What you need to know:
- Keenly observe interpersonal skills. Is the candidate respectful and attentive during the interview process?
- Assess ability to collaborate by asking about past team experiences, both positive and negative.
- Inability to work effectively with others will no doubt undermine your workplace culture. Can candidates demonstrate how they promote teamwork in and out of work?
We have recently discovered that we made a culturally unfit hire in our organisation. We are now having to separate with her. Besides the obvious, how easy is it to spot signs of a bad hire during interviews?
In a world where individuals professionally rehearse scripts designed to create certain favourable impressions during interviews, identifying signals of culturally unfit hires can be challenging. It is, however, possible to mitigate against situations where an organisation falls for the wrong candidate hook, line, and sinker.
Firstly, it is useful to consider candidates’ alignment with your organisation's values and culture. Questions probing their understanding of your company's mission and values can be illuminating. Does a candidate struggle to articulate how his or her personal values align with the organisation's? How are the candidate’s personal values exemplified in other spheres of life besides work? Secondly, keenly observe interpersonal skills. Is the candidate respectful and attentive during the interview process? Assess ability to collaborate by asking about past team experiences, both positive and negative. Inability to work effectively with others will no doubt undermine your workplace culture. Can candidates demonstrate how they promote teamwork in and out of work?
Thirdly, evaluate adaptability. Does a candidate exhibit a rigid mindset or openness to change and growth? Since cultures vary from one organisation to another and evolve over time, adaptability becomes a crucial attribute in enabling a candidate fit within your organisational culture. While hiring a chameleon is not a practical objective, it is important to evaluate how a candidate has previously adjusted to changing circumstances in life.
Fourthly, watch out for red flags in a candidate’s past experiences. Probing inordinately frequent job changes, abrupt departures and poorly explained gaps in employment could shed some light on a candidate’s character. It could be a sign of poor integration into previous work cultures or difficulties in working with others. Finally, consider the nature of your interviews. Assessing behaviour in past settings that mirror workplace situations often yields greater benefit than hypothetical questions that elicit academic responses. Further, for greater objectivity, let several stakeholders interview candidates. Not least, besides formal reference checks, have word with people who have previously worked with a candidate that you seek to hire. Listen.