Employee Red Flags: How to Spot a Bad Hire

05 / 01 / 18 | Employers

A recent survey of the top ten economies in the world by CareerBuilder found that over half of employers have been impacted by a bad hire.

The United States alone reported that 66 percent — well over half of businesses — have experienced a bad hire, and 27% indicated the hire was a mistake that cost them more than $50,000.

Further Cost of a Bad Hire

Further Cost of a Bad Hire

The U.S. Department of Labor statistics calculates that the cost of a bad hire is at least 30% of that employee’s salary for their first year of work.

But if you consider that top recruiter Jörgen Sundberg estimates it costs upwards of $240,000 to onboard one employee, you can see how fast that bottom-line cost can rise.

Not only are there hard-and-fast losses — like salary paid and the cost of training a new employee — but there are hidden expenses as well. For example, a bad hire also affects morale and productivity in the entire office.

The wrong hire’s poor attitude can affect the outlook of other employees and their lack of productivity can cause others to have to pick up the slack, resulting in good employees feeling pressure and burn-out.

Luckily, there are things you can do to prevent getting burned by a bad hire.

Resume Red Flags

Resume Red Flags

The first item to help you evaluate a potential employee is their resume.

Even though it’s just a piece of paper, it can tell volumes about the status of your potential hire.

1. Employment Gaps

One of the easiest ways to pick up on potential problems with a job candidate is to look for gaps in their resume timeline. These can be obvious — such as entire years of data missing — or subtle, like work history dates that don’t begin and end with a specific month and year.

Cataloging work history in years only is a clever way to disguise work gaps of less than twelve months.

To further muddy the waters, some candidates have begun to provide “functional” resumes that focus on work experience only and provide no dates at all.

Any candidate that can’t provide exact beginning and end dates for their employment might be trying to hide something.

2. Unedited Resume

If your candidate’s resume is filled with punctuation, grammar, or spelling errors, you might want to reconsider interviewing them.

Since a resume is a candidate’s first contact with a prospective employer, it should be well-polished and error-free. There should be no copy-and-paste errors and the cover letter should be addressed to the appropriate person.

If there were any specific instructions regarding resume style in your job advertisement, they should be followed to the letter.

Any candidate that provides a careless, unedited resume to introduce themselves is unlikely to be the kind of worker that focuses on attention to detail in their professional lives.

3. Backwards Career

All resumes should show a candidate that is progressing in responsibility and growing professionally through successive employers.

One or two lateral moves might be okay if they’re explainable. Sometimes, a candidate may have had to move out of the area due to circumstances beyond their control. Or perhaps a move was lateral but gained them experience in a particular niche of their industry.

However, any resume that shows a string of lateral moves or, worse yet, moves with declining experience, is one for the circular file.

Interview Red Flags

Interview Red Flags

The interview is your chance to get a real feel for a candidate’s attitude and their ability to fit in with your corporate culture. It should give insight to their strengths and weaknesses and provide a good feel for their work ethic and attitude.

Don’t let these interview red flags slip by you.

1. Candidate Complains About Past Jobs

We all know that sometimes good people can be a bad fit in a certain work environment. However, an interview candidate should never complain about a previous job or badmouth the employer.

Regardless of whether their complaint is valid or not, speaking poorly of a past employer calls into question the candidate’s professionalism and might point to someone who doesn’t handle difficulty well.

2. Candidate Can’t Provide Valid Reason for Leaving

As you walk through the candidate’s work history, listen carefully to how they explain their reasons for leaving past jobs.

Answers can be vague if the candidate is trying not to badmouth an ex-employer, but that should not be the case for more than one or two past jobs, depending on length of resume.

Watch for ambiguous answers like, “I wanted to explore new challenges.” There’s usually some underlying issue behind the “new challenges” if this is the explanation for many of their changes in employment.

3. Candidate is Ill-prepared

Like a resume, a candidate’s interview is their chance to put their best foot forward for your company.

If they are sloppy, unprofessionally-attired, or haven’t done their research on your company, it’s best to move on.

How to Protect Yourself from Bad Hires

How to Protect Yourself from Bad Hires

One of the easiest ways to protect yourself from bad hires is to let a professional recruiting agency handle the tough work for you.

Atlas Staffing, a job placement and recruiting agency that serves Spokane and Yakima, Washington; Beaverton, Oregon; and Boise, Idaho, can help you choose the highest quality candidates that will be an asset to your business.

Atlas thorough screening and vetting procedures take the pressure out of the hiring process.

Our innovative nGauge program delivers measurable results regarding candidates and we even provide short clips of candidates giving “elevator pitches” for you to view before deciding on a personal interview.

If you’re an employer in the Washington, Oregon, or Idaho area, head over to the Atlas Staffing website to learn how we can deliver top-notch employees for any position.

And say goodbye to bad hires!


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