you do.

  • They change their story or lie about the facts
  • They answer your questions with questions
  • They are evasive in their answers
  • They tell you what you want to hear and blame others
  • They are always right
  • They make snarky or inappropriate comments

These job seekers may have the job skills but rarely fit into a healthy workplace.

Use a Structured Interview Focused on Job Skills. Their responses reveal their actual ability and interest in doing the work. Use the Rule of 3 to deep dive to understand their responses. Avoid asking about favorite colors, books read, or music they enjoy! Their responses can be misleading and cover up their genuine willingness to do the job.

Ask Interview Questions That Invite Negativity. Allow candidates to share experiences they’ve been coached not to talk about. But don’t ask more than two of these types of questions to prevent true top talent from ghosting you!

Two great questions:

  • “Tell me about a conflict you had with your boss or coworker.”
  • “What did you do when you received feedback you didn’t like from your boss or team?”

Listen for: blaming others, being unable to admit mistakes, or how people “should be.” Or conversely, “I always get along with everyone.” These are red flags!

Use a Qualified Job Fit Assessment. These tools have behaviorally based interview questions to help you uncover a person’s fit with the job. While they are not designed to state if a person is “toxic or not,” the questions help you learn more about the essential qualities the person will bring to the job.

I recently talked with a job candidate for a manager position. The person had an answer for everything and frequently spoke about enjoying conflict and debates with others. While these traits can be great in negotiations, most employees will revolt working for this type of boss.

Don’t Rely on Only One Interview. Many toxic people love to gossip or have other problematic attitudes they can turn on and off. Conduct several well-structured interviews instead of relying on your intuition or gut. During the process, you’ll learn more about the person’s true beliefs, work ethic, and ability to work with and through others to achieve intended results. Use a well-designed strategic selection system and follow it; most toxic future employees are less likely to stick around.

Don’t Dismiss Warning Signs. People’s choice of words conveys their thoughts, feelings, and opinions. Many poor job performers use negative words when talking about coworkers and bosses. They speak as the victim, are judgmental, and cannot empathize. They talk in absolutes: always and never. Don’t overlook their choice of words or explain them away.

Remember, toxic employees cost you time, money, and sleepless nights. A well-designed strategic selection system is a powerful tool to help you avoid hiring them.

Source for this article: Hire Amazing Employees: How to Increase Retention, Revenues and Results!

©Jeannette Seibly 2022 All Rights Reserved

Jeannette Seibly is The Leadership Results Coach. She’s celebrating 30 years as an award-winning international executive consultant, speaker, and coach. Her clients value the listening and positive difference she brings to any conversation. Feel stuck in a sticky situation or in challenging relationships? Want straightforward counsel to blast through it? Contact Jeannette for a confidential discussion. PS: She’s also a two-time Amazon International Best-Selling Author!

A note from Jeannette about how to spot toxic future employees during job interviews: The challenge is that they often have the skills to do the job. But due to poor attitudes, being self-centered, and not being coachable, they can create unhealthy work environments. Need help upgrading your hiring practices? Not sure where to begin? Contact me for a confidential conversation.

Leaders need to influence others to be successful. But many times, their blind spots speak too loudly and get in the way. For actual professional growth, use objective data to discover your blind spots now, before it’s too late:  https://bit.ly/BeEffectiveLeader

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